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A Fantastic The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 5 Review & Recap

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So far, Season 1 of The Wheel of Time has been flippant with its pacing, but the story has moved fast. That momentum comes to an end with Blood Calls Blood.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m moved to tears by this episode, feel earnest for the main characters, and may need to see my local Wisdom soon. I appreciate the experience, but… if time is precious for the production, I must call Blood Calls Blood out for wasting an hour. Read on for my fantastic The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 5 review and recap.

The Tinkers, in bright clothing, lock arms to stop Eamon Valda (Abdul Salis) from passing through.
The Tinkers lock arms with Ila (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Raen (Narinder Samra), center.
Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 5 Review feature image.

This review & recap has spoilers for The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 5.

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 5

“Blood Calls Blood” – Perrin and Egwene run into a familiar face. Mat and Rand see strange ones. Moiraine and Lan mourn their loss.

Alanna Mosvani (Priyanka Bose) and Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) hold candles as they mourn the death of Kerene. Two red sisters stand behind them, also holding candles.
Alanna Mosvani (Priyanka Bose) and Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike).

Blood Calls Blood Cold Open

After panning beautiful landscapes, we focus on the Aes Sedai and their Warders. They’re burying the dead in shallow graves, including their attackers (the King of Ghealdan and others). Stepin (Peter Franzén) carries his fallen Aes Sedai, Kerene Nagashi (Clare Perkins), as music heightens communal grief.

The grieving Warder removes Kerene’s ring, which he must return to the White Tower, before pulling white linen over her. The dead are laid to rest, and it is done.

“May the last embrace of the mother welcome you home.”

My Opinion

With just one line of dialogue, the grief hits us through music, movement, and expression. It’s shorter than we’re used to from the cold opens but touches a nerve, nonetheless. The scene sets up an episode that beats with a heavy heart, wearing loss and reunion on its sleeve.

The intent here is to capture the mood, and it does so effectively. But I don’t feel fascinated or intrigued by this open as I have done with others.

A part of me thinks any criticism here is ungrateful since there’s a high bar to pass from the preceding episodes. I ache for Stepin, the grieving survivors, and the slain. So, in summary, the cold open has done its job well. It just lacks a spark, but maybe that’s the point.

Blood Calls Blood Review and Recap

A month later, the Aes Sedai approach Tar Valon, the forlorn Stepin fulfilling his duty to deliver Kerene’s ring to the White Tower. Lan and Moiraine discuss their private matters, still determined to reconnect with the Two Rivers youngsters they lost on the way.

Meanwhile, Mat’s paranoia worsens while Rand’s concern for his friend mounts. The stone column they pass, with indiscernible words (or runes, maybe), is intriguing. As with the books, the show continues to add details that may foreshadow future events. Or it could just be a road sign, ha.

Tar Valon

We see Tar Valon and the White Tower, with Dragonmount’s dominant presence in the backdrop. The mountain seems memorable to Rand for reasons he can’t recall. The city is ornate but looks more like an oil painting than a vibrant, breathing metropolis. It’s an oil painting I want on my wall, though.

Inside the city, which is bustling, Rand looks for an inn Thom told him about. Erm, when?

Thom stressed about keeping Mat away from Aes Sedai, and then the Fade encounter happened. Before then, there’s no relationship built or plan formed between Rand and the gleeman. So, I doubt Rand will have been given the address and directions for an inn at the heart of the Aes Sedai’s city.

These slight inadequacies lend credence to some criticism of the season. Show, don’t tell, please!

Wearing cloaks, Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) walk through a narrow street in Tar Valon.
Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) in Tar Valon.

The Tinkers and Whitecloaks

Aram continues to flirt with Egwene as the Tinkers also approach Tar Valon. Their entrance to the city is impeded by Eamon Valda and his Whitecloaks.

The Tinkers lock arms in solidarity, denying Valda access to Perrin and Egwene – he did warn us he always remembers a face.

Aram tries to lead the pair to safety but is knocked down by pursuing Children of the Light (Whitecloaks). I fear for Egwene and Perrin, now Valda’s captives.

Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) and Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) are back-to-back in fright as Whitecloaks on horseback watch them.
Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) and Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) are captured.

Loial and the Library

Rand is in the inn’s library, looking at “The Karaethon Cycle.” The book has a picture of a dragon, so it must have some significance.

Loial (Hammed Animashaun), an Ogier (not an ogre, and definitely not a Trolloc), interrupts Rand.

Loial (Hammed Animashaun) has curly blonde hair and big, hairy hands. He's holding a book.
Loial (Hammed Animashaun)

Loial’s introduction to the story is an uplifting moment for book readers. He’s a hugely popular character from The Wheel of Time, so when we hear Loial voiced superbly, our ears prick up. Your name rings in my ears, Hammed Animashaun.

I get the silly hair. Ogier are tree lovers and builders – they like things to grow. At the moment, though, the prosthetic Loial is a little jarring. I hope it grows on me (I know… I’m very witty!).

I should add that I find Loial’s movement and demeanor endearing. So, I’m not super-happy with Loial’s appearance, but I like the nuances.

The Ogier mistakes Rand for an Aiel because of his red hair. It’s a fascinating segment, and Rand feels more intriguing for it. There will be something to this, I’m sure.

The dialogue brings our attention to another book, “The Adventures of Jain Farstrider.” It’s Egwene’s favorite, according to Rand.

I don’t know if this is an easter egg for book fans or whether it will have significance down the line, so I’ll hold my mouth for now. It’s excellent it gets a mention, though, if nothing else.

With introductions done, Rand leaves his new friend to see what the fuss is about outside.

Logain’s Parade

Logain, the gentled “False Dragon,” is paraded through the streets of Tar Valon as an exhibition of triumph for the Aes Sedai. We see Padan Fain from the first episode (remember him, the peddler?) chuckling to himself as White Tower Novices follow the procession. Mat has risen from bed, so Rand joins him on a balcony.

Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) it on a balcony watching the street below. Other people are looking out of their windows too.
Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) on the balcony.

Logain looks at them and laughs. I suspect there’s more to this than we see, and Logain’s apparent madness disturbs Mat so much that he makes a pact with Rand.

If either of them turns out to be the Dragon Reborn, destined to go mad, they will end it for the other before madness takes them. It’s the most sensible thing Mat has said for a while, and Rand agrees to the deal, though he appears less certain. He doesn’t want to have to kill his friend, after all.

It’s a lovely moment for the two as I appreciate Mat’s despair and Rand’s counter-despair. I want them to be okay.

There’s no escaping what has happened since Moiraine walked into the Winespring Inn, telling tales of prophecy and destiny. These young men have only seen madness and darkness since they left the Two Rivers, so they have earned our sympathy.

Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) grins through the bars of his cage as he is paraded through the busy streets of Tar Valon.
Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) grins through the bars of his cage.

Stepin

Stepin is getting into white mourning attire, sharing anecdotes with Ihvon (Emmanual Imani), Maksim (Taylor Napier), and Lan. Their stories do nothing to lift the solemn mood, but they hope Stepin might let Alanna bond with him. It may help to heal the intense loss Stepin is feeling, but, at this point, it’s too soon.

Stepin dutifully burns Kerene’s ring – is he a cross between Aragorn and Frodo? Sorry, I digress.

We’re halfway through the episode, and it’s all been very watchable. I realize how much I care for these characters. The last few episodes have moved the plot along, while this episode resists that approach. I feel a loss of edginess because of it, but I’m still glued to the screen.

Perrin and Egwene

The Whitecloaks cleanse Egwene disturbingly with rough brushes and nail pickers before dressing her in a white robe (the show is clever with these things) and tying her to a chair. Eamon Valda carves a piglet for himself. Does this man not have sides with his meals? Apart from wine, of course.

Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) has her wrists tied to a wooden chair, wearing a plain, white gown.
Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden)

Perrin is treated brutally, strapped to a torture device, while Egwene resists interrogation. She disputes Valda’s claim that she can channel. Madeleine Madden delivers another excellent performance as Egwene al’Vere here, showing her courage and defiance.

