Much of episode 4 takes place in the Aes Sedai encampment, where Moiraine, Lan and Nyaeve stop for the night after meeting up with the sisters in episode 3. Moiraine reconnects with Liandrin and the other Aes Sedai sisters, has her wound healed and evaluates Logain, the potential Dragon Reborn. Nynaeve learns more about the Aes Sedai and their Warders.
Rand and Mat travel with Thom the gleeman, stopping at a local farm for the night. Egwene and Perrin travel toward the White Tower with the Tuatha’an and learn about their peaceful philosophy, the Way of the Leaf.
The episode begins with a flashback to the recent past in Ghealan, where Logain (Álvaro Morte) is waging war on his own people. This is the war the Two Rivers villagers discussed in episode 1 that’s taking place in the south. Logain’s peasant army has stormed the gates and is sacking the king’s castle. The king’s retainers attempt to move him to a secure location, but he’s a dedicated leader and refuses to leave the battle. Logain approaches, all power and intensity, repelling attacks with barely a twitch of his finger.
Logain’s power weaves are white when they leave his body, matching those of the Aes Sedai, but turn black with the Corruption within seconds. He and his power aren’t inherently evil. The Corruption from the Breaking of the World has already acted like an incurable disease on his mind, body and connection to the One Power.
The king (Miguel Alvarez), who is alone by the time Logain is done with his army, tells Logain that he’ll never wear the crown. But Logain doesn’t want the crown. He’s conquering territory as a means of gaining followers to fight the Dark One with him. The king has already sent for the Aes Sedai. Logain thinks the Aes Sedai should follow him, but they’re too afraid that the Dragon Reborn will break the world again, forgetting that the Dragon might save the world this time.
Paranoid voices whisper in Logain’s ears, visualized as shadowy black silhouettes made from power weaves. They tell him to kill the king, because he’ll betray the self-proclaimed Dragon, just as Logain’s family did. The king realizes Logain is hearing voices, a sign of madness from the Corruption, and raises his dagger to kill the false Dragon.
Logain restrains the king using weaves of power, but then he heals the king’s wounds and releases him, offering a place in his army. “The last Dragon broke the world. But I plan to bind it.”
By murdering as many innocent people as possible on his way to the Last Battle.
In the present day, Kerene (Clare Perkins), a member of the Green Ajah, heals Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) after the Aes Sedai party makes camp. When Moiraine is surprised that Kerene is tired after the healing, she explains that Logain is so strong that only three of the sisters traveling with them (herself, Alanna (Priyanka Bose) and Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood)) are powerful enough to maintain shields around him so that he can’t use the One Power- and they have to work in pairs. She tells Moiraine that Logain raised an army of thousands of followers before they captured him.
Logain’s cage is in a cave, isolated from the rest of camp, where Liandrin and Alanna sit and stare at him as they keep his power contained with their magical shields. His ears are plugged with magic, so they can speak freely. Liandrin tells Moiraine that they captured Logain using a plan she’d appreciate (since the Blue Ajah tends toward spying and schemes). They snuck into Logain’s camp and shielded him while he was asleep, then brought up a lightning storm to scare off his army. Kerene adds that she’s set up magical wards which will act as perimeter alarms to alert them if any of Logain’s followers attempt to infiltrate the camp.
Moiraine asks how far Logain’s madness has progressed. Liandrin tells her that he proclaimed himself the Dragon and tried to organize an attack on the White Tower. She thinks it’s too dangerous to wait until they travel back to the Tower and hold a trial to punish him, especially since they are sure of his guilt. Kerene argues, “The Amyrlin Seat commanded us to bring him to the Tower for trial. She will decide what he deserves, not us.”
As Kerene weaves her shield to take over for Liandrin, Moiraine stops her and offers to take this shift. Liandrin snidely remarks on Moiraine’s excessive selflessness. Kerene warns that Logain will take advantage of any gaps in the shield, so the replacement needs to be in place before Liandrin relaxes. Moiraine’s shield forms like a silvery net, growing into a film that envelops Logain. It’s clear that once Liandrin drops her shield, Moiraine feels Logain’s power as a heavy physical burden. She’s also intrigued by what she senses from him. Liandrin points out that Moiraine is only experiencing half of Logain’s power.
In this scene and the cold open, we’re told that Logain is a man of the people who has the charisma of a chosen one even though he isn’t the Dragon. Logain didn’t make any special promises to the king to win his loyalty, beyond being accessible and working toward change. The people are ready for change and something about Logain is so attractive that even the king gave up without a fight. Or maybe Logain has a powerful glamor that hypnotizes the unsuspecting?
The Aes Sedai live in their Tower and only accept a chosen few into their ranks. When they go out amongst the people they are guarded and secretive rather than open and generous. Maybe they’ve been driven to this by the persecution they’ve experienced since the Breaking of the World. It certainly sounds like they’ve been criticized and hounded by men who are jealous that they can still wield the One Power. Or maybe both the sisters and brothers were a revered priestly caste in the previous Age and the Aes Sedai have continued that tradition. Whatever their reasoning, they haven’t positioned themselves as allies of the people (or at least not in a way that the common people seem to understand), which leaves an opening for their enemies to exploit.
Lan (Daniel Henney) and Stepin (Peter Franzén), Kerene’s warder, exchange
gossip news as they train together. Tensions are running high in the White Tower, especially since the Whitecloaks have killed so many Aes Sedai recently, so there’s more work to be divided among fewer sisters. The Amyrlin Seat, leader of the Aes Sedai, isn’t happy with Moiraine’s long absence from the Tower and is pressing for her and Lan to return.
Stepin wonders about Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) as a traveling companion. Lan says she’s not with them as a companion. “She’s barely company.”
In other words, she’s not there by either his choice or her own. She’s been forced there by circumstances.
