The Wheel of Time season 1 review – binge and buzz-worthy television

By Marc Miller
Published: November 18, 2021 (Last updated: January 24, 2023)
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Amazon Original series The Wheel of Time season 1


The Wheel of Time is binge and buzz-worthy television.

This review of the Amazon Original series The Wheel of Time season 1 does not contain spoilers. 

Jeff Bezos reportedly told his team that he wanted his Game of Thrones for Amazon Prime Video, and he wanted it now. And when the billionaire who looks like the love child of Telly Savalas and Dr. Evil makes that demand, you either find one or apply for a job at Crackle. So, the team obtained the rights of The Wheel of Time. It was reportedly pouring 80 million into producing the series. It also has the bonus of being female-centric, which fits in today’s modern social advocacy world. Though, that’s beside the point. Amazon’s The Wheel of Time is an engaging and suspenseful series that builds a great sense of excitement by the end of its second episode.

Based on the popular series by Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time is a fantasy series where magic is a real thing, used for not only good but evil (shocker). It stars Rosamund Pike as Moiraine, a member of Aes Sedai, a group of powerful women who would use magic as leverage. She is searching for a young man or woman who has been reborn as the Dragon Prophecy. She, and her partner, Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), are looking for the reincarnation of the dragon. A prophecy that predicts this person will save the world or destroy it.

They are looking for a young man or woman born twenty years prior. Their next stop is Two Rivers—an area of the Westlands where the Taren and White River come together. There, Moiraine and al’Lan come across five men and women who are the most likely candidates to be the result of the prophecy. You have Rand (Joshua Stradowski) and Egwene (Madeleine Madden), a young couple who are at a crossroads because the latter is about to leave because she is “hearing” the whisper of the wind.

Mat (Barney Harris) is taking care of his little sisters because his parents have a problem with the brown sugar water. Laila (Helena Westerman) and Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) are in love and are going to start their lives together. Lastly, Nynaeve (Zoe Robbins) is a bit of a mystery. She has no records of being born in the region, but she is the unquestioned leader of the town. This all leads to a quite exciting, suspenseful, and even terrifying setup after the introductions of the most terrifying fantasy monster since the Orcs in Lord of the Rings called the Trollocs.

The first six episodes of The Wheel of Time were made available for viewing, with the first three episodes streaming this Friday. While I would love to say the show looks like 80 million bucks, the episode’s cinematography and visual effects have a faux appeal. They mildly, and I stress mildly, remind you of syndicated shows like Xena: Warrior Princess. Actors in modern haircuts look like they are playing parts instead of being the character. Fantasy shows like Game of Thrones have a look and feel of an immersive world that Amazon Prime’s new series lacks.

However, as the episodes go on, these criticisms are tightened up considerably. The first two episodes are gripping, and the end of the latter is a jaw-dropper. The “magic” special effects look considerably more natural, for whatever that’s worth. And the cast begins to help. In particular, Pike’s Moiraine and Henney’s Lan are terrific together, showing sparks and the appropriate amount of friction. Meanwhile, Robbins is the series’ breakout character. She plays Nynaeve as cunning, clever, and quick on her feet, a strong, independent female portrayed on screen as a born leader.

The series was developed by former Survivor contestant (no, seriously) and Chuck scribe Rafe Judkins. While many compare his adaptation of this new venture to Game of Thrones, it has much more in common with Lord of the Rings. The magic, the “fellowship,” if you will, is full of wizards, crazy monsters, moral dilemmas, evil characters, and even red herrings along the way. The whole exercise makes you wonder if this was a test balloon to establish a fantasy series on the streaming giant before they roll out the new LOTR series scheduled to come out in September 2022 (which Amazon reportedly paid over 250 million dollars for the rights for).

Overall the series has enough juice to ignore its obvious flaws that have the viewer settling in for a binge and buzz-worthy watch. It may not be the next GOT or LOTR, but The Wheel of Time doesn’t have to be. It just has to entertain and fit in today’s modern social advocacy landscape. A sprawling fantasy epic of female empowerment that remains loyal to the crazed fanbase.

What did you think of Amazon’s The Wheel of Time season 1? Comment below. 

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