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A Brilliant The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 7 Review & Recap

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  • 43 min read

I’ve watched Daes Dae’mar from start to finish five or six times now and enjoy it more each time I watch. If that doesn’t say this is a good adaptation of the book series, I don’t know what does. So, welcome to my The Wheel of Time Season 2, Episode 7 review and recap. It’s another positive step forward for a production that is finally coming of age.

Of course, I have some niggles, and I’ll share them as we go. I’m more at home with praise, though, and I hope you’ll share my good vibes as we reach the end of Season 2.

This year, it has been a consistent and confident production that doesn’t try to be universally pleasing and deserves respect. I’m not always fond of the choices, and sometimes I cringe, but my reviews try to adapt to the show’s interpretation. They should appeal to the unbiased majority who love The Wheel of Time, warts and all.

Head and shoulders shot of Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) scowling. Her dark hair is tied back and her mouth is covered by a metal gag. She wears the damane collar around her neck and chest.
Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden)
The face of a golden-eyed wolf on a blue background. Blue and white text reads “The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 7 Review, Daes Dae’mar.”

This review & recap has spoilers for The Wheel of Time Season 2, Episode 7.

The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 7

“Daes Dae’mar” – A familiar face spoils Moiraine and Rand’s plans.

Daes Dae’mar Cold Open

A younger Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) and Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) are on the walls of the White Tower, 20 years before events of the main timeline. They are holding hands and talking excitedly about Siuan meeting Moiraine’s family. Moiraine senses some reticence in her closest confidante, but it isn’t the thought of meeting her friend’s sister.

Siuan has been affected by the Aiel War raging outside Tar Valon and wonders where they will end up afterward. She thinks their future together is in a bamboo hut on a river, like the one she shared with her father, though Moiraine would make an awful fishwife.

Moiraine doesn’t want to be cooped up in the White Tower, either, and dreams of advising the Queen of Andor or the King of Altara. They will retire together, though, and Siuan can be her fishwife.

They kiss happily before going about their business. Moiraine knocks on a large door to bring news to a white-haired Aes Sedai, Gitara Moroso (Hayley Mills). The blind woman holds a glass and turns to meet the young Blue Sisters as they enter. They tell her that the Aiel war is over.

Gitara drops her glass and arches in pain. There are visions of Rand al’Thor’s mother, Tigraine Mantear (Magdalena Sittova), being stabbed in the snow. Moiraine and Siuan go to Gitara’s aid as she collapses, gasping.

Gitara Moroso (Hayley Mills) is held up by Siuan and Moiraine as the blind woman has her stark Foretelling. All 3 wear the blue dresses of their Ajah.
Gitara Moroso (Hayley Mills) has a Foretelling.

“The Dragon…” Gitara prophesizes, “The Dragon is born again… It’s happening now. The baby lies in the snow and cries like the thunder. It burns like the sun.”

Tam al’Thor (Michael McElhatton) cuts Tigraine’s umbilical cord and holds the baby. Gitara tells Moiraine and Siuan to keep her Foretelling a secret. They must find the Dragon Reborn and prepare the world to follow. The blind woman dies in Moiraine’s arm as Tigraine also succumbs to her injuries.

Moiraine and Siuan share a look, knowing their lives and aspirations have just been changed forever.

My Opinion

I must admit I feel underwhelmed seeing this famous – and fabulous – scene from New Spring unfold. Gitara’s Foretelling is iconic but lands better on the page than on-screen. The emotional shock and despair that Gitara’s revelation brings doesn’t resonate with me as much as I expected.

Still, I am heartened to see this scene’s inclusion in the show. It’s crucial for the adaptation to capture the story’s heart and soul, and moments like this speak to The Wheel of Time like few others.

The scene revives memories of Season 1, where Tigraine’s battles in the snow and the love shared between Siuan and Moiraine are invigorating. The ending to Daes Dae’mar has more impact because this cold open reignites our emotional attachment to a formidable pairing. The de-aging is done well, and a reunion comes about in this episode, so it’s a pleasant appetizer.

Daes Dae’mar Review and Recap

The second season is nearing its epic conclusion, so get watching now to join a growing fanbase for The Wheel of Time TV series. My recaps are always thorough, but you don’t want to miss out on riding the waves of emotion this production carries you on. An authentic experience is the best, and what follows is my take on what happens in Daes Dae’mar.

Leane Sharif (Jennifer Cheon Garcia) wears a long black-and-white coat over her blue dress. She also wears blue gloves and is stood in the Sun Palace throne room.
Leane Sharif (Jennifer Cheon Garcia)

Leane Sharif (Jennifer Cheon Garcia) brings Moiraine to the Amyrlin Seat. Siuan has been pacing the throne room in Cairhien’s Sun Palace but stays placid when her lover arrives. Leane is dismissed since Moiraine is no threat to the Amyrlin. The Keeper of the Chronicles has an icy look for Moiraine, remembering how she was banished for insubordination in Season 1, Episode 6.

When Moiraine and Siuan are alone, there isn’t the happy reunion one might expect between the two lovers. Siuan is angry and considers it a violation that Moiraine hasn’t told her about being stilled. Moiraine wants to know what else Lan has told the Amyrlin Seat, feeling similarly betrayed.

It appears Lan has been very loose with his tongue, as Siuan knows that Moiraine threatened to pass his bond to Alanna forcibly. Moiraine is shocked that Lan told Alanna they found the Dragon Reborn and wants to know why Siuan is in Cairhien.

