The last time I talked about Wheel of Time was right after episode six; it took me about that long to really buy in to the show, because plenty of elements were … inconsistent, to say the least.
Episode seven came along and almost made me regret writing that post—again, I haven’t read the books (although Eye of the World is on my library hold list!), so a lot of what book readers seemed happy to see in S1E7 were things I might not have clocked the significance of, or things I wasn’t properly prepared by the show to process. Now that the finale is over, though, and I’ve given it some space in my head, I feel like I can come to a conclusion.
The first season of Wheel of Time did some stuff wrong, yes, but it also did some stuff right.
I stand by most of what I wrote in the first post—I think my comment about the visuals is the only call I feel I made too soon, after seeing the finale. Of course, there still are visuals that are amazing, but post-production clearly suffered in areas, which contributed to an overall inconsistent feeling. Personally, I stopped paying attention to the wonky visuals early on, and that certainly aided my enjoyment; I can see how others who could not ignore such glaring issues would be disappointed, especially by the finale.
Perhaps the biggest shortcomings of the first season were the pacing and the characterization (or lack thereof). I mean, the series is a million books long, but season one—and the book one arc—couldn’t even get ten episodes of space? It’s no wonder the progression felt so jagged: sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow, and rarely just right. It’s hard to engage with a show that flounders so much in a basic element of storytelling. To me, though, the worst offender was the romance arc between Nynaeve and Lan; for seven episodes, we sat at “hints of sexual tension” levels between them, only for things to come to a conclusion seemingly all at once, in one long scene. I understand that they both thought they were going to die the next day, but even then, it came across as too much for one episode. The whole dance simply needed more space. (Such as two more episodes mostly focused around character development.)
Speaking of character development, Rand’s lack of it created a huge hole in the viewing experience—although in some ways, each of the main five suffer. In the time we do spend with them, the work done is consistent and rewarding, but there just wasn’t enough. The “real Dragon Reborn” reveal was downright disappointing because I cared so little about Rand; more episodes and more focus around him in particular would not have gone awry, especially considering the big twist the season was building toward.
I do have to give it up for Rand’s post-nut clarity, though, because that shit’s real, guys.
Wheel of Time is an epic fantasy, requiring an epic amount of space; I sincerely hope Amazon gives the second season the breathing room it needs to bounce back from some of the missteps of season one. Because there’s a lot to like in this show—it just takes a little patience to get to the heart of it.
More importantly, what do you think? Leave a comment below!