Stepin joins Kerene when she leaves the cave. He jokes that she and Moiraine are growing closer. Kerene reminds him that she respects Moiraine, but they aren’t friends. Moiraine is so secretive and quiet that Kerene has never been able to break through her walls. Stepin says that Lan can be the same way at times. They chuckle over how boring it must be when the other two are alone.
But it’s also clear that Kerene really does respect Moiraine and regrets that they’ve never been friends the way Lan and Stepin are. As for Moiraine and Lan’s relationship, to each his/her own- they practically read each other’s minds. But also, Moiraine is quiet in part because she holds many secrets as a Blue Ajah, who fights for justice and righteous causes mainly using political machinations and spy networks. Better to stay quiet most of the time than to accidentally reveal something to the wrong person. Lan knows most of her secrets (and she knows his), so she can speak openly with him.
Stepin moves on, sharing what he’s gleaned from conversations in the camp during her shift with Logain. He tells her that people are starting to agree with Liandrin that Logain should be gentled before they reach the White Tower. Kerene is firm that they won’t disobey the Amyrlin Seat’s orders to bring him to her with his power intact. Stepin tells her there are rumors that the Red Ajah, whose role is to police misuse of the One Power, particularly in men, have frequently been taking matters into their own hands. Kerene still doesn’t think Liandrin will defy the Amyrlin Seat this time. Stepin points out, “The Amyrlin isn’t here,” which gives Kerene pause.
When Stepin tries to suggest she get some rest, she cuts him off and promises she will. She’s noticed that he worries more than he used to. He makes light of it, but he’s also a man who notices everything that’s going on around him. If he’s worried, there’s a reason. Like Moiraine, he understands that she’s not in top form because shielding Logain is exhausting her, which ultimately puts her and the camp at risk.
As the Tinkers break camp, Egwene (Madeleine Madden) asks Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) how he slept. He confesses that he didn’t. He doesn’t trust the Tuatha’an. Egwene promises him that if either of them decide they aren’t safe anymore, they’ll both leave the Tuatha’an without question.
Aram (Daryl McCormack) interrupts to tell them the Tinkers are heading east toward Tar Valon, the city of the White Tower, and they’re welcome to come along. Perrin asks why they trust two strangers who could be bandits. Aram points out that they’re the worst bandits ever, if that’s what they are, since they were wandering the Caralain Plain, a vast wasteland, without any supplies. Like Thom, he recognizes that they’re actually from the Mountains of Mist/Two Rivers. Egwene says they’re traders from Whitebridge who got separated from their caravan. Aram doesn’t even pretend to believe her.
Maybe the Aes Sedai had to swear to stop lying because they’re so bad at it, even when they’re just young women with power. The creativity combined with truthfulness involved with half lies forces them to put some conviction behind their words and helps protect them out in the world. That’s some of what Moiraine tried to teach Egwene when they went over the 3 Oaths in the middle of the night in episode 2. Find a way to tell the truth that doesn’t reveal your secrets.
Ila (Maria Doyle Kennedy) bangs on a pot to ask the caravan if they are ready to get going. They bang back on their own to signal they are and the group heads out with Egwene and Perrin in tow.
As Rand (Josha Stradowski), Mat (Barney Harris) and Thom the gleeman (Alexandre Willaume) ride through a wooded area on stolen horses, Rand hangs back to tell Mat that he’s not sure they should trust Thom. He’s figured out that Thom could be a Darkfriend, like Dana, and he could have killed Dana to gain their trust. Mat agrees that would have been a smart move and praises Rand for finally doing some strategic thinking. Mat has been wondering about Dana’s reference to five potential Dragons and who the one outside their friend group could be.
He and Rand still don’t know that Nynaeve is alive, so he doesn’t consider her. The camera jumps from Mat to Logain.
Logain appears to be sitting quietly in deep meditation, but Moiraine and Alanna remark on how difficult it is to contain his power. He’s trying to escape at every moment. Moiraine has never experienced male power so clearly and how different it feels from women’s power. Alanna says guarding Logain is like trying to give a cat a bath, but you become accustomed to it.
The fact that Kerene is so much more affected by Logain than Alanna makes me wonder if he’s singled her out as the weakest link and is targeting her with more power than the others when she guards him, hoping she’ll break.
Alanna asks if Moiraine remembers the name of the dog she had when she was a novice. Though the dog slept in her bed every night, Moiraine denies that the dog was hers. It was against the rules for novices to have pets
so they were just good friends.
We establish, again, that Moiraine has particular talents for using words to her advantage and understanding the letter vs the spirit of the law. This makes her particularly suited to the Blue Ajah and allows her to dance around the Three Oaths at will.
Moiraine drops all pretense with her friend and confirms that Kerene has asked Alanna to pump her for information. Alanna is currently softening up Moiraine, hence the question about the dog. Theoretically, she was waiting to interrogate her friend until Moiraine was expecting it less, but the not-a-pet dog seems to be code between them that helped tip Moiraine off to her tactics. Moiraine is impressed by Alanna’s technique and thinks she could have been Blue Ajah, but Alanna protests that she would never have been satisfied with just one Warder.
Watching them tease and laugh together, I’m brought back to the scene with Kerene and Stepin, who share a similar rapport. It makes it that much more poignant that Kerene would like to have the same pleasant connection with Moiraine, but she hasn’t been able to forge it. During the scene, Alanna mimics Kerene as stiff and stuffy. Maybe the issue is that Kerene is older and one of their superiors, whereas that kind of hierarchy doesn’t exist within the Warders, so Lan and Stepin are able to be closer?
Alanna tells Moiraine that she felt like a hero when she joined the Green Ajah and prepared to fight the prophesied Last Battle against the Dark One, but deep down, she never believed the stories would come true in her lifetime. Moiraine points out that Logain is just the latest in a long line of False Dragons. Alanna is worried because he’s the strongest channeler she’s ever seen of either gender, a sign that the end of this Age has come and the Last Battle approaches. If that’s true, Moiraine is glad Alanna will be part of the fight.
