The Wheel of Time E4: The Dragon Reborn is the best episode so far. Adapting Robert Jordan’s classic fantasy tome was always going to be a difficult task with fans divided over decisions made in order to bring the novel to life, but this episode displays signs that the show will be one to stick with even if some may be disillusioned with some of the changes to Jordan’s work.
The Dragon Reborn starts strongly with a flashback as a man claiming to be the Dragon Reborn takes over a city and convinces a king that he is here to bind the world and not break it like the Dragon before. Logain shows his ability to channel and is powerful enough that the Aes Sedai must work in pairs to keep him under control. The Dragon Reborn does well to show the various factions within the Aes Sedai and that even though their target may be the same, the paths they choose to get to that target vary greatly. The various colours within the group are shown and it seems that Moiraine and Lan are outsiders compared to the rest of the women and their warders. Nynaeve is used as the audience’s eyes and ears as she learns about the differences between the factions (ajahs) and the tension between them. The episode begins to expand the world and introduce the audience to the wider world that Jordan wrote in great detail. There are a few changes that fans may grumble about but overall, the episode is a sign that The Wheel of Time is in capable enough hands, for the moment.
The cast show signs of settling into their roles and Rand and Mat in particular stand out as they follow their new, mysterious ally, Thom. The Dragon Reborn has Thom again slowing down the story as he tells another tale to Rand. The episode is full of small character moments that allow our characters to reflect and breathe and it is in these small moments that the writing is at its sharpest. The bond between Aes Sedai and their warders is explained to Egwene over around a roaring fire and the world and the people within it become that much clearer to the audience. A story like The Wheel of Time needs to turn at the right pace or else it will break and this episode mixes the smaller characters moments with the grander scale scenes such as the opening flashback and a battle that will make fans of Game of Thrones and The Witcher sit up and wonder about what might be possible as the series continues.
The Dragon Reborn spends a lot of time with our heroes from the Two Rivers learning about the greater world around them from people who have suffered. They learn of loss and speak of the turning of the wheel. There is a clear bond between them all even though they are split up and taking different paths. Egwene and Perrin listen to the Way of the Leaf and learn from the pacifist travellers hosting them. Moiraine’s words about the five of them play on their minds as they each wonder who is the Dragon Reborn and the consequences of being the one to be able to save or break the wheel. The madness that takes over men attempting to wield magic designed for women plays at the back of Rand’s mind in the episode as the audience is given evidence of its effects through Logain and the whispers constantly advising him.
The Dragon Reborn is proof that the show is on the right track. It is filled with quiet characters moments that make you care about the people and the world they inhabit. There are some changes that fans may moan about but there are others that improve on Jordan’s work, as should be the case with all adaptations. Strong in the quiet scenes, and explosive when the action finally hits, The Dragon Reborn is the best episode yet and proof that this series could be something special.