The Inverse Interview

"Not What I Signed Up For." Wheel of Time Season 2's Biggest Changes Saved the Show

The stars of the Prime Video series dive into new sides of their characters as The Wheel of Time returns.

Originally Published: 
Madeleine Madden, Zoë Robins, and Ceara Coveney in The Wheel of Time
Jan Thijs/Prime Video
The Inverse Interview

The Wheel of Time star Rosamund Pike can understand why her character, the impenetrable Moiraine Damodred, finds herself at a disadvantage in Season 2.

After an altercation with a Darkfriend (Fares Fares) in the first season finale, Moiraine was cut off from the True Source — the Force-like energy that powers the Wheel of Time universe, and allows Aes Sedai like Moiraine to channel the elements in it. When we meet her again in Season 2, she’s grappling with a massive loss of her autonomy, a far cry from anything Pike expected when she first took the role.

“The idea of Moiraine being cut off from that was problematic for me.”

“It's not what I signed up for,” Pike jokes to Inverse in an interview conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strikes. “One of the things that attracted me to the show was developing the [physical] language of channeling, and interpreting how you channel the elements of the universe. So the idea of Moiraine being cut off from that was problematic for me.”

Moiraine’s depowering is one of the bigger departures from the source material, the 14-volume book series by author Robert Jordan. But The Wheel of Time is not a 1:1 adaptation of the Jordan novels: it’s faithful to the essence of the story, but it’s not afraid to put its characters on a new path. This particular change forces Moiraine to flex other muscles in her fight against the Dark One, the primordial being that threatens the universe. It also drives a wedge between the sorceress and her warder, the steely swordsman Lan (Daniel Henney) — and angst like that always makes for good television.

Moiraine and Lan once shared an unbreakable bond, but The Wheel of Time is now testing the limits of their partnership.

Jan Thijs/Prime Video

“It was really fun, to be honest with you, to try different things,” says Henney on the tense scenes between Lan and Moiraine. Neither actor was afraid to test the limits of their dynamic. “There were things we tried that were so left field that they couldn't keep,” Henney continues, “[but] that's the beauty of a show like this... It's scary; you don't know if the characters should go there. But you’ve got to trust the team around you, the writers — and I think it turned out alright.”

It helps that this rift puts Lan on a “formative” new path, one that allowed Henney to explore different sides of the character. Warders serve as bodyguards and confidants to the Aes Sedai; they’re joined together by a metaphysical bond that strengthens their prowess in battle. That bond is effectively severed when Moiraine loses her connection to the Source, which gives Lan no one to lean on but himself.

“It was really fun, to be honest with you, to try different things.”

For Lan, an orphan raised by soldiers far from home, Moiraine has always been a rock. “Now with that rock gone, he's able to make some mistakes, spin his tires, figure things out, and it's important for him,” adds Henney. “This season is interesting. You have a chance to see [Lan] interact with men his age, have conversations with fellow warders about existential things, questioning life — which he would never do before.”

Season 2 sees Rand adjusting to his new role as the Dragon Reborn.

Jan Thijs/Prime Video

Lan and Moiraine aren’t the only ones stepping out of their comfort zone this season. Season 1 was all about finding the Dragon Reborn, the one being capable of saving the world from eternal darkness. Moiraine plucked four potential Dragons from the obscure town of Two Rivers. The mystery behind their true identities was the main force driving the inaugural season, but now that Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) has been identified as the Dragon, The Wheel of Time can finally dig into what sets this show apart from a sea of other epic fantasies: its complicated rules around channeling.

Rand fins himself in isolation at the top of Season 2, working out the complexities of his new powers alone. In Jordan’s universe, any man that attempts to channel eventually falls into madness. That madness manifests in myriad ways; for Rand, it’s visions of his loved ones, dying by his hand. That’d be enough to drive anyone into solitude. It doesn’t entirely justify Rand’s decision to fake his passing in the Season 1 finale, but it does explain the reasoning behind it.

“I think the writers thought, ‘Okay, Season 1, Rand was taking care of his friends and running away from Trollocs,’” Stradowski tells Inverse. “‘He's always been with his friends. Now let him be by himself, completely by himself. And then give him loads of struggles.’”

The seeds of jealousy planted between Nynaeve and Egwene are now taking root in Season 2.

Jan Thijs/Prime Video

“Struggle” seems to be the name of the game in Season 2. While Rand grapples with his newfound destiny, Egwene Al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) and her erstwhile protector Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) have been selected to join the Aes Sedai. The pressures of training at the White Tower have driven a wedge between the once tight-knit duo. As Nynaeve resists her natural gift for channeling, Egweyne works twice as hard just to be noticed by her mentors — all while fighting through the grief of losing Rand.

“She’s really looking for the support of Nynaeve, but obviously Nynaeve is in a completely different world and space to where Egwene is,” Madden explains. “So there’s this disconnect, which tragically falls into Egwene acting out on jealousy and resentment.”

“I do remember sometimes when we would do tense scenes, we’d hug each other at the end.”

The world of The Wheel of Time is expanding in Season 2, but that means major growing pains for each of our reluctant heroes. That’s manifesting in tension across the board, especially for Egwene and Nynaeve. “I think what was so fun about that, to be honest, is that it felt so real,” Robins tells Inverse. “You kind of do have different seasons with your friends in real life. Sometimes they can really piss you off ... so it was really fun to play with that.”

Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games: “I do remember sometimes when we would do tense scenes, we’d hug each other at the end,” Robins laughs. “It didn't feel nice to be so kind of blunt with one another. But it was great.”

If there’s anything the cast have learned after two seasons, it’s that there’s always a plan in place. It might not be comfortable in the moment, but it’s definitely brought the Amazon series in a fresh new direction.

The Wheel of Time Season 2 is now streaming on Prime Video.

This article was originally published on

Related Tags