Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of The Wheel of Time and minor book spoilers for Robert Jordan's book series.
The Big Picture
- In The Wheel of Time Season 2, Nynaeve's inability to channel normally stems from the fact that she is suppressing her powers to protect herself.
- Overcoming Nynaeve's block becomes crucial due to her immense potential and the dangerous situations she finds herself in.
- Nynaeve's training hits roadblocks, including cruel methods used by Liandrin, but she must quickly progress to protect herself and her friends from growing threats.
The Wheel of Time creates a unique fantasy world based on Robert Jordan's series. With its fascinating characters and unique magic system, the show automatically distinguished itself. As Rand (Josha Stradowski) and his friends continue to shape the world, they make more enemies, and their challenges only grow. With Season 2's recent end, The Wheel of Time is set to continue moving through Jordan's books at a more rapid pace. However, not everything is a mystery, as the show already established several challenges for Season 3, including the issue Nynaeve al'Meara (Zoë Robins) has with her ability to channel. The One Power is the source of the magic all Aes Sedai wield, but it requires practice to learn, and not all are equally capable. Nynaeve is one of the strongest channelers in the series but faces the rare challenge of not having full control of her powers. From being unable to learn in the White Tower like Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and the other Novices to her inability to help Elayne (Ceara Coveney) in the battle of Falme, this complication was an issue for the character and those around her. While it's not unheard of, Nynaeve has the added pressure of her raw abilities, leading the Aes Sedai to push her harder than most. Nynaeve has the same problem in the books and finds an imperfect solution as she learns, until ultimately overcoming the issue. But that takes a considerable amount of time that the series may not give her. As an intelligent young woman, Nynaeve is not useless without her powers, but with the dangers out to get her and her friends, she must learn some control over them if she has any hope of helping to save the world.
Why Can't Nynaeve Channel Normally in 'The Wheel of Time'?
The series shows several characters learning to use the One Power, specifically Egwene and Elayne, who start around the same time as Nynaeve at the White Tower. But Nynaeve's progress is different. For one thing, she is incredibly powerful. As seen in Season 1, Nynaeve's abilities are far stronger than most fully trained Aes Sedai when she uses them. When Logain (Álvaro Morte) attempts to break free of the Aes Sedai, he kills many of those present, but an outburst of the One Power from Nynaeve revives those around her and ensures Logain's imprisonment. The Aes Sedai are impressed with her abilities because they are so great. Because of this, they allow her to progress quickly, and Nynaeve becomes an Accepted in Season 2, Episode 3, "What Might Be." But her rise isn't easy.
Nynaeve doesn't have the control over her channeling that most do. As Egwene works diligently to follow the instructions and learn the correct weaves as a Novice, Nynaeve defies her teachers, unable to channel at a whim like the other girls. This is because of the block she created during her youth as a "wilder," meaning she grew up outside of the White Tower. Wilders are not rare, but most die before adulthood because of an accident related to their abilities. Blocks are a subconscious survival method for them. Like many wilders, Nynaeve, with no understanding of her powers, unknowingly suppressed her powers to protect herself. But now that she understands what they are, she cannot control them. This self-preservation method is common among wilders and can be broken, but as each block is specific to the girl, each solution also must be tailored to her. Yet Nynaeve's sheer potential and the dangers she's gotten involved in make overcoming her block more important than most.
'The Wheel of Time' Shows the Dangers of Nynaeve's Situation
Nynaeve makes it to the White Tower to study under the Aes Sedai, and Season 2 shows her training, yet it is far from smooth. Nynaeve's stubborn refusal to admit her failings impedes progress almost as much as her block. The Aes Sedai attempt to help her overcome, even allowing Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood) to take a turn, despite her being banned from working with Novices. Liandrin's methods are cruel as she demonstrates the One Power, trapping Nynaeve until she can retaliate. But they are the most effective, as they make Nynaeve angry, showing Nynaeve's block connects to her emotions. This is a breakthrough, in a way, as it shows Nynaeve how to channel by making herself angry, but it isn't a long-term solution.
Nynaeve could have built on this development, but her training abruptly ends when Liandrin kidnaps her, Egwene, and Elayne and delivers them to the Seanchan. Though Nynaeve and Elayne escape, Egwene is taken prisoner, and her friends set out to save her. Even in their desperate situation, Nynaeve struggles to use her powers. As Nynaeve and Elayne make their way through Falme during an all-out battle, Nynaeve cannot channel. Elayne gets injured, and Nynaeve cannot heal her with the One Power, though she has practical knowledge from being the Two Rivers' Wisdom. Elayne urges Nynaeve to go on and save Egwene alone, but Nynaeve fears she won't be able to access her unreliable abilities. Though Nynaeve can channel, she cannot always use it, even when she desperately needs it. This puts her in danger when she cannot protect herself, especially as the threats grow.
Nynaeve's Challenge Is Not New to 'The Wheel of Time' TV Show
Nynaeve faced a similar problem in Jordan's novels, learning that she can channel when angry and trying to work herself up to the emotion when she needs to. But this is an ineffective solution because it can be inconsistent, like in Falme when her fear was so overpowering that she couldn't make herself angry enough to channel. The critical issue is that Nynaeve does not overcome this problem quickly. Trying many methods and failing, Nynaeve must learn to cope with her unpredictable and barely trainable power. As The Wheel of Time rushes through the novels, Nynaeve's abilities may not stay elusive for as long. In the book, Nynaeve overcomes the block only through a near-death experience, which could happen earlier, especially with the end of Season 2 showing Moghedien (Laia Costa) and the other Forsaken free and after her and her friends. While Nynaeve struggles, the dangers are not going away, and she will need to progress fast if she has any hope of surviving and protecting her friends.