Moiraine doesn’t like her control of the situation slipping away, but she can do nothing to protest against the Amyrlin Seat. Siuan wants to relieve her lover of the burden she has carried for the last 20 years, which means meeting Rand al’Thor for the first time.

Cat Crosses the Courtyard

Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) is pacing nervously in an anteroom, not knowing what the Amyrlin Seat wants from him. Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) casually tells him to tuck in his shirt, but Rand is preoccupied with being put on trial and angry after seeing what happened to Logain Ablar in similar circumstances.

Lan accuses Rand of being selfish when the younger man claims he ran away to save the people he loved. Rand is the Dragon Reborn, Lan instructs, and he has to protect everyone.

The Warder isn’t entirely unkind. He tells Rand that Siuan Sanche is a clever and good woman from humble beginnings, more simple than Rand’s own. He doesn’t answer when Rand asks if Moiraine knows what he is doing but utters an iconic line from the book series instead.

“There’s one rule above all others for being a man. Whatever comes, you face it on your feet.”

Lan dresses Rand and asks for his blade. The boy accepts the fine coat but refuses to part with his weapon, spinning away in a move (Heron Dips the Wing) that impresses the Warder. These sword moves are getting some air time, and it’s great to witness.

Lan lets Rand keep the sword. After all, if the Amylin Seat is afraid of the Dragon Reborn, it won’t be the heron-marked blade that concerns her. He tells Rand to use Cat Crosses the Courtyard, walking with a straight back and loose muscles as if hung from a wire at the top of the head. It’s an arrogant swagger that should serve Rand well as he heads for his meeting with the most powerful woman in the world.

There are nods to fans of the book series throughout this short but engaging scene, which builds excitement for the imminent encounter. Lan is great when he fulfills his book role in the TV series, and Daniel Henney is simply the man for the part.

The Amyrlin Seat

When Rand enters, Siuan is seated on the Amyrlin Seat. He nods in formal greeting, “As you’ve summoned me, Mother, so I’ve come. I stand ready.”

Siuan is not so sure about Rand’s readiness, mildly amused by the upstart prepared by Lan. The boy is uneasy with her tone and tells the ruler he has learned she is not exactly what she seems. The Amyrlin Seat warns that most people are not, and it is wise to guard one’s truths. Today, however, she wants nothing but honesty from Rand when he answers her questions.

Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) has his head bowed in the Sun Palace throne room. Siuan is sat on the Amyrlin Seat, shrouded by sunlight.
Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) in the Sun Palace throne room.

A Shortcut to Falme

Mat Cauthon (Dónal Finn) wanders alone in the Foregate, feeling downbeat after abandoning Rand again in Eyes Without Pity. A hooded figure sneaks up on him and knocks him unconscious against a wall. When Mat’s eyes open, he is laid on a rug in Ishamael’s bedroom, somehow transported to Falme.

Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe) stands over him rather than the Father of Lies. She welcomes Mat to the Toman Head town and expresses disappointment the trickster isn’t more impressive. Thankfully, as I wasn’t entirely sure, Lanfear confirms this isn’t a dream.

Mat opens the balcony doors to make sure of his location. Indeed, the Seanchan ships can be seen on the ocean, and Falme’s tall tower looms over the busy streets. Mat’s eyes widen at the strange new world he has found himself in, knowing this was also Rand’s destination.

Taking the Lead

Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins) and Elayne Trakand (Ceara Coveney) are trying to stay discreet on the streets of Falme. Elayne doesn’t understand why the locals have accepted the Seanchan invaders so quickly, almost acting as if nothing has changed.

Nynaeve wants to go straight to the palace so they can find and rescue Egwene, but the Daughter-Heir puts her new friend back in her place. They’ve tried Nynaeve’s way, and now the Wisdom needs to listen to her. Elayne wants to know about the Ogier who was here with Perrin.

Nynaeve hilariously takes a moment to process the power shift before following Elayne down the backstreets.

The Job of a Sul’dam

A lecture is being given on Falme’s beach. It’s taught that a sul’dam is given a damane to recognize their contributions to the empire. Renna (Xelia Mendes-Jones) looks suitably proud, standing behind a gagged and collared Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden), whose frown is nothing short of brilliant.

Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) is in a close-fitting gray dress, wearing the metal gag and collar of a damane. Renna stands with her.
Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Renna (Xelia Mendes-Jones)

We hear that few people can wear the bracelet and even fewer establish a proper link with their damane. Many experience defiance.

In this training session, the sul’dam are expected to test their charges and understand their raw strength. Renna doesn’t want to be embarrassed by Egwene when it’s her turn.

Spies

Yassica (Katie Leung), whose Scottish accent is increasingly charming and warm, approaches Verin Mathwin (Meera Syal) and Tomas (Heikko Deutschmann). Yassica compliments Cairhien’s Royal Library before passing a parcel to Verin.

Joiya Byir (Joelle) glances at the Brown Sisters as they speak, and the camera ensures we notice. It’s a curious spotlight since Joiya has been nothing more than an Aes Sedai in the background this season. So, if Joelle is on the cast list for Season 3, the Gray Sister is worth remembering.

The parcel contains an Ogier map of the city, but Verin keeps her reasons for asking for it to herself.

Alanna Mosvani (Priyanka Bose) is also in the courtyard, gossiping with Ihvon (Emmanuel Imani) and Maksim (Taylor Napier). Ihvon doesn’t trust Verin despite Lan vouching for her and wants to follow Tomas when he leaves.

Alanna stops him because they have their own task, and she doesn’t want them separated if there’s a Forsaken in the city. Maksim and Ihvon outvote her, though, and the latter follows Verin’s Warder.

