Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins recently taunted fans of Robert Jordan’s novels following the conclusion of the show’s first season.
Following the Season 1 finale of The Wheel of Time, Judkins did an interview with CBR, where he was questioned on the fate of the Ogier, Loial.
CBR’s Mira Jacobs asked, “Okay, so first things first — is Loial really dead?”
Judkins responded, “No. I can’t wait to kill surprising people that are going to really pain book fans in their deepest heart of hearts, but Loial is not dead in the finale of Season 1.”
Judkins’ desire to kill characters that will surprise people and pain book fans comes after he previously claimed including Game of Thrones style scenes “always felt wrong.” Scenes which he is apparently relishing to include in the show, now.
If you recall, Judkins spoke to The Hollywood Reporter to promote The Wheel of Time back in November, where he said, “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.”
Judkins then went on to claim he wasn’t chasing Game of Thrones, “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, the actual show included numerous Game of Thrones style scenes from Perrin killing his wife, sex scenes with numerous characters, a Whitecloak burning an Aes Sedai at the stake, and Perrin being brutally tortured by the same Whitecloak.
It appears that Judkins will include more of these Game of Thrones style scenes in future episodes of The Wheel of Time given his desire to “kill surprising characters.”
Given Judkins plans on killing surprising characters, it’s clear he plans to continue to deviate from Jordan’s novels, a lesson he should have learned from Game of Thrones that you shouldn’t do.
The show became a roaring success because it actually followed George R.R. Martin’s novels to a tee. It wasn’t until the later seasons when the show had surpassed Martin’s novels that it quickly took a giant nosedive and ultimately concluded with one of the most despised final seasons of all of television.
Interestingly enough, Judkins would tell Entertainment Weekly why The Wheel of Time is so much more difficult to adapt to television than Game of Thrones, and it’s because he doesn’t believe following a single character makes for good television despite the plethora of examples to the contrary such as The Flash, Arrow, Walker, Texas Ranger, Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders, and many more.
First, he said, “A lot of the changes we’re making in our adaptation are to serve the series as a whole more than just the first book.”
“The Wheel of Time is interesting because it’s like the opposite of Game of Thrones. With Game of Thrones, the first book is a perfect television season, and then it becomes much more disparate the deeper you go into the books. Whereas Wheel of Time starts out in a way that’s hard to make a clean adaptation for TV, but then as you get into the later books, it really is built along a clear, clean TV structure of an ensemble story,” he claimed.
Judkins continued, “I don’t even think Rand has the most POV chapters in the books overall. It’s very much an ensemble, even though the first book is not. So we really tried to make the season have that feeling from the whole book series of being a real ensemble piece.”
“We made a lot of changes in the first season to make sure that you could see all the stories of the five main leads,” he concluded.
Rafe Judkins clearly was not cut out to adapt Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and it’s clear now that a lot of his talking points about being faithful to the series were just that, talking points with no actual substance behind him.
Based on Nielsen’s tracking of the show via Spoiler TV, The Wheel of Time appeared to consistently lose viewers week over week. The week the show first premiered with its first three episodes, Nielsen reported it was viewed over 1.163 billion minutes.
The next week it had dropped to 663 million minutes, a drop of 500 million minutes. In it’s third week it plummeted even more to 537 million minutes. Nielsen has yet to release data after the week ending in December 5th.
The huge opening week number could be accounted for the fact that they released three episodes in its premiere week as opposed to just one episode each in its second and third week. However, given the fact that the second and third week numbers are at 663 and 537 one might expect that opening week number to be even higher.
For example, if you multiply the third week number by a factor of 3, you would get 1.611 billion, almost 450 million more minutes. That leads me to believe a lot of people didn’t get past the first episode and were turned off by the premiere episodes massive deviations from Jordan’s books.
To give those numbers some more perspective, the second and third week are below Disney+’s Hawkeye show. Hawkeye’s first two episodes premiered in The Wheel of Time’s second week on November 24th with 853 million total minutes viewed according to Nielsen. It’s second week saw it drop to 560 million minutes. That makes me believe The Wheel of Time has about the same viewership as Hawkeye per episode.
Samba TV reported that the premiere of Hawkeye in its first 5 days was watched by 1.5 million US households, the lowest premiere viewership of any Disney+ series based on their data.
Needless to say the numbers for Rafe Judkins’ The Wheel of Time series are dropping and dropping fast.
While the show has already been renewed for a second season it will be interesting to see if it makes it to a third season given Judkins’ clear disrespect and outright spite for Jordan’s original novels.
What do you make of Judkins’ desire to kill characters in surprising ways in order to make it painful for book readers?