Alanna’s real fear is that the Dragon Reborn has already been found and the Red Ajah gentled him before he was identified.
This would be why the Amyrlin Seat wants to examine each and every man before he’s gentled, though she might not have in previous times. She’s worried the Red Ajah aren’t sensitive enough to detect the Dragon or will gentle him for their own political purposes.
Since Liandrin and the Reds are campaigning to gentle Logain before they get to the White Tower and the Greens are against it, I suspect this is the message Kerene wanted Alanna to deliver to Moiraine. During the earlier part of the conversation, she was indeed softening up her friend so that Moiraine would listen to their concerns.
As they stare at each other while they process the enormity of this possibility, there’s a momentary break in their concentration. That’s all it takes for Logain’s power to come roaring through their shields. They reestablish control before any harm is done, then Alanna chuckles as she recalls that Moiraine’s dog who wasn’t her dog was named Jenny.
In this scene, Moiraine got a taste of Logain’s power in full. We confirmed that she isn’t the ice queen she appears to be. Alanna showed that she’s unflappable, very strong and well-suited to be a warrior. And Alanna made the point that whether Logain is the Dragon Reborn or not, the Aes Sedai could find a way to use him as a powerful ally.
At the end of the world, maybe it’s time to consider bending the rules a little.
Nynaeve sits on a ledge overlooking camp and watches the activity below as she eats. Liandrin comes up behind her and tells her she likes her braid. Since there’s almost more braid than woman, it’s a reasonable ice breaker. Then she mispronounces Nynaeve’s name and indirectly asks where she’s from. Nynaeve decides she’ll take the first turn asking questions, since Liandrin wants something from her and not the other way around. When her first question shows her suspicion of Moiraine, Liandrin is happy to go along with the arrangement.
Thom, Rand and Mat stop near a farm and debate whether to sneak into the barn after dark (Thom) or knock on the door and ask for shelter (Rand). Mat’s busy with his misbehaving horse. Thom criticizes his horsemanship, perhaps assuming that all country bumpkins are born knowing how to ride and care for animals. Mat criticizes Thom’s skills as a thief, which seems justified to me, since Thom is once again favoring Rand while using Mat to relieve his own frustrations.
They’re interrupted by the farmer, who assumes they’re soldiers that have gone AWOL from the war in the south and are generally up to no good. Thom suggests that they just continue riding, but the farmer is scared they’ll come back later to do his family harm. Mat puts his hand on his dagger while trying to talk the farmer out of hurting them.
Rand tells the farmer the truth, then says he can tell the farmer doesn’t want to hurt them because of the way he’s holding the bow and arrow he has pointed at them. And if Rand wanted to kill the farmer, he would have already done it. So maybe that shows they can trust each other. The farmer relaxes and asks his wife, who’s standing behind Thom and Rand with a bow and arrow of her own, what she thinks. She thinks they can stay in the barn after they’ve mucked it out.
The farmers relaxed and became agreeable when Rand spoke with them- this is another time when he probably used his power without realizing it. The interaction between Logain and the king in the cold open was similar, with the king resisting, then turning to Logain’s side without Logain seeming to exert any obvious influence. Too bad Rand’s powers of persuasion don’t work on Mat when it’s time to do physical labor. 😉
We return the the ledge in time to hear Liandrin tell Nynaeve that Moiraine chose the Blue Ajah, which she thinks was the right fit, since they are self-important spies. Nynaeve asks if the Red Ajah is any better. Showing pride in her own choice, Liandrin explains, “We protect the world from people who would misuse the One Power. Even other Aes Sedai.”
When Lan interrupts them, she gets up to leave, but invites Nynaeve to dinner in the Red tent, which “is open to all women.” As soon as she’s gone, Nynaeve tells Lan that she’s a snake and asks if she’s typical of the Aes Sedai who live in the White Tower. He doesn’t answer, instead telling her she’ll soon see for herself. She questions how fast they’ll travel, given the roundabout route they’ve taken so far. He reminds her that they need to get Logain to the Tower quickly. And that either the other four villagers will already be at the Tower or they’ll be able to use the Tower’s resources to find them more quickly. Then he invites her to spend the evening at the Warders’ fire- if she promises not to shove anyone into it.
No false flattery from Lan.
Just more rusty flirting.
As they walk along the road, Perrin asks if the Tuatha’an have run into anyone else in the area, probably hoping for news of the others he and Egwene were traveling with. Aram answers that they haven’t. This deserted road is a detour from their usual route, which would have taken them too close to the war in the south. Perrin is surprised they’d worry about encountering a few soldiers, since there are enough of them to defend themselves.
Raen (Narinder Samra) asks if they’ve noticed any weapons in the caravan, then Ila explains that the Tinkers, “follow the Way of the Leaf, have for thousands of years. We foreswear violence and all instruments of it.” If they are attacked, they run away or endure. Perrin asks if they would allow themselves to die rather than use violence.
Ila: “The leaf, in its time, falls to the dirt that nourishes the tree, that in its time, grows the leaf again. Nothing is ever lost. The Wheel returns all.”
Ila asks Perrin if he’s ever been in battle and picked up a weapon, maybe an ax. “Has your life been better or worse since you picked up that ax?”
We already know the answer to that question.
Thom begs off mucking out the barn because he needs to stay fresh for a performance, so it’s left to Rand and Mat. Mat helps out this time, but eventually feels faint. He says he’s taking a break, then goes outside and vomits up dark blood. The screen was too dark for me to figure out exactly what happened – I think the blood on the ground might have been moving. The sentient Shadows of Shadar Logoth must have hitched a ride out with Mat and the dagger. At any rate, we’re supposed to understand that the vomiting and other symptoms are due to the Darkness invading Mat rather than a physical illness. There might be some hallucinating involved though. The Dark Side of the Force has a penchant for causing hallucinations.
