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A Fantastic The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 6 Review & Recap

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  • 17 min read

The Flame of Tar Valon is told almost entirely from Moiraine’s point of view, and, of course, Rosamund Pike lives up to the challenge. Siuan Sanche’s introduction gives us cause for celebration, as does Leane Sharif’s, for that matter. There’s more political intrigue in the White Tower and a revelation that provides us with a pleasant surprise.

However, The Flame of Tar Valon is a segue episode and disappoints because the gasp is taken out of the hour by a contrivance that hamstrings one of the main plots.

A vital cast member didn’t return for filming after one of the Covid lockdowns. This forces a plot swerve that derails The Flame of Tar Valon and Season 1’s trajectory. It removes one of the show’s dramatic edges, for now at least, and the story can only suffer for it.

In honesty, no one lets this show down, so let’s enjoy what we get as much as possible. Please read further for my fantastic The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 6 review and recap.

The Wheel of Time's lead characters are on a grassy field approaching the Waygate (not pictured).
The Wheel of Time’s lead characters approach the Waygate.
Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 6 Review feature image.

This review & recap has spoilers for The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 6.

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 6

“The Flame of Tar Valon” – Moiraine faces the consequences of her actions. Mat faces the darkness in himself. Egwene faces the most powerful woman in the world.

Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) is in thrall to the dagger he holds.
Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) is in thrall to his dagger.

The Flame of Tar Valon Cold Open

We open in the nation of Tear, a country that respects Aes Sedai but forbids channeling.

A young Siuan Sanche (Keira Chanse) is asleep in her hammock until Berdan (Peter De Jersey), Siuan’s adoring papa, enters the riverside hut and wakes her. They begin to ply their trade on the river since, as Siuan puts it, the fish are “jumping for their breakfast.”

Berdan works with one hand as the other ends in a stump. He struggles to untie the fishing net, but Siuan can channel and uses the One Power to unloose the ropes. Dogs bark in the distance as if reacting to Siuan’s weaves, and Berdan urges caution. He’s fearful because using the One Power is outlawed and despised in this part of the world.

Despite this, Berdan is proud of Siuan’s ability and compliments her progress with the Power. The father and daughter catch a good haul, but the yield is unlikely to buy them a new hut. On their return, they find theirs burnt to the ground, and a Dragon’s Fang has been painted on the hut’s remains. A curse and a sign of evil, painted in hatred of Siuan’s ability.

The young girl’s time in Tear is no longer safe, and her papa knows it. He sacrifices his boat and equipment so Siuan can travel to Tar Valon for training in the White Tower.

“Siuan Sanche, daughter of the river, clever as a pike… strong as the tides.”

Young Siuan Sanche (Keira Chanse) and her papa, Berdan (Peter De Jersey) looked dismayed on the bank of a river.
Young Siuan Sanche (Keira Chanse) and her papa, Berdan (Peter De Jersey).

My Opinion

The music to “Al Naito” (by composer Lorne Balfe) and the performances by Keira and Peter are beautiful. I am fully immersed in this opening sequence. It’s very well done.

The flashback pays tribute to Siuan’s background, intelligence, and courage. She understands sacrifice, too. It’s important because we’ll soon discover that Siuan Sanche is now the Amyrlin Seat. She leads the Aes Sedai from Tar Valon and is not a woman to be reckoned with.

The significance of this scene is amplified by that reveal, and it’s a lovely, heartfelt way to introduce Siuan Sanche. Despite the implausibility of a young girl traveling so far – and by such a mode of transport – the start of Siuan’s journey warms me. The sentiment fits well for The Wheel of Time, even if the geography doesn’t.

The Flame of Tar Valon Review and Recap

The Amyrlin Seat, the Flame of Tar Valon, Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) holds court in the Hall of The Tower. The physical aspect of the Amyrlin Seat (an uncomfortable stone-wrought throne) is formidable.

Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) sits on the Amyrlin Seat dressed in gold with her hands touching each other on her lap. Her gold Aes Sedai ring is visible.
Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) sits on the Amyrlin Seat.

Logain’s Trial

Keeper of the Chronicles and Siuan’s second, Leane Sharif (Jennifer Cheon Garcia), calls in the False Dragon, Logain, and the ceremonial affairs of the White Tower play out well. Siuan’s entrance, the surrounding Aes Sedai, Leane’s summons, and the pensive trio of Moiraine, Liandrin, and Alanna create a judicial air of omnipotence.

Logain is presented on his knees, head cowed. He tries to rile Siuan with recriminations and mockery and shows no remorse for Kerene’s murder. It lands a reaction from the surrounding Aes Sedai, so Leane slams her staff on the floor to silence their gasps. Leane’s expression is priceless.

Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) is on his knees in the Hall. Liandrin, Moiraine, and Alanna stand behind him. Other Aes Sedai are seated on the raised perimeter.
Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) at his trial.

Siuan is unmoved. She correctly surmises that Logain wants to be executed rather than exist without the ability to channel. So, it is harsh when she sentences him to live, to be confined and studied, as an example to others. Logain pleads for death as he’s dragged from the Hall.

It’s another good inning for Álvaro Morte. He’s terrific in the role of Logain, and I hope we see more of him in the future.

Repercussions

Apart from in speech, Siuan barely moves a muscle in her face. It affirms her station’s influence and impassive approach to world governance. She’s an irrefutable force of nature and cannot be shaken as she asks Liandrin, Alanna, and Moiraine to approach.

Liandrin is defiant about how they needed to gentle Logain when they did, and surprisingly, Alanna quickly supports her. Moiraine looks startled that the Green Sister condones the gentling of Logain and gives the Amyrlin Seat a more typical Aes Sedai response, neither contradicting the others nor siding with them.

Siuan decides that the blame and penance for Logain’s premature gentling should fall on Liandrin. The Red Sister sulks and tries to circumvent Siuan’s attention by accusing Moiraine of hiding Nynaeve’s strength in the One Power. She also raises the question of Moiraine’s 20-year absence (sporadic) from the White Tower.

What has she been doing? What secrets is she hiding from the Amyrlin Seat? Is she a threat to the White Tower?

Despite the Amyrlin’s authority, Moiraine resists exposing herself before the Hall. Siuan is furious and gives Moiraine a thorough dressing down. She wants time to consider what penance to give Moiraine, so she reserves judgment until the following day.

Sophie Okonedo dominates the screen as Siuan Sanche and her commanding performance leaves me as gobsmacked as Moiraine. The Flame of Tar Valon has started strongly.

Mat’s Dagger

Moiraine pours tea for herself on a balcony opposite the Light’s Blessing Inn. She’s keeping tabs on Nynaeve and Loial and makes her move when they leave the establishment.

Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) takes tea at an outdoor venue, positioned so she can watch the balconies opposite.
Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) takes tea from her vantage point.

Under Lan’s protection, Moiraine swoops in on Mat and Rand’s accommodation. Rand is instinctively protective, though he knows his friend’s health is deteriorating. He foolishly stands up to Lan, but the Warder quickly puts him in his place.

Mat threatens Moiraine with the ruby-embedded dagger he took from Shadar Logoth. Moiraine reveals that this weapon is causing the darkness in him and admonishes the boy. She also draws out the evil suffocating him in a startling use of One Power Healing, but is it enough?

Rand is relieved that his concern for Mat has been lifted from his shoulders. He even thanks Moiraine for helping his friend at no small cost to herself. Will he trust her now?

When Nynaeve returns, Moiraine’s put-down is as hilarious as it is solemn. In brief, she tells her that if she’s a Wisdom, it would help if she showed some. And, by way of her reaction, Nynaeve accepts a degree of blame for keeping Mat’s condition a secret. She’s not broken, though.

Goldeneyes

The head of the Blue Ajah, Maigan (Sandy McDade), joins Moiraine as she bathes. She isn’t happy with Moiraine’s predicament or the state of play in the White Tower. A summary of world events follows that amounts to a thinly veiled foreshadowing of Season 2.

Back to the here and now, Maigan wants Moiraine’s time in the Tower to become permanent. This is the opposite of what Moiraine is planning, but sadly, Maigan has the authority to make it an instruction.

