The season finale of The Wheel of Time is closing in and the penultimate episode, “The Dark Along the Ways,” answers some of the most pressing questions that new fans have been left with. Namely, we finally learn the identity of the Dragon Reborn, but you’ll have to wait to discover that on your own. This revelation is delivered in the eleventh hour and it ramps up the anticipation for the finale next week.
Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), Lan (Daniel Henney), and Loial (Hammed Animashaun) lead the group through The Ways, though the path is not as straightforward as they had anticipated. When they arrive at the mid-way point, they discover that the Trollocs have also been utilizing The Ways, which is how they arrived at the Two Rivers so swiftly. In addition to the Trollocs, the group face-off against the Machin Shin, which forces them to face their deepest fears and nearly drives them insane.
Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) is presented with another opportunity to show audiences just how powerful she is—and this time her friends are there to bear witness to her abilities. As Nynaeve keeps the Machin Shin at bay, Moiraine opens the Waygate and allows them to escape into Fal Dara. During this scene, there was a very subtle moment that caught my attention: as everyone else races to escape The Ways, Lan turns back to help Nynaeve. It’s very much a blink-and-you-miss-it moment due to the oppressive darkness of the gorgeous production design of The Ways. But this moment sets the scene for my favorite part of the episode.
When they arrive at Fal Dara, they are greeted by old friends of Moiraine and Lan, and given a place to shelter until they can finish their journey to the Eye of the World. While they are there, Moiraine reveals that only the Dragon Reborn will survive the trip to the Eye of the World, which naturally upsets everyone from the Two Rivers, but most of all Nynaeve who is the least willing to listen to Moiraine and Rand (Josha Stradowski) who is skeptical of Moiraine’s intentions. Out of the group, Egwene (Madeleine Madden) is the most willing to make the journey, despite the promise of death.
As tensions flare between the group from the Two Rivers, some of them seem to recognize the gravity of the path ahead. Rand and Egwene attempt to mend their relationship after secrets are revealed and Nynaeve makes strides to get closer to Lan.
The Wheel of Time’s composer Lorne Balfe deserves all of the credit for setting the scene—and the mood—for the long-awaited culmination of the tension between Lan and Nynaeve. It starts slowly, as Nynaeve follows Lan out of the castle as he goes to visit old friends. The music swells, carrying the emotion as Nynaeve watches Lan through the window. And then, all at once, it stops as Lan catches her watching him and invites her in to join them for dinner. That silence carries into the next scene, as they return to the castle and bid each other goodnight.
Clever viewers and connoisseurs of romance know exactly what is going to happen when the door closes between them and Lan starts to undress for the night. The door is perfectly framed in the shot, in anticipation of the knock that comes. As Nynaeve enters and approaches Lan, the music begins once more—a heart-stirring, reverential sort of tone that reaches a fever pitch as they finally kiss.
Later, in the wake of their romantic interlude, Nynaeve means to slip out of Lan’s room, but he wakes and they share a very sweet and poignant conversation about his ties to Moiraine and his past, which convinces her to stay the night with him. I simply cannot wait to see where this romance goes (I’ve tried to avoid most spoilers for the book) and I love the chemistry between them.
The ending of “The Dark Along the Ways” is the perfect culmination of the jaw-dropping cold open, neatly revealing the identity of the Dragon Reborn while underscoring a really powerful moment of storytelling. The Wheel of Time continues to get better with each new episode and the season finale is posed to make us all desperate for the arrival of season two sooner, rather than later. My assertion that The Wheel of Time is the fantasy series we’ve all been waiting for remains accurate. The series has been beautifully executed, welcoming new fans into the brilliant storytelling of Robert Jordan.
Maggie Lovitt is the Managing Editor of Entertainment at Wealth of Geeks where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery. She is also a freelance writer and News Editor at Collider. She has had bylines at Inverse, Polygon, and Dorkside of the Force. She is also a member of the Hollywood Critics Association.
When she is not covering entertainment news, she can be found on one of her numerous podcasts or on her YouTube channel. In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Screen Actors Guild.