Spoiler Review: Blood Calls Blood - The Wheel of Time | Comic Years
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Spoiler Review: Blood Calls Blood In An Emotional Fifth Episode of The Wheel of Time

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BY December 8, 2021

Welcome back to the world of The Wheel of Time, where blood calls blood and our heroes finally reach the white city of Tar Valon. This emotionally charged episode begins and ends with a funeral. We get to know some of our characters deeper, and explore what mysterious abilities they be hiding in episode 5 of The Wheel of Time – “Blood Calls Blood.”

Converging On Tar Valon

Wheel of Time Trailer Tar Valon with The White Tower in the foreground and Dragonmount in the background | Image via Amazon Prime

Everyone is converging on Tar Valon in this episode. Mat and Rand have seemingly joined a group of pilgrims on the road into the city. As they approach Tar Valon, Rand stops short and stares up at the volcano called Dragonmount. He says it seems familiar to him, like he has seen it before.

At the inn, Mat asks Rand to reassure him again that he was not the one who killed the Grinwells – the family that took them last episode. Rand does so, reminding him that both he and Thom saw the Fade emerge from the shadows. Mat doesn’t seem convinced, and the darkness drags him down deeper.

Loial, Son of Arent, Son of Halan –  Your Name Sings In My Ears

Wheel of Time Loial Blood Calls Blood Image via Amazon Prime

However, Rand is not going to let his friend’s anguish stop him from exploring the city. He finds a library, where he picks up a copy of the Karaethon Cycle. This book contains the prophecies of the Dragon, an important in-world text. Before he can dig into it, Rand hears a rumbling voice behind him. This is Loial, son of Arent, son of Halan. (His name sings in my ears.) Loial is an Ogier, a race of peaceful beings who are renowned as great scholars and Builders. It was the Ogier who built Tar Valon, and many other wondrous structures throughout the world.

As an Ogier, Loial represents one of the few non-human races in the world. He is also a fan-favorite, and I’m here to tell you that this depiction of Loial is perfection. From the rumbling voice, the droopy eyebrows, to the larger than life stature. He brings some levity to the screen, with his good-hearted nature and earnest desire to help.

Loial mistakes Rand for an Aielman, as red hair is a sure sign of Aiel lineage. Rand insists that he is just a simple boy from the Two Rivers, but Loial isn’t buying it. Rand is an oddity, and Loial likes oddities. The two discuss a book called The Travels of Jain Farstrider, a text that Rand strongly associates with Egwene. He tells Loial a bit about her, before being pulled away to witness a procession coming down the street. The Aes Sedai have returned home, with Logain in a cage.

Rand And Mat See The False Dragon

Logain In Cage Wheel of Time Image via Amazon Prime

Rand joins Mat in watching the parade (where we catch a glimpse of Padan Fain in the crowd.) At that moment, Logain is suddenly stirred from his ennui. He looks up, meeting Rand’s eyes and begins to laugh hysterically. This unnerves the two young men, who vow never to let the other go mad that if one of them can channel.

It is important to note that in the books, Logain has a Talent that allows him to identify Ta’veren. In the previous episode he used Moiraine’s own words to describe Nynaeve ‘like a blazing sun.’  In the text of the books, those who can identify Ta’veren often describe a similar golden halo around them.

Egwene and Perrin Encounter The Whitecloaks

Perrin Egwene Whitecloaks Image via Amazon Prime

As the Tinker caravan arrives at Tar Valon, they are halted by the same group of Whitecloaks we have seen twice before. Valda quickly spots Egwene and Perrin amongst the travelers. He remembers their faces, and demands they be turned over. The Tinkers refuse, and link arms to create a physical barrier in order to protect them. I’ve described the Whitecloaks to several new fans as kind of a “religious police force.” And as they brutally beat the Tuatha’an – literally the most peaceful group in the entire world  – that real world parallel is driven home.

Aram helps Egwene and Perrin escape, but their flight is short-lived as they are quickly scooped up by the Whitecloaks. The two youths are dragged before Valda. They treat Egwene like an object, to be cleansed and used as necessary. And they treat Perrin like an animal, tying him up and torturing him to get under her skin.

