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A Fantastic The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 4 Review & Recap

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With short but engaging scenes, The Wheel of Time TV series hits its stride with The Dragon Reborn. I get excited as new characters are introduced and go through various emotions each time I watch. That’s like the books, so I’m having a good time with the series so far, and I hope you are, too. Just scroll down for my fantastic The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 4 review and recap.

Ihvon (Emmanuel Imani) is ready to fire an arrow from his bow.
Ihvon (Emmanuel Imani)
Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 4 Review feature image.

This review & recap has spoilers for The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 4.

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 4

“The Dragon Reborn” – Moiraine struggles with uncertainty while Lan struggles with their new companion. Rand wonders about Mat, and Mat starts to wonder about himself. Egwene and Perrin take their first steps down a different path. An incredible new power is unleashed on the world.

Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) and Nynaeve al'Meara (Zoë Robins) sense danger in the Aes Sedai camp.
Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) and Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins) sense danger in the camp.

The Dragon Reborn Cold Open

In Ghealdan, Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) has the King of Ghealdan (Miguel Alvarez) in retreat. There are men laid on their backs forever.

Logain feels dangerous, terrifying, and powerful in his pomp. He has proclaimed himself the Dragon Reborn, spears are useless against him, and he appears Jesus-like from the fogs of war.

We see the male half of the One Power being used for the first time. The weaves are almost familiar, but Logain clutches his fist to grab the Power rather than open himself to it. The flows are lacquered by a black wisp, representing the Dark One’s corruption, the tainted source that drives men mad.

The King of Ghealdan has summoned Aes Sedai to restrain Logain, but his aggressor derides them.

“They should be helping me, not fighting me.”

We hear voices whisper in Logain’s ear, hauntingly visualized soon after as a sign of madness.

The King of Ghealdan’s last but desperate gambit is to plunge a dagger through Logain’s throat. Logain twists the knife with the Power, and we’re led to think the King will be forced to impale himself.

Logain doesn’t go that far, despite the voices urging him to do otherwise. He sends the Ghealdan King to the floor but then heals his injury.

“There is a place for anyone by my side… even my enemies.”

The King of Ghealdan is won over, in awe of Logain’s strength.

My Opinion

We get exposition here (The Dragon Reborn has lots of it), but it feels like layering the plot rather than a dumpster truck of history and lore. The scene is rich in dialogue and imagery, so I’m happy.

As Logain speaks, I’m like one of my thirsty cats at their water bowl, lapping up Álvaro Morte’s silky accent. His presence feels biblical and fits in well with the corrupted weaves. The signs of madness give me goosebumps.

What it means, or might mean, to be the Dragon Reborn is brought to life. It is no wonder people live in fear of male channelers. The havoc they wreak on the world is devastating.

I see parallels to a chapter in Lord of Chaos (the sixth installment of The Wheel of Time book series), but that scene involves different characters. It may worry readers if a particular character is cut or re-imagined in the show.

I am treating the two entities separately, regardless. This is a 21st-century TV adaptation of a 20th-century book series. It is a new turning of the Wheel, and I love the cold opens.

The Dragon Reborn Review and Recap

Nynaeve looks down on the Aes Sedai and Warders in their camp. Green and Red Sisters are present, clearly keeping themselves apart. As much as they can, at least. Four of the Red Ajah, with the now-familiar Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) at their head, look particularly stern and pouty.

Parading the camp, Lan briefly looks up at Nynaeve, and the energy between them is palpable. All sorts of tension then, and without any need for dialogue. Full marks.

Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) and 3 Red Sisters look stern in the Aes Sedai camp.
Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) and 3 Red Sisters look stern in the Aes Sedai camp.

Moiraine’s Healing

Moiraine is back in the game (or the Pattern, and Kerene Nagashi (Clare Perkins) takes care of the Trolloc wound. Barring a gruff sigh, Kerene is emotionless after she performs the Healing, but Moiraine can tell she is weary. It is Logain that has left the Green Sister so shattered.

“I want to meet this False Dragon,” says Moiraine, and we know she will. The show feels more polished when Rosamund Pike is in a scene, so I am happy.

