“Wheel of Time” recap: Liandrin goes full-on Littlefinger

The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time

Prime Video 'The Wheel of Time'

This week's episode opens in the makeshift — but still glitzy and glorious AF — camp of the Seanchan invaders, led by High Lord Turak (Daniel Francis). Turak's none too pleased with the unsanctioned, perplexing maneuver by High Lady Suroth (Karima McAdams) to invade a tiny fishing village, which offers little strategic advantage. Of course, Turok doesn't know that taking the village was actually Ishamael's decision, in a failed attempt to kidnap Perrin. Turok doesn't even really know who Ishamael is to begin with… he assumes he's just another military advisor.

So Turok's pissed. And as punishment for Suroth's insolence… Turok cuts her nails. Gasp! But seriously, that's actually a huge deal to Suroth. Aside from probably being unparalleled back-scratching implements, long nails (like three feet long, if you haven't noticed) are a sign of power and authority in Seanchan culture. And I can only assume it took the better part of Suroth's life to grow them to that length. So she's really taking a hit on Ishamael's behalf.

Ishamael, meanwhile, plays both sides of the Seanchan political chessboard by giving Turok the Horn of Valere, which he plans on using to serenade an unspecified number of corpses, raising a massive zombie army that will guarantee the Seanchan global domination. Not good!

The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time

Prime Video 'The Wheel of Time'

Over in their private tent, Suroth takes out her anger from her traumatic salon appointment on Ishamael. She wants to kill Turok and take control of the army she feels is rightfully hers, but Ishamael's not interested in starting a messy civil war. He's got other plans for the Seanchan, and he doesn't care who's in charge as long as he's able to properly manipulate them. Plus, Suroth doesn't get to make the decisions in this partnership… cause she swore an oath to the dark.

From here, we drop from the top of the food chain to pretty much the bottom, catching up with Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Elyas (Gary Beadle), doing the same thing they've been doing for the majority of the season — camping in the woods. Perrin realizes that Elyas is not in fact helping him track down his friends who were captured by the Seanchan – he's taking him in the exact opposite direction – so Perrin decides to abandon Elyas and look for his friends on his own.

Soon Perrin winds up back at the village where he was attacked by the Seanchan, only to find that the White Cloaks have driven the invaders out and thrown most of the locals in cages (as the douchey White Cloaks are wont to do). Luckily, one of the White Cloaks named Child Bornhald (Jay Duffy) takes pity on Perrin and gives him a room at the inn.

Perrin tries to go to sleep, to ignore what's happening outside his window… but he can't sit by while human beings rot away in cages. So he sneaks out and finds the one prisoner left alive — though she turns out not to be a villager, but an Aiel named Aviendha (Ayoola Smart). Perrin frees Aviendha… and immediately finds himself surrounded by White Cloaks. But fear not, 'cause Aviendha is a true badass. With a little (very little) help from Perrin, she f—s them up with a level of martial arts mastery that would make John Wick pee his pants, and they escape.

Back at the White Tower, Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne are — hold on, they're not at the White Tower anymore… they're deep down in the Ways (the dark, cavernous tunnels that magically connect disparate parts of the world). Oh, that's not good… turns out Liandrin's got them tied up and is planning on taking them to Ishamael. So yeah… if you had "Liandrin is secretly a Black Ajah" on your Bingo card – congratulations, you've won!

Liandrin takes the girls through the portal and hands them over to Suroth. It soon becomes clear the two know each other and have been plotting this move for some time. There's no love lost between these two powerful women though, as we get the feeling they're vying for the throne of this evil little cabal. But just as I was ready to cut Liandrin from my Wheel of Time fantasy team… she subtly weaves a spell that unbinds Nynaeve, giving her a fighting chance to escape.

