Review: “The Wheel of Time” Season 2 – Slow Start and Familiar Tropes

The second season of "The Wheel of Time," which continues the saga of the chosen five as they wage their battle against the Dark One.

The second season of “The Wheel of Time” continues the epic tale of the chosen five as they confront the Dark One. Despite its impressive production values, the series struggles to captivate its audience, much like its first season. Season 2 draws inspiration from Robert Jordan’s second and third books in “The Wheel of Time” series, “The Great Hunt” (1990) and “The Dragon Reborn” (1991). While the first three episodes boast stunning visuals, intricate costumes, and captivating frames, they fall short in terms of engagement.

Viewers may experience a sense of déjà vu, as the plot seems all too familiar. Weighty pronouncements and cryptic glances abound, eventually leading to a sense of weariness.

The show’s ensemble cast, including Rosamund Pike, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, Barney Harris, Madeleine Madden, Daniel Henney, Michael McElhatton, and Álvaro Morte, delivers commendable performances. However, the storyline, at least in the initial episodes, fails to immerse the audience.

The narrative unfolds with the age-old elements of a quest, a mage, a princess, a humble farm boy, and a looming dark force threatening the land. These elements have been masterfully employed by renowned creators like JRR Tolkien in “The Lord of the Rings” and George RR Martin in “The Game of Thrones” to craft gripping tales.

While the premise may be timeless, “The Wheel of Time,” at least in its early episodes, struggles to breathe new life into these familiar tropes. After the climactic battle in the season 1 finale, the five central characters from the Two Rivers region of Andor – Nynaeve, Egwene, Rand, Perrin, and Mat – find themselves on separate paths, scattered across the land.

Moiraine, an Aes Sedai portrayed by Rosamund Pike, is a member of a powerful clan of women who can wield the enigmatic One Power. Men who channel this power risk going mad, as evidenced by the Dragon who once devastated the world. Some Aes Sedai advocate for the destruction of all male channelers. Moiraine has spent two decades searching for the Dragon Reborn, the one destined to either save or destroy the world. She believes one of the five, although uncertain which, may be the chosen one. Meanwhile, the malevolent Dark One, played by Fares Fares, and his sinister trolloc minions continue to sow chaos.

The Wheel of Time

Each of the five, known as the Ta’veren, individuals selected by fate for a unique purpose, experiences their destiny through dreams and visions. Mat, the gambler and shirker, finds himself imprisoned in Tar Valon, tormented by Liandrin, an Aes Sedai who tempts him with honey cakes. Egwene and Nynaeve train to become Aes Sedai and cross paths with Elayne, the daughter heir of Andor. Rand encounters a mysterious woman, Lanfear, with connections to the original Dragon, and seeks training from Logain, a false Dragon.

The Dark One, after expounding on the nature of monsters to a young girl, forms an alliance with the seafaring conquerors known as The Seanchan, known for their distinctive masks, to unleash further havoc on unsuspecting villagers. Lan, Moiraine’s warder and companion, realizes that their paths are diverging, potentially paving the way for new relationships.

It’s possible that, much like the first season, “The Wheel of Time” will offer a rewarding payoff for those who stick with it. However, watching a show should not feel like a chore.

“The Wheel of Time” Season 2 is currently available for streaming on Prime Video, with new episodes released every Friday.

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