I will not pretend I expected that I could continue to review them as well other episodes of the Wheel of Time. Amazon, to my surprise, however, has given us other chapters of the series in preview, and therefore we continue.
A warning: in these articles I will not repeat the judgments expressed in the review of the first three episodes, so if you want to know my opinion on the beginning of the series, go here.
Having made the necessary premises, and always without any spoilers in case anyone wants to read each of these reviews before starting to look at the Wheel of Time, let's see what Amazon has built on the foundations established in the first three hours of this series.
The Wheel of Time does not slow down
It doesn't take much to understand that this story has no intention of slowing down. Even the fourth episode continues with the frenzied pace of the first three. The cast of characters presented has now expanded to reach at least a dozen recurring characters, not counting the tertiary ones who will probably never return to the screen.
What has changed for the better is certainly the technical side. The uncertainties of the first episode have never been repeated, the editing is clean and the shots neat, even if the night ones continue to be slightly too dark for my taste. The action scenes are still a bit confusing, especially when it comes to incorporating the use of the One Power into battles.
The rest of the technical sector remains at high levels. Especially the costumes, which continue to be used very well in the immediate characterization of secondary characters. The uncertainties of special effects also seem to have disappeared.
Probably the errors that I had found in the first episodes were due precisely to the fact that the start of a TV series, even if meant for streaming, is always a bit strange in the production phase. To give an example, someone remembers the first episode of Dr. House, which was all orange?
The greatest mystery of the Wheel of Time
There are many questions that revolve around this series. For example, which of the four boys will be the legendary Dragon Reborn in the end? Will the answer be the same as the books give? But most of all, how is it possible that the secondary characters continue to have better dialogue and characterization than the protagonists?
Previously this element stood out only for the low quality of the dialogues between the protagonists, and for theirs very little development in three episodes. Now, however, to act as a contrast there are small development arcs of well-made secondary characters, with dialogues that may not be amazing, but more than acceptable. In the meantime, the best that our chosen four are able to express is "I am always there for you".
This alternation between a quality worthy of a series with this tone and exchanges that can be found in any teen drama it's inexplicable. And it becomes even more so if you add the perfect work of "Show, don't tell" done at the stage of writing.
Show, don't tell
The world of the Wheel of Time is endless. It would be very easy for writers to fall into the “Fish out of water” trap. The protagonists do not know anything about how the world works, it would be very simple to place a wise man alongside them who will start giving explanations about why women are more important than men in society, or because they are unable to make full use of magic.
Instead these explanations are shown, inserted with elegance in situations and dialogues. The world in which the characters move appears in this deep and structured way. It is not a simple undertaking, and certainly it does not always succeed, sometimes there is some explanation, but nothing heavy. Another attention which, although appreciable, makes it even more evident the flatness of the protagonists.
Closing, a few words for the readers of the books. You have all my respect, you have been able to do something that I have not even had the courage to attempt. I haven't read the books, so I judge this series as such, not as an adaptation.
I just know that the writers have changed a lot, using sources more as cues than scripts. In these weeks I will try to inform me (I don't think I have time to tackle the 740 pages of the first book of the saga, sorry), and maybe by the end of these reviews I will a small comment on the adaptation of fantasy series in general, more than this one in particular.
See you next Saturday, for the fifth episode.