SURPRISE CONTENT DROP, Y’ALL!!
It’s me, your
only favorite World of the Wheel Track Manager: James Starke. What, you’ve never heard of me? Well, allow me to give you an ACTUAL VERIFIED PICTURE:
When we were told that there was going to be content dropping this weekend, I knew that I wanted to talk about the upcoming television show, because I’m so. freaking. excited. and I know that y’all are, too! However, I didn’t want to give you just a written summary of everything that’s already been announced, because that’s already been done. No, I want to touch on the major developments and express myself in the only way that I know how:
ALL RIGHTY, KIDS. Buckle up, ’cause this is going to be a wild ride. I’m going to be doing this somewhat chronologically, starting with…
LOOK. I have come to love Rafe Judkins, but at the time, I had no idea who he was. In the announcement article, I found that he’d written for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (good show) and Chuck (very good show), but I also found out that he was a contestant on Survivor: Guatemala in 2005, lasting 38 days and placing 3rd, which is super-impressive. Also, it gives me a reason to post this GIF.
Rafe on Survivor: Guatemala. (I’m sorry if you’re reading this and it brings up painful memories.)
July/August 2018: First Episode Titles & Snippets from the Script
When Rafe posted these to his Twitter using the short-lived #WheelofTimeMonday hashtag, it had been FIFTEEN MONTHS of knowing that the show existed without much actual news. The entire fandom was like, “Okay, it’s going to happen. Maybe. They announced a showrunner, which is good. But… Is it actually happening?” And then BOOM: EPISODE TITLES AND SNIPPETS FROM THE ACTUAL SCRIPT.
The first episode is going to be titled “Leavetaking,” and the second “Shadow’s Waiting.” Reader, this was a magical time in the fandom. My friends and I immediately started a group chat that had hundreds of messages in the first few weeks. We speculated so much on what these titles meant. Did that mean that they were leaving Emond’s Field in the very first episode, or was it going to be Moiraine leaving The White Tower on her quest to find a baby Rand al’Thor? If the second episode is “Shadow’s Waiting,” that immediately makes me think of Shadar Logoth, but how are they going to do that in episode two?? What about Baerlon? Min? SO MUCH SPECULATION, Y’ALL. (Seriously, people latched onto the idea that if they were going from Emond’s Field to Shayol Ghul, and they were going to remove Min from the show entirely, despite the fact that she’s, you know, a main character. Ye of little faith!)
And then he released a screenshot of the script, showing our beloved Tam al’Thor walking in the Westwood?! *swoon* That made it so real, y’all. I was getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of this television show, and it was amazing. The following week, Rafe followed this up with casting direction in the script, describing the cast as “a beautiful mix of white, brown, black, and everything in between.”
Okay, I’m starting to love Rafe a
little bit lot.
September 2018: Q&A with Rafe Judkins
Rafe after the Q&A.
I don’t know what Rafe was thinking when he decided to do this, but I can nearly guarantee you that he didn’t expect to answer over 190 questions in two and a half hours. I put together an article with some of the key takeaways at TarValon.Net (which you can read here), but more than anything else that was revealed that day, I learned that Rafe Judkins had a love and passion for this show that I could never have imagined. Honestly, this was the day that I knew that The Wheel of Time television series was in good hands. (Also, in response to my question to him, he said there would be “pillow friends out the wazoo”, and that makes me so happy.)
Please call me.
October 2018: Announcement that Amazon is Producing the Show
The entire fandom on October 2, 2018.
Since it was announced that The Wheel of Time TV Show was actually happening, people were wondering how it was going to be distributed. HBO was just finishing up Game of Thrones, so we didn’t think they were too likely. Showtime and Stars were both in the running, as they were well-known premium television networks that probably wanted to get into the epic fantasy game. Netflix was also a huge contender, because they were buying titles left and right. Hulu was in the game, too, but most people thought that if it were going to go to a streaming platform, it would be Netflix.