Maksim is more concerned about Liandrin, who has also disappeared from the courtyard. Alanna shares his puzzlement.

An Unexpected Guest

Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) enters the Damodred manor to visit Barthanes (Will Tudor), who is talking to his mother in a sitting room. Anvaere (Lindsay Duncan) is surprised to see the Aes Sedai but extends a warm greeting, feeling honored by Liandrin’s presence. Liandrin inspects a portrait of Moiraine with a smirk, and that’s all we have for now.

I’m beginning to think this is an extended credit sequence, introducing each character before telling the episode’s story. We’re 15 minutes into Daes Dae’mar, and I think it is playing “the Great Game” with its audience, appearing to do nothing while simmering underneath. Perhaps it’s clever, but I’m getting restless.

Cold Confessions

It is rare for The Wheel of Time to have a reunion scene that is less than joyous. However, frostiness bites when Moiraine and Lan reconnect, such is the tension and distance that has grown between them.

Moiraine doesn’t know what Lan stands to gain from his actions. He says he hopes to salvage what they’ve lost, but the Aes Sedai doesn’t want to talk and asks him to leave. The Warder intends to ask a question first, though.

Lan apologizes for posing it, but he wants to know if Moiraine has felt suicidal since losing her connection to the One Power. He has read the Tower records, and only two women in history didn’t kill themselves after being stilled.

Moiraine is understandably angry and flashes that she has never thought about ending her life because she has too much responsibility. She is focused on her mission to protect the Dragon Reborn, which matters more than anything, including himself, herself, and anyone. It is the answer Lan expected, though Moiraine doesn’t hear him say so through her rage.

Moiraine continues her tirade, saying Lan has put their plans, the world’s future, and the fate of the Last Battle in jeopardy. Lan tells her she needs to trust someone at some point because she can’t do this by herself. He felt it should be her closest friend and lover if Moiraine couldn’t put her faith in him. Moiraine has no answer to that.

Siuan’s Duty

You can watch this scene in the video I shared towards the beginning of this post. Siuan wants to know how many times Rand has channeled, uncertain he’s been careful enough.

Not many, Rand says. Not deliberately, anyway.

Siuan knows it’s as sure as Roe makes fish that Rand will continue to channel. He won’t be able to stop himself or live long enough to go mad if he doesn’t learn to control it.

Rand doesn’t like the choice between dying or going mad and murdering his loved ones. What if he is tired of being a spoke in the Wheel?

“You are not a spoke, boy,” the Amyrlin laughs, “you are the water that turns the Wheel itself or dashes it to pieces.”

Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) is sat on the Amyrlin Seat. She wears her gold stole and robe and looks pensive with hands down on her lap.
Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo)

It’s a line from the trailer that excited fans for Season 2 and is delivered beautifully by Sophie Okonedo, who continues to command the screen. It’s also great to find the Amyrlin using fishing metaphors in her speech, just as she does in the books.

Siuan explains what the Amyrlin Seat must do when the Dragon is reborn. It is not gentle him, as Rand supposes, and she finds that idea ludicrous. She admits some Red Sisters might argue the point, but how can they fight the Dark One without the One Power?

Instead, it is written in Tower law that she must cage the Dragon and keep him shielded. The Dragon Reborn should only channel when the Aes Sedai require it, and he will be their greatest weapon when they go to fight the Last Battle. What he won’t be is their general.

Rand shakes his head at the trap and draws on the One Power, refusing to live in the Amyrlin’s cage. Siuan swiftly channels herself and shields Rand effortlessly. The boy falls to his knees as Siuan Sanche chides his immaturity.

“Six months you’ve known what you are, and you’ve learned nothing.”

Siuan is angry that Moiraine hasn’t taught Rand anything in this time and wishes the Dragon had been reborn as a girl. This last regret seems childish for the Amyrlin Seat, and it’s a shame the scene ends with Siuan sounding trivial. Still, Rand’s vulnerability is made apparent despite his immense strength.

Blasts of Air

A damane releases a powerful blast of Air on the Falme beach before returning to the class with her sul’dam. The instructor, Mulaen (Lily Banda), is moderately impressed by the wave of sand. She turns to Renna and asks for the name of her damane.

Mulaen twitches to learn Renna has allowed Egwene to keep her name but calls for her to be tested next. On the beach, Renna tells Egwene to be stronger and brighter than the last damane. She wants every sul’dam in Falme to notice and know that Egwene is hers.

It’s a simple weave of Air that will show the extent of Egwene’s ability, and Renna doesn’t need anything from her damane to accomplish the task. She raises her arm with the bracelet on, and a tendril of light flows from Egwene’s collar into the wrist cuff. A weave of the One Power flows around Egwene’s body, and a massive blast of Air knocks the watching group off their feet, sand gusting past them.

Renna looks triumphant and proud of her damane, but Egwene meets her thrilled expression with a scowl. There is life in the collared girl yet.

An Ogier’s Greeting

Animals in Falme are disturbed by reverberations from the Power-wrought tremor, and Loial (Hammed Animashaun) notices it, too, while on an errand.

Children mock Loial’s hair and nose as he walks the streets, which I find strange since Ogier are revered in this fantasy world. They are famed builders and cultivators, so the bullying doesn’t make much sense. I find it diminishes my empathy for the street urchins living under the rule of foreign invaders and draws unnecessary attention to the prosthetics used to create the character of Loial.

Nynaeve emerges to grab Loial’s arm and pull him to where she and Elayne are hiding. Loial is delighted to see Mistress al’Meara, and they share a hug, the Ogier reassuring Nynaeve that Perrin escaped captivity.