Exposition

Moiraine and Kerene walk through the woods to the cave where Logain is being held. Liandrin and Alanna are on shift to keep a shield on the “False Dragon.” The whole sequence is just an opportunity to give us an info dump, and we learn the following:

  • The Dragonsworn (those who believe in Logain as the self-proclaimed Dragon) may still be about.
  • Only three sisters in the camp have enough strength to keep Logain shielded, and they need to work in pairs.
  • The Aes Sedai caught Logain in his sleep (not shown on screen) and deafened him with plugs of Air (one of the elements drawn by the One Power).
  • Kerene has set wards (not to be confused with Warders) to let the Aes Sedai know if anyone approaches the camp.
  • Logain planned to march on the White Tower, and Liandrin thinks he should be gentled at once. Kerene dismisses this idea as contrary to Tower law and cites the role of the Amyrlin Seat in such matters.

All of the above needs to be said to be fair, and it’s kept brief. Alanna Mosvani (Priyanka Bose) breaks it up with her sarcastic line, “Hello to you too,” which is hilarious.

With one-hour episodes or thereabouts, I understand why the show goes this way with exposition. The Wheel of Time books are long and complex, so important information must be shared with the viewer early on. A bit more subtlety would be good, though.

The Warders

Outside, Lan is catching up on the goings-on at the White Tower with Stepin (Peter Franzén). They exercise forms as they talk, Lan with a sword and Stepin with two axes.

There’s banter about Nynaeve, but Stepin’s allusion to trouble between Moiraine and the Amyrlin Seat is the best intrigue. The suggestion sparks my interest for when we reach Tar Valon.

Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) and Stepin (Peter Franzén) spar with sword and axes respectively.
Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) and Stepin (Peter Franzén) sparring.

Kerene draws Stepin away to her tent, and it’s nice to see another Aes Sedai, other than Moiraine, demonstrate the mutual trust and loyalty they share with their Warder/s.

These two mostly talk about Lan and Moiraine, though. That and Liandrin’s growing influence in the camp. It’s not until the last few lines of dialogue that we see the conversation become about Kerene and Stepin rather than other characters and the main plot. That’s a shame, but the interaction is good to watch, nonetheless.

Perrin, Egwene, and the Tinkers

Despite the color-coded Ajahs of the Aes Sedai, the Tinkers add a breath of color as we transition to the next scene. Their caravans and attire, the clatter of pots, barking dogs, and chattering noises bring life to the Travelling People.

Perrin distrusts the Tuatha’an (yes, Tinkers have many names), but Egwene assures him they’re a team of two now and will leave when one of them wants to. However, the likable Aram (Daryl McCormack) tells them that the Tinker caravans are heading to Tar Valon.

So, after Perrin’s nod of approval, the pair decide to go with them. It’s not like they have a better option.

Aram (Daryl McCormack) sits at a campfire with Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford).
Aram (Daryl McCormack) with Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford).

The Way of the Leaf

The Tuatha’an follow “The Way of the Leaf”, an extreme form of pacifism. They explain their philosophy in later scenes involving them.

Ila (Maria Doyle Kennedy) makes a convincing argument with effective analogies, while Aram is more flippant. We learn about Tinker deserters from Aram while Ila talks about dark souls that have been converted to their faith.

These are solid character moments for Perrin, who listens to Ila, and Egwene with Aram. Perrin absorbs the ideology and, typically, feels conflicted, while Egwene has no hesitancy about dancing with the Tinkers. This personifies Egwene’s character, while Perrin’s reticence personifies his.

Perrin helps with the caravan wheels while Egwene dances. He’s a lovely lad and takes peace in the work.

I find both joy and tragedy in the Tinkers, and if I was jading of their introduction in the last episode, I want to see more of them now. Maria Doyle Kennedy and Daryl McCormack are incredibly good in these scenes, and I have familiar praise for Marcus Rutherford (Perrin) and Madeleine Madden (Egwene).

Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) smiling in the Tinker camp.
Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) smiling in the Tinker camp.

