The Wheel of Time – Episode One “Leavetaking”

I suppose it was inevitable to be drawn to The Wheel of Time. Not because of the many comparisons to Game of Thrones but rather because I am always game for another fantasy book series to make it onto TV. I only wish that there was more fantasy coming to TV – especially from typically marginalized authors.

Another reason why I was looking forward to this show is because the trailer showed a world full of colour. I was lamenting to my husband the other day about how shows rely on the mood to be grey and dark in order to convey something more serious. This was one of my big issues with the Green Knight. I couldn’t see what was happening on the screen because it was too dark. But look at this trailer! You can see things happening.

But enough of that, now let talk about episode one of the Wheel of Time – “Leavetaking”.

First episodes are always tricky because there is so much to introduce. The Wheel of Time is no exception. In some ways, it is even more of a challenge because you have to introduce so much background info into a short time period. How do you get the balance right between exposition and moving the story forward?

We are first introduced to the Aes Sedai and Moiraine and the underlying conflict through their view. The Dragon has been reborn. The Dragon tore the world apart before and any male who can touch the One Power is at risk of descending into madness. Naturally, as a result, only women are trusted to touch the one power. From the beginning, you can already tell that Moiraine will be doing the heavy lifting of explaining the significance of what’s happening. It is a challenging part to act and I have to give credit to Rosamund Pike on her performance.

As with most fantasy shows, it is a big ask to introduce the world, characters, parts of the plot etc. My husband, who has not read the books, was still left confused by how fast things were moving. I do wonder if this is why they released the first 3 episodes together – to give people more of a chance to understand the world. 🤔

The first half of the episode felt slow and very exposition heavy and that is to be expected. The attack kept us on edge and I appreciated seeing the contrast between the grace of the Aes Sedai channelling the One Power versus the brutality of the Trollocs. It was quite the introduction to understanding how magic works in this world.

In contrast to the first half of the episode, the aftermath of the battle felt completely rushed. It felt like there was no pause to understand what just happened. We got a brief, “okay it’s time to go NOW because they’ll attack again” with very little explanation why. At the same time, it did help create a sense of urgency for why the characters need to leave. It just fell a little flat.

All in all, it was a solid episode and you can tell that the production has been set to a high standard. It always takes me a couple episodes to get into a new show but I am excited to see the next episode and eventually the rest of the season.

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