The Wheel of Time star discusses Nynaeve's powerful revelation and her connection with Lan
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Warning: This article contains spoilers about Friday's episode of The Wheel of Time.
When Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) departed the Two Rivers at the end of The Wheel of Time's first episode, she and her bodyguard Lan (Daniel Henney) brought four young people with them: Rand (Josha Stradowski), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), Mat (Barney Harris), and Egwene (Madeleine Madden). But it turns out they weren't the last people to leave the Two Rivers. The second and third episodes revealed that Nynaeve al'Meara (Zoë Robins) also survived the Trolloc attack and has set out to bring her fellow villagers home.
Of course, Nynaeve doesn't catch up with Moiraine and Lan until they've been separated from the others, and that separation continues through this week's episode. There are many ways in which Nynaeve feels a bit apart from the other Two Rivers characters. Her prodigious talent allows her to become the village's medicine woman, or Wisdom, at a young age, but some characters wonder if she's too young to hold such an important role. And the great power she reveals at the end of "The Dragon Reborn" further distinguishes her from ordinary people.
"When I was first cast as Nynaeve, I did a little bit of research on Reddit and watched a lot of YouTube videos from Wheel of Time fans. I learned that on first reads, people didn't necessarily understand Nynaeve or why she is the way she is," Robins says. "But after perhaps growing older and coming back to the books or doing rereads, people understood her more. I think that's what I really gravitate to and like about her: On face value, you can take her as just this fiery, angry woman who is quite stubborn, but there are reasons for that. There's this new power that she's discovered that terrifies her. There are these new people that have come into her life and she doesn't trust them. So there's a lot that she's juggling. I think Nynaeve's journey in season 1 and beyond will be a lot about control and learning to let go. I'm personally going through that journey myself as well, so I love it."
When Nynaeve first comes upon Lan, she holds him at knifepoint, demanding that he take her to the other villagers. He responds by tying her to a tree. But as they travel together to an Aes Sedai encampment, Lan and Nynaeve develop a connection. He is a Warder and she is a Wisdom, and those roles have more in common than just the capital W: They both live to nurture and protect others.
"I think her connection to Lan actually catches her off guard," Robins says. "At times, she can be quite solid in herself, but I believe what draws Nynaeve to Lan is how similar they are in their drives and purpose. Lan's sole reason for being alive, really, is to protect Moiraine. That parallels Nynaeve as well. She sees him, she respects his care and love for Moiraine, and that brings down the facade that she puts on. There's this connection there where they both understand each other quite quickly."
In fact, at the end of this week's episode, it is a grievous injury of Lan's that pushes Nynaeve over the edge into channeling the One Power for the first time so she can heal him. The Aes Sedai have spent the whole episode chasing down Logain (Álvaro Morte), who claims to be the Dragon Reborn. But his shadowy spells pale in comparison to the blazing sun of Nynaeve's power. Could she, in fact, be the Dragon Reborn...?
In any event, the One Power is a much different level than the medicinal healing Nynaeve employs as a Wisdom, and that's scary to her.
"I think it terrifies her actually, because she's lived her life unaware that she can access this," Robins says. "She also hasn't necessarily thought much of people who can channel, namely the Aes Sedai. So to be able to relate to them and to harness something that she has not the slightest idea of how to control, I think is incredibly unnerving for her. Nynaeve is someone who wants control more than anything else. I mean, her drive in these first four episodes has been to bring the Two Rivers kids back home, and to have life go back to the way that it always has been. So to have no control at all is a very scary thing for Nynaeve."
But there's one thing, at least, that she can control: Her response to the weather. Nynaeve has been sporting a big green coat so far; costume designer Isis Mussenden tells EW that the filmmakers wanted her to have room for all the "sage and other accoutrements that she works with. So we built this big apron kind of thing and gave her that shaman look." Robins was certainly happy to have the warm outfit.
"It saved me in the winter months," she says with a smile. "We were filming out in the winter at 4 a.m., basically freezing conditions. So I was very thankful for that coat."
The first four episodes of The Wheel of Time are streaming now on Prime Video. New episodes arrive each Friday.
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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