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‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 1 Ending Explained: Showrunner Rafe Judkins Breaks Down All the Big Changes from Robert Jordan’s Books

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‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 1 Ending Explained: Showrunner Rafe Judkins Breaks Down All the Big Changes from Robert Jordan’s Books

You can find all available episodes of The Wheel of Time streaming on Amazon Prime Video. For even more Wheel of Time, check out the epic book series, also available on Audible

The Wheel of Time Season 1 finale “The Eye of the World” ended with our first look at a brand new threat for Rand (Josha Stradowski), Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), and the rest of their friends. After the forces of good barely survive the Dark One’s might at both the Eye of the World and Fal Dara, we cut to the far Western shore. We watch a little girl digging for clams notice something strange on the horizon. A fleet of mysterious ships with red sails appears and soon the One Power seems to be harnessed as a weapon, intended to kill the child and anyone else in its path.

Whether you’ve read all 14+ books in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time or you’re a newbie to this fantasy world, we expect you’ve got questions after that Season 1 finale. Like who were those strange people on the ships? What happens to Moiraine and Rand at the end of The Wheel of Time Season 1? Is Loial (Hammed Animashaun) going to survive for Season 2? How many changes does the Amazon show make from The Wheel of Time books? And why did the Prime Video version of The Wheel of Time change just so darn much from the end of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time?

Decider’s got answers. We spoke to Rafe Judkins, the showrunner of The Wheel of Time, and Josha Stradowski about some of the wildest moments in the Season 1 finale. Judkins explained the reasoning behind key changes from the page to the screen and teased that not everyone who seems dead has been killed off the show.

Here’s The Wheel of Time Season 1 ending explained…

Rand and Egwene in The Wheel of Time Season 1 finale
Photo: Prime Video

THE WHEEL OF TIME SEASON 1 ENDING EXPLAINED: HOW DOES RAND DEFEAT THE DARK ONE AND ISHAMAEL AT THE EYE OF THE WORLD?

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 8 “The Eye of the World” follows Moiraine and Rand on their journey through the Blight to face the Dark One. However it’s not really the Dark One himself, but one of his key lieutenants Ishamael, aka Ba’alzamon (Faras Faras). Book readers know that Ishamael and the original Dragon, Lews Therin Telamon (Alexander Karim). Here, though, Ishamael arrives to taunt our current Dragon, Rand, both in a vision en route and at the Eye of the World.

When Moiraine and Rand arrive at the Eye, Rand is overcome by Ishamael’s powers and placed in a sort of vision world where he gets his happy Two Rivers ending with Egwene (Madeleine Madden). Ishamael visits Rand here and explains that by embracing the Dark One and tapping into his own power, he can rewrite the world as he sees fit. Including getting Egwene to settle down with him. For a while, it seems like Rand might be tempted by this. However he eventually uses the One Power to confront Ishamael. He explains that it might be what he wants, but it’s not what Egwene wants. The woman Rand loves wants to be a Wisdom or an Aes Sedai, not a wife in the Two Rivers.

Josha Stradowski told Decider: “For me that wasn’t a turn, it was something he always thought. What he wanted, his dream, was to have a life with [Egwene] in the Two Rivers. But he loved her for who she is, and he realizes that. That’s why I think it’s so mature and we can learn from that relationship that, you know, love isn’t dependency and it isn’t insecurity and it isn’t jealousy. Rand knows that, so he knows that he has to let her go so she can become who she needs to be. That is a beautiful thing, to love someone for who the person can become.”

Armed with this, it seems that Rand breaks the cuendillar seal at the Eye of the World, something that should be impossible.

While this is happening, though, Ishamael taunts Moiraine by seemingly blocking her off from the One Power. (By episode’s end it seems she may have been stilled, which we’ll get to.) Elsewhere, Trollocs descend upon the Borderland fortress city of Fal Dara. Egwene and Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) join a small circle of channelers to fight off the invading hoards, and do so at great face-melting cost. (We’ll get to that, too.) Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Loial discover that the mythic Horn of Valere is hidden in Fal Dara, but Padan Fain (Johann Myers) attacks them and steals it, with Mat’s cursed dagger in tow. (We’ll get to that, also.)

The season ends with Rand asking Moiraine to tell everyone he died. He wants to spare his loved ones from his fated madness. Then we cut to that mysterious fleet coming for blood. Book readers know exactly who they are… The Seanchan.