Mat’s internal freak out over whatever is going on with his blood is cut short when the farmer’s young daughter, Helga (Robin Betteridge), brings out a loaf of bread as a thank you for their hard work in the barn. Mat immediately switches into comforting big brother role. He thanks her for the bread and asks her name. She says she’s supposed to give him the bread then go right back inside. He tells her that his little sisters don’t listen to his parents either. She offers him her rag doll, Brigitte, to take back to them. He tries to say no, but she tells him she has other dolls and Brigitte wants to travel.
Back in the barn, Thom warns Rand that Mat shows signs of channeling the One Power. He describes his nephew, Owyn, who was a favorite of Thom’s and a trickster just like Mat (and Thom). One day, Owyn changed, becoming irritable and nervous all the time, which made the livestock nervous as well. They realized what was happening when Owyn used the One Power to throw a rock.
Thom sees all of the same signs in Mat, but Rand is skeptical,
since Mat is frequently irritable when things constantly go wrong. Rand thinks Mat would figure out what was happening to him and confess to his friend.
I appreciate Rand’s faith in his friend, but his naivety is showing again. Mat has probably always kept secrets about just how bad his family life was. It would be second nature for him to hold this type of information back. We already know he’s hiding the Shadar Logoth dagger and how he found it.
Thom says he told Owyn the old stories starting when his nephew was a young child. Owyn knew about the Dragon, the Breaking of the World and that the Corruption of the One Power means men can’t use it without losing their minds. When Owyn felt the One Power, Thom’s stories were useless. Owyn still hid the changes he was going through from his uncle.
Rand asks what happened to Owyn. Thom says that when he was away, Aes Sedai from the Red Ajah found Owyn and gentled him, permanently separating him from the One Power. Unable to bear life without his connection to
his true self the One Power, a few weeks later he slit his own throat. Thom promises to help protect Mat for as long as possible. They need to keep him away from the Aes Sedai. Rand notes that Thom “knows a lot for a simple gleeman.”
Thom: “We call ourselves gleemen because a silly name makes us less frightening. Nothing is more dangerous than a man who knows the past.”
Kerene replaces Alanna on Logain duty in the cave. Nynaeve joins the Warders at their fire. We hear Stepin tell the end of a funny story about a horse throwing Lan into a pig trough. They laugh and tease some more, then Nynaeve tells them they’re more fun than she thought they’d be. “But you serve them.” They get more serious and inform her that they don’t.
Stepin (Kerene’s Warder): “No bond is closer than an Aes Sedai and her Warder. Not husbands and wives, not parents and children. Do you know what Aes Sedai means in the Old Tongue? ‘Servants of All’. It is they who serve the world.”
Nynaeve asks what they are then. Lan says they are proud. Alanna’s two Warders, Maksim (Taylor Napier) and Ihvon (Emmanuel Imani), who are snuggled together, add that they are tired. Especially Lan, who somehow keeps up with Moiraine. Sisters have been passing by to collect their Warders for the last few minutes. Now Alanna arrives for hers. They announce, with a wink, they are indeed feeling a bit tired. It occurs to Nynaeve that not all pairings are as chaste as Moiraine and Lan. And that some pairings are threesomes. Lan announces that he’s tired, too, giving it a certain emphasis that’s probably just to tease Nynaeve.
Two Rivers must be the tamest village on the entire continent.
Liandrin and Kerene must be minding Logain, because Moiraine is back in her tent, looking morose, when Lan arrives. He was still feeling happy and buzzed from his time at the fire, but he’s all business as soon as he sees her face. He reminds her that Logain doesn’t fit the prophecy about the Dragon Reborn and the trollocs aren’t chasing him. The Dark One is after the Two Rivers Four, not Logain. Moiraine thinks the Dark One is as confused as they are about who the Dragon is. He’s not sure whether to be terrified or comforted.
Lan makes a sarcastic joke- THIS IS A TRULY GREAT EPISODE.
Exhausted from shielding Logain all day and probably from nearly dying from her trolloc wound, Moiraine spirals, lamenting that they searched for the four ta’veren for 20 years and then lost them again so quickly. Lan knows her well and regrets having the drink that he had by the fire, because she always feels it when he has alcohol and “gets emotional.” They hold hands and lean into each other.
It’s not always about you, Lan. She’s had a rough four episodes. But seriously, this is the writers showing us that they aren’t lovers, under any circumstances, not even for comfort when they have a decent bed for once and are a little tipsy (probably as out of control as these two get). They are close and supportive, but it’s a platonic soulmate bond, unlike most Aes Sedai and Warders.
The Tinkers spend the evening dancing, which seems nuts, since many of them walked all day. The Way of the Leaf must provide improved stamina. Egwene dances with Aram, since Perrin won’t join in. She asks him about “the Song” his grandparents spoke of earlier. He tells her that in the previous Age, before the Breaking of the World, his people “supposedly knew a song that brought harmony to the world.” They believe that when they find it again, peace and harmony will be restored. Though his grandparents believe the Song is real, Aram doesn’t. Egwene looks around at the happy, dancing community and suggests maybe they’ve already found it. Thanks to her words, Aram sees his people through new eyes.
Or maybe it’s Egwene that he sees.
Perrin leaves the dance and helps repair wagons instead. Ila notices that he finds the work calming and thanks him for honoring them by sharing work that feeds his soul. He observes that one of the Tinkers is heavily scarred as if from violence, which is strange for a peaceful people. Ila explains that the person he’s looking at used to be a hired killer but renounced violence when they realized the error of their ways.
