It’s been nearly two years since the show debuted; however, The Wheel of Time Season 2 is finally turning the clock toward its return. The series itself might have been slightly forgotten after the release of Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, but take nothing away here since it has the power to stand on its own two feet. The high fantasy, which is from the mind of author Robert Jordan, has a strong Tolkien influence; however, it’s a far simpler tale to understand than the precious intricacies of Middle-earth.
The story picks up after the events of the Season 1 finale, “The Eye of the World,” which had wide-reaching consequences for all the characters. Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) is still cut off from One Power, while her Warder al’Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) wonders what is going on with her and what she isn’t telling him. Elsewhere, Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins), Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden), Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) are all on their respective journeys and still believing Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) is gone. There’s also the question of Mat Cauthon (Dónal Finn) and what he is up to after abandoning his friends before the big quest?
Speaking of which, Mat – who was portrayed by Barney Harris in the first season – is now played by a new actor, Dónal Finn. The first scene in which Finn appears as Mat is jarring, especially if the audience lacks context about the switch-up. It isn’t because Finn is bad as Mat; however, his look is different from the previous actor, and their acting style is contrasting. It’s still too early to tell if it’s a successful recasting, so let’s reserve opinion until the end of the season, at the very least.
In terms of the story, it has evolved in this new arc. While the first season is all about these characters coming together and building unity among each other, The Wheel of Time Season 2 finds them apart initially. In their minds – except for Moiraine – the danger of the Dark One is over. They now need to go about life without each other, understanding it can’t go back to what it was but also needing to move forward. Of course, this is only temporary since nothing is quite what it seems. Let’s say Season 1 was only the first step of their journey.
Thankfully, Season 2 isn’t trying to – pardon the pun – reinvent the wheel in its approach to the episodes. Showrunner Rafe Judkins and the team understand what appeals to the core fanbase and continue to lean into it in terms of the structure of the episode. There’s still the one-two combination of impressive action and fantasy in between the powerful messages about hope and friendship. Sure, this might be a story bursting with magic blasts and monster beheadings, but at its core, it’s about a group of people believing the world can be a better place and supporting each other to make it happen.
Judging from what has been provided, The Wheel of Time Season 2 continues along the same trajectory as the first season. Again, it needs to be emphasised how it is one of the few fantasy series that doesn’t confuse the audience with intensive subplots or too many characters with similar names that merge into one after a while. It’s a simple, easy-to-follow story that lets the viewer fall in love with the characters and the world without having to take a course to understand it all.