Rand and Mat

Rand and Mat stop to recap their story so far, despite Thom Merrilin riding on apace, having found a farm ahead. Both boys are insecure after their encounter with Dana, the possibility of a Fade pursuing them, and, let’s not forget, the whole Dragon Reborn thing too. Can they even trust Thom?

After what they’ve been through, it’s no wonder they want to talk things out, but there’s a time and a place. Get moving, lads!

Moiraine and Alanna

Now the exposition is done right and excellently! My respect for Rosamund Pike’s performance has been said before, but Priyanka Bose as Alanna Sedai is the one that delights me here.

Their scene is full of exposition about the Green Sisters (the Battle Ajah who take on multiple Warders), the Last Battle, and the Dragon Reborn, but it happens as they hold the shield on Logain. Not a fun job. “It’s like holding a cat in the bath,” so it makes sense they get chatty.

Moiraine and Alanna clearly know each other from their Novice years – think Aes Sedai apprenticeship – but Alanna didn’t expect to be alive to witness the Dragon being reborn.

Nor did she expect that the Last Battle might fall in her lifetime. She wonders what will happen if the Dragon Reborn is needed by their side at the Last Battle, but the Red Sisters have gentled him already. Even if Logain is a False Dragon, she concludes, “It’s just another sign the end of this Age is here.”

This is a simple, effective scene with terrific acting chops on display.

Liandrin

Liandrin approaches Nynaeve, who is chewing on cold chicken and staying distant from the camp. The Red Sister pays the Wisdom a patronizing compliment about her braid, and her sour mispronunciation of Nynaeve’s name is clearly deliberate. A part of me wonders if this is a subtle nod to book fans, who have spent years arguing over various pronunciations? I do hope so.

None of the slight put-downs are lost on Nynaeve, who changes the subject to Moiraine, perhaps knowing it is one of Liandrin’s favorite topics. Lan interrupts and invites Nynaeve to the Warders’ campfire, as long as she doesn’t shove anyone into it.

Liandrin suggests Nynaeve dine with the Red Sisters instead. Their tents are always open, but I don’t think Nynaeve will accept the offer. “She’s a snake,” Nynaeve observes, suspecting all Aes Sedai are snakes.

Kate Fleetwood is killing it as Liandrin – I hate her already – and Lan is as charming as ever. But Zoë Robins, as Nynaeve, portrays her character’s complications so well and is the standout performer. Nynaeve is the most lived-in character on the show so far, and these short scenes are mesmerizing because of Zoë Robins’ presence in the role.

The Warders’ Campfire

Nynaeve relaxes for once as she enjoys the camaraderie around the Warders’ fire. She and the other Warders throw shade on Lan, but he takes it in good humor and learns there is more to the bond between Green Aes Sedai and their Warders than she thought. Polyamory in Alanna’s case.

“No bond is closer than an Aes Sedai and her Warder. Not husbands and wives, not parents and children.”

Stepin (Peter Franzén) and Nynaeve al'Meara (Zoë Robins) seated, the glow from a campfire on Nynaeve's face. Both look relaxed.
Stepin (Peter Franzén) and Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins) at the campfire.

Lan returns to Moiraine’s tent when the campfire drinking is done. She’s doubting herself about Logain and who the Dragon might be. She can’t believe she’s managed to lose the Two Rivers kids after 20 years of looking for them. All her plans have gone pear-shaped.

It’s a moment of pause and self-doubt for Moiraine, but she’s always like that when Lan’s had a drink! Ha-ha, good job, writers’ room!

The Grinwell Farm

Rand, Thom, and Mat approach the farm Thom sought out earlier. Mat’s horse is being erratic, so he blames the gleeman. Thom scoffs at the rider. A brief but very Wheel of Time exchange.

It’s Thom’s plan for the three to take shelter in the barn after sunset, but the farm’s owner, Mr. Grinwell (Pasha Bocarie), cuts them off before they make a decision.

With an arrow cocked in his bow, Mr. Grinwell confronts the strangers. Mat Cauthon grips his dagger, and Thom struggles to appease the man, but surprisingly, Rand steps forward to speak for the threesome.