Perrin argues that you can’t run from everything. Ila explains that they aren’t running. The only way to stop violence is for everyone, everywhere to stop fighting, but the best way to influence people is one or two at a time. She’s trying to do her part and if all of her people also do theirs, eventually, the dream will come true. Perrin thinks that will take too long. Ila won’t live to see it and neither will anyone she knows, since it will take many generations to achieve.
Ila doesn’t do this work for her own personal gain or even for the people alive today. Aram’s mother, her daughter, died so long ago that Aram doesn’t remember her, murdered by bandits for sport when she was out foraging. When Ila found her body, she was sorely tempted to hunt down her daughter’s killers and take her revenge on them. Perrin asks why she didn’t.
Ila: “What greater revenge against violence than peace? What greater revenge against death than life? I couldn’t protect my girl in this turn of the Wheel, but one day, long after I’m gone, after Aram and his grandchildren’s grandchildren, the Wheel will turn out my daughter’s soul again. I do what I can to forge a better world for her then, where she can enjoy the life she should have had with me.”
Thanks to Maria Doyle Kennedy’s impeccable performance, Ila exudes a stillness that’s layered with sadness punctuated by moments of joy. She senses the pain and guilt within Perrin and shares her story with him like a gift. This last speech is delivered with delicate, heart wrenching emotion. Ila is a mother who’s put up a resilient front for a long, long time. She’ll never be over her daughter’s death and the guilt that she couldn’t save her. But she’s gone on with her life and made it count for something. It’s just what Perrin needs to hear.
As Aram and Egwene sit and look at the stars, he can sense her pain and longing. He asks if she’s thinking about a boy and if she’s lost him. Egwene says she’s certain she’d feel it if she’d lost him. Aram tells her that the Tinkers leave the caravan for a while when they turn 20, to learn about life in the outside world and then choose what kind of life they want. Most return to the Tinkers, but not all. “Leaf doesn’t fight the wind. Sometimes the leaf blows away from the tree.”
Aram wants to make out and is suggesting that Egwene try new things while she’s away from home and her childhood sweetheart. Sadly, she either doesn’t pick up on his message or isn’t interested. Too bad. He’s cute, nice and he’s shown more sensitivity toward her after a day than Rand mustered in the pilot after their whole lives. She stared at his lips for several seconds, so she probably thought about what it would be like to kiss him, but that’s as far as it went.
But it was enough for Rand to psychically sense through their bond…
Rand and Mat lie down for the night on a bed of straw. Rand tells Mat that he’s there for him, no matter what, but Mat doesn’t respond. Rand blows out the light.
Rand dreams that he’s in a deserted village at night. He sees Perrin, with blood on his face, repeatedly hitting something with a hammer and yells to stop, but Perrin doesn’t seem to hear him. Mat wanders by, eyes blank, hands covered in blood. Egwene calls Rand’s name. He turns and sees her just starting to smile in relief when the ember-eyed Fade grabs her and covers her mouth.
Rand wakes up in terror, but Thom is there, telling him that it’s all right. They hear a horse neighing outside, and Rand realizes Mat is gone. They race into the family’s house and find the parents and their son stabbed to death on the floor. Mat stands in the middle of the room, facing the loft, in a trance, like he was in Rand’s dream. Shadowy Darkness retreats from around his face into his mouth.
Thom tells Rand to grab Mat so they can get out of there, but Mat suddenly points the ruby-hilted dagger toward the Fade up in the loft and says, in a monotone, “I see you.”
The Fade steps out of the darkness. Thom throws a knife at it, yelling at Rand to take Mat and escape. He stays behind to fight the Fade while Rand pulls Mat out of the house. They find Helga’s body on the ground outside the door- she wasn’t there when they went in. Mat has woken up and stops to stare at the girl in horror. Rand manages to pull him away, and they flee on their horses, losing the little girl’s doll on the road.
Definitely Time for Some Dream Analysis
We aren’t shown whether Perrin and Egwene share this dream. It’s been implied that all four ta’veren shared their previous nightmares of the Fade, though their experiences within the dreams weren’t identical. This time, Mat seemed to be sleepwalking. There was no blood on his dagger or on him- he’s not the murderer, just like the four dreamers didn’t murder the bats in episode 2. Plus, murdering a little girl would be the most unMat-like behavior possible- during the trolloc attack on Two Rivers, Mat was distraught at the thought of losing his sisters, risking his own life to save them. The Darkness may be coming for him, but he’s not that far gone.
Thom was suspiciously awake when Rand woke up and didn’t notice that Mat was missing, then he was willing to sacrifice himself for two kids he was stealing from a couple of days ago.
Nothing strange about that.
In his dream, Rand saw twisted versions of his friends’ realities, with himself separated from them by an invisible force, unable to intervene to save them. The Dark One is doing what devils tend to do, combining Rand’s deepest fears with the darkest parts of reality to torture him. Rand’s deepest fear is probably losing his friends, especially having to helplessly watch them suffer or die the way he almost watched his father die.
The actions involving the other three combined Rand’s fears for them and their own fears. Mat was sleepwalking with blood on his hands, which shows Rand’s fear that he’s succumbing to channeling. Then Helga died, reflecting Mat’s fear of hurting a child. Technically, he was awake when her body appeared, but these dreams have a history of manifesting into reality- that’s part of their horror.
Perrin was using a sledge hammer on a pile of bodies (a twisted version of the repairs he did for the Tinkers), showing his fear of violence and hurting those he loves (his pack), similar to Rand’s fear that he’ll lose control. In the dream, Egwene was captured by the Fade (or symbolically with another man, Aram), illustrating her fear of helplessness and possibly also fears surrounding her power, plus Rand’s fear of losing her love, particularly his fear that she’ll choose her power over him.
