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The Wheel of Time show totally changes who the story’s main character is


Egwene and Moiraine discuss Perrin's sudden case of acute wolfishness.
Enlarge / Egwene and Moiraine discuss Perrin’s sudden case of acute wolfishness.

Amazon Studios

Andrew Cunningham and Lee Hutchinson have spent decades of their lives with Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time books, and they’re bringing that knowledge to bear as they recap each episode of Amazon’s new WoT TV series. These recaps won’t cover every element of every episode, but they will contain major spoilers for the show and the book series. If you want to stay unspoiled and haven’t read the books, these recaps aren’t for you.

New episodes of The Wheel of Time will be posted to Amazon Prime subscribers every Friday.

Andrew: Put your ear to the ground, Lee. Can you hear it? That’s the sound of every Wheel of Time shipper losing their whole minds over this week’s episode.

There’s a bunch more to talk about, and we’ll get to most of it, but this episode’s introduction of Siuan Sanche, the fisherman’s daughter who became the Amyrlin Seat, is inarguably the focal point.

I think you and I might have slightly different feelings about how her character was handled, particularly around The Big Thing, but I’ve got to say I think this was an outstanding capper for the show’s mid-season Aes Sedai interlude. It establishes Siuan’s meteoric rise and her character’s different public and private faces, while also establishing the authority and power of the Amyrlin Seat and the entire Aes Sedai organization. But it’s also clear in a bunch of little ways that Aes Sedai power is waning and Siuan’s position is more precarious than it seems. You get more information on what Moiraine has been chasing with the Two Rivers folks and why. And yeah, there’s some serious smooching.

Lee: Before we dig into the big stuff, though, I’ve got a question. Our Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche, gets a nice little introduction as the poor fisherman’s daughter. But does this mean Nynaeve was lying or otherwise misinformed when she mentioned back in the first episode that the White Tower turns away poor people? It seemed an odd thing to say at the time, given that the White Tower regards women who can channel as their actual-for-real property, and in Siuan we have an example of a girl who clearly came from nothing not just being accepted for training, but becoming the Amyrlin Seat. Am I just getting too caught up in the details, or is there a piece missing in this puzzle?
Young Siuan, prior to her journeying to Tar Valon to become an Aes Sedai.
Enlarge / Young Siuan, prior to her journeying to Tar Valon to become an Aes Sedai.

Amazon Studios

Andrew: Ah, that’s interesting. I do think generally when a character in the show has told us something, it’s because the show itself wants us to know that thing and take it at face value. That’s how most of the lore dumps seem intended to be read, at any rate. But with context from the books you can more easily assume that misinformation about the White Tower and its practices runs rampant the further you get from Tar Valon, and Nynaeve could easily be misinformed. Or maybe the Aes Sedai more readily take in refugees from channeling-averse nations like Tear. At any rate, it didn’t occur to me to be bothered by it.

It’s clear that the Aes Sedai in the show, as in the books, seem to think that you leave most of your old life behind when you join up—note how scandalized the room is when Siuan dresses down Moiraine Damodred, wielding her noble family’s name as a weapon. The read I still get is that Aes Sedai hierarchy is determined more by channeling strength than prior economic or social circumstances.

OK, now let’s talk about kissing??

Lee: Moiraine and Siuan, sitting in a tree…

OK, I admit, when Moiraine popped into Siuan’s rooms via a…what, a ter’angreal? Gotta be a ter’angreal, right? When she popped in there and they started making out, my first reaction was to roll my eyes. The books imply (maybe more than imply) that the two of them used to have a thing going back when they were novices, but the books also imply (maybe more than imply!) that it’s pretty normal for novices to have “pillow friends” to help them get through the hardships of apprentice life in the Tower. Having Moiraine and Siuan jump each others’ bones now, though, felt… maybe just a bit performative and male-gaze-y?

My gut reaction was, “These are two powerful women who are both Blue Ajah, whose commit themselves to politics and causes—isn’t it kind of disrespectful to imply that they need to have a romantic relationship, too? Can’t the fact that they’ve both dedicated their lives to finding the Dragon Reborn be a powerful enough bond?” But I’ve had a few conversations about it with my wife and also with my cousin Shaun (who is an excellent author—go buy his books!), and I think now I’m on the side of this being an expedient storytelling way to establish just how all-in they are on trying to save the world. And having someone to love—actually love, not just Warder-bond-share with—is also a good way to tie them to the realness of the world, rather than simply having them tie themselves to ideals.

I dunno, these are deep waters to navigate, but I think I’m sold on the idea of them being together. It works, and especially on the back of the stuff I’m reading about the showrunner’s commitment to lore, I’m willing to trust the narrative.



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