Wheel of Time recap: The Amyrlin Seat has a secret
The White Tower is no longer safe. Not because of Trollocs or Fades, but because there's a growing distrust among the Aes Sedai, scorn for their leader, and a gnawing sense that their power is waning.
Logain (Álvaro Morte) says as much when he's brought before Siuan (Sophie Okonedo), the Amyrlin Seat. In years past, the false Dragon declares, no man would have thought to rebel against the Aes Sedai, yet here he was able to handily amass an army without them knowing. He lost, but he can rest in the final throes of his madness knowing he'll long be an inspiration to other revolutionaries.
He's right, like it or not. Maigan (Sandy McDade), a contemporary of Moiraine's (Rosamund Pike) in the Blue Ajah, decries the Tower's leadership as she portends the specter of looming Trolloc armies and invading Aiel. "Siuan's losing her grip," she tells Moiraine, urging her colleague to halt her travels and plant her feet in the Tower. "We need to present a united front."
But the idea of a united front is a hollow one. As we've seen, Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood) is quietly working to undermine both Moiraine and the Amyrlin Seat. Her latest gambit is to tell Moiraine that she knows all about her traveling companions, specifically that they all come from the same tiny village. Moiraine counters with a curious morsel of her own — she knows about Liandrin's connection to a man in Northharbor. Who this man is remains unknown, but Moiraine says Liandrin's red sisters "would not be happy."
Regardless, Moiraine simply can't be constrained to the Tower, not when she's got five potential Dragons under her wing. Thankfully, she and Siuan have an understanding. Despite their relationship appearing strained among the Aes Sedai, the pair are actually secret lovers united in their efforts to sniff out the Dragon Reborn. After a steamy, two-years-belated tryst, the two talk prophecy — namely, the 3,000-year-old divination that's served as the basis of her search. How reliable can it be after so many retranslations and interpretations? She mentions a gleeman who spoke of a "many-headed dragon," a theory that carries a little extra weight in light of our ensemble cast.
"One dragon or five," Siuan responds, "the heart of every prophecy is the same: the dragon will either defeat the Dark One or join them." And it turns out she's got some prophecy of her own. Lately, she's been plagued by dreams of the Dark One, whom she believes is gathering strength in its prison, "the Eye of the World." If it can be defeated once and for all, it has to be now.
Moiraine and Siuan make a deal: As penance for her subordination during an earlier meeting with the Amyrlin Seat, Moiraine will be exiled from the White Tower until further notice. This serves the dual purpose of further masking the depth of their bond while allowing Moiraine to sidestep Maigan's request that she stay in the Tower. Now, she just needs to reunite with her potential Dragons.
With impeccable timing, Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) arrive after last week's harrowing encounter with the Children of the Light. After Moiraine summons the Yellow Ajah to soothe Perrin's ribboned back, she brings together Egwene and Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) for the first time since the premiere. After a brief reunion, the pair are ferried off to Siuan's chambers. Siuan repeats Liandrin's claim that Nynaeve is the "most powerful channeler we've seen in 1,000 years," prompting a frowning Nynaeve to murmur about their "low standards." Her attitude doesn't faze Siuan, though, who notes that her hesitance doesn't change the fact that the Wheel has called the Two Rivers folk to this, "whether you can bear it or not."
"What any of us wants now is meaningless," Siuan intones. "The last battle is coming."
There's one battle that must be fought first, though — the one for Mat's soul. Moiraine and Lan (Daniel Henney) find their way to the inn where Rand (Josha Stradowski) is watching Mat (Barney Harris) spiral deeper and deeper into madness. Rand greets them with trepidation, pulling his sword out for fear Moiraine will gentle his friend. As Lan subdues him, Mat lunges at Moiraine with his dagger, the one he stole from Shadar Logoth, thus alerting her to the true source of his fever. Channeling, Moiraine pulls black tendrils of shadow from Mat's throat as a medium would ectoplasm, weaving them into the dagger even as they cling to her mouth like gobs of pulsating glue. She comes out victorious in the end, and Lan covers the dagger with a cloth, all of them in awe of its power.
Rand is relieved at first that it was the dagger, not the One Power, that resulted in Mat's madness, but Moraine is still concerned. "He's stronger than he has any right to be," she says. "It was feeding off the darkness in him as much as he was off it."
Before they leave, Moiraine recruits a new member to their party: the chatty Loial (Hammed Animashaun). Because time is short, Moiraine hopes the Ogier will grant her and her party access to The Ways, described here as "ancient pathways out of time and space" that are used by Ogiers to travel between their havens. One step in The Ways, Loial explains, could be a hundred miles in our world.
The full party, including Loial, reunites at the entrance to one of these pathways, where the Two Rivers expats get a few precious moments to hug, razz, and, if you're Rand and Egwene, share deep, longing glances. The party is cut short, however, when Moiraine lays out their mission. They're traveling to the Eye of the World, where the Dark One was "trapped by the last Dragon at the cost of almost everything," and there's no faster way to get there than via The Ways. When they arrive, "one of you will finish the job you started in your previous life."
One of them. But which? They won't know until they arrive. Egwene addresses the elephant in the room: "What happens to the person who's not the Dragon?" Moiraine says she doesn't know, but Siuan told her during their late night tryst that she believes anyone who gets between the Dark One and the Dragon Reborn dies. Perhaps best not to mention that.
The stakes, she emphasizes, are too high. "The Earth will burn," she warns, if the Dark One is again unleashed. Echoing Siuan's words to Nynaeve, she concludes: "Whatever happens now is beyond our control."
Loial summons The Ways and what were once cracked stone steps leading to nowhere turn into an entranceway into the dark unknown. Our heroes file in, all except for one. Mat. Without a word, he's made his choice clear. The door closes, leaving him alone in the shadow of Tar Valon.
- "The Flame of Tar Valon" begins with a flashback to a young girl and her fisherman father. She is a channeler, using her magic — against her father's wishes — to help him untie knots in his net. They come home one day to find their home burnt to the ground. Knowing she's been discovered, the father sends her off in a boat to Tar Valon. Later, thanks to the tattoos crisscrossing her chest, we come to learn the little girl was Siuan.
- Logain's name may resound throughout the world, but he'll spend his final days being studied by the Aes Sedai until he loses himself entirely to the madness. For Logain, a fate much worse than death.
- Liandrin seems to be the only one with an inkling of Moiraine and Siuan's relationship, noting in the Hall that Siuan may be giving Moraine special treatment due to her past as a Blue Ajah.
- Egwene gives Moiraine the chain of rings she took from Valda last week. She also tells her of Perrin's golden eyes and communion with wolves, which Moraine says could get him in big trouble, even with some Aes Sedai.
- Egwene on the Amyrlin Seat: "Isn't that confusing to have the woman and the throne named the same thing?" She's speaking for us all.
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Based on the bestselling series of novels by Robert Jordan, this fantasy show follows the mystic Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) as she searches for the reincarnated messiah figure known as the Dragon Reborn, who can save the world from the Dark One