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The Wheel of Time - Blood Calls Blood - Review

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The Wheel of Time's fifth episode is the strongest yet as core characters begin to converge on Tar Valon and the White Tower. There's a perfect balance between tension and emotional character work as we delve deeper into the backstory of the Warders in a nice contrast to the last episode which focused on the lore of the Aes Sedai. 

Perrin and Egwene finally get more to do after a couple of episodes of walking around with the Tuatha'an. They encounter the Whitecloaks and their leader, Eamon Valda, recognises them from their past brief encounter on the road after leaving Emond's Field. After a failed escape (I hope we see Aram and the other Tuatha'an again!), Perrin and Egwene are captured and subjected to the foul treatment of the Whitecloaks. 

This storyline yields a lot of interesting development as Egwene forces herself to channel in a desperate attempt to save Perrin's life, while his eyes glow gold as Valda cuts into him in a moment that bears a lot of excitement for those who've read the books and intrigue for those who haven't. He also confesses to the killing of Laila which I think will be good for him in the long run as he can finally start to try and forgive himself.

Ultimately, Egwene manages to summon a little magic, using the sparks of fire to fry the ropes binding Perrin. I'm surprised at Valda's horror and confusion at his golden eyes. I'd have thought a Whitecloak would be well-versed in all forms of magic in the world, not just focused solely on their obsession with wiping out people who can channel the One Power. Egwene eventually stabs him (wish she'd stayed to finish him off) and they escape with the aid of a pack of wolves with Perrin reassuring her that the wolves won't hurt them. 

Meanwhile Rand and Mat arrive in Tar Valon, Mat looking ever more the worse for wear and snapping viciously at both a playing child that bumped into him and later Nynaeve when she arrives to help him. He also clearly doesn't have it in him right now to believe Rand when he says he didn't kill that farming family and then continues to break hearts by basically pushing Rand into a suicide pact for if it turns out one or both of them can channel.

We also get some more development for Rand. Loial identifies him as Aielman - which Rand emphatically tells him isn't true - and he also recgonises the mountain near Tar Valon despite never having left Emond's Field in his life. These throwaway comments do some work towards fleshing out the most uninteresting character in the ensemble and he becomes more likable too in his role as caretaker to the increasingly ill Mat. 

I am dreading the inevitable reunion with Egwene though because both characters have proved to be vastly more interesting and rich when they are apart from each other. I don't want to have to see Rand regress back into being boring so hopefully these few episodes they've spent apart and the journeys they've been on will impact how they interact for the better.

The bulk of the episode is concerned with Moiraine, Lan and Nynaeve's arrival at the White Tower along with Stepin's grief over losing Kerene. This was masterfully handled and the acting from both Daniel Henney and Peter Franzén was phenomenal. There's a lovely bonding scene between the four Warders as they prepare Stepin in white for the ritual of burning Kerene's Aes Sedai ring and we learn a bit more about his backstory and what Kerene meant to him.

The final scenes of the episode were beautifully shot and heart-wrenching from Lan's silent slow motion run after he realises one of the knives from the display is missing to that shot of Stepin kneeling by the statues, made to look as if he were simply in prayer even though we all knew it was too late. It's going to be hard to forget Lan's scream of anguish at Stepin's funeral, tears running down Moiraine's face as she shares in his pain. 

The strength of the bond between an Aes Sedai and a Warder really shone through in this episode with Moiraine even wondering about cutting off the bond between an Aes Sedai and a Warder just to save Lan the pain of losing her. These two are really becoming the heart of the show and I'm looking forward to how their relationship develops in the future. 

We're coming into the final stretch of episodes now, so who do you think is going to be revealed as the Dragon Reborn (those of you haven't read the books)? Glad that Perrin and Egwene were finally given something interesting to do? Sound off in the comments below! 

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