The women are interrupted when Moiraine receives an alert that signals the arrival of Egwene and Perrin. She hurries to see them.

Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) tends to Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) who lies shirtless on a bed. Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) watches her.
Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) tends to Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford).

Egwene hands over the Aes Sedai rings she seized from Valda and grasses on Perrin, who is recovering in bed.

There’s no telling what Moiraine makes of Perrin’s golden eyes and the wolves, but it alarms her. She stresses that Egwene must keep it secret. It is another web in the Pattern and begs the question… is Perrin the Dragon Reborn?

The Picture Frame

Moiraine masks the bond between Lan and herself, a trick I assume will somehow serve the show’s purpose.

Lan reacts instantly, of course, and confronts Moiraine in her room. He understands Moiraine’s intent quickly, though, and, despite his worry for Moiraine’s safety, gives his blessing to her desire. There are no secrets between them, but privacy is a precious commodity, and Lan respects Moiraine’s on this occasion.

The picture frame we saw in the last episode is revealed to be a ter’angreal (an object designed by the One Power to serve a specific purpose – in this case, travel). It opens a doorway to a place where Moiraine and Siuan can meet in private, a place that resembles the riverside hut of Siuan’s youth.

We discover that there’s a long-held love relationship between the two. Though tensions are high, their passion for each other is not shaken. They savor their reunion, and it’s a rewarding diversion for both.

Tower politics, pillow talk, and sex (not explicit) entwine. There’s talk of the Dragon, or possibly a multi-headed Dragon. Who are the Dragons? Prophecies are called into question, even the foretelling Moiraine and Siuan witnessed in their youth.

Siuan has recurring dreams that the Dark One’s power is growing at the Eye of the World. They should strike now if they have the Dragon Reborn or multiple reincarnations of the Dragon, at the cost of any who is not the Dragon. Lives are inconsequential if it means saving the world.

Moiraine needs Siuan to exile her to avoid Maigan’s request to stay in the White Tower. The two Aes Sedai put plans in place off-screen.

Liandrin and Moiraine

We have another encounter between Moiraine and Liandrin. The Red Sister lets on that she knows more than Moiraine thinks. She’s aware of Mat Cauthon and the others.

Moiraine shuts her down with a threat. She knows Liandrin is visiting a man in the city, a relationship sure to create dismay amongst the Red Ajah. Liandrin doesn’t deny it and backs off.

Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) wearing a red dress in the White Tower. She looks fierce.
Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood)

Egwene and Nynaeve’s Reunion

Egwene is baffled by the concept of the Amyrlin Seat (throne) bearing the same name as the Aes Sedai authority figure. I sympathize with her confusion, but not for long, as Nynaeve enters the Hall with Lan. Hugs, tears, and relief ensue.

Moiraine asserts that the summons to meet with Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat (not the throne one), can’t be put off. “Siuan Sanche waits for only one woman,” she tells Nynaeve, “… and it’s not you.”

Nicely put, Moiraine. She does have a sense of humor, after all.

Before the Amyrlin Seat

The look on Egwene’s face is priceless when Siuan announces they’ve found the strongest channeler in living memory, only to discover she means Nynaeve.

Siuan gives an emphatic speech about the importance of both women. Nynaeve is skeptical as always but is on the losing side of this argument. The Last Battle is coming, and Aes Sedai cannot lie.

Egwene is ready for the battles ahead, and I love her for it.

Moiraine is brought back to the Hall to receive her penance, and Siuan exiles her from Tar Valon until such a time as an Amyrlin Seat welcomes her back. However, Moiraine’s pledge on the Oath Rod only gives this condition to Siuan, an ambiguity that will likely be exploited later.

The oath is more a marriage ceremony than an announcement of justice, fingers touching as Moiraine commits her vows. I imagine Moiraine’s emotion as she leaves the Hall is because of another separation from Siuan rather than the falsified expulsion.

“Daughter of the river, clever as a pike… as strong as the tides.”

The Aes Sedai sisters turn their backs, but Moiraine will do whatever needs to be done. She has plans in place already, and we get the reunions we want… but then it all goes wrong.

