The Wheel of Time Season 2, Episode 3: What Might Be
Amazon Prime, 2023
Reviewed by Steven Poore
The Amazon tags for this series are apparently – Drama, Fantasy, Ambitious, and Strange. Well, three out of four ain’t bad. I am not certain where they got “strange” from, but this series is certainly leaning into the ambition.
One of the major parts of Nynaeve’s (Zoe Robins) story is her struggle to become more than just the Wisdom of Emond’s Field. Robert Jordan spent some time showing his readers Nynaeve’s possible pasts and futures when she passed through the arches of the ter’angreal, and this episode takes that plot and runs with it. The opening credits don’t actually kick in until past the twenty minute mark, immersing us in Nynaeve’s world.
Elsewhere in Tar Valon, this thread of strong TV is let down a bit by the casting of Ceara Coveney as Elayne Trakand. She doesn’t have much to work with so far, but she seems very wooden next to Egwene and (especially) Liandrin. Yep, Kate Fleetwood is still going to town with her portrayal of the Red Ajah’s leader, and the show is all the better for it. Her showdown with Egwene is fuelled with menace. Liandrin’s also the star manipulator of the show, as her scenes with Mat and Min prove.
Out in the world, Uno (Guy Roberts) has also been chewing the scenery as part of Perrin’s entourage. In this episode, the scenery retaliates very effectively – it’s a blunt, ruthless moment that highlights the dangers that the Seanchan brings with them. Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) still frustrates as a character, reacting far more than acting, and the arrival of the Wolfbrothers has the potential to bring some unintended comedy to his scenes. The script is never anything other than serious in any case, which can be a bit wearing if you binge a few episodes at a time, so the show is going to have to tread a very fine line if it doesn’t want Perrin’s storyline to fall into Lassie territories.
One of the best episodes yet, showing the scope and ambition of the show – but also showing a few minor wobbles. Rafe Judkins might be trying to juggle too many balls, weaving too many threads. I’m hoping he can keep it all in the air until the season finale.