Loial suddenly recognizes Elayne Trakand, the Daughter-Heir of Andor, and gets to his knees in greeting. He introduces himself formally while Nynaeve gets frustrated at the long spiel. In a humorous exchange, she tells Elayne not to encourage him, and eventually, they ask Loial about Egwene.

The Ogier confirms the Seanchan are holding Egwene in the kennels. He tells them where to find the cells but says only sul’dam can enter. The women have their own plan, knowing the a’dam is in Nynaeve’s bag, and thank Loial for his information. They dismiss the Ogier with a promise to free him, too.

Ishamael’s Potion

Ishamael (Fares Fares) strips wood into a pot while a kettle boils. Mat finds the behavior odd and questions whether Ishamael intends to keep whittling in silence but doesn’t get a direct answer. Instead, Ishamael asks if Mat ever has trouble sleeping.

Ishamael (Fares Fares) wears black leather and a white shirt. He uses a knife to strip wood into a small pot. An hour-glass is also set on the table.
Ishamael (Fares Fares)

The Father of Lies says he can’t rest himself because he lies awake thinking about all the people in the world, all hurting. He worries about universes collapsing from a shouted word and the stab of a dagger. Pain.

Mat wants to know if he’s talking about sex or murder. “Either way,” he adds cheekily, “I’d prefer you skip the talking.”

It’s excellent that Mat is given genuinely funny dialogue, and even Ishamael is amused. The Forsaken says he has a gift for Mat, a tea that will allow the boy to see glimpses of his past lives. He can discover all the people he used to be and see inside his soul, too.

Ishamael sets a timer and tells Mat to pour himself a cup once it’s finished. He thinks Mat will do it because he’s always wanted to know what he is. It’s an opportunity, and after drinking the tea for the first time, Ishamael finally slept through the night.

Dónal Finn does remarkably well here. Mat’s predicament is undoubtedly alarming, and he has no idea how to extract himself from the situation. However, Mat’s dark wit and tolerance of misfortune are his coping mechanisms, and we get hope from those characteristics through the actor’s performance. That said, temptation is a weakness in Mat, and there’s no way he won’t drink that potion. Good stuff!

Bain and Chiad

A rolling desert is where Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford), Aviendha (Ayoola Smart), and Hopper (Ka Lupinka, a Czech wolf dog) have found themselves. Despite the vast expanse of sand behind them, they don’t seem particularly fatigued. I don’t mind because these three are resilient, if nothing else.

Aviendha is impressed when Perrin notices a woman hiding in the dunes. He can see well for a wetlander (an Aiel name for those that live in the Westlands, where water sources are abundant).

Bain (Ragga Ragnars), another Maiden of the Spear, emerges from the rocks with spears strapped to her back. Aviendha exchanges hand talk with the other woman and asks to be taken to see Jolien. In silence, Bain leads them over a rocky hill where Chiad (Maja Simonsen) stands over a burial mound. Aviendha kneels in grief to touch the grave as more signing is done by the red-haired women, Bain and Chiad.

Jolien died from an infection after taking deep wounds in battle with the Whitecloaks. The Aiel are at peace with death. Life is a dream from which they all must wake before they can dream again. Perrin is moved by the philosophy, no doubt thinking about his wife.

Aviendha requests something in handtalk and lets Bain and Chiad beat her up unarmed. Perrin is ordered not to intervene as Aviendha takes a pummeling from the Maidens. Hopper barks in distress, but the determination on Aviendha’s face keeps the males at bay.

Three Maidens of the Spear (Aviendha, Bain, and Chiad) have spears on their backs as they walk through a rocky desert with Perrin and the wolf, Hopper.
Chiad (Maja Simonsen), Bain (Ragga Ragnars), Aviendha (Ayoola Smart), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), & Hopper.

The onslaught goes on a bit too long for comfort, precisely what the Aiel intend in this demonstration of ji’e’toh (honor and obligation). The explanation is saved for later in the episode when the group travels together in friendship. Aviendha has fulfilled her toh to Jolien and restored her ji. The woman died while Aviendha was defending herself in battle, so the death was her fault.

Reflections

Mat sits next to the teapot in Ishamael’s chambers and pours a cup just as the timer runs out. In two minds, he lifts the cup and puts it back down again before impulsively drinking the potion in one go. He sits back, waiting for something to happen, and grows disappointed before it starts.

Mat Cauthon (Dónal Finn) has curly hair and the beginnings of a moustache and beard. He stares down at his hands which appear larger-than-life.
Mat Cauthon (Dónal Finn)

Mat staggers and looks at his hands, which ripple uncontrollably. Natti Cauthon (Juliet Howland) appears before him, calling him a “damn prick” and likening him to his father as she did in the first episode of Season 1.

The words echo in Mat’s head, and he stumbles to a mirror where one panel shows Mat’s body hanging from a noose and another a man drowning his victim. Mat’s face replaces the killer’s in the second image while Natti’s scorning voice reverberates. Another panel shows a woman stabbing someone, and her face also changes to Mat’s.

Mat shouts repeatedly for it all to stop and eventually collapses on the floor. His body turns into Natti’s, and her voice starts to plead, “Stop, stop.” Mat is bent over his mother next and grins as he turns her body. “Just like him,” he says, menacingly. Natti screams as Mat’s face contorts in laughter. Natti’s face turns back into Mat’s until there are two of him yelling at each other.

The scene ends abruptly, and I wonder what it all means. There’s probably foreshadowing here because the noose visual is familiar to readers of the book series. However, for the most part, I suspect this is the Father of Lies living up to his name.

