When it was released during the fall of 2021, The Wheel of Time was as much hyped as it was questioned. After all, writer Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic spans 14 novels—and includes a prequel. How easy could it be to adapt to TV?
Amazon Studios spent $80 million on the first season with the hope that it would be the next fantasy series to rival Game of Thrones. However, it’s the hype surrounding it that might’ve been why it was seen as a mediocre offering—after all, with great hype comes great responsibility.
The truth is, many shows don’t knock it out of the park in their first seasons and it can be easy to blame a show for not living up to audience expectations instead of resetting expectations.
While the world-building was top-notch, the first season’s wheels couldn’t turn fast enough for some critics, but it may be the case that The Wheel of Time is just a slow burn.
Prime Video released the first three episodes of The Wheel of Time, Season 2 on September 1st with the next five to be released on September 8th, but before we dive into the second season, let’s recap the first.
What Happened in Season 1
Set in a society run by magical women, the Aes Sedai are responsible for keeping the peace after the men in their society become corrupted by a force called The Dark One. When we meet them, the Aes Sedai have taken it upon themselves to abolish the last of the magical men. Led by Moraine, played by Rosamund Pike, this group has the work cut out for them as they must hunt an entity called the Dragon Reborn, defeat the Dark One once and for all, and save the world in the process.
However, Moraine is unable to complete these tasks for a variety of reasons, and in the end, we find her struggling at the end of the first season which means that the stakes for season two have never been higher.
The Slow-Burning Fantasy is Stronger in Season 2
The second season of The Wheel of Time seems vastly improved and this might be a good old-fashioned case of having the time and space between seasons to fully appreciate the show for what it is — a very well-done, slow-burning fantasy epic. Only this time, the hype machine wasn’t around to unduly increase expectations.
After watching the first three episodes, the stakes are high as the threat of the world’s end looms larger than ever. The Aes Sedai are strong, the battles are grueling and the fantasy world vibes are full-throttle—meaning nearly every plot point feels overwrought and a little more complicated than it should be, but honestly, that just comes with the territory. Fantasy is otherworldly and can be hard to understand without overexplaining. In season two, the performances continue to be strong, with Pike leading the way.
While many may have the knee-jerk reaction to compare The Wheel of Time to other fantasy epics, it’s a disservice to do so. This is not Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, or The Winter King—and that’s fine. For folks who are fans of the novels, this slow-burning adaptation should satisfy. And for those who haven’t read them, it’s definitely worth giving the series a spin.
Stream The Wheel of Time Season 2 on Prime Video now.