Wait… eight episodes? I thought it would be hard to condense the first book into ten episodes. And they only got eight? Alright. Let’s see how this went.
The ending of ‘The Eye of the World’ is often seen as the weakest part of that book. And for good reason. It felt incredibly rushed and anticlimactic. When it came time for the show, just about every book fan hoped they would change it, at least a little.
That, they did. Now it’s anticlimactic for whole different reasons!
With everyone gathered in the city of Tar Valon, Moraine finds herself juggling perhaps more than she can handle. On top of it all, signs point to a catastrophe brewing at the Eye of the World, where the Dark One is imprisoned. In order to stop him, the Dragon Reborn must confront them. But can Moraine find which one of the Emond’s Fielders is the Dragon in time?
These three episodes make many interesting changes to the material. Some for better. Others… well, maybe not. It’s hard to say if these changes, good or otherwise, will ultimately pan out, because this season ends with a cliffhanger so abrupt and unsatisfying that it makes the conclusion of the original book seem like a masterful ending.
This ending feels incredibly rushed. Characters are killed off in droves and our party divides up for the weakest reason. All for a last-minute dark twist to the ending that feels oddly out of place and a sequel-bait cliffhanger. It’s clear that they want to take the story in a very different direction from the books; with how they ended things, it feels like they’ll be skipping a lot of ‘The Great Hunt’ and maybe even ‘The Dragon Reborn’. But it just doesn’t feel satisfying.
Now, to be fair, it isn’t all bad. There is actual setup for the party traveling to the Eye of the World, rather than them just suddenly deciding they need to go there like in the book. And we do get some really cool adaptations of the stuff from the books; seeing the Ways and Shainar brought to life on the screen is really cool!
I also love what they do with Siuan. Sophie Okenedo is absolutely amazing as the character; she commands such presence when she’s taking charge, yet she’s soft and gentle when she’s being intimate. Plus, the writers take some interesting creative choices with her character, particularly with her relationship with Moraine, and I think that all of these changes were for the better.
Because I’ll be honest: I really don’t like book Siuan.
My biggest gripe, however, is the unraveling of the mystery. In these three episodes, the true identity of the Dragon Reborn is revealed. Unfortunately, the reveal doesn’t feel all that satisfying. It’s built on information the audience didn’t have until the literal last second. The presentation of the scene itself is pretty good; seeing all this information crash on top of the character all at once is suitably dramatic. I just wish the writing could keep up with it.
Speaking of which: the visuals of these last three episodes can be pretty bad. The set designs are still amazing and I love the music! But most of the battles boil down to a CGI army of Trollocs slamming into a wall and being destroyed by CGI lightning. Not to mention that there are some scenes where the camera just can’t sit still for some reason; just plant the camera and calm down, you’re making me sick!
God damn though, that music is amazing. It is so cool and it fits the Wheel of Time really well.
So, season one is over. Was it good? Mostly. It definitely had its issues, particularly in the writing and some of the visuals. But the acting was really good all around, the music was cool, and many of the changes were fairly interesting. I love how this series went in a very different direction from the original books.
Will it ultimately pan out? There’s no way to know that until season two comes out. And I have no doubt that we’ll get it sooner or later. Still, I appreciate how the writers of this show are willing to get bold and creative.
Which is fine. Because the books definitely had issues that needed changing.