The tension builds as Valda inflicts knife wounds on Perrin’s back. Perrin’s eyes burn golden, and we hear wolves howling outside as he reacts to the pain. Valda then leaves Egwene with an impossible choice. Channel and die, or do not, and Perrin will die. Life was much easier with the Tinkers.

Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) has a rope gagging his mouth. Eamon Valda (Abdul Salis) stands behind him.
Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) is tortured by Eamon Valda (Abdul Salis).

Nynaeve and Stepin

Stepin calls on Nynaeve for more sleeping herbs. He’s not ready to let go of the pain of his loss, and grief makes him vulnerable. Nynaeve kindly obliges him and then leaves her quarters.

Like a rat from the basement, the increasingly insincere Liandrin intercepts Nynaeve. I don’t think her speech gains much traction, though. Unless there’s a more profound deception (and that’s possible), she appears to be grooming Nynaeve for the Red Ajah. Not on my watch, Kate Fleetwood!

I love the statues in the Warders’ quarters, by the way. They’re imposing and stoic like the men themselves.

Courtesy of Liandrin’s directions, Nynaeve finds her way to the White Tower gardens, and it is a fortunate excursion.

The Light’s Blessing Inn

Loial, typically elaborate and hilarious with his words, brings Nynaeve to Rand and Mat. By the Light, thank you, Loial!

Although the reunion is excellent, Nynaeve’s concern for Mat, who has retaken to his bed, is instant. Totally true to her character, she goes into full Wisdom mode, but Mat lashes out. It alarms them, and me too! Rand confesses to Nynaeve… he suspects Mat can channel.

Nynaeve must think on her feet and resolves that the Two Rivers team must figure things out for themselves. She means to include the others in their pact, so her conversation with Rand turns to Egwene.

Nynaeve has a moving story about Egwene suffering from breakbone fever as a child, which Nynaeve nursed. Though it lacks the punchline I expected as a book reader, Nynaeve’s appraisal of her friend is sweet.

“Egwene is many things, but above all else, she’s unbreakable.”

Egwene, Perrin, Wolves, and Valda

That’s tested on Eamon Valda’s return to his tent.

Egwene and Perrin struggle to deal with their situation. Perrin reveals his guilt for Laila’s death, and Egwene tries to stop the blacksmith from blaming himself. Valda interrupts. He’s expecting a decision.

The discomfort, Perrin’s intense pain, and Egwene’s resolve to channel are all driven by the strengths and weaknesses of these characters. It keeps me thoroughly invested in the moment.

Egwene plays it perfectly, sending a tiny firebolt at Valda and using the time he spends in mockery to burn the ropes that hold Perrin and her.

Perrin growls as he bursts free from his bonds, and Valda is mortified. Howling wolves can be heard again. Egwene floors Valda with a small knife, and our precious two escape the tent. She retrieves the Aes Sedai rings from Valda’s belongings in the process.

Wolves attack the Whitecloak camp as Perrin and Egwene run for their lives. The scene gives me chills. This is what I’m here for!

Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) in a red dress and Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) in blue are talking in a hallway.
Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) and Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike).

Back in the White Tower

Stepin and Lan introduce us to the Forsaken through statuettes and prayer. The Forsaken are powerful channelers who sold their souls to the Dark One for the reward of eternal life. Ishamael, the Father of Lies, is troubling Stepin, who is seeking his own truth after Kerene’s death.

While this moment blatantly foreshadows the Forsaken, it supports the episode’s mood.

Alanna catches up with Moiraine in her room. There’s more foreshadowing in this exchange as we learn about the politics and underbelly of the White Tower. So many factions, and none are willing to share their knowledge. Moiraine, least of all. Being an Aes Sedai is a challenging game.

RIP Stepin

Lan has chosen to stay the night with Stepin to protect Stepin from himself, but the grieving man has used Nynaeve’s tea to lull Lan into a deep sleep. It’s not until dawn that Lan realizes and fears the worst.

