The Wheel of Time Season 1, Ep. 6: “The Flame of Tar Valon”
If you’ve been watching Amazon’s The Wheel of Time based on the best-selling book series by Robert Jordan (with Brandon Sanderson finishing the last three books after Jordan’s passing) then there’s a good chance you’ve been looking forward to this week’s episode. Although it’s not as jampacked with excitement and action as previous episodes have been, this episode delivers on what’s been building for the better part of the series so far.
What Happens in “The Flame of Tar Valon”
We open on a young Siuan Sanche (Keira Chansa) and her father. We discover that she’s clever, adept at harnessing the One Power at such a young age, and that she’s being sent off to the White Tower by her father for proper training. We then cut to the present day where the False Dragon, Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte), has been brought before an older Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo), the current Amyrlin Seat of the Aes Sedai. Although he begs her for death, she tells him that he’ll spend his days alive and under observation for his crimes against the Aes Sedai, before he’s dragged away.
She then calls on Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), Alanna (Priyanka Bose), and Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood) to come forward and explain why he was gentled without a trial. When they try to explain that he killed Kerene (Clare Perkins) and nearly killed them, Siuan explains that their job was to bring him in and not to protect their own lives. Landrin, always out to ruin Moiraine, tells Siuan that Moiraine should have known about the False Dragon and his army, the Trollocs gathering forces, and should have warned the other Aes Sedai about Nynaeve’s (Zoë Robins) power. When Siuan questions Moiraine, she refuses to answer and is told that she, like Liandrin, will be sentenced tomorrow morning by the Amyrlin Seat.
We then cut to Rand (Josha Stradowski) and Mat (Barney Harris), who is still suffering from what was assumed to be the One Power. However, Moiraine finds them and realizes that a dagger stolen from Shadar Logoth has been infecting him with darkness and feeding off the evil that lives inside Mat. She manages to cure him before chastizing Nynaeve for keeping his condition secret from her, as it almost cost him his life. She then visits Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), who is healing from the wounds inflicted on him by the Children of the Light, and Egwene (Madeleine Madden) who is caring for him. She tells them the others are alive and will be reunited soon.
Later that night, Moiraine and Siuan meet in secret. Although it seemed they were enemies publicly, we find out the two have been secretly working together to try and find the Dragon Reborn. We also learn that the two of them are lovers, and we get to see them share a tender moment for the first time in years. Moiraine tells Siuan to banish her as punishment so that she can continue to fight the Dark One and discover which of the five villagers is the true Dragon. Although it breaks Siuan’s heart, she obliges her request the following morning.
Moiraine and Lan (Daniel Henney) ride off from the White Tower, and all the villagers are reunited before Moiraine opens a portal to the Ways, an area that seems to exist out of space and time but makes travel quicker for those who dare to use it. Just when it seems all is going according to plan, Mat decides not to join the others in the Ways and the portal closes with him watching his friends from a distance.
Why It’s Such a Good Episode
For most of the season, we’ve seen tensions build between the different factions of the Aes Sedai. Although Moiraine has been focused on finding the Dragon with the hopes of stopping the rise of the Dark One, other Aes Sedai have not been so open-minded. Liandrin in particular has been on a warpath to destroy any hints of the Dragon, and her single-mindedness on the issue has put everything Moiraine has worked for in danger. We also have been following the ever-changing politics of the White Tower, so knowing that Moiraine was coming face-to-face with her alleged enemy built-up tension, and then discovering that Siuan was actually her lover was the perfect way to release it. Plus, it was amazing getting to discover Moiraine’s queerness, as there are so few LGBTQ2+ leads in mainstream fantasy media.
We also got to see Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve finally be reunited. They’ve been apart for so long that seeing them come together felt cathartic and even reminiscent of how audiences felt watching the Fellowship of the Ring reunite in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And then, to see Mat betray everyone after everything they’d already been through was heartbreaking.
Although this wasn’t the most harrowing installment of The Wheel of Time, it was one of the best episodes to date. It was full of heart, political intrigue, and left us hungry for more. You can catch new episodes of The Wheel of Time streaming every Friday on Amazon Prime.
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