The Wheel Of Time Season 1 Ending Explained: The Dragon Reborn And The Dark One

The first season of Amazon Prime Video's "The Wheel of Time," an adaptation of author Robert Jordan's high fantasy series of novels (there are 14!) of the same name, has come to a close. Rand al'Thor (Joshua Stradowski) was successfully identified as The Dragon Reborn, and he joined Moirane (Rosamund Pike) on a death-defying journey into the Blight. There, they confronted and defeated the Dark One at the Eye of the World — only that it wasn't the Dark One, not really. 

Rand al'Thor walked away from his loved ones to stop himself from pulling a Lews Therin Telamon (more on that later) in the future. The final scenes displayed the arrival of ships at an unknown location, and formidable, One Power-wielding women made a Tsunami loom over the continent's western shores. With that cliffhanger of an ending, you likely need a little more context about what went on during "The Wheel of Time" season 1 finale, and what it means for season 2. *Rolls sleeves* this is where I enter!

Needless to say that there are major spoilers for "The Wheel of Time" season 1 ahead, so if you've opened this article by accident, please go watch the show instead. It's a sprawling, sweeping fantasy that is approachable (merci, showrunner Rafe Judkins). Once you've watched all eight episodes and realize you have far too many questions, head back here.

Okay, let's go!

Lews Therin Telamon, Who Art Thou?

"The Wheel of Time" takes place in the Third Age, spanning over 3,000 years. Before that was the Second Age, also referred to as the Age of Legends. At this time, there were many more Aes Sedai than we saw in the show — male and female — and they were exceptionally powerful.

The women used saidar (the female half of the One Power), and the men used saidin (the male half), and everyone co-existed in harmony until the Dark One decided he had other plans. These channelers were a lot stronger and knowledgeable, and it is believed they could fly and use the One Power to make miracles happen. They also lived in a futuristic utopian kinda world, which honestly makes the Third Age look like the Stone Age.

Now that you've learned a little about the history of the Second Age, the opening moments of the season finale will make more sense. We see The Dragon, a man named Lews Therin Telamon, an incredibly influential figure at the time. The show doesn't give us much context, but Lews was the leader of the forces of Light and a man respected across the world. He was able to summon the Nine Rods of Dominion, and was the highest ranked Aes Sedai. Lews has been reincarnated in the Third Age as Rand al'Thor.

The episode sees him in conversation with Latra Posae Decume, whom he refers to as the Tamyrlin seat (which appears to be either the Amyrlin Seat of the Age or a play on the Ring of Tamyrlin, a mythical ring worn by him in the books). 

The two Aes Sedai argue about dealing with the Dark One; Lews asks for her support to cage him, but she refuses, expressing that the women will be there to pick up the pieces left at the end of their mess. Latra also warns him not to believe he is invincible and that exposing the True Source (the two halves) of the One Power to the Dark One risks its corruption, which means Lews' power will be out of control. 

It's a clever foreshadowing of what happens later — Lews takes 99 male Aes Sedai to cage the Dark One. He successfully imprisons him at the Shayol Ghul, but in retribution, the Dark One poisons the saidin, corrupting it forever. Lews' power eventually drives him mad, causing him to slaughter his entire family. From that day on, any man who wielded the One Power was destined to be driven insane and is either killed or "gentled" by female Aes Sedai to prevent them from going rogue and ultimately destroying the world.

Is Loial Really Gone?

"The Wheel of Time" adaptation often deviates from the books. Another example of this is the location of the Horn of Valere (an artifact that can summon heroes from the past for the Final Battle against the Dark One) changed. In the book, Rand's battle with the Dark One reveals the Horn was actually buried at the Eye. He brings it back to the city of Fal Dara, where the Darkfriend peddler Padan Fain steals it in the second book.

The show clearly didn't want to waste any time with the back-and-forth, so they changed the Horn's resting place to Fal Dara. This, I can live with. This, however, I cannot: Padan Fain (Johann Myers) breaks into Fal Dara and puts a dagger in Loial (Hammed Animashaun), the gentle-hearted giant we'd come to love. What is this blasphemy? Why kill off the one character that is good and kind and doesn't deserve to be wronged like that?

Loial is the kindest "Wheel of Time" character throughout Jordan's books, so watching him being brutally stabbed by Padan Fain was shocking! The scene led most fans to believe the show had killed off the character, but showrunner Judkins has confirmed to that Loial is alive and kicking, and actor Hammed Animashaun is currently filming season 2. Loial plays an essential role in Rand al'Thor's narrative and is a necessary character in the books, so it is a relief to hear that he hasn't been written off.

Another blink-and-you-miss-it detail sees Padan Fain using the same dagger as the one Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) stole from Shadar Logoth. The last time we saw Mat, he decided against joining his friends in The Ways, where Moiraine, Lan, Loial, and the tav'eren travel to reach the Eye of the World. Padan Fain might be a spy for the Dark One, but imagine how closely he watched our heroes for him to be able to retrieve Mat's old dagger.

