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Some Thoughts from Brandon on Episode Two
The title is a little bit of a lie. Because I’m going to do more Episode One first.
I finally saw the finished product tonight–on the big screen, in 4k, with an atmos sound system. 🙂 I knew that some of my larger suggestions had been adopted, but I was thrilled to see some of the smaller things I’d wanted also got adopted.
As an example of some of the things I’ve been saying: I really leaned hard into the idea that Lan needed to protect Moiraine more in the fighting. And there it was–him stopping trolloc after trolloc from reaching her. I even suggested that he dive over her to protect her from the collapsing building…and lo and behold, that exact moment was added to the finished product. It instantly became my second favorite scene of the episode. (Tam with the sword was my favorite.)
I have to admit, the Perrin-kills-his-wife scene turned out really well. The acting was solid, the way the shot was composed, and the gut punch (gut axe?) was solidly delivered to the audience. People in my showing gasped. So while I am still on the side of “this would have worked better with Master Luhhan,” I can’t really complain about how well the scene worked. And I did ask Rafe to make sure he at least played up the berzerker angle of Perrin here, and I was glad to see that working.
So, on to Episode Two. This one had more changes between draft and finished product than Episode One had, but Rafe had warned me it would be.
I can talk a little about the behind the scenes here, relating to things I had a hand in. But I won’t go into detail. Just as I prefer my beta readers not cut and paste quotes from early drafts for the public, I am not going to spend a lot of time on details of what was changed between drafts of these screenplays, particularly if I didn’t have a hand in it. I don’t think it’s my place; this isn’t my writing, but of the WoT television team. Much of this isn’t my content to share, and I want to respect their ownership of their storytelling.
If scripts ever do get released officially, then perhaps I can say more there. For now, I really just want to give personal reactions and talk about things that I specifically wanted to see in this episode, and how they panned out.
One thing I’d requested was more time with the characters, and I was very happy to see that. I really enjoyed the visuals in Shadar Logoth, and the moment between Rand and Egwene looking out was probably my favorite moment in this particular episode.
My most relevant lore contribution here probably involved pointing out some Three Oaths issues, and having Rafe go talk to Team Jordan to sort them out. Those are tricky to navigate. For example, it’s all right to have a whirlpool made by Moiraine suck down the ferry after Hightower jumped in and swam to it, particularly if she has stopped channeling. It’s not okay, though, for her to sink that ferry with lightning while he’s on it–even if he’s bringing it toward the trollocs, which will put her in danger.
To a lot of writers, those two things would seem very similar, but I’m hyper-sensitive to the three oaths after my tenure on the books. The solution Rafe and I hashed out after he’d talked to Maria works well enough, I think. (Sorry to any Hightower fans for his fate. Are there Hightower fans? I mean, there are fans of everything, so I assume so.)
Most everything I did in this one was small tweaks like this. Some Lan characterization requests (which were taken) and some tweaks to the Whitecloak encounter. (Which were also taken.)
Most if it is small, subtle tone sorts of things. And a few larger requests that he was already planning to change anyway, so I won’t go into them here. Though, comparing the screenplay to the finished product, they listened to me a lot on this episode. I hope I didn’t overwhelm them.
By the time I had reached this episode in my reading, I’d already cemented in my mind my personal canon that this is a completely different turning of the wheel from the books. That helped me focus on helping the story be the best version of what Rafe wanted to make, rather than fixating on whether each scene should be replaced with one more directly from the books.
(Though…I still tend to do a lot of requesting scenes be nudged closer to book ones in my feedback, even if I know that isn’t the way this adaptation needs to happen. Someone has to look out for you guys. Note that if you are curious WHY this adaptation isn’t quite as “straight from the books” as you might like, I go into it here and here.)
p.s. I read some people complaining about effects. I thought they ranged from fine to great. Those trollocs are really wonderful. In fact, I had lunch with some of them when I visited the Two Rivers two years back, and they were perfectly pleasant to me. Don’t know why they were so interested in killing everyone in this episode. Maybe craft services ran out of donuts.