Loial (Hammed Animashaun) studies a large map which Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) and Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) are holding.
Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) and Lan (Daniel Henney) hold a map for Loial (Hammed Animashaun).

The Waygate

Lan brings the Two Rivers group back together, and the reunions are a joy to see, especially Rand and Egwene.

Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) holds Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski)'s face, both smiling as they reunite. Rand holds the straps on his horse, his other hand on Egwene's back.
Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) and Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) reunite.

Moiraine introduces us to a Waygate – a dangerous portal, perhaps designed with LEGO® in mind, which enables super-fast travel. The Aes Sedai is in haste to reach the Eye of the World, where the Dark One was trapped and bound by the last Dragon at the cost of almost everything (they don’t tell you that in the brochures).

I find it bizarre that the horses are let free, but let’s carry on.

Moiraine comes clean. The Dragon has the potential to stop the Dark One from scouring the world, and without them, the world will be lost to the Shadow.

Egwene asks what will become of those who are not the Dragon Reborn. Moiraine confessed her morbid assumption to Siuan earlier, but the Amyrlin’s response allows her to muddy what she tells the group here. Crafty, these Aes Sedai, aren’t they?

At this point, Mat errs and doesn’t follow the group into the Ways. The party cries out for him.

This could be a failure on Moiraine’s part, and at what cost? Well, it’s not, actually. This is because Barney Harris didn’t return to film the last two episodes. Oh, dear.

The Waygate and the episode close.

Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) holds her gray mare outside the Waygate.
Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) with Aldieb at the Waygate.

The Flame of Tar Valon Rating

Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 6 Rating. 6.5/10.

I scored The Flame of Tar Valon a 6.5 because I’ve become fond of the show’s protagonists, and this episode augments my affection. The Aes Sedai politics and the cold open keep The Flame of Tar Valon burning, and I remain upbeat. I do have a couple of grumbles, though.

The dagger revelation with Mat felt rushed, and Loial looked like a spare part. I accept this is an episode about Moiraine and her standing in the White Tower, but still.

Loial (Hammed Animashaun) in his green coat with yellow tunic holds a satchel bag, trees behind the field he's walking through. Egwene, Rand, and Nynaeve follow behind.
Loial, son of Arent son of Halan (Hammed Animashaun).

There’s a lot of setup in this episode, and I think The Flame of Tar Valon loses its way because it lacks action. The soundtrack does its best to carry us along earnestly. Lorne Balfe’s score is evocative and triumphant throughout and nicely lands the significant beats of The Flame of Tar Valon.

On a rewatch, though, the music feels like gloss as we head to The Flame of Tar Valon’s messy ending.

As mentioned earlier, Barney Harris (who plays Mat Cauthon) did not return following the Covid lockdowns. This led to a change in direction and a rewrite of the later scripts.

Mat’s last-minute bailout from the Ways was done in editing, and the reactions are re-shots. Sadly, it shows, and I worry about the final two episodes without this central character. They left the plot behind, not just Matrim ‘bloody’ Cauthon, which makes me sad.

Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) talk by a window in a room that's covered in green plants.
Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike).

Best Actor

Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred

Rosamund Pike, helped by the musical score, carries The Flame of Tar Valon on her back.

This is despite astounding performances from Keira Chansa (young Siuan) and her father (Peter De Jersey) early on. I particularly enjoy the embodiments of the Amyrlin Seat (Sophie Okonedo, as Siuan) and Keeper of the Chronicles (Jennifer Cheon Garcia, as Leane Sharif).

As I said in my open, no one lets this show down.

We see a different side to Moiraine here, and I ship it. Her emotions (and desires) are laid open to us. There is so much Rosamund Pike has to do in this episode, and she nails it again. Bravo!

Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) with hands crossed in front of her channels to open the Waygate. The rest of the party is waiting behind.
Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) channels to open the Waygate.

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 6, The Flame of Tar Valon.

Watch “The Flame of Tar Valon” Today!

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In the comments, let me know your thoughts on The Flame of Tar Valon. Did The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 6 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 7 review, but until next time, may the Light shine on you, my friends!

Russell

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