PS: They're recasting the charater of Mat, and in season 2, actor Dónal Finn has been tapped for the role.

What Egwene's Healing Powers Means For The Character's Future

As Moiraine and Rand journey into the Blight, Egwene (Madeleine Madden), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), and Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) are back at Fal Dara, where an unending army of Trollocs is invading the city. Fal Dara's rulers prepare for the battle, and Lady Amalisa (Sandra Yi Sencindiver) forms a mini-army of channelers, calling out to women who can wield the One Power, however little it may be. In the books, Rand is the one who defeats the Trollocs alone, in his first appearance as the Dragon Reborn. But Judkins appears to have gone against the whole, "This is the Rand show!" concept and let the women have this epic moment, which is a welcome change.

Amalisa, along with Egwene, Nynaeve, and two other women, bind their powers together to obliterate the incoming army of Trollocs. They're successful in doing so, but Amalisa gets drunk on power and burns out the other two women in the process, as well as Nynaeve, before meeting their fate. Egwene somehow manages to use the One Power and heal Nynaeve, which is shocking because Egwene isn't a healer like Nynaeve. She isn't a Wisdom, and she has never healed anyone. Neither did she have access to anything that could save Nynaeve's life. Egwene has no idea what to do, yet she manages to heal her.

Earlier in the episode, Rand expresses to Moiraine that he doesn't know how to channel, which makes him feel uncertain about confronting the Dark One. In response, Moiraine shares that his lack of experience doesn't matter, and when the hour demands it, Rand will know how to use the One Power on his own.

Maybe that's what happened? It is still unknown how Egwene pulled it off, but her healing abilities could mean that the showrunners are considering making Egwene more powerful than we think she is — to eventually embrace the fate we see her take on in the books.

The Dark One Sends His Messenger

The Dark One (whose real name is Shai'tan) is the all-powerful antagonist in Jordan's "Wheel of Time" books. He is the Dragon's greatest enemy, and preparing Rand for the battle the season leads up to has been Moiraine's primary mission in the series. The Dark One has been frequently talked about, so naturally, everyone thought he was the Dark One after manipulating Rand's thoughts in the Blight. 

But here's the thing — that isn't the Dark One, but one of his key lieutenants. Actor Fares Fares portrayed Ishamael, aka Ba'alzamon, one of the 13 Forsaken; immortal channelers who serve the Dark One.

Ishamael again manipulates Rand at the Eye of the World by giving him his version of a fantasy, a family with Egwene in Two Rivers. Rand doesn't fall for his schemes and instead uses the sa'angreal to blast Ishamael with One Power, all while thinking he is fighting the Dark One. Later, when Moiraine finds the broken Cuendillar (a substance believed to be indestructible during the Age of Legends), she realizes that the Last Battle is yet to come. 

Finding the Cuendillar could suggest Ishamael tricked Rand and Moiraine into freeing his master since it was used to create seals that held the Dark One in his prison. If Ishamael is that wicked, I can't wait to see the Dark One himself!

Moirane, Sedai No More?

Rosamund Pike's Moiraine is the show's most badass character. Although the adaptation will sooner or later adopt the "This is the Rand show!" narrative, the Aes Sedai appears to be at the forefront of every event that transpires. She's equally essential in the book, so when the show decided to leave Moirane, cut off from her powers at the end of the season, it's a question that needs to be addressed.

Ishamael somehow manages to shield Moiraine from her powers, which doesn't bode well for her character. Following her exile from the White Tower, Moiraine's connection to the Source has been more important than ever, so it will be interesting to see what her character does in season 2. Will the other women — Nynaeve and Egwene help Moiraine regain access to the Source? 

As long as we get to see more of Moiraine, Sedai, or no Sedai, I'll be a happy gal.

The Seanchan Arrive

The finale's ending moments took fans on a trip to the continent's western shores, where a fleet of vessels are seen arriving. We then see channelers combining their powers to summon a dangerous tsunami that could devastate inland life. These bad guys are The Seanchan, whom I like to refer to as the Gilead of "Wheel of Time."

The Seanchan regiment views themselves as liberators; they enslave women who can channel and bind them with chains, using them as living weapons. They use an object of the One Power to control every move of the channelers they hold. Seanchan also kidnaps Aes Sedai and binds them, and if the show follows its source material, we might get to see one of our heroes being taken by them. The group's arrival means that the Seanchan will heavily impact the events of season 2. They play a crucial role in the books, so it is fascinating to see that the show decided to introduce them early on.

Rafe Judkins' adaptation of Jordan's novels might often stray away from its source material, twisting intricate fantasy lore to make the eight-part series more approachable than the slightly-intimidating saga. But it seems like he's on the right track.