As Aram guessed, Egwene is feeling helpless because she hasn’t found a way to reconnect with the rest of her companions since the group has been separated, especially Rand, her best friend. Moiraine is also feeling helpless and hopeless tonight, an interesting coincidence. The members of the group are still psychically connected, including Moiraine. Aram and Thom are potential new psychic allies. We haven’t been shown if Nynaeve is also connected to the dreams, but she apparently tracked Moiraine and Lan when she shouldn’t have been able to, so she has some connection to them as well as to her four young friends.
This dream strikes me as a miscalculation by the Fade, because it looks more like Rand is facing his fears than running from them. By helping Rand clarify what’s holding him back, the Fade only makes his enemy stronger. And even over the course of this episode, Rand begins to noticeably mature. The care he shows toward Mat is very different from the callousness we saw in the first three episodes. Thom helps by defining what Mat might be going through, giving Rand a way to relate to Mat’s struggles.
At the Aes Sedai camp, it’s Liandrin and Kerene’s turn to guard Logain. Kerene confronts Liandrin about the campaigning she’s been doing behind Kerene’s back, asking Liandrin if she has any intention of speaking directly to her. Undaunted, Liandrin tells her that, “It’s far harder to keep a shield on someone than to break out of it.” Logain pushes back against their shields all day long and it barely taxes him, while all four Aes Sedai who guard him are on the verge of collapse. And they still have hundreds of miles to travel before they reach the White Tower. But if he broke out, the Three Oaths would permit them to gentle him.
The Red Ajah are just as adept at manipulating the oaths as the Blue.
Kerene is uncompromising. She says that the White Tower has stood for 3,000 years because the Aes Sedai do what is right, rather than what’s expedient. She notes that it’s ironic for her to have to remind Liandran to obey the law, since Liandran is a Red. Liandrin looks desperate, but doesn’t respond.
It’s because she’s a Red and she has many years of experience in dealing with powerful male channelers that she understands exactly how powerful Logain is. The others should be respecting her expertise in this matter, not dismissing her. Maybe they could call for more sisters to help guard him instead of gentling him, but Liandrin is right- they won’t make it to the Tower the way they are now, if even Liandrin is showing the strain.
Couldn’t some of the weaker sisters help out as well? Why don’t they have five or ten sisters in the cave at a time, if that’s what it takes? Why doesn’t the Amyrlin Seat travel to meet them halfway, if it’s so important that she evaluate him herself? Why are they spending all day at this camp, instead of traveling as quickly as possible?
And why don’t they just knock Logain unconscious, drug him with a hallucinogen or find some other way to distract him from fighting them? Of course he’s fighting back hard, they’ve left him with nothing else to do. He can’t even look at the clouds. Turn on the TV, for heaven’s sake. Have the battle sisters shoot arrows at him continuously, that ought to distract him from fighting the shield.
Nynaeve spots Lan hiking into the woods and follows him. She finds him kneeling next to a rock outcropping, performing a prayer ceremony. He stops when he hears her approach. She apologizes for intruding, and he says she didn’t intrude. He explains that, “It’s a ritual of my people. Seven times for the Seven Towers of Malkier, for the home we lost, the home we shall find again. In this life or the next.”
He pours a little bowl of water onto the ground as Nynaeve asks if he prays often. He says he does when he needs to.
Sharing her personal prayer ritual, Nynaeve kneels, touches three fingers to her lips, then presses them to the ground, and says something in the Old Tongue. Lan notes that he didn’t know she knew the Old Tongue. She says she doesn’t. Those were the last words her parents said to her before they hid her in the cellar when their village was attacked. She used to say them to herself when she was scared. He asks why she stopped. She says that people don’t go to Wisdoms for ignorance, and she doesn’t even know what the words mean. He asks if she wants to, and after a moment of hesitation, she nods. He tells her, “It’s what the last king of Manetheren said to his wife, before the battle they knew they’d lose. ‘We shall go into the land, so our children can always hold us, and never be alone.’”
Nynaeve is silent for a minute, moved by the words. Then she tells Lan that he isn’t what she thought. He asks what that was, and she says a lap dog with two legs, which they both chuckle at. He retorts that she’s exactly what he thought she was. She asks what that was, but they suddenly hear men yelling in the distance.
Kerene, still guarding Logain, feels people crossing her wards around the camp. She tells Liandran that Logain’s army didn’t run home after all.
Curse Logain’s army for interrupting my favorite couple just when they were making progress.
Manetheren was the city that stood on the site where Two Rivers is now that was destroyed in the trolloc wars after its people defended it to the bitter end, when help had been promised to them but never arrived. Interesting coincidence that after her parents died, Nynaeve went to live on the site where Manetheren stood. Maybe she’s more than just a simple orphan.
This seems like a bad time to mention Manetheren, a hopeless fight that was only won because of a desperate, suicidal action. The marathon battle finally ended with the queen channeling a fantastic burst of power that destroyed her enemies and herself along with it.
When Lan and Nynaeve join the others back at the camp, he asks Stepin how big Logain’s army is. Stepin isn’t worried about Logain’s peasant army, joking that he’ll make sure to leave some of the fighting for Lan. The army sends a barrage of arrows flying down at the group from the sky. Lan stands in front of Nynaeve to block her from them, but Alanna uses the One Power to stop the arrows in midair and redirect them back at Logain’s army.
Liandrin dismisses Kerene’s concerns, saying that no army can get past seven full sisters. Right on cue, Logain directs a blast of energy at their shields, sending both sisters flying into the wall, unconscious.
He’s been lying in wait this whole time, biding his time until his army arrived and the Aes Sedai were weakened before he made his move.
Stepin can sense that Kerene is in trouble and Logain must be loose. He redirects the Aes Sedai forces to the cave. Before they can get there, Logain’s army rushes them and battle ensues. Alanna, the Green Ajah who’s spent her life preparing for this, is the MVP. The Aes Sedai and Warders all fight well. Nynaeve, though not a warrior, holds her own, fighting off some of Logain’s army with her knife.