The announcement that Amazon would be producing the series came as a shock, because nearly everyone had ruled them out for one very legitimate reason: they had just spent $250,000,000 for just the rights to produce a series set in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. (They’ve since spent an additional one billion dollars to produce the first two seasons, making it the most expensive thing on television ever.) Most people were really, really happy that a company as big as Amazon picked up the series, because that meant that a major studio with a whole bunch of money was going to be involved, and that’s something to be excited about!
The article also mentions that Moiraine is going to be the main character of the show, at least for the first season. It describes the show as “set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists, but only women can use it. The story follows Moiraine, a member of the shadowy and influential all-female organization called the ‘Aes Sedai’ as she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women. Moiraine believes one of them might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual, whom prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it. The series draws on numerous elements of European and Asian culture and philosophy, most notably the cyclical nature of time found in Buddhism and Hinduism.”
This upset some people, because obviously the story is about Rand, right? (And Mat and Perrin and Egwene and Nynaeve, but… Rand’s the main character.) So… how could the story follow Moiraine? But honestly, this makes so much sense. From the very first chapter of The Eye of the World, you know that Rand is the main character. If the show makes Moiraine the lead, then that’s going to make it more of a mystery as to who the actual Dragon Reborn is. Yes, it’ll be revealed early on in the show, but having Moiraine as the lead allows for so much more worldbuilding than if you just focus on Rand. I’m very much looking forward to it.
Moiraine being told she’s the main character.
February/March 2019: More Episode Titles
Wait, the episodes are titled what?
Rafe revealed that the third episode was titled “A Place of Safety,” and episode four was titled “The Dragon Reborn.” Reader, this threw the entire fandom for a loop. I cannot emphasize enough how confused everyone was. Prior to this, we knew two episode titles: “Leavetaking” (they’re leaving Emond’s Field, got it) and “Shadow’s Waiting” (Shayol Ghul, maybe a little earlier than anticipated, but that still tracks for episode two).
Me, trying to figure out what the episode titles mean.
But… “A Place of Safety” makes me think of Caemlyn when they’re all reunited, which is two-thirds of the way through The Eye of the World. At this point, it becomes very, very clear that the series is not going to do one book per season. Everyone knows that there are going to be changes when something is adapted from page to screen, but this was confirmation of it. It makes total sense, but it wasn’t something that the fandom had really considered at that point. This was driven home with the announcement of the title of the fourth episode: “The Dragon Reborn”, which more than likely refers to either the events at the end of The Eye of the World or Siuan and Moiraine confronting Rand about his destiny in The Great Hunt.
Personally, I think that the second is more likely, which would mean that the show would be skipping the events at the end of The Eye of the World. If you think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense – there’s a lot that would need to be covered to even get to The Eye of the World (the place), and the only thing you get out of it is a battle with two of the Forsaken and (SPOILERS) the revelation that Rand is The Dragon Reborn. You could easily cut the Forsaken out and let them debut later on in the series, causing a lot more tension, because the stakes would be higher. Also, Rand being told he’s The Dragon Reborn by Siuan and Moiraine is an absolutely amazing moment in the series that loses none of its impact just because we already know it as readers.
Sorry, y’all. I’m getting excited about the show all over again remembering these moments. SO EXCITED.
June 2019: Rosamund Pike as Moiraine
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ROSAMUND PIKE????? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME????
This is the one that got me, y’all. I thought that I was already all in, but I was actually still lingering on the edge, a little trepidatious about what was down the rabbit-hole, but this… LOOK AT THE PICTURE THEY USED TO ANNOUNCE HER CASTING. I have two words for you: POWER. POSE.
Moiraine is my favorite character (with Nynaeve as a very close second), so starting with this was absolutely phenomenal. Some people did not know who Rosamund Pike was, but I had seen her in Gone Girl and knew that she had the intensity required to play Moiraine. I also knew her from Doom, where she played a geneticist on Mars, and Wrath of the Titans, where she played Queen Andromeda. Neither of those movies takes themselves very seriously, and Rosamund absolutely shines in both of them. I was so excited by this casting. It could not be put into words.
Rosamund, reading this, basking in the adoration.
