The Wheel of Time co-author Brandon Sanderson harshly criticizes season 2 finale

Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred) - Credit: Prime Video
Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred) - Credit: Prime Video /
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This past weekend, The Wheel of Time co-author Brandon Sanderson — he wrote the the last three volumes in the 14-book series following the death of original author Robert Jordan in 2007 — teamed up with popular Wheel of Time content creators Matt Hatch of The Dusty Wheel and Daniel Greene to do a first-watch reaction video to the show’s season 2 finale, “What Was Meant To Be.”

The result was…interesting. While this was technically a first watch for all three of them, Sanderson is a consulting producer on the series and read the scripts for season 2 years ago; he then provided feedback to the production team. He pointed out issues he has with the show he’s clearly been thinking about for some time, and he had a lot of issues.

The video comes off mostly like a venting session for Sanderson, with Greene and Hatch trying to keep up. There were some good discussions and fascinating takeaways, but on the whole, it was kind of shocking, especially considering that Sanderson hadn’t even watched the entire season before doing the video. “I’ve read all the scripts, I have not seen the whole season,” he explained. “This is the first chance I’ve been able to sit down and watch.”

I have a lot of feelings about this whole thing, but let’s save that discussion for the end. In the meantime, let’s look at some of Brandon Sanderson’s comments on The Wheel of Time season 2. There will be SPOILERS for the season ahead.

Brandon Sanderson “fought pretty hard” against Moiraine losing her powers in The Wheel of Time season 2

The first large issue that Sanderson raised has been the source of a lot of discussion this season: Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) losing access to the One Power. At the end of season 1, Moiraine was shielded by Ishamael. She spent most of the season being unable to use magic until Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) freed her from the Forsaken’s shield in the penultimate episode of season 2. Quoth Sanderson:

"[Rosamund Pike] is great, by the way…but I fought pretty hard against the Moiraine not having her powers thing. I just don’t think it worked, and maybe again it’s just me looking forward, but…if we’re having people lose their powers and get them back just for convenience of like a few episodes it really detracts from the idea of losing powers, getting powers back. I don’t think we needed it. I tried on that one."

Hatch pushed back, saying he enjoyed how the storyline ultimately turned out. “It does some good things but I think it led to some of the weakest parts of the season, being Episode 1 and 2, Lan and Moiraine,” Sanderson replied. “I don’t think it worked, mostly because it led to a weaker start, which is a problem right? A weak start for Moiraine and Lan, who are two of our strongest characters.”

I can absolutely see both sides of the argument. On the one hand, Sanderson is right that Lan and Moiraine’s early scenes are some of the weakest parts of the season, and they could cause complications down the line. On the other hand, I agree with Hatch that this storyline feels more satisfying having seen the whole season, largely due to the performances and the masterful way it all came together in Episode 207, “Daes Dae’mar.” If you told me a few months ago that I would defend Moiraine losing her powers I wouldn’t have believed you, which is a testament to how well the show executed on the idea.

Brandon Sanderson, from his "It's Time to Come Clean" YouTube reveal video.
Brandon Sanderson, from his “It’s Time to Come Clean” YouTube reveal video. /

According to Sanderson, this change with Moiraine and Lan was primarily made because of how little the characters appear in The Great Hunt, the book which formed the basis for season 2. And he just didn’t like it very much. “Again, performances help…but when I read this stuff in the script, it was one of my least favorite parts of the season, was Lan and Moiraine,” he said.

"I don’t want to draw too many comparisons, but it’s kind of the Game of Thrones problem. And I understand the problem that the writers were in: this is your star, right? Rosamund Pike is fantastic. She is your star, you’ve hung your whole first season on her, and what do you do with Great Hunt where she has a much smaller role? And so they wrote in a bunch of stuff to do with her and…they were far enough off book, I understand what they were trying to do, I don’t think it worked."

So that was a big issue Sanderson had, and it came up more than once. But lest you worry that Sanderson just spent the entire time crapping on The Wheel of Time season 2, there was also plenty that he liked: