Blockbuster fantasy is a hard market to break into on streaming these days, but having already been renewed for a third season, The Wheel of Time has made it look easy.
The first three episodes of season 2 are now streaming on Prime Video, picking up where the show last left off to continue the intertwined journeys of its sprawling cast. Executive producer Marigo Kehoe has been part of the team since the beginning, but the addition of Holger Reibiger to the producorial lineup marks his first flirtation with The Wheel of Time.
Prior to the sprawling fantasy’s return, We Got This Covered had the chance to speak to Kehoe and Reibiger about the series, how season 2 expands the scale but remains focused on the actors first and foremost, what makes it stand out among a crowded field of episodic fantastical epics and much more, which you can check out below.
It’s been over two years since shooting on season 2 first started, but what’s the overriding feeling now knowing that audiences everywhere will finally get to see The Wheel of Time back on their screens this week?
Marigo Kehoe: Excited! We’re very proud of it. So you know, we’re very much looking forward to people seeing it.
Holger Reibiger: It’s always exciting to present it to an audience. Of course, we’ve seen it now. But to see the reactions of the audience, that’s so exciting for us, so I can’t wait.
Marigo Kehoe: Yeah, me too.
Holger Reibiger: And everyone sees it, because we are proud of it.
Holger, you’re a new addition to the producing team for season 2, what was that like for you coming in as a fresh face to something of this sort of size, scope, and scale, that’s already laid so much of its groundwork?
Holger Reibiger: Yeah, of course, it was a positive challenge. I like challenges. And when I was approached, and I had my interviews, of course, with Rafe Judkins – the showrunner in America – as well, I was immediately hooked by the story, and by the people. So, and then when you start prep, and you discuss the season, it’s exciting as it’s fantasy, and you can create a world. That’s amazing, as you follow the book, but you need to interpret the books, and that’s just exciting, to work with the HODs. It’s so interesting.
Now that the world-building is largely out of the way following season 1, did you find it more freeing this time around to loosen the shackles a bit more knowing that the audience has the lay of the land and an understanding of who’s who, what’s what, and how it all connects in the grander scheme of things?
Marigo Kehoe: Yeah, I think, you know, we still very much follow the books. I mean, the writing team needs to talk about the creative decisions that they make, but we will work together on it. And we’ve brought in, there are things in the books that the fans will love when they see on screen, because there’ll be direct lifts from the book to screen. In other places, we’ve had to make character choices – there’s a whole lot of new fan favorites coming in this season – and the scale is, is big, I think you’ve seen the first four episodes. So, it’s been very exciting to do the whole process, actually, from season 1 to season 2, and see the evolvement.
Holger Reibiger: The characters, they have their own journeys now in season 2. So you have to establish a lot of new places. So new cities, and a new world, even with costumes. And I think that that was the most fun part even to do so. And to present it to the audience, I think they will enjoy it. The colors and the mixture of cultures.
Like you were saying, I’ve seen the first four episodes, which is both exciting and crushingly disappointing at the same time, because not to go into spoilers, but after that ending it’s not ideal having to wait weeks for episode 5 to see where things pick up.
Marigo Kehoe: I’m sorry, that’s not us! That’s an Amazon’s release schedule!
It’s a credit to everyone involved, because it hooks you right in, and it’ll keep you engaged.
Marigo Kehoe: I think that’s part of it. That’s the thing, is that if you think back to the old days when you used to have to wait for your favorite show every week. It’s appointment viewing, isn’t it? So everybody has time to talk about the episode before the next one comes in, and you get three on the first!
A lot of returning shows feel they’re obligated to go bigger, and while that’s true with The Wheel of Time season 2 to a certain extent, the focus remains on the characters first and foremost. Was that a tricky tonal balance to strike, or does walking that tightrope become easier once you’ve got that first season under your belt and you know who the characters are and which directions you want to send them?
Holger Reibiger: I mean, that that’s good that you know, where the characters are. And, as I said, they’re now starting to split off, and they go on their own journeys. And so that gave us the opportunity, so that we can dive a little bit more into their characters, and see the development of each character.
Marigo Kehoe: It becomes bigger in the sense that we’re following each of the characters in a different world. So in that sense, we just have to adapt and work out the best way we can do it, to give an audience the excitement, the character development and the world, with our amazing team behind us, because we don’t do it on our own. And the writers and us, we’re totally grateful to other people you’re meeting today.
The series was renewed for season 3 a while ago, but does that place more or less pressure on yourselves as producers knowing that you have that cushion? On one hand you’re guaranteed more episodes so there’s plenty of story still to be told, but on the other you’ve got to keep your audience engaged and invested, while hopefully drawing in even more that have caught up with season 1.
Holger Reibiger: I mean, if you do a new season, so season 2, you want to create the best season in general. So you work with a passionate team, we are quite passionate about what we do. So you think actually at the moment and say, “Well, we have this challenge, we have to find a solution for it and create a world.” So another season is not in the back of our mind. Of course, it’s nice to get another season. But for us, most important was giving our best and showing the audience that the best rather than saying.
Marigo Kehoe: I’d like to say we’re just adapting the story to be as exciting as it possibly can be. I don’t think we’re trying to outdo any season of Wheel of Time, if you see what I mean. It’s just the story drives it and then we try and work out. How are we going to do it, how we best going to do it.
Holger Reibiger: When we we went to new places like Italy, Morocco, and three different places even within Morocco, and one place nobody showed there before with the most beautiful location and landscape. So that’s what drives us. And that is basically story driven, as well, because the world is asking for something, a location, and we found this location in Morocco. So yeah, we made everything work to shoot there.
Fantasy is a hard market to break into on television given the sheer volume of content available across so many platforms, but in your knowledgeable and experienced opinions, what is it about The Wheel of Time that makes it stand out from the pack that differentiates it from the competition in such a heated and tightly-contested genre?
Holger Reibiger: It’s story driven, emotional, enjoyable, fun, on a large scale as a fantasy series, with a lot of action, where the characters switch between the light and the dark, where the characters they… I think you you connect to the characters.
Marigo Kehoe: I think everybody everybody basically has a character that they fall in love with, in the books and on screen. So you might think you’re Mat or you might think you’re Perrin or you might feel as a woman that you’re Egwene and you know, which Aes Sedai would you beof the the red, green, blue, yellow, brown, white, grey, and we’ve all played that game. It’s that, that makes it stand out for me. You know, it’s where was that representing all these
The Wheel of Time season 2 premieres its first three episodes today on Prime Video, with the rest rolling out weekly.