The new episode of The Wheel of Time answered one of the show's biggest questions and put one character on a path that they won't be able to turn back from. After weeks of teases and misdirection, the newest episode of Amazon's The Wheel of Time confirmed that Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) was the Dragon Reborn. Not only is Rand destined to either save or destroy the world, he's also fated to slowly go mad due to the corruptive magic of being a male Channeler. To discuss this week's revelations, ComicBook.com spoke with Stradowski about when Rand knew he was the Dragon and what Rand will do next:
ComicBook.com: Happy Dragon Reborn day! The latest episode revealed that Rand was the Dragon Reborn, something that the show's been building to for a while. When do you think that Rand knew he was the Dragon Reborn?
Josha Stradowski: That's a very good question. It's not an easy thing to face. It's not an easy truth to face. So, it did take him some time but I think for Rand, the key moment was when he channeled for the first time trying to protect Egwene. And then adding onto that Moiraine saying that whoever goes to the Eye of the World who's not the Dragon Reborn will die. That really forced him to finally face the truth. And, of course the fever dream of Tam, meaning that his dad might not be his real dad. That's also something that he was carrying with him throughout that whole journey.
In the books, it's clear early on that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, but the show did a really good job of leaving that much more ambiguous. As somebody who's read the books, I'll admit, I was skeptical of how that was going to play out, but it seemed like it kept everyone guessing. Were you surprised that it worked so well?
Stradowski: Yeah, that's right. In the show, they really did their best to maintain the mystery of who the Dragon Reborn is. And you can really feel that it could be any one of those five.
One of the big scenes in the latest episode was when the Emond Fielders get into this really nasty fight with each other, and all their insecurities are laid out on the line. And I was curious, how did you prepare for that scene? It all felt so raw and emotional...
Stradowski: And it's also what they just have been through. They've been through The Ways and experienced the Manchin Shin voices and they've heard the things they're so afraid of. Especially Rand, hearing that he's the Dragon Reborn and channeling for the first time. I think that's what's underlying that scene. It's more about the truth that he has to face, that's of course the most difficult thing.
Do you think there was an element that Rand is trying to push his friends away, given that he's confronting this understanding that he's the Dragon Reborn to himself?
Stradowski: Yeah, I think so. That's what I had in mind when I did that scene. I think those are the layers, and also that scene with Egwene, when he says, "We can go together to the White Tower, I can be your Warder." He knows that is not going to happen, but that is the conversation he wished he could have. But it's a goodbye, really.
I was just going to bring that scene up next because the relationship with Rand and Egwene is so much different than it was in the books. And it's a lot more poignant and tragic in a way. Do you think that Egwene will ever forgive Rand for that moment? Because he makes these big promises and tells her that everything is going to be okay, and then it was all a lie.
Stradowski: That's what the relationship is all about. They know each other so well, and they love each other in such a mature way that I think Egwene will understand. And that's the whole relationship between them. From the very start in the Two Rivers, Rand realizes that she wants something else. And he loves her for who she is, but also for who she can become. And that it means that she can't be with him. And that's a very mature thing.
In that scene, Rand can't tell her that. He has to hide the truth from her because he knows she probably wants to go with him and he can't have that because then she would die. And Egwene will understand that, of course. She knows that he's the sort of person that will sacrifice himself for what he thinks is right for what he needs to do. And that is what the whole becoming the Dragon Reborn is about. It's all about sacrificing his loved ones, sacrificing who he is, what he believes, really sacrificing everything that he is in order to become the Dragon and to try to save or destroy the world.
One other thing that comes full circle in this episode is the relationship between Rand and Moiraine. Of the Emond Fielders who initially set out with Moiraine (i.e, removing Nynaeve from the equation), I think Rand trusted Moiraine the least. And yet, it's Rand who comes to Moiraine at the end of the episode. How did you approach that relationship, because it marks another big step forward for Rand.
Stradowski: Yeah, yeah. You're right. The relationship between Moiraine and Rand is all about trust. From episode one, Rand was the first one who was questioning Moiraine and was standing up to her. And I think that's also, that leader behavior, that early on Dragon-y behavior that you can see throughout those first episodes, that he is not someone that follows blindly. And that's why it's difficult for these two to trust each other. And that is something that needs to be built and earned. But when Rand realized that he's the Dragon Reborn, he also knows that he needs her. So he decides to trust her, because that's what he needs to do.
New episodes of The Wheel of Time air on Amazon Prime each Friday. The season finale airs on December 24th.