Last week I called Liandrin "Wheel of Time's Littlefinger" and she's certainly earning that title this week, playing both sides of this conflict at once, a real 3-D chess move on her part. You go, girl! So, as Liandrin disappears through the portal, and the Seanchan move to capture Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne…

The girls fight back, escaping into the jungle. Except… when Nynaeve and Elayne reach a clearing, safely out of the Seanchan's grasp, they realize: "Wait… where's Egwene?" Yup, turns out poor Egwene got left behind. And in a brutally effective scene, we watch the Seanchan put a magical collar around her neck, hook her up to a chain, and drag her off like a dog. Yeesh.

The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time

Prime Video 'The Wheel of Time'

Luckily, Aes Sedai are never alone. Back at the White Tower, Verin Sedai (Meera Syal) has arrived to have a chat with these channelers Nynaeve and Egwene she's heard so much about. Liandrin, who's just returned, pretends to be as confused as Verin is about their whereabouts. She's lying, of course, which should be impossible for an Aes Sedai, but somehow Liandrin's able to do it. But she doesn't get away with it, as when she rushes off to "investigate," we see that Verin clearly caught a big whiff of Liandrin's bulls— and isn't falling for it.

Meanwhile, Nynaeve and Elayne sneak into the city of Falme, where, before they can even get their bearings, they're knocked out from behind by… some mysterious dude. Turns out the dude isn't foe, but friend… the warder of a Yellow Ajah named Ryma, who wants to protect them.

But the Seanchan are the least of the Two Rivers Gang's problems. In a privileged scene with Ishamael and Lanfear, we finally learn what the darkfriends' plan is for Rand and his friends this season. Ishamael hasn't given up on Rand joining him… he just needs to break him first. And what better way to drive Rand crazy than killing his friends in front of him? 

Speaking of Rand (Josha Stradowsi), we find him and Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) running for their lives, having just escaped from the equally terrifying and horny Forsaken monster known as Lanfear, f.k.a. Selene (Natasha O'Keeffe). Scampering through the woods, they find some horses and get the f— out of dodge before Lanfear can catch them, though she does catch their trail.

Moiraine and Rand flee to the Foregate to seek refuge at the Damodred estate, where they're welcomed (not exactly with open arms) by Moiraine's sister Anvaere (Lindsay Duncan). With Anvaere is her son Barthanes (Will Tudor), who humble-brags about his upcoming marriage to the Queen, which will make him one of the most powerful men in the world. He's unaware that the dirt-covered dude he's bragging to is the most powerful man in the world.

Speaking of Rand's power… Moiraine decides to lean into the whole "Dragon Reborn" thing (finally!) and give Rand a mission, opting to fight back against Lanfear instead of endangering the lives of innocents by hiding from her. Moiraine explains that Lanfear is particularly skilled at manipulating and harming people through their dreams, but she's also got a dream of her own… to bang the Dragon Reborn (which shouldn't come as a shock, if you've been watching this season). Many turns of the wheel ago, Lanfear (before she became "Daughter of the Night") was in love with the Dragon Reborn… but he broke her heart. In an attempt to win him back, she became a darkfriend, and she's been lusting after the Dragon Reborn ever since.

So Rand's goal going into the next episode: convince Lanfear that he loves her, and turn her to his side. Or use her to get intel on Ishamael. Not entirely clear yet. All that matters is Moiraine's dangling Rand on a stick like a juicy piece of meat. An undercover sex agent, if you will.

And as Rand closes his eyes and goes to sleep, he wakes up half-naked in a desert tied to some kind of sex wheel, facing off with Lanfear, who sits on a throne in some kind of demon lingerie, ready to go full-on 50 Shades on Rand's ass…

Stray Observations:

  • Lanfear popping the noggin off some poor dude in the forest with just a flick of her wrist is one of the more badass moments of the series in recent memory. That paired with Aviendha's Matrix-level kung-fu and the magic battle between Nynaeve, Egwene, Elayne and the Seanchan's Damane makes this episode easily the most fun in a while.

  • Along with some next-level action and brutality, this episode also delivered us one of the more compelling single images of the season — Rand tied to a sex wheel in front of a demon wearing lingerie, ready to throw down like the wheel spun the reincarnated souls of Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan into their bodies. Yes, please!

  • Where. Is. Mat?????

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