The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend, but JordanCon continues and the cast and crew of Amazon’s The Wheel Of Time remains admirably committed to always showing up for the annual Atlanta-based convention celebrating the late author Robert Jordan and his monumental fourteen-book fantasy series. It’s a small event, hardly worth Amazon’s time in the grand scheme of things, but if nothing else, showrunner Rafe Judkins always has a video message for the fans containing a few tidbits of new information about the series, currently filming its third season in Prague. This year, while he was not at liberty to share the season two release date we’ve been craving for quite some time now, he did introduce four actors joining season two who will be playing important new characters.
All four were previously rumored to be among the series’ cast, so the names of Jay Duffy, Rima Te Wiata, Ragga Ragnars and Maja Simonsen may already be familiar to those who have been following production closely. Nor did it come as a surprise that Te Wiata would be playing Sheriam Bayanar of the Blue Ajah, something that was first reported several weeks ago by WoTSeries, a highly reputable investigative fan-site. But I was stunned and delighted to discover that Duffy will be playing Dain Bornhald and not Gawyn Trakand as everyone seemed to think, and that Ragnars and Simonsen will be portraying the dynamic duo of Bain & Chiad, two fairly minor but endearing characters I feared would be missing entirely from this adaptation.
A little about each of the characters, starting with Dain Bornhald because his is the casting I’m most excited about. Dain is a character we meet in the books earlier than in the show, in the town of Baerlon to be precise, although it’s not at all obvious from his introductory scene what a prominent role he’ll have in the story going forward, especially as a foil to Perrin, so I can easily understand why they saved him for season two. This way, he can have a proper introduction and audiences will hopefully get to know him first and foremost as a sympathetic character; a young man brought up from childhood in a cult and indoctrinated by everyone around him, including his father Geofram, to believe that the Aes Sedai and all those who can use the One Power are Darkfriends. Dain is a distinctly queer-coded character from my point of view (so is Perrin, making their antagonistic relationship even more compelling), and I have a feeling that might not just be subtext in the show.
Sheriam Bayanar, an Aes Sedai and member of the Blue Ajah, is the White Tower’s Mistress of Novices when the story opens, instructing Nynaeve al’Meara, Egwene al’Vere, and Elayne Trakand upon their arrival at the Tower. She is particularly skilled at helping channelers overcome their self-imposed Blocks, and for this reason I suspect that most of her scenes in season two will be shared with Nynaeve, whose peculiar Block is an integral part of her character arc. In future seasons, however, Sheriam will get an unexpected promotion and take on a much larger and more pivotal role…and that’s all I’ll say on that subject.
As for Bain & Chiad, these inseparable Maidens of the Spear refer to themselves as “first-sisters”, which in their case means they have been Bonded by their Wise Ones in a ritual that – at least in the books – allows them to simulate the experience of being reborn from a single womb as close as two women can be. I do not believe for a moment that Robert Jordan was at all oblivious to the homoeroticism in his own writing, because the man was basically advertising his fetishes to the world every time a female character in his books found herself naked in Tel’aran’rhiod being chased around and spanked or flogged by other naked women, but I’ve said in the past and I’ll say it again that I don’t think he as a straight man ever seriously considered queer women as anything other than erotic. It’s very telling that most of the implied bisexual women in The Wheel Of Time, including Bain & Chiad by the way, are in polyamorous relationships centered around a single man, while the implied lesbians are mostly sexual predators. Queer men simply didn’t exist in the world of The Wheel Of Time until Brandon Sanderson generously added two to the books he completed after Jordan’s passing.
I could go on about this particular subject for hours, but this really isn’t the time or place to be doing so, and I think I’ve rambled long enough anyway. In short, I’m very excited to see these four characters officially join The Wheel Of Time‘s ensemble cast when season two premieres (hopefully later this year), optimistic that we’ll learn who’s playing Lanfear, Elaida, Verin, Suroth, Egeanin, Gaul, Morgase, Galad, and Gawyn long before then, and curious to know whose introduction you’re most eagerly anticipating. Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!