August 2019: The Emond’s Field Five Casting
Amazon deciding which casting to release next.
With the casting of Rosamund Pike as Moiraine, Amazon had taken over the series’s social media presence. Everyone was wondering what they would announce next, and they did an excellent job of teasing people in the days leading up to the announcement. People guessed that it would be another casting announcement, but no one guessed that it would be all. five. Emond’s. Fielders. What made it even more amazing was how Rafe gave each of the announcements personalized messages, and they’re just all so incredibly sweet.
- Josha Stradowski as Rand al’Thor: “[The Casting Director] searched the entire world, watched thousands of tapes, I myself watched hundreds of hours of video and spent days and days in the room with people. And we found him. Rand Al’Thor.”
- Marcus Rudda as Perrin Aybara: “This man walked into the room, read a scene that made every single person watching cry, and walked out. We all looked at each other and said “He is Perrin.” Glad you’re all getting to meet him now too :)”
- Zoë Robins as Nynaeve al’Meara: “We had the pick of the world on these cast members. Sent about two dozen Nynaeve tapes to the writers’ room to see who everyone liked and every. single. person. had one response — “Zoe”. I am already stanning her if that’s how you use that word. #twitterafficianado
- Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon: “Barney simply is Mat. There is nothing more to say here. You will fall over dead when you see him.”
- Madeleine Madden as Egwene Al’Vere: “I’m glad you all finally get to meet Egwene. She is the character in the books I often identify with most and Maddy makes her even more than the woman I admired reading for all those years. These five are the most incredible talents and I am honored to be able to work with them.”
Rafe and the cast really are adorable. (If you want to see more photos of the cast hanging out and being adorable, check out Madeleine Madden’s Instagram!)
October 2019: Table Read of Episode 1
The amount of talent at that table was astounding.
After the casting announcement of Moiraine, Rand, Perrin, Nynaeve, Mat, and Egwene, no one really knew what to expect. The Wheel of Time has 2,782 named characters, and even though there’s no way that even 5% of those will make their way into the television show, casting announcements could have lasted a long time.
No one was expecting a table read. The casting had just been announced, and we weren’t sure how far into development they were. It was a shock to see all of them in the same room together doing a table read from the first episode. It was the first time that we heard some of them in character, and there was just so much joy at the table. It was really, really amazing to see. The video ended with a simple message: “THE WHEEL OF TIME. NOW IN PRODUCTION.”
January/February 2020: Rand on a Mountain & The Winespring Inn
Josha Stradowski on the mountains of Slovenia.
The Eye of the World was published on January 15, 1990. It’s literally older than I am. (No, I will not apologize for being young and beautiful, thank you very much.) To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Eye of the World, Rafe shared the first photo of the set. The picture was taken in-between shots on a mountain in Slovenia, with Josha Stradowski (Rand) getting his hair touched up while wearing a coat (because they’re high up in the mountains of central Europe, where it is COLD AF). There’s also a mountain guide there to make sure that, you know, no one falls and plummets to their deaths.
Then, on February 19, Rafe shared a picture from the first day on set in September 2019. It’s a sprawling overhead shot showing Emond’s Field, and it looks so cool. Foggy as San Francisco in the summer, but cool!
San Francisco Emond’s Field
November 2019 to August 2020: More Casting Announcements
The entire fandom asking Amazon for more casting news.
While all of the above is going on, Amazon is also releasing even more casting announcements (because apparently they love us?? Aw, shucks!!). Listed (roughly) in the order they were announced:
- Daniel Henney as al’Lan Mandragoran
- Michael McElhatton as Tam al’Thor
- Alvaro Morte as Logain Ablar
- Hammed Animashaun as Loial
- Alexandre Willaume as Thom Merrilin
- Johann Myers as Padan Fain
- Priyanka Bose as Alanna Mosvani
- Emmanuel Imani as Ihvon
- Taylor Napier as Maksim
- If you’re not sure who Maksim is, that’s okay – that name doesn’t appear in the books. Alanna did have a warder named Owein, though, so we’re assuming that’s who this is. (And, to be honest, Maksim is a much cooler name than Owein.)