He admits they planned to sleep in the barn and would have been gone before they were noticed. He also notes that Mr. Grinwell has his bow strung with his fist. If the man wanted to kill them, it would be with his fingertips. Rumbled, Mr. Grinwell relaxes his bow and takes advice from his wife. She and her son are stood behind the group… with fingertips stretching their bows.

It’s agreed they can spend a night in the barn so long as they muck the stables out. Mat isn’t pleased with the proposition, but there are no arguments.

Birgitte

When we return, Thom is pleased with himself as the boys are doing all the mucking out. He has bartered to perform for the Grinwells instead.

Mat feels unwell and goes outside for air. We see him throwing up, spewing black ink similar to what we saw in Shadar Logoth. He steadies himself when the Grinwells’ daughter approaches, and we get the caring Mat we love. He accepts bread with gratitude and talks about his sisters.

The young girl can sense that Mat is troubled. She offers him her doll, Birgitte, to take home for his sisters. Birgitte will protect them when they sleep.

I imagine there’s a roar of delight from book fans now, and there is from me. Birgitte is a legendary hero, significant to the history of The Wheel of Time. I won’t spoil it for you, just in case.

Inside the barn, Rand and Thom are speaking about Mat’s illness. Thom tells the tragic story of his nephew who could use the One Power. The gleeman thinks Mat’s behavior shows he also has the spark and sickness, and Rand reluctantly agrees.

It’s a moving moment, and they resolve to protect Mat from the Aes Sedai, as there’s no doubt they would gentle him at the cost of his life.

The scenes in The Dragon Reborn have been satisfying so far. They have slowed the pace down deliberately, but their quickness accelerates the plot. It works very well for the mood of the show and its gravity. Applause for Rafe Judkins and his team.

Rand’s Dream

With this newfound worry, Rand commits loyalty to Mat, who is pretending or struggling to sleep. Rand blows the candle out so he can take a nap, too.

He enters a dream where Perrin is dealing hammer blows to his dead wife. Has she not suffered enough? Mat aimlessly walks, lost in himself with bloodied hands. Egwene is there too, and the flame-eyed creature we’ve seen before clutches a hand over her mouth.

Rand jolts awake, and Thom tries to soothe him. An impossible task as Mat has gone!

The Grinwell Farmhouse

On the hunt for Mat, Rand enters the farmhouse with Thom. They find Mr. and Ms. Grinwell lying dead on the floor, and a menacing Mat looks up at something we can’t see. He raises his dagger as a sickly black ooze draws back into his mouth.

Alarmed, Rand wants out for all of them. What has his friend done?

Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) points his dagger towards something hidden. Thom Merrilin (Alexandre Willaume) and Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) watch, bewildered.
Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris), Thom Merrilin (Alexandre Willaume), and Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski).

A Fade appears from above and is as swift as the wind to attack. Thom shoots with one of his knives, but the attack continues. Rand and Mat escape through the door, leaving Thom to fight the Fade alone.

The Grinwell daughter is dead outside, and the Birgitte doll lies lost on the ground. Mat takes a moment but ultimately flees with Rand on horseback. It was the Fade that killed the Grinwells, right? It couldn’t have been Mat, could it?

Although he’s Fade-fighting in the farmhouse, I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the gleeman, Thom Merrilin. Alexandre Willaume lends a unique charisma to his performance that suits Thom perfectly. I hope it’s not the last we see of Birgitte too!

Back in the Camp

Kerene confronts Liandrin about her desire to gentle Logain. The impertinent Red goes so far as to imply that if Logain breaks his shield, they can legally gentle him on the spot. Kerene isn’t impressed.

Meanwhile, Nynaeve finds Lan in a ritual, praying for the lost people of Malkier. Nynaeve pays homage, speaking in the Old Tongue, though she doesn’t know what her words mean. “We shall go into the land,” Lan translates for her, “so our children can always hold us and never be alone.”

It’s a touching and romantic scene with great chemistry between the two actors, broken by the noise of invasion. Kerene’s wards have been triggered, and Logain’s Dragonsworn army is flooding the camp.

The Aes Sedai’s self-righteousness leaves them unprepared for this breach. A battle ensues. Arrows, bows, swords, the One Power, and Stepin’s axes create chaos. The sequence is invigorating after so many quieter moments.

