The Wheel of Time proves its mettle in “Eyes Without Pity”

Josha Stradowski (Rand al'Thor) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Josha Stradowski (Rand al'Thor) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

Last week’s episode of The Wheel of Time, “Damane,” was a powerhouse installment that upped the ante for the series. Rand’s lover Selene is actually a member of the Forsaken named Lanfear! Egwene is captured by the Seanchan! Nynaeve and Elayne meet up with another Aes Sedai in Falme! Perrin and the Aiel spear maiden Aviendha hit the road!

There was a ton to digest, and we getting fed this week. I think “Eyes Without Pity” is the single best episode of The Wheel of Time so far. I said something similar last week, so it looks the show is in a virtual spiral. Read on for our SPOILER-FILLED review of “Eyes Without Pity.”

Madeleine Madden (Egwene al’Vere) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Madeleine Madden (Egwene al’Vere) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

The Wheel of Time Episode 206 review: “Eyes Without Pity”

The main event of “Eyes Without Pity” is the torture of Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden). “Damane” ended with Egwene being collared by the Seanchan, meaning she is now under their magical control. Now we see what this actually means for the female channelers kept as slaves by the Seanchan, called damane. It is terrifying. Over the course of the hour, we watch as Egwene’s handler (called a sul’dam) Renna tries to break her into being an obedient lapdog.

Because damane and sul’dam are linked by magic, there’s no way for Egwene to hurt Renna or hide anything from her. Renna gives Egwene a simple task: pour a glass of water using a pitcher she tried to use as a weapon. So long as Egwene believes there’s any chance she can harm Renna, trying to touch the pitcher puts her in agony. Still, Egwene continues to resist. It’s easily the most shockingly brutal sequence of the series to date.

Egwene has an incredible arc in The Wheel of Time books, and this period as a damane is formative for her. It was important for the show to do it right, and my god do they. “Eyes Without Pity” features Madden’s best acting of the entire show so far. Xelia Mendes-Jones also turns in an arresting performance as Renna, walking the line between seductive compassion and abusive fury. The effects are also great; the way the Seanchan use the One Power is a little different from how the Aes Sedai do it, and the a’dam (collar) ter’angreal around Egwene’s neck looks formidable and heavy. And let’s not forget Egwene’s progressively bloodier makeup and all the spooky screaming going on in the background whenever we visit her in the kennels.

It’s just all around great television, and shows that The Wheel of Time is capable of getting as dark as it needs to in order to tell its story well. So far as I’m concerned, the show couldn’t have done it better.

Ceara Coveney (Elayne Trakand), Zoë Robins (Nynaeve al’Meara) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Ceara Coveney (Elayne Trakand), Zoë Robins (Nynaeve al’Meara) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

Aes Sedai go undercover in Falme

While Egwene is being held captive in a Seanchan compound in Falme, Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) and Elayne (Ceara Coveney) are trying to save her. They’ve linked up with an Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah named Ryma (Nyokabi Gethaiga) and her warder Basan (Bentley Kalu), who provide a lot of good background information about how the White Tower is responding to the Seanchan; they sent a group of sisters to investigate, but two were killed and one was enslaved. Only Ryma remains. She tries to help Nynaeve and Elayne figure out how to open an a’dam collar so that they can hopefully free Egwene.

However, Nynaeve accidentally channels too much while testing the collar, alerting the nearby damane and sul’dam to their location. Ryma and Basan sacrifice themselves so that the damane won’t find Nynaeve and Elayne, but it goes wrong at the last minute when Basan isn’t able to bring himself to kill Ryma. Instead, he dies and Ryma is collared.

There are a lot of great moments during this stretch, including Ryma giving Nynaeve channeling advice, Elayne using her affinity for ter’angreal to examine the a’dam and declaring her friendship for Egwene, and of course the big fight scene, which is cross cut with Renna strangling Egwene. We know exactly what’s in store for Ryma, and it’s horrible. The show does a great job of jumping between Egwene’s torture and the undercover Aes Sedai in Falme. We learn everything we need to learn in a way that’s sure to stick.

Josha Stradowski (Rand al’Thor) and Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Josha Stradowski (Rand al’Thor) and Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

Reunions and Partings

We also spend a lot of time around Cairhien this episode, starting with Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) and his meeting with Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe) in the dream world, Tel’aran’riod. Lanfear rocks her dominatrix outfit. What more do we need to say?

O’Keeffe continues to give a stellar performance as the Forsaken. She gives Rand an ultimatum: she will help him reunite with his friends so long as he parts ways with Moiraine. If she sees Rand and Moiraine together again, Lanfear will kill her.

Rand takes this to heart and heads out into Cairhien on his own. There are a few scenes that go straight for the heartstrings, like Lanfear facilitating a meeting between Rand and Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod where he sees she’s in captivity, and Rand and Mat reuniting for the first time since the first season.