- Jennifer Cheon Garcia as Leane Sharif
- Lolita Chakrabarti as Marin Al’Vere
- Michael Tuahine as Bran Al’Vere
- David Sterne as Cenn Buie
- Christopher Sciueref as Abell Cauthon
- Juliet Howland as Natti Cauthon
- Mandi Symonds as Daise Conger
- Abdul Salis as Eamon Valda
- Stuart Graham as Geofram Bornhald
- Pasha Bocarie as Master Grinwell
- Jennifer Preston as Mistress Grinwell
- Izuka Hoyle as Dana
- If you’re not sure who Dana is… well, join the club. My best guess is that she’s Else Grinwell, since she was announced with the other two Grinwells. (Again, Dana is a much cooler name than Else, so I’ll take it.)
- Darren Clarke as Basel Gill
- Maria Doyle Kennedy as Ila
- Yes, that Maria Doyle Kennedy. In my opinion, they have to be expanding the role of Ila if they have Maria Doyle Kennedy in that role.
- Narinder Samra as Raen
- Daryl McCormack as Aram
- Sophie Okonedo as Siuan Sanche
- Kae Alexander as Min Farshaw
- As I mentioned earlier, the entire fandom was in an absolute TIZZY about Min being cut from the series because she hadn’t been announced earlier. There were comments on almost every other announcement just repeating “Min Min Min Min Min Min Min Min Min” over and over and over. Y’all gotta chill.
- Clare Perkins as Kerene Nagashi
- Peter Franzén as Stepin
- Stepin is also not a character that appears in the books, but he was announced as Karene’s Warder.
- Kate Fleetwood as Liandrin Guirale
Me, exhausted after typing all that out.
All of these announcements are absolutely amazing, and I cannot wait to see what other talent is involved in this show!!
September 2020 – Today: Endless Teasing
Amazon logging into Twitter every week.
There are a lot of things in life that I love: my cats, my fiancé, reading Sam/Frodo fanfiction, watching The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions on 4K, and reading basically any Wonder Woman comic. All of those things bring me an incredible amount of joy, and I know that they’re there for me when I need them. (Well, except for my cats – sometimes they don’t want to be near me AND THAT’S OKAY EVEN THOUGH IT HURTS MY FEELINGS.)
My cat reading this.
Things I do not like include: being asked to work on the weekends, figuring out how to use a shower that isn’t mine, large birds, and being teased. I hate being teased. If a friend comes up to me and says, “Guess what?” and then actually makes me guess? Friendship over. We’re done. If you know that my preferred name is “James” and you call me “Jim” or “Jimmy”? You’re dead to me.
Don’t call me Jimmy. *stern face*
Yet, somehow, Amazon has figured out a way to tease me that I love: releasing clips of a TV series that I am super-duper excited about! Don’t get me wrong, I wish there were more, but HOO BOY could I talk about these clips for hours if someone would let me. (Oh, wait, someone is!)
Let’s go through them one-by-one (click on the headers for links to the announcements):
Marin al’Vere at the front desk of The Winespring Inn.
This is the first video we’ve seen of the set, and it was MASTERFULLY done. It’s an 11-second clip that starts on a copy of The Eye of the World describing The Winespring Inn. The book is slowly lowered, and… there it is. The Winespring Inn, red roof and all. As I’m writing this, I’ve watched it at least ten times, and the birds’ sounds in the background of the video are just really, really relaxing.
Perrin jumping into the river.
GOOSEBUMPS, Y’ALL. In this 16-second clip, you hear the screaming, the sounds of battle, and then a voice saying, “You ready?” (NO I AM NOT, VOICE). Another voice responds, “No” (WHAT DID I TELL YOU?), and the response is, “Me either.” (THANK YOU FOR LISTENING) followed by the sounds of splashing. The consensus is that this is Egwene and Perrin jumping into the River Arinelle after Shadar Logoth, and hearing those voices is AMAZING.