Perrin Goldeneyes Arises

Perrin Goldeneyes Wheel of Time Image via Amazon Prime

Valda knows that Egwene can channel, even if she is not a full Aes Sedai yet. He gives her a choice: touch the One Power and be killed. Or to do nothing and let Perrin die instead. This is where Perrin finally confesses to Egwene that it was he who killed his wife Laila in the first episode. He thinks this is his punishment, that he deserves to die.

As Valda continues to torture Perrin, Egwene finally achieves the calm necessary to channel and break his bonds. Wolves howl in the distance, and Perrin’s eyes suddenly gleam gold. This terrifies Valda, giving Egwene a chance to plunge a knife into his neck, and grabs the Aes Sedai rings he had taken as trophies. Outside the camp is in chaos, as wolves attack the Whitecloaks. They seem to be protecting Perrin and Egwene. As one wolf approaches them Perrin knows that it will not hurt them. It is almost as though he can understand them…

Blood Calls Blood As Ta’veren Reunite

Nynaeve Wheel of Time Blood Calls Blood Image via Amazon Prime

In Tar Valon, Mat is getting worse. As Rand clearly struggles with how to help him, Loial arrives. The Ogier took it upon himself to journey onto the Tower grounds and find the woman Rand spoke of. However, it is not Egwene who emerges from behind him but Nynaeve. This is the first time the two have seen each other since well before Bel Tine. Rand still thought Nynaeve was dead, and they have an emotional reunion. I absolutely love Loial in the background of this moment explaining that he identified Nynaeve by her braid, since it is a common custom in the Two Rivers and of course he would know that.

This is one of the many small moments in this episode that seem to indicate Ta’veren nature at work. The show has not fully explained this, but Ta’veren like Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve are pivotal threads in the pattern that can shift probability and affect the tapestry around them. The way that Loial immediately helped Rand may be indicative of the Ta’veren influence. Ta’veren can also sense one another, so it makes sense that Nynaeve found Rand and Mat before Moiraine could. Blood calls blood after all in The Wheel of Time.

A Focus On The Warders

Wheel of Time Blood Calls Blood Image via Amazon Prime

Every character has a moment to shine in this episode, although much of the focus is on Stepin and the Warders. This is a great example of the ways the show improves upon the source material. In the books, the Warders didn’t get much examination or distinct personalities. But the showrunners have drawn upon details in the text to bring this community to life.

Stepin has been broken by the death of his Aes Sedai, and the show uses this to illustrate just how deep the bond goes. Peter Franzén is incredible as Stepin in this episode. His raw grief imbues every scene, from his ritual dressing with the other Warders, to his drunken request from Nynaeve for more sleeping herbs, and his quiet moments with Lan.

Positive Masculinity On Display

Warders Wheel of Time Image via Amazon Prime

One of the many things that I love about The Wheel of Time in “Blood Calls Blood” is how it shows a representation of positive masculinity. The Warders are the finest warriors in the world (outside of the Aiel). They can take down dangerous monsters with ease and skill. But in private, they are deeply emotional and complex individuals.  The intimacy between the men in this episode is refreshing to see. Their comforting touches, and the ways they confide in one another deepens the characters and world.

After a little gossip about his budding relationship with Nynaeve, Lan awakens to find that Stepin drugged him. In a heartbreaking scene, we learn that Stepin has killed himself. The episode ends like it began, with a funeral. Instead of the stoic Aes Sedai bidding farewell to their fallen companions, we see a raw outpouring of grief from the Warders over Stepin’s death. Most affected is Lan, who beats his chest and lets out a cry of pure agony.

Moiraine watches with tears streaming down her face. She can literally feel Lan’s pain. However these tears also indicate something deeper, some fear Moiraine has concerning her bond with Lan. It is important to note that earlier in the episode, Moiraine discussed with Alanna how a Warder bond could be passed to another. Only time will tell what this means for their characters.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode as we dig deeper into Tower politics. And be sure to follow Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest genre news.

 

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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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