The Wheel of Time E6: The Flame of Tar Valon continues the excellent run that the series is now in as the gang from Two Rivers finally reunite in the beautiful Tar Valon. There is more character development to build on last week’s incredible episode and the rest of the time is spent setting up the high stakes of the series as it moves towards the finish line for season 1. All in all, things are looking up for the adaptation of Robert Jordan’s much loved novels.
The Flame of Tar Valon begins with a flashback as we witness the difficulties that women who channel face growing up. A young girl is sent away from her home by her tearful father after being discovered. She grows up to become the powerful leader of the Aes Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat. The Aes Sedai, and especially Siuan, their leader, have to harden themselves in a world where White Cloaks are constantly searching for them and torturing them for fun. Siuan greets Logain, the man who claimed to be the Dragon Reborn and ignores his pleas for death. Instead, she punishes him by placing him in the city for all to see as a warning as he slowly loses his mind to madness. Siuan continues on the path of cold judgement as she exiles Moiraine and scolds the other Aes Sedai. But is there another reason for her harsh punishment? Siuan’s hard display appears to be a front in response to Logain’s assertions that the Aes Sedai have grown weak and to hide another secret from her sisters. The relationship between Moiraine and Siuan is one of the improvements that the series has made to the books and another example of the excellent character work that the series is capable of.
Moiraine is front and centre of The Flame of Tar Valon and it is great to see the way in which she quickly assesses Mat’s sickness and deals with the darkness after Lan easily disarms the protective Rand. The Blue Aes Sedai meets with all of the possible Dragons as Egwene and Perrin finally arrive in the city, with the Yellow sisters healing the wolf brother of his hideous wounds at the hands of the White Cloaks. Moiraine then takes Egwene and Nynaeve to meet the Amyrlin Seat. There is more wonderful, subtle character work as Egwene is respectful and attentive in the meeting whilst the confident Nynaeve attempts to cut through the pomp and ceremony. It is also fun to see Egwene’s face drop as she realises that she is not the one who is labelled the most powerful channeler in a thousand years.
The Flame of Tar Valon ends with the whole gang back together as Moiraine is exiled on purpose in a bid to travel to the Eye of the World and defeat the darkness. Loial joins the crew and still steals the scenes he is in. The slow speaking giant is great fun and Rosamund Pike’s acting as Moiraine respectfully speeds things up is great, subtle comic relief in the scenes that they share together. The Wheel of Time E6 is another cracking episode full of great character development that sets up the rest of the series. In the words of Gandalf, “It’s the deep breath before the plunge.” Though it is not yet at Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings levels of brilliance, The Wheel of Time stands on its own as another great fantasy adaptation brought to the screen for fans to love and argue about for years to come.