Ishamael’s hands are all over this, as Mat, seeing reflections of himself, is bound to be hysterical. He was taught self-loathing by his mother in this adaptation, so it’s no wonder Mat’s dark side manifests in this way. Ishamael must want him to embrace this perception of himself and thus turn to the Shadow.

Alternatively, it must have been a super sequence to film and edit. It’s gratuitously fun to watch, and the show has the right to be carefree and self-indulgent. I suspect it’s a combination of all these things and an effort by the showrunners to incorporate a flicker, flicker montage.

There’s a moment in Book 2: The Great Hunt where characters see glimpses of their past lives – affectionately known as Flicker, Flicker – but the show hasn’t portrayed it on screen yet and probably won’t. It isn’t enough if this is the pacifier, but it is still fun.

A Change of Plan

Moiraine and Lan are allowed into the throne room, where Rand is still shielded, huddled on the tiled floor. Moiraine approaches the Amyrlin Seat and demands the boy’s release. Siuan refuses, though she sounds mournful.

Siuan has resolved that they nearly lost everything by trying their way. It is time they obeyed the Tower’s laws, which have stood for 3,000 years in preparation for this historic moment.

Moiraine is aghast that the Red Sisters will gentle him, but Siuan won’t allow it to happen on her watch. Moiraine isn’t so sure of the Amyrlin Seat’s control of the White Tower, not with so many enemies that would seek to bring her down. She reminds Siuan of their agreement. Moiraine was to find the Dragon Reborn, and Siuan was to get the Tower ready to support him.

Siuan remembers, but Moiraine was meant to be with the Dragon, ready to shield him if he started going mad. Now she is stilled, Moiraine cannot fulfill her duty to control and guide Rand in what he must do. The boy is no more prepared now than when Moiraine found him, and the Forsaken will bust all their plans if they get to Rand.

Siuan intends to proclaim the Dragon Reborn when Queen Galldrian returns to Cairhien on the ‘morrow. They will have 14 sisters by his side to show the Aes Sedai have him under their control.

Moiraine and Rand are transferred to a cell, watched over by Leane Sharif. Moiraine explains to Rand that he has been shielded, but it is temporary. Leane needs to channel to maintain the shield, and Rand will feel himself again when she lets it drop. The Keeper doesn’t look in any mood to do that soon.

Moiraine wants to know where Rand was going when he tried to leave Cairhien, and he tells her Ishamael has Egwene in Falme. He confesses that Lanfear showed him this in the Dreamworld, and he has no choice but to go, though it’s what the Forsaken want him to do.

Moiraine reveals that prophecy says the Dragon will proclaim himself in Falme, “bannered ‘cross the sky in fire.” Rand supposes this means the Forsaken want him to reveal himself before they try to kill him. Even so, it does mean they won’t want him imprisoned by the Amyrlin Seat, which gives Rand a plan.

Darkfriends

At the Damodred manor, Anvaere pours tea for Barthanes and their guest, Liandrin Guirale. The Aes Sedai is becoming frosty with her host’s hospitality. She gives Barthanes an uncompromising glare, and he uncomfortably asks his mother to leave them.

Anvaere is initially resistant, but Barthanes makes his tone commanding and tells her this is royal business. His mother retires, somewhat peeved.

Liandrin draws Barthanes’ attention to the portrait of his aunt. She remembers Moiraine at that age, and her nephew bears some resemblance. The young man isn’t interested in Liandrin’s goading and wants to know why she is here.

Liandrin has come to give an order, and Barthanes breaks our hearts by asking what their master wants of him. He is a Darkfriend, too. Liandrin tells him he must remove Moiraine from the board, and the young man pales at the thought of killing his aunt. Liandrin insists it is perfect, as Moiraine won’t suspect him. She adds that he should kill his mother, too, if she gets suspicious.

Anvaere, however, has been watching from a vent in the basement. Her face slackens in horror at her son’s treachery.

The Relentless Wheel

Ishamael comforts Mat, who is recovering from his visions. He brushes the boy’s face with soothing hushes while Mat mutters to himself. Ishamael seduces Mat with philosophy when he regains his senses.

“We keep living these lives,” he says, “trying again and again. But for what? The Wheel turns, and people hurt. It’s a simple fact. And even with the freedom of death, we just come back again and again. And all I want is just to close my eyes one day and never have to open them again.”

Tears roll down Mat’s face, and he asks how to achieve this. We can only hope Mat doesn’t decide he wants to break the Wheel, too, which Ishamael revealed as his motivation in a conversation with Lanfear in Episode 5, Damane. Will Mat also turn to the Dark?

A Plea for Help

Rand is in Tel’aran’rhiod, knowing Lanfear can find him in the World of Dreams. He watches over the barren landscape, wearing his coat with the Cairhien sunburst on the back. Indeed, Lanfear watches him from her throne in the background, looking vamped up for the occasion.

She chastises Rand for not leaving the city and taps her fingers on the throne’s armrest. Rand fights nerves and pleads for Lanfear’s help, telling her where the Amyrlin has imprisoned him. She already knows, of course, and isn’t rushing to confirm her support.

Lanfear also knows Moiraine is with him and sarcastically wonders why the Aes Sedai can’t help. Rand plays along with the game, saying he might not need her after all. The Daughter of the Night is having none of that, though, finally smiling when Rand asks again if she will help him.

Fireballs in the Foregate

Fire rips through a street in the Foregate, and citizens run for cover. Lanfear casually strides down the dirt streets wearing a gray and gold outfit. She casts more fireballs with a flick of her wrists, and explosions tear up the Foregate in her wake.

