Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series begins its TV journey as The Wheel of Time follows the path of Game of Thrones and blast onto the small screen with high expectations and a big budget. The series’ premiere The Chosen Ones gives fans an insight into what to expect for the first season as four commoners are told by a strange sorceress that one of them could be the Dragon Reborn, the reincarnation of a powerful figure who caused the breaking of the world years ago. For fantasy fans, even ones who have not read the source material, the episode is comforting in its familiarity.
‘ware spoilers, herein, reader.
The Chosen Ones starts with a voiceover from Rosamund Pike’s Moiraine. Echoes of Galadriel are clear as she narrates the opening of the tale. Moiraine, a powerful member of the magical Aes Sedai (similar to Dune’s Bene Gesserit) searches for the chosen one in Two Rivers as we watch fellow members of her all-female order chase a worried man who has accessed magic forbidden to men. Based on the first part of Jordan’s series, The Eye of the World, this first episode makes a few changes to the source material that longtime fans may grumble about. The age of the main characters is perhaps the most obvious change. Aging up the The Wheel of Time’s protagonists may cause a disconnect with the naivety and innocence of the characters seen in the books but it’s only episode one so more time is needed to evaluate the decision.
Moiraine arrives at Two Rivers to assess the four villagers she believes may be the Dragon Reborn. Of course, chaos ensues as a band of trollocs attack the village led by a character that can only be described as a poor attempt at Lord Voldemort cosplay. The CGI of the trollocs leaves a lot to be desired considering the $10 million budget per episode for the first season and monsters which should be terrifying look more like South Park’s Manbearpig. The attack gives the audience a chance to care for the characters as Egwene’s mentor is captured, Rand’s father is poisoned, and Perrin accidentally kills his wife (created for the TV show for some strange reason) in an attempt to fight off the strange creatures. Moiraine uses her lightning powers to destroy the trollocs and her partner, Lan, shows off his impressive swordsmanship as the first episode of The Wheel of Time E1, The Chosen One, finishes with Rand, Mat, Perrin, and Egwene following the sorceress to the White Tower in an effort to keep the trollocs from Two Rivers.
The Chosen One isn’t the most promising of starts for the beloved fantasy series but expectations are high thanks to the excellence of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings which broke into the mainstream and allowed for shows like this to be made. The Witcher had similar issues with a slow start and Jordan’s first entry to the series is a slow burner full of an incredible amount of world building that is difficult to condense into a TV series. The Wheel of Time E1 is an enjoyable yet familiar dip into Jordan’s world that will appeal to casual fans of the genre.