Written By: Celine Song
Directed By: Salli Richardson Whitfield
Original Air Date: December 3, 2021 on Amazon Prime Video
Snow falls and Alanna sings as the dead are laid to rest. Men and woman on both sides of the battle are laid tenderly in shallow graves, shrouded in white with a candle set on top. Lan lays the King of Ghealdan to rest and Stepin carries Kerene Sedai’s body. Stepin is flanked by the remaining Aes Sedai, each carrying a candle and looking solemn. Kerene’s is the last body lain in the ground. Stepin tenderly removes her ring and places it on a cord around her neck; taking one last longing look at her face. Lan’s hand rests on Stepin’s shoulder, lending support in his grief. Moiraine lays the candle on her body and says the prayer, “May the last embrace of the Mother welcome you home.” She and Lan share and look that appears to speak volumes about what their future may hold. There were thirty-three causalities in the battle to free Logain, buried in circle of land completely cleared of snow. The Aes Sedai stand at its center, offering tribute to the dead. The opening credits roll.
A month has passed and the eight remaining Aes Sedai and their companions are still journeying through the forest. Liandrin and another Red Aes Sedai lead the group, with Lan and Moiraine at the rear. They come within sight of the White Tower in Tar Valon, and Lan asks if Moiraine still thinks of the White Tower as home. She says that her saddle, cloak, and boots are her home, as well as the brooding man at her side, referring to Lan. Moiraine questions him about Nynaeve, implying that Lan would know how she is feeling. He deflects and tells her of Nynaeve’s concern for Stepin. Moiraine is certain that even if the other four Two Rivers folk are not already in Tar Valon, that they will find them.
Elsewhere, still on their journey, Rand and Mat trudge through the countryside surrounded by other travelers on foot also headed east to Tar Valon. Mat is on edge and snaps at a small child. He looks sickly and closer to death than not. They round a hill and Dragonmount comes into the view. Deja vu strikes Rand and he heads up a short cliff for a closer look. They crest the ridge the forest expands below them to meet the river. Nestled in the river’s center is the great city of Tar Valon, its white walls encapsulating a labyrinth of streets with the monolith of the White Tower at its peak. In the distance smoke billows from the top of a single mountain, that dominates the landscape, Dragonmount. Inside the walls is a cacophony of colors, sounds, and wares being sold. Rand mentions an Inn that Thom told him about, the Innkeeper was a friend, and it will make a good first stop before Rand and Mat go to the White Tower. They take a room at the Inn and Mat instantly flings himself on to the bed. He is tortured by the idea that he killed the Grinwell family on the farm where they had stopped, most especially the little girl who reminded him of his sisters. With the feeling of being much repeated, Rand attempts to reassure him that it was the Fade that killed them, not Mat.
Across the city in the White Tower, Moiraine and Lan squirrel Nynaeve away in the Warder’s Quarters of the White Tower, attempting to keep her away from the other Aes Sedai and give her space to recover from her journey. Once the news of what she did in the cave with Logain spreads, the demonstration of her massive power will make her highly desired. She will be expected to enroll in the White Tower as a novice at once. Lan leaves and Moiraine discusses with Nynaeve what it was like to first touch the One Power and how it changes her place in the world.
Not yet to Tar Valon, Egwene and Perrin are still traveling with the Tuatha’an. Perrin and Aram’s relationship has thawed and they two are chatting together as they journey. The caravan is in sight of the White Tower when a group of Whitecloaks, Eamon Valda at its head, stops them. He spots Perrin and Egwene and demands the Tinkers turn them over immediately. Raen and Ila stand up with Child Valda using passive resistance. They link arms and refuse to allow the Whitecloaks to pass. While they resist, Aram uses that opportunity to sneak Perrin and Egwene off into the woods and towards a village that has been kind to them in the past. Undeterred, “The Way of the Leaf versus the way of the Light”, Child Valda gives the order and the Whitecloaks beat their way through the Tinkers lines. Aram, Perrin and Egwene are still running through the woods attempting escape when Aram is run down and the Whitecloaks use their horses to trap and herd Perrin and Egwene.
