REVIEW: ‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 1 Makes a Lackluster Debut

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The Wheel of Time - But Why Tho

The Wheel of Time, an Amazon Prime original show, just debuted its first season. The series is an adaptation of Robert Jordan’s 15 book series of the same name. The series follows Moiraine  (Rosamund Pike), a member of the magic-wielding female warrior group known as the Aes Sedai. Accompanied by her “Warder” Lan (Daniel Henney), they embark on a journey to search for the reincarnation of the Dragon, who has been prophesied to either save or destroy the world. After a vicious attack on a place known as the Two Rivers, Moiraine believes that 5 of its residents could be the key to find the dragon. Moiraine’s makes the decision to bring Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins), Eqwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden), Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford), and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) along with her to find this mythical creature.

As with any tv show adaptation of a book series, there’s the burden of worrying about the pacing of its season. Unfortunately, The Wheel of Time season 1 fails to establish a perfectly-timed pace. Jordan’s series includes a total of 14 books and a prequel novel of the first book’s events. With a series of that many books, it’s hard to imagine that there would be an easy place to start the first season of the show. While the first book does an incredible job at establishing the main central characters and the world the series is set in, only one episode is dedicated to all that exposition before the heroes must venture off on their dangerous quest. The pacing of rest of the series makes everything quite predictable and mundane, going from one town and obstacle to the next. The development of the characters and world-building from Jordan’s series did not translate at all into the first season. For long-time fans of the series or just the fantasy genre in general, it’s hard to imagine this not being a major issue.

The main heroes in The Wheel of Time book series are much younger than the versions shown in the tv adaptation. This takes away the element of it being a coming-of-age story and all the development that can come from being thrust into a great but dangerous adventure at such a young age. This would have made each character much more interesting as individuals and as a group. However, making the characters older gives the opportunity the show to tackle more mature themes like adult relationships and the dangers of such an immense quest. Madden gives a stand-out performance any time she is on screen with such a demanding presence. Harris portrayal of Mat Cauthon is enjoyable to watch and quite entertaining, but with knowing that his role will be played by another actor in season 2 takes away much connection that his character could make with the audience.

As with any fantasy show, The Wheel of Time has various action sequences between the main heroes and other forces. Unfortunately, the actions sequences don’t make enough impact for them to ever feel memorable or exciting. With an overuse of CGI, the action sequences are subpar to what would be expected of a fantasy show. Whether it’s battles on horseback or the fight heavily features wolves, the extreme use of CGI takes away anything serious and makes them feel dull. The design of the trollics, one of the mythical antagonistic creatures, doesn’t look as bad from afar but taking a closer look removes anything terrifying from these creatures. It would be unfair to compare these action sequences and creature designs to other well-known fantasy shows, but it’s hard not to look at what’s already the fantastic work that has already been done before.

Overall, The Wheel of Time season 1 makes a lackluster debut. An inconsistency in the pacing throughout the entire season made everything feel rushed and predictable. Aging up the main heroes has its on highlights and setbacks that affect the story and the development of characters in terms of what themes the show can tackle. Unfortunately, the show suffers heavily from the CGI effects and unemotional fight sequences. It’s surprising that the show has already been confirmed for a second season with the announcement of an actor being recast. With many elements hindering the show from making any real impact, it’s interesting that the show is going to continue. There could be a possibility of the show making improvements, but from what was show, it would be difficult to believe. The story itself would be much more enjoyable if these elements wouldn’t often get in the way.

The Wheel of Time season 1 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

The Wheel of Time
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10