WHY DOES THE WHEEL OF TIME INTRODUCE THE SEANCHAN IN THE SEASON 1 FINALE? WHO ARE THE SEANCHAN IN THE WHEEL OF TIME?

The Wheel of Time Season 1 ends with the introduction of the Seanchan, a culture from across the ocean that believes they have the right to rule over, well, everyone in our heroes’ world because they are the descendants of a hero/ruler/tyrant?/dude named Artur Hawkwing. They’ve lived cut off from this side of the world for centuries and developed some interesting cultural mores. Namely, they believe that women who can channel must be kept chained as slaves known as damane. Their only value is as living weapons. The Seanchan also have an advanced military that uses weird looking creatures in combat. (Think magical dinosaurs. Some of them, like raken, fly!)

Book spoilers: The Seanchan do invade the western most city of Falme in Book 2 of The Wheel of Time, The Great Hunt. So why introduce them here?

The Wheel of Time‘s showrunner Rafe Judkins explained: “I feel like when I read the books, the Seanchan were such a slap in the face. You thought you could predict where the story was going after the first book and then you’re like, ‘Wait, what’s happening?’ Also, it didn’t feel like other pieces of epic fantasy. It was just so fresh and new feeling, and we really wanted to get that on the show.”

“We talked about that scene a lot as feeling like…you know, when the Spanish Galleons arrived on the shore of the New World. Except our characters are the New World and they’re like, ‘What the fuck is happening here?’” Judkins said.

The Seanchan are supposed to look and feel alien, but the golden chest pieces and muzzles on the damane might look very different from the leashed silver collars described in the books.

“The insect armor is in there, there’s all of these pieces of what’s described in the books for them but we really wanted them to look incredibly distinct. Almost like aliens arriving on our shores,” Judkins said.

“We need the audience to immediately be able to see them and know that they have been split off from our characters for a very long time and that all the worlds that we go to like The Borderlands and Andor and Tear and all the different places that we have seen in Season 1 and will continue to see, that these people are from some place really different from that,” Judkins said. “I think our design team really knocked it out of the park with the Seanchan and you will see so much more of them obviously in Season 2.”

Moiraine in the Wheel of Time Season 1 finale

WHY DID MOIRAINE LOSE THE POWER TO CHANNEL IN THE WHEEL OF TIME SEASON 1 FINALE? WILL MOIRAINE CHANNEL AGAIN IN SEASON 2?

In the end of The Eye of the World, the book, Moiraine gets to be a massive badass. Here, she’s left cut off from the Source and forced to hold Rand in her arms while he battles Ishamael with his mind. As we learn in one of the last seasons of the season, Moiraine officially can’t touch the One Power. It’s unclear whether Ishamael tied off a massive shielding on her or — more likely — stilled her, but it’s a huge departure from the books.

Decider asked Rafe why they chose to leave Moiraine cut off from the One Power and what that means for her in Season 2.

“I think this will be one thing that has book fans talking a lot and thinking about. And I think we have a great plan for what we do with it and why we do it,” Judkins said. “And a lot of it is to give this character more to do.”

Judkins referenced the fact that after the introductory chapters of The Great Hunt, Moiraine is rather absent. “In Book 2 she really is in just one chapter, and she’s so limited in what she does. So, we looked at that piece that she has in Book 2 and then we figured out how to take that story that’s told in Tifan’s Well in Book 2 and expand it out to a whole season,” he said.

The Tifan’s Well chapter is actually Chapter 22 “Watchers.” It follows Moiraine and Lan (Daniel Henney) as they visit research-obsessed Aes Sedai sisters named Adeleas and Vandene. There Moiraine attempts to find answers about everything from prophecies about the Dragon Reborn to the role of the Horn of Valere.

Judkins knows that expanding this tiny sliver of Moiraine’s journey — and apparently stilling her — will be controversial, but he sees promise storytelling-wise.

“How do you strip down Moiraine and take away all of the things that made her Moiraine and see if she can put herself back together?” Judkins said. “And it gives Rosamund a lot to play as well in season 2, so I think it’s working super effectively for us. But I imagine it will be a divisive book fans thing.”

