‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 2 review: Rosamund Pike’s fantasy epic grinds exceedingly slowly and not particularly well

Continuing the story of the chosen five and their battle against the Dark One, the second season of ‘The Wheel of Time’, despite eye-popping production values, is low on engagement 

Updated - September 06, 2023 04:34 pm IST

Published - September 01, 2023 12:22 pm IST

A still from ‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 2 

A still from ‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 2  | Photo Credit: @PrimeVideo/YouTube

Like Season 1, Season 2 of The Wheel of Time gets off to a creaky start. Season 2 is loosely based on Robert Jordan’s second and third books in The Wheel of Time series, The Great Hunt (1990) and The Dragon Reborn (1991). The first three episodes, while gorgeously mounted — the splendid costumes have detailing that is guaranteed to bedazzle, and eye-popping frames — are low on engagement.

There is that sinking feeling of having watched all this before and after a point all those weighty pronouncements and cryptic glances make you want to bite your arm.

The Wheel of Time 
Episodes: 3 of 8
Creator: Rafe Judkins
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, Barney Harris, Madeleine Madden, Daniel Henney, Michael McElhatton, Álvaro Morte
Storyline: The five possible Dragons Reborn seek to meet their destiny on different  paths
Run time: 60 minutes

Even if the story is as old as time, there is a way to make the viewers invested in the goings-on, which The Wheel of Time (at least the first three episodes) just does not have. A quest, a mage, a princess, a simple farm boy and a dark force threatening to overtake the land — sounds familiar? And what did a certain Mr. George Lucas do with it? The big daddy of high fantasy, JRR Tolkien with The Lord of the Rings, and George RR Martin with The Game of Thrones fashioned gripping tales out of these basic building blocks.

So it has been done before and will surely be done again — just not in this show. After the big battle in the finale of season 1, the famous five from the Two Rivers region of Andor, (nothing to do with Cassian I am sure) Nynaeve (Zoë Robins), Egwene (Madeleine Madden) Rand, (Josha Stradowski), Perrin, (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat (Barney Harris in season 1 and Donal Finn in Season 2), are scattered across the land following different paths. 

Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) is an Aes Sedai, a clan of powerful women who can channel a mysterious force known as the One Power. Men channelling the One Power, helpfully go insane, like the Dragon ages ago who destroyed the world. There is a part of the Aes Sedai who wishes to destroy all male channellers. Moiraine has been searching for 20 years for the Dragon Reborn who will set the world right or destroy it. She thinks one of the five (she is not sure which of them) is the Dragon Reborn. There is also the Dark One (Fares Fares), the betrayer of hope, with his awful minions, the trollocs, running wild and doing all manner of mischief.

Each of the five, the Ta’veren, (those the Wheel chooses for a special purpose) follow their destiny and see the paths they could take in dreams and visions. Mat, the gambler and shirker is imprisoned in Tar Valon and has to bear the telling taunts of Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood), an Aes Sedai, as she tempts him with honey cakes. Egwene and Nynaeve are training to be Aes Sedai and find fellow trainee, Elayne (Ceara Coveney), the daughter heir of Andor, very interested in their business. Rand meets a mysterious woman, Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe), who has connections to the original Dragon. He also asks Logain (Álvaro Morte), a false Dragon, to train him.

The Dark One after holding forth to a little girl on the nature of monsters, joins hands with wicked seafaring conquerors, The Seanchan, with their interesting line in masks, to do more dastardly deeds on the humble dun-coloured villagers. Lan (Daniel Henney), Moiraine’s warder and companion, realizes their paths are separate, opening a way for another relationship.

Maybe like season 1 of The Wheel of Time, the payoff will come if one sticks with it. Watching a show should not, however, be a chore... just saying.    

The second season of The Wheel of Time currently streams on Prime Video with fresh episodes dropping every Friday

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