Watching Natasha O’Keeffe make full use of her facial expressions is hellaciously entertaining. Lanfear’s cruel streak is delightfully captured as she goes about her massacre. When she reaches the city gates later in the episode, Lanfear mutters, “3,000 years pass, and I’m back to this.” Resigned, she channels again and blasts the gates and people to smithereens with a wicked smile. Hmm.

This is fantastic television and precisely what most audiences are here to see. The episode’s director, Sanaa Hamri, deserves full credit for grabbing everyone’s attention and letting rip. Just as Lanfear does in the Foregate before entering the city. Fantastic!

Growing Danger

Sitting in the Cairhien sanitarium, Maksim admires his reflection in his sword. Lan and Alanna join him, and Maksim shows Lan where to find the garden. Lan leaves, going to visit Logain of all people.

Maksim asks his Aes Sedai whether it’s true that the Daughter of the Night is walking the world again. Alanna nods, and Maksim is rueful. The thought of Forsaken and the Dragon Reborn makes him miss the farm and even Alanna’s cousins.

Alanna comforts him, saying they could not expect to fight the Last Battle against an army of kittens. It’s a gentle reminder that the stakes are getting higher and more complex. Thankfully, Moiraine is no longer the only one to recognize the danger, as I surmised in my Daughter of the Night review.

The False Dragon

Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) sits over his board game in the asylum garden when Lan pays a visit. The False Dragon doesn’t invite the Warder to play Stones with him because it’s a gentleman’s game. He’s still waiting for Lan’s Aes Sedai to keep her promise.

Lan isn’t here to play games anyway. He produces a key from his pocket and places it on Logain’s table. It’s his way out of the sanitarium, but Lan has a question for him. He knows Logain can see male weaves of the One Power and wants to know if he saw any around Moiraine.

Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) is a bearded man with dark, greasy hair. He clasps his hands together and looks cautious in his dressing gown.
Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte)

Logain isn’t quick to take the bait, reluctant to help the man partly responsible for his captivity. He mocks Moiraine for being a lonely, desperate woman who is out of her depth. Lan picks up the key and leaves Logain to reflect on his choices.

Of course, the madman can’t stop himself and confirms there are weaves of saidin around Moiraine. He tells Lan that thousands of One Power strands are pulled together and held in place around her. He doesn’t know how it’s possible since no magic is being channeled into them, but he tightens his robe to show how the weaves are throttling Moiraine.

Alanna rushes out to warn Lan there’s a fire in the Foregate. Logain begs for the key before the Warder leaves, but Lan hasn’t forgotten what the False Dragon did to Kerene and Stepin. You only need to watch Blood Calls Blood again to remember how deeply Lan was affected by their deaths. He warns Logain that two Brown Sisters are in the Tower, eagerly waiting to study him.

I take the last remark to mean that we’ll see Logain return to Tar Valon in time for Season 3, and that’s excellent news. Álvaro Morte continues to own his scenes, and I hope for many more. However, I suspect this is the last we’ll see of Logain in Season 2. His presence has been a welcome surprise for many, so it’s a fond farewell.

The Aryth Ocean

After updating Perrin on her honor and obligation, Perrin and the Maidens of the Spear reach the edge of the rocky desert. The Aryth Ocean is ahead of them, and the Aiel stand in awe at how so much water can be found in one place. This is the first time they’ve left the Aiel Waste, which is parched and barren, so one can forgive their shock.

Perrin’s vision proves sharper than natural once again, as he can see the looming tower of Falme in the distance. They are approaching their destination.

Collared

Nynaeve turns the metal collar they got from Ryma in her hands. She’s now wearing the accompanying gold bracelet, and Elayne wonders what the collar will do when they put it on. Nynaeve doesn’t know but hopes it hurts.

An unsuspecting sul’dam walks down the alley and is confused when Nynaeve approaches her wearing the wrist cuff. Nynaeve thrusts the collar around the sul’dam’s throat before she can react. It comes to life on its captive, spreading the bond to cover the sul’dam’s neck and chest. Elayne steps forward to punch the captured woman unconscious.

Both women pant, realizing what they’ve done. Nynaeve is now a sul’dam, and Elayne is a street ruffian, ha! It’s a moment to cheer out loud and means the sul’dam must themselves be able to channel if the a’dam is working as expected.

A Promise to Kill

Egwene braids her hair in the kennel cell, and Renna places a water bowl beside her. The sul’dam sits and asks Egwene to roll up her sleeves. Egwene obeys and takes Renna’s hand when it is offered. The sul’dam then cleans Egwene’s hands and face with a sponge. Egwene suffers it silently.

Renna (Xelia Mendes-Jones) has braided hair and wears the armcuff of a sul'dam. She holds a sponge while reaching out to Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden).
Renna (Xelia Mendes-Jones) and Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden)

Renna opens up to say she understands why Egwene fights her. It’s because no one has told her why they are here. It is so they can help the Seanchan Empress fulfill her one charge: unite every person in the world under the Light. The Last Battle is coming and can only be fought if the people, including Renna and Egwene, stand together.

Egwene smiles, seeing her sul’dam become emotional and euphoric at their growing bond. They stare into each other’s eyes.

“Renna,” Egwene says, “I will kill you.”

Wow, this is powerful. Egwene’s only line in Daes Dae’mar is to promise her sul’dam’s death. The context adds another layer to this toxic relationship, explored so well in Eyes Without Pity.

Renna’s misconceptions are born from ignorance and indoctrinated evil. She might be relatable were it not for her perverse acceptance of slavery and bullying.