After a tense race through the White Tower, effectively shown in slow-motion, Lan finds Stepin with slit wrists. The head of Ishamael’s statuette sits at his knees.

The end sequence has the Warders send their brother off in a ceremony that solidifies the grief, loss, and uncertainty that has been the theme of Blood Calls Blood.

Lan takes on the pain of all, beating his chest and screaming in pain and defiance. His emotions are felt by Moiraine through the Warder bond, and this moment will become a motif for Season 1 of The Wheel of Time. My heart breaks.

Excuse me, I need a second as the credits roll.

May the last embrace of the mother welcome you home, Stepin!

Blood Calls Blood Rating

Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 5 Rating. 7/10.

I’m scoring this episode a 7, but that may be unkind. Small moments, silences, and expressions work well to hit the mood, and there’s a lot to like about Blood Calls Blood.

We learn more about the Aes Sedai and Warder bond and the terrible price it takes in times of crisis. There’s distrust within the Aes Sedai establishment (sure to inspire exciting conflicts in the future). They’re all schemers and ambitious women with power. Plus, of course, Loial is introduced.

Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) holds his sword up as he meets Loial (Hammed Animashaun) in a library.
Loial (Hammed Animashaun) and Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) in the library.

The season needs this episode to get us to a new location and allow us time to learn more about it. “Better than the road,” Mat says, and I agree.

The Wheel of Time keeps its soul in Blood Calls Blood, but I want to watch the next episode soon after this one. Not because I’m champing at the bit but because my interest isn’t piqued enough. I want more action and to get back to the main plot. It’s harsh of me to say, though.

Perrin’s golden eyes and the wolves, Mat’s dark mood, and Loial’s assumption that Rand is an Aiel continue the “Who is the Dragon?” theme. I don’t think about it as I watch the episode, though. My partner did, so it’s likely a book reader flaw in me. She’s still getting it wrong, by the way, which is funny.

I’ll treat Blood Calls Blood in a higher regard as The Wheel of Time’s seasons and episodes progress. But the show may come to want this hour back before its end.

Nynaeve al'Meara (Zoë Robins) has her arms folded, unimpressed with what Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike, with back to camera) is telling her.
Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins) is unimpressed with Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike).

Best Actors

Peter Franzén as Stepin and Daniel Henney as Lan Mandragoran

I think it’s only fair that I share the Best Actor award for Blood Calls Blood, and I’m sorry if anyone feels differently.

Peter Franzén is one of two keys that make Blood Calls Blood work. His powerful performance, depicting Stepin’s fragile emptiness, makes me forget his part is a flagrant breach of history for book purists (please chill out).

Stepin bids us farewell in Blood Calls Blood, taking his own life, but I love everything about him. He opens himself up to the other Warders but deals with his tragedy alone. It’s hard not to care.

The casting of Stepin is rewarding in every sense. I really appreciate what Peter Franzén gives to the show. He shows us Stepin’s normality, humor, wisdom, deep-set depression, and loss with all the verve of an actual human. I believe in his character, and now I mourn. Thank you, Peter Franzén.

Stepin (Peter Franzén) and Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) are seated on rugs, talking.
Stepin (Peter Franzén) and Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney).

Daniel Henney, as Lan Mandragoran, is the other key.

My reviews haven’t given Daniel Henney enough credit for his performances in Season 1 of The Wheel of Time. He has often been the pin that holds the bigger picture, the glue that sticks this ensemble cast together, and a constant force that the plot orbits.

Seeing that firmness breached in Blood Calls Blood is chilling, and that speaks volumes for the powerful performances Daniel Henney has registered so far. I drum my ribs and salute you, Daniel Henney.

Behind the Scenes Video

Enjoy this behind-the-scenes footage, which Prime Video has shared on YouTube. It’s a look inside The Wheel of Time Episode 5, Blood Calls Blood.

Watch “Blood Calls Blood” Today!

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Let me know your thoughts on Blood Calls Blood in the comments. Did The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 5 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 6 review, but until next time, may the Light shine on you, my friends!

Russell

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