Alanna Mosvani (Priyanka Bose) and her Warder, Maksim (Taylor Napier) are prepared to battle in woodland. Fallen leaves cover the ground.
Alanna Mosvani (Priyanka Bose) and her Warder, Maksim (Taylor Napier).

The Raging Sun

Logain breaks his shield, sending Kerene and Liandrin to the ground. As Logain recovers, Moiraine confronts him. She wants to know why he thinks he’s the Dragon Reborn. Logain should think before speaking because his answer does nothing more than explain the aspects of his madness to Moiraine.

Quite rightly, she mocks him. Logain’s power is but a trickle against the raging sun that will be the true Dragon Reborn, she forbodes.

Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) confronts Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte).
Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) confronts Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte).

Back on their feet, Kerene and Liandrin try to help Moiraine re-establish the shield. Logain resists, and a flood of Power fatally strikes Kerene. On the field, Stepin instantly senses the death of his Aes Sedai, and blood drains from his face.

The Aes Sedai head towards the cave, leaving Alanna to give us a crowd-pleasing moment with the Power. The King of Ghealdan spits up blood, taking his last breath.

Stepin rages at Logain in the cave and strikes his axes against the shield. The impact does not break through but weakens the Aes Sedai’s hold. Logain lashes out, causing near-mortal wounds to Liandrin, Moiraine, and Lan. They collapse to the ground.

Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) has two axes aimed at his neck.
Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte)

Nynaeve watches in horror before kneeling by Lan. A rage boils inside her, and suddenly, she is full of the One Power, a magnificent light brighter than anything we’ve seen before. She channels and restores the health of everyone in the cave but not Kerene. The One Power can’t heal the dead.

“Like a raging sun,” Logain gasps.

The Aes Sedai link their powers to Liandrin, who finally gets her wish. They gentle Logain, and the power rips from his chest. The self-proclaimed Dragon is defeated.

Nynaeve realizes later than us that she can touch and use the One Power.

How will she use it, and who is the Dragon Reborn?

Great TV. Hurrah!

The Dragon Reborn Rating

Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 4 Rating. 8.5/10.

I scored The Dragon Reborn an 8.5 because it is terrific viewing. The show is inevitably held back by exposition because there is so much history, lore, and world to explore. However, most of the explanatory scenes are done well in The Dragon Reborn, and nothing strikes me as horrible.

If a show engrosses me from start to finish and I am interested in everything said, I will score it high. The Dragon Reborn does that. The episode has depth, keeps me hooked, and the growing number of familiar characters is rewarding.

I am delighted with the cast – the acting from everyone is remarkably good. With performances like these, the show will grow in popularity and critical acclaim as the seasons progress. I am all buckled up and ready for the ride.

Best Actor

Zoë Robins as Nynaeve al’Meara

Zoë Robins attends the Premiere of The Wheel of Time. Wearing an apple green dress on the blue carpet.
Zoë Robins. Credit: Andrew Timms. © Amazon Studios.

She ends The Dragon Reborn in a blaze of glory, opening herself to the One Power and stunning everyone present. But it is in the smaller scenes that Zoë Robins embellishes Nynaeve’s idiosyncrasies.

She is stubborn, protective, coy, affectionate, scared, and, of course, angry. The superb Zoë Robins delivers on all these traits naturally and with charm. She is a standout star from beginning to end.

Of all the main characters, Nynaeve seems the most complicated but is also the most relatable, and that is to Zoë’s credit. Nynaeve elevates The Dragon Reborn, and Zoë Robins gives what should be an award-winning performance. She is that good.

Behind the Scenes Video

Enjoy this behind-the-scenes footage, which Prime Video has shared on YouTube. It is a look inside The Wheel of Time Episode 4, The Dragon Reborn.

Watch “The Dragon Reborn” Today!

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Let me know your thoughts on The Dragon Reborn in the comments. Did The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 4 meet your expectations? Do you agree with my rating and review? I always respond as soon as possible and answer any questions you have.

Clicking the image below takes you to my Episode 5 review, but until next time, may the Light shine on you, my friends!

Russell

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