Egwene is made of sterner stuff, though, and wants Renna to see the depravity of her actions through the simple act of vengeance. My bet is on Egwene for the win; my heart desires it passionately. I don’t mind repeating that Xelia Mendes-Jones and Madeleine Madden are incredible together, but Egwene’s torture must end!

The Failings of a Son

Barthanes walks down to the Sun Palace’s dungeon, followed by a servant who assures him Moiraine is alone. He’s also told that his aunt has been sedated and should be sleeping by now.

Barthanes enters the cell, armed with his sword, only to find it empty. He is pathetically scared, and one wonders if he would have managed to murder Moiraine if she had been there anyway. Instead, Anvaere turns up to confront her son in the cell. She slams the prison door on him.

Anvaere asks her son why he has sold his soul to the Dark One. The blubbering man tries to say it was for her and the family name so their house could be restored to its former glory. Their social standing has risen because of his allegiance to the Shadow, and he tries to bend Anvaere’s ear. Moiraine doesn’t care about them, and he will be king.

Anvaere has heard enough and rejects her child’s pleas. “There are two things my sister understands better than anyone else,” she says. “The difference between right and wrong.”

The Truth You Hear

Verin Mathwin hurries into Rand and Moiraine’s cell and approaches Leane, who maintains the shield while seated. The Brown Sister informs the Keeper that the Amyrlin requires her strength to protect Cairhien. Verin has been told to watch the boy, and she orders Leane to go to Siuan.

Leane rises and passes the weave to Verin before leaving. Moiraine praises her friend for her carefully chosen words, which came very close to a lie, and the shield on Rand is dropped. They are free to leave Cairhien.

Verin leads them out, directing Moiraine and Rand to a Waygate in the city. She shows them the Ogier map, which reveals its location. Moiraine tells Verin she will take him to Falme, in Toman Head. The Brown Sister, played excellently by Meera Syal, recites the prophecy:

“Above Toman Head shall he proclaim himself bannered ‘cross the sky in fire.”

Lan arrives with Alanna and her Warders. He will lead Moiraine and Rand to the Waygate. Verin and Tomas are to ensure no one follows, and, at long last, Moiraine and Lan share a united look. Alanna affirms to Moiraine that she is not alone anymore.

On the city walls, Siuan and her cohort of Aes Sedai are watching over the burning city. They link together, and Siuan uses the One Power to bring a storm. Rain begins to fall, dampening the raging fires.

Leane joins her Sisters and is shocked that Siuan didn’t summon her. The Amyrlin Seat immediately realizes what has happened and leaves to pursue the boy, who must not be allowed to escape.

Cutting the Shield

Moiraine, Rand, and Lan find the Waygate in a walled part of the city. The Aes Sedai tells Rand he must open it, but Lan interjects. The Warder asks Rand to study Moiraine with the True Source and tell him what he sees. Moiraine is embarrassed, believing herself stilled, and asks Lan to stop.

Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) is out in the open with Rand (Josha Stradowski) and Lan (Daniel Henney), who carry torches.
Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), Rand (Josha Stradowski), and Lan (Daniel Henney) escape Cairhien.

Rand can see a knot of light over Moiraine’s chest, a weave of saidin left in place. Moiraine believes such a feat is impossible with the One Power, but Lan has been studying the Age of Legends. He found a story of a lost ability the Forsaken possessed. They could tie off their weaves.

Lan never understood how Moiraine was still able to function while stilled and has discovered it is just a shield that Ishamael has tied in place. Rand should be able to cut through it.

Moiraine says she trusts Rand to do this despite his lack of control and experience with the One Power. Moiraine’s only hope of regaining her magic is for Rand to help, but placing her trust in him is a turning point for the character. The repercussions of this on their relationship will be fascinating to discover, but for now, Rand must do this one deed.

Rand embraces the Source and summons weaves of Fire that he channels to a point. The trembling blade of fire reaches Moiraine and slices through the knot. She can suddenly feel the True Source again, and Moriaine is overwhelmed with joy and relief.

Humbled, the Aes Sedai thanks Rand and her Warder and opens the Waygate. Before they can leave, Siuan catches up to them, shields Rand, and sends Lan to the floor with the One Power.

Confrontations

Siuan orders Moiraine to close the Waygate, but her lover refuses. The Amyrlin Seat accuses Moiraine of lying about being stilled, but Moiraine denies this, too. She has been more honest to Siuan than to anyone else.

Siuan tells Moiraine that they have failed and the stakes are too high to fail again. She orders her again to close the Waygate, but Moiraine wearily declines.

Siuan reminds Moiraine of her oath. In Season 1, Episode 6, Moiraine swore to obey Siuan on the Oath Road, and that pledge is unbreakable. Moiraine cannot believe her closest confidante would manipulate her this way, but Siuan commands her to do as she says and close the Waygate.

Moiraine is bound by the One Power to obey and is forced against her will to do as Siuan says. Her body and actions defy her will, and she closes the gateway. Neither Siuan nor Moiraine can believe what they’ve done, and I fear this relationship is irretrievable.

Lanfear appears, and Siuan tries to form a weave but is quickly knocked down by the Forsaken. The shield on Rand drops, and he moves to stop Lanfear from killing Moiraine. He tells Lanfear that if she wants his help, she can’t kill the Aes Sedai. The Forsaken is pleased Rand behaves more like Lews Therin each day.

Lanfear (Natasha O'Keeffe) is lit by a flaming torch that is lodged in a grated barrel. She is tracking Moiraine and the others down at night.
Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe)

Siuan stirs on the floor, but Lanfear doesn’t finish her off, preferring a broken Amyrlin to a dead one. Instead, she reopens the Waygate and enters the Ways.