Not far away in the city, Rand is in the library of the Inn. The library is small, with stone floors and walls, but well-lit by large windows and hanging lanterns. Floor to ceiling shelves line the room and are overflowing with books and scrolls. Rand finds a copy of the Karaethon Cycle, or Prophecies of the Dragon Reborn. He is scanning its pages when a low voice bellows at him from behind one of the shelves. Rand turns towards the voice and is startled by the large creature smiling before him. He drops the book and pulls out his heron marked sword, holding it before him ready to strike. Taller than him, and more than twice as wide, the creature has a broad nose and large mouth with prominent teeth. More amused than offended, the creature laughs and explains that most humans are frightened when they first see him. His name is Loial, son of Arent, son of Halan, an Ogier. Loial assumes that Rand is an Aiel because of his red hair. He explains that hair color is one of the only reliable characteristics that can be used to identify where humans are from. When Rand continues to insist that he is not an Aiel and is from the Two Rivers, Loial seems excited to meet such an odd human. Loial’s easy and gentle manner has Rand opening up to him, sharing that he is searching for a young woman from home. As they are talking bells toll in the city.
The Aes Sedai are bringing Logain to the White Tower. He is being paraded through the city to announce and celebrate his capture. There are many gasped in the crowd when people see the empty boots on Kerene Sedai’s saddle, indicating that an Aes Sedai has died. High above the street, perched on a ledge Rand and Mat watch as Logain is brought past. He is chained around the neck, slumped in his ornate cage, looking every bit a defeated man. Mat pities him and seeks reassurance from Rand that no matter what, if one of them can channel and is the Dragon Reborn that they would end up like Logain, caged and all but dead.
Inside the White Tower Stepin stands, robed in white, being helped to finish dress by Alanna’s Warders Ihvon (Emmanuel Imani), and Maksim (Taylor Napier). Lan enters the room to lend his support. Stepin reminisces about who he was before he was bonded to Kerene and how they met. The pain of her loss is written in his face as he stares at his reflection in the mirror. With his contemporaries at his side Stepin makes the lonely march to the top of the tower, where a large flame surrounded by molten gold burns. With tears and a last kiss Stepin drops the ring into the gold, where it is absorbed and becomes one with the Tower again.
Moved by Stepin’s experience of losing Kerene, Lan seeks out Moiraine and their share a moment of silent contemplation. The shared pain they feel is shown through their tears.
The Whitecloaks have taken Egwene and stripped her to the skin. Three of them surround her, scrubbing her body roughly with course brushes, detangling her hair and removing all dirt from the fingernails. Once she is deemed clean, they cover her with a thin white shift. She is then tied by her wrists, with rough rope, to a well-worn wooden chair. In front of her Child Valda sits behind a table shrouded with white and set with a fine meal of roasted pig and red wine. His manner is vilely casual and pious. Perrin is wrestled in by two Whitecloaks and tied, bent over a wooden wrack. It is Child Valda’s assumption that Egwene is an Aes Sedai, and Perrin her Warder. Egwene attempts to plead their innocence, but his mind is unchanged by her begging. He holds a knife to her throat, attempting to force her to channel. Egwene stays strong, and holds his gaze, firm in her assertation that she cannot channel. When she will not break, he turns his despicable intentions to Perrin. Using the knife from his meal he sliced into the flesh on Perrin’s back. Perrin screams in agony and his eyes turn from brown to burnished gold. Valda continues slicing away at Perrin’s flesh while calming spewing his zealous diatribe against the witches. “The idea that the One Power comes from anywhere other than the Dark is absurd. So, I have been called to stamp it out, woman by woman, by woman.” He makes an offer to them both. If Egwene channels, he will kill her and let Perrin go. If she does not channel, he will kill Perrin and let her go. After announcing his ultimatum, he leaves them to decide.
After completing his last duty as Kerene’s Warder, Stepin is drunk and struggling to sleep. He goes to Nynaeve, asking after herbs that can help him. She obliges him and attempts to assure him that his pain will always be with him. After their conversation, Nynaeve walks alone among the columns and statues that line the halls of the Warder’s Quarters. Liandrin finds her and attempts to make conversation, revealing that Red Aes Sedai never bond a Warder. Liandrin does not intend to give up on laying claim to Nynaeve. Her intentions once she does, still unclear. She casually mentions that not far is the library, and gardens where persimmon are in season.
