There are bigger Wheel of Time fans than I am, this can’t be reasonably disputed, but I’m not some farm boy fresh off the back of master Kinch’s wagon who’s never seen a book before. I’ve been reading this series since 1994, when during a bout of boredom in my freshman year study hall, I wandered to the school library and picked up the trade paperback edition of The Eye of the World. I don’t bring this up to establish cred or bragging rights, or to make it clear that I was into the series before it was on tv. I just want anyone who reads this to know where I’m coming from. If Lord of the Rings is what got me hooked on fantasy then Wheel of Time is what made me want to write.
I love these books and their characters unabashedly.
That being said, I’m going to go ahead and give you the required spoiler warning now. I will be talking about the first three episodes without any kind of filter, and a little bit about what some of the writing choices this show has made might mean going forward as the series progresses. So, you’ve been warned. Show and book spoilers inbound.
Still here? Ok, let’s go.
I’m too busy to keep track of The Discourse™ online, but the changes made with Mat and Perrin seem to be big sticking points for some folks.
Let’s talk about Mat first. I think we’ve got a depiction of Mat that is very in keeping with the core of who he is, given a couple of key stipulations. The first being that he (along with Rand and Perrin and Egwene) is aged up a few years. You can’t expect to see an early twenty-something pulling the kind of pranks that younger teen Mat had a reputation for at the start of the books. It would look and feel kind of silly given the tone they’re going for. Secondly, making him from a broken home. I don’t like this per se, but it enables Rafe and the writing team to neatly get to the core of the lovable scoundrel we know Mat to be, despite the thievery on display.
When I think about Mat I see a guy who, despite his own desire to go get a table at the inn and dice away the hours, will come through for the people he loves. At the start of this show we get a borderline destitute looking Mat, doing everything he can think of to take care of his younger sisters, short of actual labor (which is pretty in keeping for him). It’s kind of a shame that the show didn’t give us much of “fun Mat” before he gets the dagger that upends his whole existence, but the decision they made here is economical as far as how much screen time we get to establish these characters. There are millions of words and only so many minutes you can stick in the show. I get it. I think it works for the screne.
Which brings me to Perrin. There have been posts regarding Laila and her demise and how it will actually help the show lean into Perrin’s arc, and I tend to agree with that assessment though once again, I’m not sure I actually like the change.
I can’t think of a way to show that Perrin spent his adolescence learning to be cautious around the smaller kids lest he inadvertently hurt them because he’s bigger than they are. There’s no good dialogue option to convey that on screen and the show isn’t about the young Perrin adventures.
Which brings us to the axe. Given what happens with Laila I don’t know that we’re going to get the whitecloak attack from the book. Her death is a much more effective reason for his active hatred of the weapon and fear of losing control of himself than killing two nameless nazi-stand-ins could hope to be. Again, I understand the change and think it works for the show even if I don’t like the vibe. Personally, I think I would have workshopped a different way to get there. I think we ought to be better than fridging at this point.
But there are yet other changes that bring more questions to mind about how things will progress. Take the Shadar Logoth sequence for instance. My first instinct before watching was that they were going to cut Mordeth entirely, but I’m not sure now and I’ll tell you why.
Excuse this momentary burst of pure nerd speculation.
The shadow Mat sees that leads him to investigate the room with the dagger had me convinced for a split second that Mordeth was going to actually show up, but the farther I get from it the more the wheels in my head spin off. My best prediction at this point is that rather than the dagger being corrupted by the evil of the city, it’s going to be possessed by Mordeth. This again, would be an economical choice. It uses a concept that people are familiar with to get to mostly the same place.
We already see the effects of the dagger taking hold on Mat in episode 3, but knowing what we know about Padan Fain and Ordieth in the future, my bet is that Fain never actually enters Shadar Logoth and instead claims the dagger at some point and merges with Mordeth that way. But who knows? Maybe they write around that somehow and Mordeth doesn’t exist in the show as we knew him/it in The Eye of the World.
And that’s really why I’m here folks. I’ve got the books and I love them, but I’m here for the changes. I’m most interested in how they make this adaptation happen, not in seeing them capture every braid tug and smoothed skirt and thumbed earlobe. Bring me the new shit. Freshen things up. It’s not all going to be perfect, but I’m in to see how we get there.