The Wheel of Time turns… and in The Wheel of Time season two finale, boy did it make some important moves. The episode, “What Was Meant to Be,” brought all five of the Two Rivers youths to Falme. That’s where the Seanchan and Ishamael have been the whole season. Each scene of the finale took the characters farther along their journeys. Journeys readers of Robert Jordan’s books know all too well. But the episode brought twists and delight along the way, including a moment from The Great Hunt brought so beautifully to the screen I still can’t believe it happened. We talked to The Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins, who co-wrote this episode with Timothy Earle, about the Dragon Reborn and the role of prophecy, rings, Egwene’s choice, and more.
Nerdist: We have so much to discuss. But first, let’s talk about the rings we see Lanfear, Ishamael, Lews Therin, and more wear. What can you say about those?
Rafe Judkins: We did want to give this hint of the idea that these people used to be Aes Sedai, too. They had their own ring. It’s not something from the books. But it’s something that is just hopefully a subtle thing the audience can pick up on. All of them were the same once. They were all Aes Sedai. They left to join the Dark One. We like things that push you back in the direction of thinking of the better times of Ishamael, Lanfear, and Lews Therin.
Speaking of Lanfear and Ishamael! It seems like the series is focusing on eight Forsaken rather than the 13 in the books. We saw eight statues on Stepin’s altar in season one, we see six seals in Ishamael’s room. Why only eight?
Judkins: A lot of times, you’ll see us take the 13 and make it eight because 13 is such a repeated number in The Wheel of Time series. A lot of times, we’re taking it and making it eight just because it’s simpler to produce eight clans of Aiel. It’s easier than 13. Eight Forsaken could be easier than 13 Forsaken. But I will neither confirm nor deny that there are eight Forsaken.
A real Aes Sedai answer. Let’s jump ahead towards the end of the episode. Egwene kills Renna, and it’s a huge moment for her. Tell me about taking her down this path of revenge.
Judkins: In the books, Nynaeve is there at the final moment with Egwene and Renna. For the room, we started to think about what if Nynaeve wasn’t there. We’re deep enough into the show. We need to start to show the audience who these characters are on their way to becoming. Egwene is someone who is, throughout the book series, able to make incredibly tough decisions that have incredibly severe consequences. Starting to show that here was important for us in the overall storytelling of that character. We felt like if Nynaeve wasn’t there, Egwene might do something different than if she was. This is our version of it and something that hopefully lets the audience start to really understand who Egwene will eventually become in the series.
And Rand… there’s so much to dig into, but I want to ask about his confrontation with Turak. Instead of engaging in a swordfight with a blademaster, he uses the One Power against Turak. How did you develop this scene?
Judkins: For us, we haven’t really told the story of Rand and Lan training together yet. It is coming. But we hadn’t told it yet. But we still needed to pull off this Rand/Turak confrontation. I think it’s just one of those scenes that’s etched into your mind from the second book that we had to do.
What we tried to do is combine it with a scene in the third book with Rand where he kills all these men who are attacking him and they all fall to their knees with the One Power. It’s a very disturbing, unsettling scene in book three that puts a question mark in your mind of what path Rand is headed on and gives the audience its first real glimpse of the amount of power he wields, which I think is really important. That’s what we were trying to do with that scene. We wanted to deliver the iconic scene from the books. But Rand hasn’t had that storyline with Lan yet, so this is a way we could bring it to the show.
Throughout the season, people have talked about the prophecy of the Dragon Reborn proclaiming himself in Falme. Ultimately, Moiraine helps make it happen. How do you view the role of prophecy and how it can be deterministic?
Judkins: One of the big things in the books is this idea of destiny and what it means and how much of it is what the Pattern has woven for you and how much of it is you weaving through the Pattern. Moiraine and Rand are obviously the two characters where that comes most to a head in their character arc. We wanted to give the two of them a really definitive moment at the end of this season that tackled that thematically and, I think, also have this glorious scene of Moiraine channeling again after a season without it.
We combine that together to make this banner moment that should feel really heroic and ecstatic. But also, it’s not Rand’s choice. It’s Moiraine’s choice. That sets them up very well for the storyline that they have moving forward in the books. I think it’s a really important moment for those two characters in the relationship they’re going to be building moving forward.