And I’ll tell you for why!
(Full disclosure: I have not read the books. To be honest, though, I’m kind of happy I haven’t. There was enough to be uncertain about without all that clogging up the pipes.)
Certainly, this show isn’t perfect; it suffers from the usual first-season-stumbling-like-a-baby-deer syndrome, and there are things one must look past to get to the heart of it—the writing isn’t always great, the acting isn’t always great, the visuals aren’t always great—but. This isn’t a negative post.
I liked stuff.
- The world is full of diversity that, most of the time—looking at you, Way of the Leaf people—doesn’t feel like a one-to-one mix of cultures from our reality. There’s an impressively broad blend of ethnicities, and fashion (one of my favorite ways to worldbuild). Part of this is down to the casting, but the costume design and set design pull their weight as well.
- The magic looks awesome and has clear, if somewhat unspoken, limitations. It can’t solve everything! Plus, the internal politics of the order are fascinating—I want more! Anyone who adores court intrigue, the ladies of the Aes Sedai are for you.
- The relationship between a Warder and his Aes Sedai is honestly why I kept watching in the first place. It’s so interesting, and there’s still a ton left to explore. It also doesn’t hurt that Lan Mandragoran is a straight hottie.
- The characterization is consistent and rewarding. I thought it was hard to care about some of the main characters after the first two or three episodes, only to find that, as things kept building, I’d been deftly hoodwinked into seriously giving a shit. Egwene, my girl, I’m so sorry I doubted you.
- The show is full of classic fantasy tropes, and yeah, they’re not fresh, but it’s 100% still fun to see those tropes being executed in a sweeping world of epic fantasy. I am here for all the things people say they’re tired of.
- Cool locations, downright fantastical visuals. Money was spent making this show look pretty. (In some ways, anyway. Trollocs are … something. The Ways are … something.)
- The white cloak villain is absolutely skin-crawlingly creepy, and compelling, like Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds. (Shudders.)
- The Builder introduction did a ton of cross-species worldbuilding that was not nearly as heavy-handed as other scenes in the show, and instantly made the world feel warmer and richer. Humans aren’t the only ones puttering around, and they’re a bit jumpy, eh?
- Lastly, my favorite thing: The show treats gay and lesbian relationships in an egalitarian manner. True acceptance is always lovely to see in a secondary world, not least because it’s a direct deviation from our own history. When constructing another world, what you choose to change reveals just as much as what you do not—and the world in Wheel of Time is shaped, in one way at least, by exactly the kind of conceit I want more of in my fantasy entertainment.
So I guess what I’m saying is, you should watch Wheel of Time. Investment in the show is undeniably a slow build—with plenty of hiccups along the way—but if episode six is any indication of future quality, it was well worth the wait.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!