Rand and Lan follow while Moiraine stares down at Siuan, remembering their happy times in the White Tower together. Visions of past and present bring a heartbreaking denouement to the episode, and Moiraine finally goes into the Ways with the others. The visual of Moiraine, Lan, and Rand working with Lanfear is one we never expected to see.

Daes Dae’mar Rating

It isn’t until Egwene uses a blast of Air to clear the beach of Falme that I begin to warm to this episode. The lead-up to that fulfilling show of Egwene’s strength was peppered by small scenes that stopped short of their purpose.

The exciting stuff is preserved for the final stretch of this breakneck episode, and the closing moments can account for much of my rating, which is a generous 8 out of 10.

A golden-eyed wolf on a blue background. White typography reads "8/10" which is The Shining Walls rating for The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 7, Daes Dae’mar.
“DAES DAE’MAR” RATING

The transitions are exhibited to a fault, at least early on. Name and place drops lead to short scenes involving the telegraphed target before they end too early and with another signpost. It is unsubtle, overstated, and grating to watch.

Of course, this device is used by most TV shows and has worked well for The Wheel of Time all season. It’s just that Daes Dae’mar lays it on too thick for my liking, and “The Great Game” is all about subtlety.

The episode’s title causes the most controversy, particularly amongst readers of the book series. The Game of Houses involves misdirection and hidden meanings or motives in words and deeds (to quote from The Wheel of Time Companion). I think it’s splendid the show manages to get our heads in a knot about this, which is entirely appropriate.

Daes Dae’mar encourages us to think that Siuan Sanche is under some delusion like the Compulsion Verin references in Episode 5), and gets us asking other questions, too.

Has the show double-bluffed us with Anvaere? Many expected her to be the Damodred Darkfriend rather than Barthanes, and perhaps she could gain from throwing her son under the shadowy bus.

Verin’s words to Leane deserve repeat viewing to ensure she doesn’t lie to the Keeper of the Chronicles. And Ishamael’s treatment of Mat is weird enough to leave us guessing all day. Rafe Judkins and his team play the game well, though it could all be as it appears. The fun comes from being uncertain.

Though Cairhien is famed for its nobility playing Daes Dae’mar, the Aes Sedai are its true masters. In that respect, this episode delivers on the premise. Liandrin is plotting, Alanna is spying, the Amyrlin has an agenda, and even Sisters in more minor roles are acting suspiciously. Only the Aiel seem straightforward, and that demands an understanding of their ji’e’toh philosophy.

Bain and Chiad (Ragga Ragnars & Maja Simonsen) lead Aviendha (Ayoola Smart), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), and Hopper through a desert.
Bain & Chiad (Ragga Ragnars & Maja Simonsen), Aviendha (Ayoola Smart), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), & Hopper.

The gloves come off when Lanfear shows up in Cairhien, though, and her counterpoint to subtlety is the bombastic and casual destruction of the Foregate. It’s a fantastic juxtaposition to the overarching narrative, and these keen edges to the storytelling earn my high rating.

The bookend approach with Siuan and Moiraine is nicely done and emotional. Lanfear leading the Light’s champions into the Ways is a fantastic surprise, and the performances are superb as always. I really enjoyed Zoë Robins and Ceara Coveney’s interactions in Falme.

There were laugh-out-loud moments and fist-pumps throughout. It’s also another episode that encourages the viewer to think. If Rand’s story tells us he can’t do everything alone, then Liandrin’s arc this season is that she really should.

The Black Sister’s cover is surely blown, and the fallout in Season 3 promises to be as explosive as Lanfear’s Foregate excursion. We haven’t seen the best of White Tower politicking yet, and I’m sure many cards have yet to be played as the Great Game continues.

So, yes, this was an excellent false ending to the Aes Sedai saga that continues to intrigue and satisfy. What more will Falme and the Seanchan give us in the season finale? I can’t wait!

Best Actor

Natasha O’Keeffe as Lanfear

Lanfear (Natasha O'Keeffe) wears a striking gray dress as she strides through the burning wreckage of the Foregate.
Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe)

Natasha O’Keeffe has exuded evil since Selene’s unmasking as the Daughter of the Night, Lanfear, in Episode 4 of this season. The enactment has been chilling from the start, though, and is literally blazing in Daes Dae’mar.

Selene’s clinging control of Rand was uncomfortable to view, and the transition to all-powerful temptress was always on the cards. Natasha’s portrayal comes with abundant tics and idiosyncracies, always telling more than one story in her scenes. It’s an incredible performance, and I’ve been itching to give O’Keeffe the Best Actor gong for some time now.

I have no doubt that Lanfear’s purposeful and comic-book destruction of the Foregate will be the lasting visual from Season 2 of The Wheel of Time. It is hair-raising fun that makes loving the baddies an invigorating pleasure.

Natasha O’Keeffe’s control of her character keeps it from falling into farce. For example, the canny coercion of Rand and Ishamael is horrifying and believable. This Lanfear is playful and disobedient, which makes her cheerable, but Natasha O’Keeffe makes no mistake with the undertone. Her Lanfear is terrifying, and she can kill you to the face while you sleep. Sweet dreams, my friends!

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Please let me know in the comments what you think about The Wheel of Time Season 2, Episode 7, Daes Dae’mar. Do you agree with my rating and review? What about the Best Actor award? I always respond to your messages, and I’ll answer any questions you have, too.

Until next time, may the Light shine on you, my friends!

Russell

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