Perpetual anger comes in handy at times.
Logain uses the One Power to melt his metal cage. As he finally stands free, Moiraine stalks into the cave, challenging him with a question. “The others will be here soon, so we don’t have much time to talk. Why should I believe you’re the Dragon Reborn?”
He tells her when he channels, he hears the whispers of his past lives as the Dragon, a thousand voices who are teaching him how to do better this time. “Isn’t that why the Wheel turns our spirits out again and again? To learn.”
Moiraine smiles a slightly pitying, ironic smile. “The wheel doesn’t want anything. It can’t… It’s people who want.”
He asks what she wants. She wants him to know that he’s exhibiting the classic signs of a male channeler who’s gone mad from the Corruption.
Moiraine: “As strong as you are, your power is a trickle. It’s a pinprick of candlelight against the raging sun that will be the Dragon Reborn.”
Moiraine may not be the most powerful Aes Sedai (though she’s pretty powerful- she singlehandedly killed a lot of trollocs in episode 1), but she has a fierce intellect. This conversation was a diversionary tactic while Liandrin and Kerene regained consciousness. She’s had her eye on them the whole time. As she finishes speaking, Kerene blasts Logain across the room and the three sisters form a line, rebuilding their shields around him.
But they are tired and injured now. Kerene gets distracted by the weaves of Logain’s Corrupted power breaking through the shields and coming at Moiraine and Liandrin. Logain uses her lapse in concentration to hit her with another blast, which slams her against the wall so hard it kills her.
Her death seems to cause a disturbance in the Force so huge that most of the powerful channelers feel it, including Logain and Nynaeve. Nynaeve and Stepin, who’s just lost his connection to Kerene, are nearly brought down by the impact. The trained channelers are more prepared to handle the blow. Liandrin and Moiraine maintain their shields.
Stepin snaps out of it when he’s attacked and his training kicks in. Lan checks on him right after. Logain’s army is energized, as if they can sense their leader’s new freedom. Alanna tells some of the Warders and sisters to go help subdue Logain while the rest of them hold back the army. Then she unleashes her full power. The tide turns, but its a bloody, deadly battle.
Lan takes Nynaeve’s hand and pulls her into the cave. This is, of course, a romantic gesture to get her safely off the battlefield, but they also legitimately need her help with subduing Logain and potentially healing Kerene (Lan doesn’t know her condition).
Moiraine and Liandrin are caught up in a literal power struggle with Logain. Moiraine tells Liandrin that she’s drawing too much power and will burn herself out, but Liandrin doesn’t care. She wants revenge for Kerene’s death. Patches on her face glow where the power is becoming too much for her.
When Stepin stumbles into the cave and spots Kerene’s body, he goes mad with grief, rushing at Logain in a flying leap and thrusting his battle axes through Liandrin and Moiraine’s shields.
The first time through, I could have sworn he shouted “Hello. My name is Stepin. You killed my Aes Sedai. Prepare to die.” But I must have been hearing Inigo Montoya as one of Logain’s voices. Seriously though, that was one of the greatest vengeful flying leaps toward an insane wizard of all time.
Let’s get back to the super serious business at hand. Stepin’s battle axes give Logain the opening he’s been waiting for- his power infuses the blades, which then explode, turning into deadly shrapnel. Basically everyone but Nynaeve is cut down, because as we’ve seen before, the Two Rivers Five have the most excellent Plot Armor.
Plus, that coat is so thick, nothing can get through it.
Lan gets the worst of the shrapnel. He’s rapidly bleeding out due to a piece of metal stuck in his neck vein. Nynaeve rushes to him, quickly realizing that her normal healing methods will be useless. She chants “No” until she’s screaming the word, at which point she releases a massive burst of white healing energy, the largest single burst of power we’ve seen. Even her hair gets in on the channeling, braids floating vertically in the air. It heals everyone in the cave, but it can’t bring Kerene back.
Logain was preparing to strike his final blow, but stops because he’s both blinded and totally impressed. He recalls Moiraine’s description of the Dragon’s power: “Like the raging sun.”
We’re all in love with Nynaeve in this moment.
As soon as Liandrin and Moiraine are healed, they hop up to fight Logain again. The sisters who were fighting outside are drawn inside by the commotion. Liandrin calls for them to link up with her so she can draw from their power, using it to enhance her own.
No one questions whether they need to ignore the Amyrlin Seat’s order and gentle Logain. It’s him or them.
Moiraine and Alanna take part in the gentling. As all of the sisters link to combine their powers with Liandrin directing the gentling, Logain is lifted off the ground by the strength of their weave. He grimaces in pain as his connection to the One Power is severed.
Liandrin: “Let the Hand of the Tower fall on you, Logain Ablar, and take back that which nature itself does not wish you to hold!”
Logain’s black, Corrupted power pours out of his chest. When it’s done, he’s left whimpering on the ground. Stepin cradles Kerene’s body in his lap. Liandrin wobbles, but she doesn’t fall. Lan sits up and touches his neck.
His fatal injury has healed without a scar.
He and Moiraine look at Nynaeve. She looks at the camera,
because she’s so powerful, she knows she’s in a TV show.😉
Which Ajah are you? quiz – I am Yellow, the healing Ajah. So far I haven’t sent out any massive bursts of healing light, but I occasionally manage to make an herbal salve.
Maybe the male channelers should consider braiding their hair. The hair magic is strong with the two most powerful channelers on the show. Could Logain have been saved if Nynaeve braided his hair and shoved him in a river?
The gentling, when it finally came, felt both necessary and horrible. Well done show for showing us so clearly why it was needed but also why it should be avoided. Alvaro Morte pulled off making Logain a sympathetic character who thinks he’s doing the right thing but who’s so obsessively, violently driven toward his insane goal that he has to be stopped.
