The wheel of time Episode 7 “The Dark Along the Ways” finally revealed who, among the Emond Field Five, is Amazon’s version of the Dragon Reborn. Turns out, despite all the changes the Prime Video show has made from Robert Jordan’s books, Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) is still the Dragon Reborn. The sheepherder with the head of wool and the heart of gold is still the reincarnation of the Dragon, destined to defeat or join the Dark One in the Last Battle. And the good news is that Rand realizes this just in time to travel with Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) to the Eye of the World.
Prime Video’s The wheel of time is a loving adaptation of Robert Jordan’s 14+ book series of the same name. Set in a world on the precipice of another Breaking, the show follows Aes Sedai Moraine Damodred’s quest to find the Dragon Reborn before the Dark One does. All season long, Moiraine has believed the Dragon to be one of five young men from a quiet little town called Two Rivers, but which one? Could it be Egwene (Madeleine Madden), the ambitious innkeeper daughter with an uncanny talent for harnessing the One Power? Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), a silent blacksmith with the uncanny ability to communicate with wolves? Nynaeve (Zoë Robins), the stubborn young Wisdom city with a talent for healing and the ability to channel more of the One Power than any other woman in a thousand years? Or could it be Mat (Barney Harris)? The rapscallion of the group who found himself locked in a battle for his own soul with a cursed dagger?
Turns out it was Rand the whole time! The wheel of time Episode 7 reveals that Rand was born to an Aiel warrior named Tigraine Mantear (Magdalena Sittova) in the wake of a bloody battle that took her life. His father, a soldier turned farmer, Tam (Michael McElhatton) adopted him and raised him in Two Rivers. Rand has performed some miraculous moves, like breaking free from the clutches of a Darkfriend, but before now, the show has downplayed his ability with One Power (and made it look like anyone could be the Dragon Reborn).
Jugo Mobile caught up with Josha Stradowski on Zoom this week to speak with the Polish actor about finally being able to reveal the truth about Rand, what he loves so much about Johann Myers’ villain Padan Fain, and how much of the Time wheel books you’ve read so far * that you wanted to include in your scenes from season 1 …
* Stradowski revealed that, like the author, he is currently in Book 12, The storm that’s coming.
DECIDER: How does it feel to finally let people know that you are the Dragon Reborn?
JOSHA STRADOWSKI: It’s nice to have those kinds of secrets, you know? That’s the position I’m in, I know a lot about the show that people don’t know, and I’m also reading the books. So that’s the kind of interesting place I’m in, but I have to say it’s a relief that I can finally say that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. It even feels strange saying it out loud.
Well, the moment Rand realizes that he is the Dragon Reborn, he seems absolutely devastated with understanding. Can you explain to me how you think he’s approaching it and what is the big confirmation for him that lets him know that he is, in fact, the Dragon?
Well, throughout history, throughout this season, there are different moments. So of course there is Tam’s fever dream, when she talks about how she found Rand as a baby. And of course, in Episode 7, the beginning of 7, you see that phenomenal fight scene. And there were other moments like recognizing Dragonmount and being recognized as an Aiel man.
But I think the turning point for Rand really was when he first channeled the attempt to protect Egwene in the Ways. From that moment on it was truly undeniable. And with Moiraine telling them that whoever passes through the Eye of the World other than the dragon will die and that being Rand that means he will be forced to finally face the truth. And it is that he is the Dragon and Min can only confirm that.
I wanted to ask about Min. I love Rand and Min’s relationship in the books and it obviously turns into a formidable relationship. What was it like filming that scene with Kae Alexander and how much of what you know is coming did you want to put into the subtext of that scene?
I wanted to attack him as is. I am aware of the books, but I also know that the elements and fundamentals of the books are in the program, but some things may be different. I talk about it with Rafe, of course, but at that point the most important thing is that he’s trying to figure out who he is and what he needs to become.
I wanted to go back to when Rand goes to Moiraine and says, “I am the Dragon Reborn.” Obviously, Rand and Moiraine have a very troubled relationship. Where do you think he sees Moiraine entering the next episode? Do you trust her? Where does your relationship go in the end?
Like you said, the whole relationship has been built on trust and I think Rand, from the beginning, has been the one who questioned and confronted it. And throughout history that trust … that must be built and sometimes even earned, and it is not so easy to win between them. And that makes sense, because Rand, you know, is not someone to blindly follow. But now, facing the truth that he is the Dragon Reborn, he realizes that he needs her. You need your guidance. And so, at this moment he decides to trust her.
I spoke to some of your co-stars last week about what it was like to film on The Ways and they told me how intense it was for them to film The Ways. How was it for you working in the Ways? Can you tell readers how the experience of shooting on the road compares to shooting on the road? Was one more intense than the other for you?
They were both different. The Ways, we don’t do a lot of things just indoors, but this was one of the few things we did inside a studio like that. The Ways was a lot to walk around and Blight felt more dynamic. Because the Ruin was something that they actually built outside somewhere in the Czech Republic and you could walk around there and it was very big. And it was outside. It was cold and raining so it felt very alive. On the pathways, you go down the stairs and, you know, there’s a coffee machine. You don’t have that in the Ruin.
Another key moment in this episode is realizing that Perrin has always had a torch for Egwene and Rand seems really upset about it. Can you talk about what you think added to the dynamic between the three of you going into this final?
You know, the relationship between Rand and Egwene… In episode 1, Rand realized that she needs something more and he is very mature and accepts it. But, throughout the story, all these characters go through the beginning of the traumas they have to go through. So they need each other and sometimes Rand and Egwene need each other again. They need that love and that comfort, and there is a gray area between Perrin and Egwene. I think it’s friendship, but there is a lot at stake and there are many things that happen… it may not be about that. It’s more about Rand thinking… trying to face the truth for real.
I know that you have told other interviewers in the past that your favorite character is Padan Fain. I am very curious to know why this is so. I find it very difficult to like or admire.
I like villains, you know? For me, he is the Joker of this story. Plus when I read it in the books, their stuff is so… It’s really juicy and it’s wicked and I love the way Johann (Myers) played it.
If I have time for a funnier question. Imagine that you are in the world of The wheel of time and you can join an Aes Sedai Ajah. Which of the Ajahs would you probably like to join?
Blue. I should say blue, right? I have to stay in character, so I would say blue. Probably joins Moiraine.