The Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins recently admitted that attempting to include Game of Thrones style scenes into the show “always felt wrong.”
Judkins comments came in a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter promoting the show.
During the interview, The Hollywood Reporter’s Pete Keeley asked, “Between this and The Lord of the Rings, Amazon in particular has put a lot of money toward big fantasy series. And there was a report a few years ago about Jeff Bezos — like everyone, I suppose — wanting his own Game of Thrones. But having read all the Game of Thrones books, there’s not really a lot in common with Wheel of Time. Did you feel any pressure to deliver a more, I guess, adult version of Eye?”
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Judkins responded, “I think the whole series of Wheel of Time books is much more aimed at adult audiences than the first Wheel of Time book is. Eye of the World shares way more with Lord of the Rings than it does with Game of Thrones. It’s really very much that high fantasy, adventure storytelling.”
He continued, “So for me, I wanted to infuse the first season of the show with a lot of the things that people love about the Wheel of Time series as a whole. But none of those choices were made to chase Game of Thrones. I think any time people tried to put that in the show — or I tried to put that in the show — it just always felt wrong.”
He concluded, “These are much more hopeful and much more wholesome books than Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones was written as a counterpoint to the high fantasy that had preceded it, with the idea of like, what if this world was much more nihilistic, much darker, much more violent, much more sexual?”
However, while Judkins admits including Game of Thrones styles scenes felt wrong, he still put them into the show. And they did feel wrong. The first episode features one of the most awkward sexual encounters between Egwene and Rand.
The second episode also shows a Whitecloak burning an Aes Sedai at the stake. And given the Whitecloak in question, Eamon Valda, has a collection of Aes Sedai rings, it’s not the first Aes Sedia he’s killed.
Not only that, but Judkins also created a brand new character for the series in Laila Aybara, the wife of Perrin Aybara. She is killed off by Perrin in the first episode while the two were battling Trollocs in their blacksmith shop.
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Judkins would specifically address the killing of Laila when Keely asked, “Well instead of spoiler-ily asking about the characters that are missing, there is a significant character add in the first episode, which was Perrin’s wife, Laila, who was one part of the pilot’s attempts to give some of the Emond’s Fielders more backstory. In the book, Rand is the only one who is a fairly fleshed-out before they leave town.”
Judkins responds, “So I talked to people, when we first started the adaptation, about like, “What are things you didn’t like about the books?” One thing that pretty consistently came up was people felt like they didn’t really know Mat or Perrin, especially, until later in the books.”
“You can’t really afford, in a television show, for one or two of your seven leads to not be characters that really pop until season four, right? (Laughs.) So one of our big tasks was to make sure that each of these five kids from the Two Rivers, you could understand the kernel of the story that they’ll face in season one — and through the whole series — in that first episode,” he stated.
Judkins would then be asked by Keely, “After watching the pilot I looked through the Wheel of Time wiki and Perrin does eventually get married, but not to a Laila. Is that character a total invention for the show?”
He answered, “Well, there’s a scene in the books where Perrin says, like, “If I had stayed in the Two Rivers for a few more years instead of leaving, I think I would have married Laila Dearn.” And so that’s what we took as inspiration.”
He added, “For this character that’s extremely internal — you really never get to hear his internal monologue that out loud in the book — we give him a moment at the beginning of the series where you understand why he, across the course of the series, has such a struggle with violence.”
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For someone claiming that Game of Thrones style scenes always felt wrong when they were introduced, he sure piled them into the first two episodes.
It’s almost like his claim of not chasing Game of Thrones is a load of crap and that’s exactly what he did to the detriment of the real The Wheel of Time story.
What do you make of Judkins’ comments?