It is presumed that it is in one of those locations that Loial meets Nynaeve, as Ogier are granted permission to enter the White Tower grounds. Knowing that Rand was searching for a woman from the Two Rivers, he believes it to be Nynaeve, based on her distinctive braid. He brings her to Rand and Mat at the Inn. Rand embraces her, thrilled to learn that she is alive. When Nynaeve attempts to check on Mat’s condition, he snaps at her to stay away. Away from Mat’s ears Rand reveals to Nynaeve that he believes that Mat can channel. He has never seen it, but Mat seems to be losing himself. They are both still worried about finding Perrin and Egwene. When Rand doubts if they will find Egwene alive, Nynaeve tells a story of Egwene as a small child. She was very young and had breakbone fever, Nynaeve sat with her all night, expecting to watch her die. She watched as Egwene’s body tried to break itself, marveling that Egwene never cried out in pain and refused the Wisdom’s tea. The story was meant to illustrate the strength that Egwene possess, by Nynaeve telling Rand “Egwene is many things, but above all else she is unbreakable.”
Her strength is apparent as she sits, tied to the wooden chair fighting as hard as she can to channel. Her eyes focused on the knife that still lay on Child Valda’s dinner table. Perrin begs her to stop trying and reveals the secret that has been torturing him since the attack on their village. He tells her that it was him that killed his wife, Laila. Valda returns, asking if they had decided their fate. When no one responds, he appears unbothered and picks back up his knife to continue this torture of Perrin. Outside the tent, wolves howl. Egwene surrenders instead of fights and the One Power comes to her, just enough to throw a small ball of fire at Valda. It winks out before it comes close to touching him. He seems pleased that he was correct, but while he talks Egwene uses fire to burn through the bonds holding Perrin. Fueled by his rage, Perrin’s golden eyes sparkle in the tent light. Valda is frightened by what he sees in Perrin’s eyes to distract him long enough for Egwene to stab him in the shoulder. Grabbing the Aes Sedai rings that Valda kept as a trophy she and Perrin run out into the night. They are met by a Whitecloak who tries to halt their escape, but before they can react a wolf flies out from the night to take when down. When Perrin and Egwene are approached by a growling wolf, Perrin urges her on, certain that the wolf will not hurt them.
In the halls of the White Tower Liandrin confronts Moiraine about Nynaeve. She is attempting to show Moiraine that she knows where Nynaeve is hidden and imply that if Moiraine leaves the Red Ajah could gain her favor.
Back in Stepin’s room, he stands at an altar, making an offering. He is attempting to ward away Ishmael, the Father of Lies, one of the Forsaken. They were powerful Aes Sedai who sold their souls to the Dark One in exchange for eternal life. It was the last Dragon who sealed them away from the world. Lan offers to stay with Stepin until morning, to help him in his grief.
Moiraine and Alanna lay on her bed discussing if Stepin will accept her offer of a new bond. Alanna does not seem certain that he will. “When a Warder loses his Aes Sedai the pain of it is so deep it is almost as if he has swallowed her death.” Thinking about the dangers of her future Moiraine wonders about a way to release a Warder from the bond. Alanna assures Moiraine that she will be alive a long time, so that there is no need for her to release Lan’s bond. Both women have been summoned to the Hall of the Tower when the Amyrlin Seat returns. They are going to be made to answer for gentling Logain without a trial. Alanna mentioned that Moiraine is strong enough to challenge Suian Sanche’s place, but Moiraine has not designs on the Amyrlin Seat.
Stepin and Lan sit on the floor, discussing what it may be like for him to accept Alanna’s offer to bond him. The two men chide each other and speak of love. Stepin questions what Nynaeve means to Lan because she loves him. Bells toll and the sun rises over Tar Valon. Lan awakens, alone, and slumped on the floor. The empty teacup Stepin had given him last night near his hand. Stepin had used Nynaeve herbs to make a tea for Lan to sleep. Worried about what this man Lan takes off running. He finds Stepin slumped to his knees in front of a statue, a knife sticking out of his abdomen.
Lan, and a room of Warder’s and Aes Sedai, along with Nynaeve are all dressed in white as they stand in a circle around Stepin’s lifeless body. The former Warder has been cleaned and dressed in all white. A man sounds a low resonant tone of mourning and Lan is beckoned to lay his hand on Stepin’s body and to relieve them of their grief. Kneeling to lay a hand on Stepin’s chest, the rest of the room begins to beat a steady rhythm on their chests with their fists. With tears in his eyes Lan looks at Moiraine, their bond allowing her to feel his pain, and begins to beat at his own chest, screaming out with pain that fills the chamber.