Following the season finale of The Wheel of Time, showrunner Rafe Judkins explained why Egwene and Nynaeve defeat the Trolloc army at Tarwin’s Gap outside of Fal Dara instead of Rand al’Thor.
Readers of Robert Jordan’s first book in The Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World know that it is Rand al’Thor that defeats this Trolloc army.
Jordan clearly writes in the book, “[Rand] stared at them. Heat filled him, the burning heart of the touched sun. He could see the Draghkar clearly, soulless eyes in pale men’s faces on winged bodies that had nothing of humanity them. Terrible heat. Crackling heat.”
“From the clear sky lightning came, each bolt crisp and sharp, searing his eyes, each bolt striking a winged black shape. Hunting cries became shrieks of death, and charred forms fell to leave the sky clean again,” Jordan continued.
Jordan would later write, “The wind rose with his voice, howled with his voice, roared with his voice down the pass, whipping the flames to a wall of fire that sped away from him and toward the Trolloc host faster than a horse could run.
“Fire burned into the Trollocs, and the mountains trembled with their screams, screams almost as loud as the wind and his voice,” it continued.
“‘It has to end!’ He beat at the ground with his fist, and the earth tolled like a gong. He bruised his hands on stony soil, and the earth trembled. Ripples ran through the ground ahead of him in ever-rising waves, waves of dirt and rock towering over Trollocs and Fades, breaking over them as the mountains shattered under their hooved feet,” reads The Eye of the World.
It continues, “A boiling mass of flesh and rubble churned across the Trolloc army. What was left standing was still a mighty host, but now no more than twice the human army in numbers, and milling in fright and confusion.”
In fact just a few pages later Rand tells Ba’alzamon, “The Wheel weaves the Pattern, not you. Every trap you’ve laid for me, I have escaped. I’ve escaped your Fades and Trollocs, escaped your Darkfriends. I tracked you here, and destroyed your army on the way. You do not weave the Pattern.”
As for Nynaenve and Egwene’s role in the books, they were told to run when they were set upon by the Forsaken Aginor, and while Egwene took some extra persuading from Rand, run they did to escape the clutches of the Forsaken. The two are not seen until after Rand’s battle against Ba’alzamon.
These scenes from the books were changed to have Egwene and Nynaeve fight the Trolloc army at Fal Dora. Judkins explained to Collider, “The whole guiding purpose of a lot of what we’ve done with the adaptation has been to make that first book feel more like an ensemble piece than just Rand’s story. And so we try to do the same with the end as well.”
“In the books, everyone else basically gets knocked out and Rand fights the Dark One. He teleports to Tarwin’s Gap and levels the whole Trolloc army. He gets the Horn of Valere. He does it all, essentially,” he stated.
The showrunner elaborated, “And we wanted to take that and split it amongst our core characters, sort of have each of them fulfill a piece of what Rand did at the end of book one, in as believable a way as possible, and also to set up their stories moving forward.”
Judkins continued, “So Perrin is now connected to the Horn of Valere and we can see where that story’s going. With Nynaeve and Egwene, much of their story in the books is about the power that they have inside of them. In a book, you can hear people talk about the power you have inside, and it can make sense. But for the show, we needed to see it, to see where they’re headed so the audience can really feel, fundamentally, the amount of power that not just Nynaeve but also Egwene has inside of her as they continue their journeys off in the future.”
“And then it felt like Rand’s confrontation with Ba’alzamon was the most important piece for Rand. So we tried to find a way to split out that finale amongst all the characters, instead of having it be all Rand,” he concluded.
Judkins would reiterate that reasoning when he told Decider, “One big thing I wanted to do with the finale was…in the books it really was just all about Rand. He fights Ba’alzamon at the Eye of the World. He then teleports to Tarwin’s Gap and levels an entire Trolloc army. You know, he does a lot of things all on his own. He gets the Horn of Valere.”
“He basically does everything himself and what we really wanted to try to find a way to — as we’ve been doing with most of the big adaptation choices in Season 1 — making it feel like an ensemble piece, the way that the whole series does,” he explained.
Judkins concluded, “And so, we really wanted to take all of the things that Rand does in the finale of Book 1 and split them out amongst the rest of the characters. So we gave Egwene and Nynaeve the battle at Tarwin’s Gap instead and it sets up their characters really nicely for where they go in Book 2, to really see the power that is possible inside of them so they know where they’re headed in the rest of the series.”
What do you make of Judkins’ explanation about separating and divvying up Rand’s feats for the television adaptation?