The Warders’ relationships with their Aes Sedai provide a gentle contrast of men who touch the One Power, but because it’s filtered through a woman first they don’t go mad- until she dies. Then we saw Stepin immediately go beserk. The relationship between Warders and Aes Sedai is so unique and intense because of this aspect. Warders become addicted to the taste of the One Power as well as falling in love with the woman who channels it.
Though she’s healed, Moiraine looks exhausted in this episode, while Kerene seems worried and tired from the start.
In episode 4 we see more evidence of the Aes Sedai becoming mired in politics and overconfident in their individual and collective abilities while they fail to grasp the urgency of their situation. Except for Liandrin and the Reds, who spend their time out in the world and are focused outward, listening to what people say so they can track down men with the One Power. Liandrin was right from the start that Logain needed to be gentled as soon as possible. Had Kerene listened, his army might not have found their camp and she might have lived.
Moiraine is out in the world most of the time rather than isolated in the Tower, so she’s more aware of how things are. But she’s also put her faith in the prophecy of the Dragon Reborn and perhaps that gives her blinders to some current political trends. Her differences with Liandrin aren’t always a matter of right or wrong, so much as the different perspectives of a spy vs an enforcer.
Logain is strong, but the cinematography and production design of the cold open signal that he’s not the Dragon: Ghealan is created using golden tones infused with blacks, blues and grays that show it was prosperous before Logain spread the Corruption, proving he isn’t really the Wheel’s golden boy. Contrast that with the way Rand, Nynaeve and Egwene are frequently shown looking robust and healthy, in clothing that that sets off their coloring and builds. The world around them also looks vibrant and magical and they tend to look at home in it, whether it’s an old growth forest, craggy mountainous badlands or the wagons of the Tinkers. They are each chosen ones, in their own way.
On the other hand, Mat and Perrin are somewhere in between. They are ta’veren, but their journeys involve great struggle, which their physical presentation and the way they are filmed reflects. Perrin wears dark, rough clothing, a hangdog expression and a wound that won’t heal on its own (which serves as his entrance into the wolf pack). Mat is still dressed in rags and is now vomiting black blood as the combination of the dagger and his own history bring out the Darkness in him. Perrin’s work as a blacksmith involves rough conditions and hard physical labor, while Mat comes from an impoverished, abusive family.
Standing next to Rand and Egwene, neither shares their friends’ healthy glow, bright clothing or innate sense of security and optimism. Though each pair is traveling together, Rand and Egwene tend to stand where there is light, with Rand drawn to the outdoors and Egwene drawn to community. Mat and Perrin seek out the shadows and hidden places, with Mat being drawn toward the dagger, Dana the Darkfriend and the Fade, while Perrin often busies himself with work in a quiet corner during downtimes rather than relax among friends and community.
I’m not sure whether Thom is Rand and Mat’s Fairy Godfather or a Darkfriend. Given the stories he told Rand and the contrast between Mat and Logain, I wonder if he has a Lost Boys colony of male channelers stashed away somewhere. It seems like men who had a little training might last longer before going mad and then homocidal. Keeping them separate from society would lessen the danger to others, as long as they don’t form a madman’s army like Logain’s.
Mat’s horse was probably anxious in his presence because it could feel his connection to the Dark side.
Barney Harris’ acting is seamless when Mat flips from feeling desperate or angry or sick to putting someone else’s needs first. It makes Mat’s descent into darkness that much more powerful, because we understand that though Rand frequently views him as lazy and negative, in reality he’s running on empty or a notch below empty most of the time, having given everything he has to take care of his family and friends.
The Darkness chooses Mat because while he’s the ta’veren who’s shown the most devotion and loyalty in the face of adversity, he’s also been given the least public approval and faced the most hardship. The Darkness can exploit the abuses Mat’s suffered in the past, even if it’s subconsciously through the newfound feeling of power he derives from carrying the dagger.
There is a parallel drawn in this episode in the way Mat and Liandrin are both shown holding their arms and weapons out, pointing up toward the Darkness at the turning point in a fight. Mat points the dagger toward the hidden Fade in the farmer’s loft. Liandrin holds her arm out to channel power at Logain when she finally gentles him. Liandrin is positioned as a strong, righteous but flawed leader. The mirroring with Mat suggests that he could eventually follow the same trajectory.
Nynaeve is frequently found slightly above or outside the action, taking it all in and assessing the situation. We see her on ledges and small cliffs, the edges of rooms, behind trees, waiting to jump in when she’s needed. She’s physically small, but she’s learned to wait while she gathers extra knowledge and then use surprise and perfect timing as tools to her advantage.
When Nynaeve killed the trolloc, she took advantage of his distraction and underestimation of her. Then she created a more favorable situation for herself by running to the cave and hiding in the sacred pool, giving her the advantages of surprise, knowing the territory and being better at maneuvering in the water than him.
At the end of the episode, she’s once again standing in the back of a cave, on the edge of the action, having largely been left out of the Aes Sedai’s machinations. But when she finally makes her presence felt, she turns the tide of a battle that’s all but lost.
The scene between Lan and Nynaeve in front of the rocks is like something out of a Jane Austen novel, maybe Emma and Mr Knightly. I kept expecting a chaperone to show up. I guess they did, in the form of Logain’s army.
Logain is gentled, but before that he was hit by Nynaeve’s healing wave and for a second he recognized the truth of Moiraine’s words. Will that help him survive without access to the One Power?
I’m not sure exactly what distracted Kerene and allowed Logain to kill her. Either Liandrin and Moiraine were gentling Logain and she still didn’t think they should or she was shocked that Logain was able to get his power through their shields and use so much force to send it toward them as a weapon. Kerene can’t tell us any more and the other three people who were in the room each have reasons to put their own spin on the truth, so we may never be sure.
Images courtesy of Amazon Prime Video.