Mat and his dagger in The Wheel of Time
Photo: Prime Video

THE WHEEL OF TIME SEASON 1 FINALE CONFIRMS PADAN FAIN IS A DARKFRIEND, BUT IS LOIAL OKAY? HOW DID PADAN FAIN GET MAT’S DAGGER?

Yet another change from the books in The Wheel of Time Season 1 finale is the location of the Horn of Valere. In The Eye of the World, Rand’s battle with Ishamael reveals the Horn was buried at the Eye. Rand and company bring the Horn back to Fal Dara where Padan Fain steals it in Book 2. The Wheel of Time Season 1 expedites this whole process by making Fal Dara the Horn’s resting place and having Padan Fain steal it during the heat of battle. Cool. Fine! But did Padan Fain…KILL LOIAL?!?!

Rafe Judkins talked us down off of our ledge. “I will say that there are some people that look like they are at death’s door at the end of Season 1, that are still with us in Season 2. So people can be relieved about that in seasons moving forward,” Judkins said. Then he added, “And there are some people that are dead as well because we do need to kill more characters in the show that they do in the books. We can’t be carrying a cast of forty-five series regulars season to season.”

So that’s not a confirmation that Loial lives, but I’m just going to call it: Loial lives. Loial can’t die. No, he cannot.

On a related note, it appears that Padan Fain is now in possession of the ruby dagger Mat (Barney Harris) stole from Shadar Logoth. The last we saw of Mat, he passed on joining his friends in The Ways. Later in The Wheel of Time Season 1 finale, we see a shot of Mat arriving back in Tar Valon. So…when did Padan Fain get Mat’s dagger?

Judkins said, “The dagger, yes. We did a little hint. You should be able to see if you look closely at the episodes that Padan Fain has in fact been everywhere the dagger was,” Judkins said, “and the hints are there for how he got [the dagger] along the way.”

Speaking of Mat Cauthon and his dagger, Mat is supposed to stick with the group in the books. The Wheel of Time has already recast Donal Finn in the role for Season 2, leading a lot of fans to speculate that Harris left sometime between Episodes 6 and 7, aka when production was paused for COVID-19.

Decider asked Judkins if it was always the creative plan to leave Mat behind and he said, “We try to take any production thing that happens and try to make it the strongest reactive decision we can and to move forward with it creatively. So, there were a bunch of different things that happened during COVID that we had to sort of bob and weave with in terms of production. We tried to do all of those in as seamless a way as we could and try to tell the best story we could and then, you know, take us and land us back closer to the books in Season 2 as well.”

Nynaeve and Egwene outside Fal Dara in The Wheel of Time Season 1 finale
Photo: Prime Video

THE WHEEL OF TIME SEASON 1 ENDING EXPLAINED: WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH NYNAEVE AND EGWENE AT TARWIN’S GAP?

One of the boldest changes might have to do with who actually takes down the Trollocs at Tarwin’s Gap. In the books, Rand basically does, uh, everything. In the show, Egwene and Nynaeve join three other women who can (barely) channel and link up. Led by Lady Amalisa (Sandra Yi Sencindiver), they’re able to tap into Nynaeve and Egwene’s massive power. Amalisa seems to get drunk on the experience. So much so, she burns herself out (and Nynaeve and two other women) just as she uses the One Power to obliterate the Trollocs.

Nynaeve seems to have died, but Egwene uses the One Power to seemingly heal her. Judkins was mum on how Egwene — who is not known in the books as a great healer like Nynaeve — pulled that off, but he did explain why he gave the two women of the Two Rivers that epic moment.

“One big thing I wanted to do with the finale was…in the books it really was just all about Rand. He fights Ba’alzamon at the Eye of the World. He then teleports to Tarwin’s Gap and levels an entire Trolloc army. You know, he does a lot of things all on his own. He gets the Horn of Valere. He basically does everything himself and what we really wanted to try to find a way to — as we’ve been doing with most of the big adaptation choices in Season 1 — making it feel like an ensemble piece, the way that the whole series does,” Judkins said.

“And so, we really wanted to take all of the things that Rand does in the finale of Book 1 and split them out amongst the rest of the characters. So we gave Egwene and Nynaeve the battle at Tarwin’s Gap instead and it sets up their characters really nicely for where they go in Book 2, to really see the power that is possible inside of them so they know where they’re headed in the rest of the series.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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