The Wheel of Time – Episode 7, The Dark Along the Ways
Reviewed by Steven Poore
After wishing for some action to herald this first season’s charge towards a finale, that’s exactly what we get in episode 7’s opening sequence. A heavily pregnant Aiel warrior (Magdalena Sittova) beats back soldiers on the slopes of Dragonmount with the camera turning in circles around her to show how alone she is. It’s a great reminder of what The Wheel of Time (Amazon Prime, 2021) is capable of, as well as an important piece of the show’s narrative.
After that, we return to our band of intrepid heroes as they navigate the darkness of the extra-dimensional Ways to take a massive shortcut towards The Blight and the Eye of the World. With Mat abandoning them in the previous episode the group is already showing signs of fracturing and the journey through the Ways only exacerbates that. The tension in the cast is evident – no braid-tugging yet though! – and you can see in Rosamund Pike’s face the desire to slap all her charges across the face and scream at them. You can also see the realisation in Nynaeve (Zoe Robins) that she must be a leader for all her Two Rivers kin, and how much she dislikes the idea.
Once through the Ways – after the Black Wind has pursued them and messed with their minds, with a confusion of channelling and emotions – there isn’t much rest in the city of Fal Dara either. The script tries to keep up the pretence that the Dragon Reborn might still be any one of the four young heroes (via a sequence with the seer Min, played quietly by Kae Alexander), but the prologue has already indicated that despite all other changes the show is going to remain true to the core narrative of the books. Long-time fans of the series will undoubtedly breathe a sigh of relief at this, but personally after all the script has done to boost up the quality and presence of its female characters it’s still a little disappointing to see the farm boy given the title of Dragon.
Nothing against Josha Stradowski, but his character hasn’t been given a lot to work with other than being sullen and jealous of Egwene’s friendship with Perrin. The scene where he connects the dots for the viewer and goes to Moiraine to announce himself as the Dragon Reborn, after the group has been arguing once again, doesn’t entirely work for me. A little too much of the show forcing itself back onto the road, and it overshadows the quiet and important work that Zoe Robins and Daniel Henney are doing in the scenes before that.
The next episode, the season finale, starts with a slight disadvantage now, but if the showrunners have shown us anything, it’s that they aren’t averse to changing things up for the better when necessary. All eyes on The Eye of the World then, and let’s see how this first season plays itself out.