The Wheel of Time Season 1, Ep. 2: “Shadow’s Waiting”
If you enjoyed the pilot for Amazon’s new show, The Wheel of Time, then you’re going to love the second installment of the season, “Shadow’s Waiting.” This episode has a grim opening, with the audience being forced to watch as an Aes Sedai—who’s had both her hands removed—burns at the stake. This is our first introduction to the Children of the Light, often referred to as the Whitecloaks, who are quickly set up to be the main adversaries of the Aes Sedai and their mission of finding the reincarnation of the Dragon.
The episode then focuses on our group of heroes as they try to outrun the advancing Trolloc army that’s been pursuing them since they left Two Rivers and set their course for the White Tower. Along the way, the four chosen villagers have dreams of the Dark One—the evil force that looms over the land—and Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) grows weaker from the wound she took during the battle in the previous episode.
During their travels, Moiraine explains to Egwene (Madeleine Madden) the three oaths that every Aes Sedai is magically bound to keep, one of which is to “speak no word that is not true.” The group then runs into a troupe of Whitecoats but manages to escape without conflict when Moiraine tells them she’s going to visit her sister in a nearby city for treatment for her wound. Once they’re out of earshot of the Children of the Light, Egwene says that Moiraine lied, however, Moiraine explains that she truly can’t heal her wounds (only the wounds of others), that all Aes Sedai are her sisters (meaning any witch in the nearby town counts). She then tells Egwene that, “We will always tell the truth. It just may not be the truth you think you hear.”
As the six of them voyage onward, it’s clear that Moiraine is getting weaker and that the army is getting closer. In a desperate attempt to flee the Trollocs, Lan (Daniel Henney) guides Egwene, Rand (Josha Stradowski), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), and Mat (Barney Harris) to Shadar Logoth. The abandoned city is avoided by all, including the Trollocs, as it’s known for being a place where people disappear. Unfortunately for them, the evil that lurks within the walls of the city is still alive and well, and begins to devour everything in its path, turning all it consumes into ash. The group is forced to split up as they flee the evil within the city, with Rand and Mat going in one direction, Perrin and Egwene going in the opposite one, and Lan taking a nearly dead Moiraine into the woods on horseback. The episode ends with Nynaeve (Zoë Robins), who’d been kidnapped by Trollocs in the pilot, finding Lan and Moiraine in the forest.
A Strong Sense of Nostalgia
“Shadow’s Waiting” is a solid continuation of an already solid show. We get to see the tension rising between characters as they wrestle with their new place in the world and each other. The conflict between Rand and Egwene is especially interesting to watch as it unfolds. They were deeply in love, but she chose to pursue her studies as a Wisdom over her relationship with him. Now, their destinies have become cemented together and they’re forced to navigate a dangerous new world, all while figuring out where they stand with one another.
This episode also felt very referential to other fantasy media. When we first meet the Whiteclaoks, they’re dressed head to toe in white with silver and gold armour embellishments and give off a similar sense of religious dread as the Sparrows did in HBO’s Game of Thrones. The chase scenes between the Trolloc army and our heroes felt like an amalgamation of scenes from 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, including the moment where the Ringwraiths are chasing the hobbits through the woods and the one where Arwen crosses the river with Frodo on horseback. They’re even pursued by a Fade, also referred to as an Eyeless, which rides a black horse and is draped in dark robes like the Nazgûl.
This second installment in The Wheel of Time is a great continuation of the series. It helps build the lore of the show (even if it can be a bit heavy-handed at times), it helps establish the characters, and shows us that every action has consequences. If you’re looking for something fun to stream, or you have an itch for high fantasy you just can’t scratch, we’d suggest tuning into this show (or, more accurately, catching it every Friday on Amazon Prime).