Don’t sue us for making a gif of this clip, Amazon, but it’s JUST SO COOL.
This one is different from the previous clips, and it sets the tone for the next few. In this, we get to see the description of the sword in the books, pencil sketches, a 3D design, construction, and then a picture of it actually on set, with the sounds of battle in the background (probably Winternight). This kind of behind-the-scenes stuff is what I live for with television and movies. I love seeing concept art, sketches, and just the amount of work that goes into what you actually see on screen, because it’s a lot.
Thom in a battle.
Okay, this one definitely deviates from the books, but pretty much everyone agrees that it’s a solid change that makes sense when you’re adapting to television. Thom’s flute is obviously a key part to the story, but it’s not as easy to get an actor to fake playing a flute while also speaking in chant – it’s much easier to fake playing a guitar, and it leaves your mouth visible. This clip shows a line of direction from the script stating that Thom has a guitar, pencil sketches, 3D designs, construction, and then then a picture of it on set, with Alexandre Willaume as Thom Merrilin saying in a voiceover, “Donation for a Gleeman?” CHILLS.
January 15, 2021 – Concept Art
Me, looking at the concept art… It’s so beautiful.
Okay, like I said earlier, I really, really love concept art. I own so many art books from movies that I just like to open and look at to relax. I also really, really love Rafe Judkins. So… this video just combines two of my favorite things. The video opens with Rafe talking about the themes of The Eye of the World while showing five different pieces of concept art: two men at a bridge, a village festival, a tinker encampment, riders on horseback crossing a stream, and a lone rider in a shadowy city. Some of these are pretty straightforward as to what they’re depicting, but others have us guessing. Regardless, they’re all absolutely stunning, and I really hope that the show comes out with an art book featuring concept art!
February 17, 2021 – The Ruby-hilted Dagger
Mat, playing with his dagger, wondering why Rand is looking at him oddly.
Okay, so, DON’T HATE ME, but I’m just not a fan of Mat in the early books. His entire emo journey with the dagger and hating all of his friends really soured how I viewed his character. In the later books, he becomes a really awesome character, but early on? Ugh. I had to force myself to read them.
Regardless, the ruby-hilted dagger is a prevalent artifact in the series from beginning to end, and a lot of people really love Mat, so this was a fantastic reveal from Amazon. In the video, you see a line from the script describing the dagger, and then the video moves to a dark hallway and a man’s hand opening a gold box, removing a dagger. A voice (probably Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon) says: “Alright, let’s make a deal.” Like I said, I don’t particularly care for Mat in the early books, but hearing him say that is just so in-character, and it makes me so, so excited to watch this scene.
Me, seeing the clip.
Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred by Corey Lansdell
Honestly, it’s been a month since this clip was released and I’m still recovering. I’ve mentioned it before, but Moiraine is my absolute favorite character. I was so excited when Rosamund Pike was announced as Moiraine. An amazing artist, Corey Lansdell, created concept art with Rosamund as Moiraine in the weeks after the announcement and it is STUNNING.
It’s only a five-second clip (because, again, Amazon loves to tease us), but in it you hear a woman’s voice say, “Do not underestimate the women in this tower.” Then, Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred appears with her eyes closed. She opens them, and a blinding light covers the screen. In typing this section, I’ve watched it at least 50 times, and it never. gets. old.
If you’re confused as to when Moiraine would say “Do not underestimate the women in this tower” during the show, you’re definitely not alone. However, Rafe confirmed in a Q&A immediately following the teaser release that Rosamund Pike recorded this audio specifically for the teaser and the exact audio won’t be in the show. Honestly? That’s even more cool. I love that Rosamund Pike is so on board with the show and her character that she came back to record something specifically for a 5-second clip. And honestly, if this is what channeling is going to look like in the show, I am so down.
April 2021 – Wait, That’s It?
Please, Amazon, may I have some more??
Well, it looks like that’s it. Four thousand words, 34 GIFs, and a whole bunch of excitement and speculation. I guess that’s going to have to tide me over until JordanCon!!
See you in July!!