Wheel of Time’s new episode focuses on the Seanchan for good reason

After several notable appearances throughout the first four episodes of The Wheel of Time season 2, the Seanchan invaders from the Prime Video series finally take center stage in episode 5, titled “Damane.” This episode allows them to showcase their culture, politics, and even their fashion choices. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Seanchan pose a significant threat, and their motivations are more personal than simply desiring world domination, setting them apart from typical fantasy armies.

While High Lord Turak, played by Daniel Francis, does make raspy proclamations about conquering the world, the Seanchan’s intentions go beyond a desire for power. Producer Holger Reibiger describes them as “evil” and “a new darkness,” drawing a parallel between the Seanchan and the merciless Mordor minions from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. However, their story is more complex, delving into why they believe ruling the Wheel of Time universe is necessary for their manifest destiny, making them just as terrifying as the Dark One’s Trolloc hordes.

The parallels between the Seanchan and real historical empires are reinforced by director Sanaa Hamri. She highlights the significance of women wielding power in the Wheel of Time world and how the Seanchan invade like colonial powers to take that power away. This theme resonates with human history and adds depth to the show.

Showrunner Rafe Judkins and costume designer Sharon Gilham also emphasize the Seanchan’s role as colonizers. Gilham introduces visual cues, such as gold mouth stoppers for the damane, inspired by historical references to slavery and silence. The Seanchan’s exceptionalism is evident through their treatment of women who possess the One Power, forcibly gagging and collaring them, indicating their belief in superiority.

The Seanchan invasion in The Wheel of Time season 2 highlights their reliance on divine guidance and omens. Their society is structured under the Blood, distinguished by their shaved heads and long fingernails. This hierarchy implies that those with a closer bloodline to Luthair Paendrag Mondwin, the empire’s founder, hold more influence. However, they occasionally elevate commoners. The Seanchan’s way of life hinges on the notion that proximity to the original founders grants entitlement and power.

These discussions surrounding Seanchan colonialism and exceptionalism set the stage for the remaining three episodes of The Wheel of Time season 2. It is clear that the season is building towards a confrontation between the Seanchan forces and the series protagonist, Rand al’Thor, and his allies, mirroring events from the second book, The Great Hunt, written by Robert Jordan. Regardless of the outcome, history suggests that the Seanchan, like other colonizers, will not abandon their desire for world domination in future seasons. This drive is deeply ingrained in their belief system.