Dónal Finn (Mat Cauthon)
Dónal Finn (Mat Cauthon) /

Rand and Mat’s reunion is tricky, because while these two characters have a deep history together, we’ve never actually seen Dónal Finn onscreen with Josha Stradowski before. That might make the reunion hard to sell, but ultimately both gave good enough performances that it worked, helped along by solid direction and a quality script.

Mat and Min (Kae Alexander) have a falling out right after; Min tells Mat that if he goes with Rand to Falme he’ll end up killing him with the ruby-hilted dagger, which she saw in one of her visions. Mat ditches Rand, but it’s very clear how much it’s eating at him. This is the exact sort of moral ambiguity that makes Mat work so well as a character in the novels. Considering how little screentime he’s had this season, something like this was much needed.

Of course, Rand doesn’t quite make it out of Cairhien. Instead he’s picked up by Lan (Daniel Henney), Alanna (Priyanka Bose), Ihvon (Emmanuel Imani) and Maksim (Taylor Napier). The Amyrlin Seat and a group of 14 Aes Sedai have come to Cairhien. They have questions, and not just for Rand.

Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

The Amyrlin Seat arrives in Cairhien

The last puzzle piece of this episode is Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), her sister Anvaere (Lindsay Duncan) and her nephew Barthanes Damodred (Will Tudor). There’s a lot of subtle foreshadowing happening in these scenes that we’ll probably be able to finally discuss after next week’s episode, as well as some good character development for Moiraine and her family. Barthanes tries to make nice with his aunt, but Moiraine is in the middle of writing a letter to Siuan about being stilled and isn’t in the mood for chit-chat. That leads to some more tension with Anvaere.

I’ve been critical of the show’s choices with Moiraine and Lan, but I think it did right by them in “Eyes Without Pity.” Alanna, Maksim, and Ihvon think Lan and Moiraine might be Darkfriends because they found the poem about Lanfear’s return in Lan’s saddlebags; they force him to tell them about the Dragon Reborn, and in return Alanna helps Lan reunite with Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo).

This is great set-up for next week, with the Amyrlin and a full complement of Aes Sedai arriving in Cairhien to speak with Rand and Moiraine. The Great Hunt actually begins with these two being brought before the Amyrlin and a group of Aes Sedai, so this is an interesting adaptation choice.

It’s extremely exciting to see Siuan come to Cairhien with a full group of sisters. In the novels, having at least 13 Aes Sedai in one place is often a sign that they’re preparing to gentle a man, meaning they’re going to cut him off from the One Power. So while we don’t know for sure what their plans are with Rand, it’s obvious they mean business.

Hammed Animashaun (Loial) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Hammed Animashaun (Loial) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

The Bullet Points of Time

  • Renna makes Egwene tell her her name, and then “allows her to keep it.” In the novels, Renna renames Egwene “Tuli” as part of her enslavement. There are already so many names in this show I can understand why they didn’t go that route, but I like that they nodded to it. Then again, Egwene’s not out of the woods yet, so that could still happen next week.
  • Anvaere asking Moiraine what was so important that she couldn’t come home when their father died was another great moment. Presumably, Moiraine couldn’t return because she was hunting for the Dragon Reborn, but since the Three Oaths prevent her from lying and she can’t tell Anvaere that vital information, she evades in a hurtful way.
  • Lanfear killed Liandrin’s son, after all Liandrin has sacrificed in hopes of securing him a better life. It was a solid way to show the capricious nature of deals with the dark. Plus, Kate Fleetwood and Natasha O’Keeffe were excellent as always.
  • One of the few effects I didn’t love in this episode were the subtitles when Moiraine was writing her letter about being stilled. I wish the show had just used a more normal subtitle, because it jarred me out of the immersion.
  • Logain telling Rand not to surrender to the source but to grab it is very accurate to the books. Women surrender to saidar, the female half of the source; men dominate saidin, the male half.
  • I enjoyed Lan’s showdown with Alanna and her warders at the Forsaken temple, both because it’s another great example of the show doing some subtle worldbuilding and because it actually resolved this whole arc with Lan in a solid way. Finally, the King of Malkier is back on track!
  • One of the big reveals of the episode is that the Seanchan have enslaved Maigan (Sandy McDade). She was one of the sitters (leaders) of the Blue Ajah, who we met in season 1.
  • We don’t see if Mat witnessed Rand get intercepted by Lan and Alanna, but my guess is that he did. If so, I’m hoping Mat gets a redemption moment next episode where he helps Rand give the Aes Sedai the slip.


“Eyes Without Pity” is a fantastic episode of The Wheel of Time. We got some of the show’s most emotionally powerful moments yet with Egwene’s torture, Ryma’s capture, and the reunion between Mat and Rand, as well as great action and a ton of development for major antagonists like the Seanchan and Lanfear. This episode set a new gold standard for the series, and is as close to a perfect installment as it’s yet produced. If Episode 206 is this good, I can’t wait to see the final two of the season.

Episode Grade: A+

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