Screentime of a Sheepherder
Breaking down the screentime of Rand al’Thor during the first season of the Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime.
This article contains spoilers for the first season of the Wheel of Time TV Show, and slight spoilers for The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt.
Rand al’Thor is a simple sheepherder of the Two Rivers until he’s forced to flee his village after an attack of Trollocs in the middle of Winternight. Fast forward into a book or two of the Wheel of Time or to the end of the first season of the TV show, and “simple” is no more a proper adjective for Rand. Turns out he can channel and could be some prophesied Dragon Reborn, how unfortunate for him. As one of the main characters of the Wheel of Time, Rand takes about 17% of the total number of PoVs of the books, for about 21% of the word count. However, most of the events of the first book, The Eye of the World, are seen through his eyes: 74.6% of the total number of PoVs and 79.6% of the word count in it are from Rand.
For better consistency between seasons, the Wheel of Time on Prime decided to more equitably share its first-season screentime among the main 7 characters, also changing the premise of the show to leave a bit more suspense regarding the identity of the Dragon Reborn. For many book-readers, this resulted in the feeling of not spending enough time with Rand. But what does the data say? How much of Rand did we have on our screen, and which relationships were significant to his development?
Disclaimer: for those who followed my screentime breakdowns on Twitter and Tumblr in the past, most of the data used here has been shared before. This is on purpose, and for two reasons:
Now that I have this WoT Data column to share some stats about the Wheel of Time, I would like to transfer some of my previous analyses to The Great Blight. This allows us to have all of the screentime data under one tag, for easier access in the future.
Data collection and data analysis take a huge time. I’m honestly still recovering from last week’s Ajah analysis, and I’m kinda working on some last-minute participation in the WoT Song Parody Challenge (here are 10 reasons why you should try it out too). So, when I need a lighter week, I may use some data that I’ve shared before but not on The Great Blight.
This article isn’t a 100% copy-paste of my previous breakdown for Rand, though, so I’m hoping this will still interest some folks.
Rand had a total of 2h41m39s of screentime, in which he was asleep for 1m16s, unconscious for 1m39s, and had 4s of voice-over. This leaves him about 2h38m40s on “in-scene” screentime, i.e. time where he is physically present and conscious, the largest “in-scene” screentime of the first season. This represents about 36.63% of the total show length (7h13m13s).
Note: for the rest of this column, I will only be talking about in-scene screentime, as this is usually the most relevant in terms of character development.
Rand spent about 1h06m06s in “duo” scenes, i.e. scenes where Rand and another named character were the only two physically present and conscious named characters in a scene. This represents about 41.7% of his in-scene screentime for season 1. This is significantly more than any other characters of the show: Moiraine came second in duo time with 56m32s, while Lan followed in third place with 39m52s.
I was asked whether this distribution was affected by Covid. In my opinion, I don’t think it was. Rand did gain a lot of duo scenes in Ep8, due to being in the Blight with Moiraine and then talking with Ishamael in his dream, but this had a fairly clear plot-related explanation that could have been already there in the original script of the season finale. Meanwhile, his time spent with 6 or more named characters actually increased in Ep7, due to the Ways and several Fal Dara scenes.
His larger screentime was for Ep2 (34m24s), followed by Ep7 (31m55s), a common trope for most characters as those episodes had many “traveling in group” scenes. Rand had his lowest screentime for Ep4: his 8m04s represented 5.1% of his “in-scene” screentime for the whole season.
Overall, Rand spent a significant amount of his time in smaller group scenes, which are usually scenes more suitable for character development. This trend was observable for most of the season, except for Ep6, where Rand only got a small 1m duo scene with Moiraine. Ep8 gave him his largest duo time of the season: with 19m40s, this represented 90.1% of his screentime during this episode.
Rand also got about 7m22s of solo scenes during the season, which included his dream and some wandering off in Shadar Logoth in Ep2, some TDR reveal in Ep7, and part of this fake world/dream in Ep8.
Rand spent some amount of in-scene screentime with about 39 different characters this season. Many of them were only met for brief group moments: meeting the false Dragon in Ep5, seeing the Cauthon family at the end of Ep1 when leaving the Two Rivers, etc. The most time was spent with Egwene (1h17m26s), who did not see Rand from Ep3 to Ep5, followed by Mat (1h10m59s), who was absent from Ep7 and Ep8.
Rand got a significant amount of time with most of the main cast, but for some of them like Perrin and Lan, the majority of that time was spent in bigger group scenes, which didn’t lead to much relationship build-up between those characters and Rand. While we did have some interesting Rand/Perrin discussions in Ep1 and Ep7, Lan and Rand didn’t interact much. They have an interesting mentor-mentee relationship at the beginning of The Great Hunt, so I am hoping we’ll get to see some of that in the next season.
Rand got to interact closely with many different characters during this first season. He had more than a minute of duo time with 10 characters, and counts 9 groups of 3 to 5 people (“small groups”) with who he spent more than a minute. His largest duo time was with Mat, his traveling buddy, with who he shared 14m43s of duo time (the third largest of the season) and 23m of small group scenes, showing off how important their friendship is to Rand. Meanwhile, Egwene had 13m01s of duo time with Rand and 12m33s of small group scenes.
Fun fact, some of the duo time Egwene got with Rand wasn’t even “real”: 2m53s of it was in fact in Ep8′s fake world/dream. While this led to some nice “this woman without ambition is not the woman I love” moment from Rand, this was technically not time spent with Egwene, who was a bit too busy trying not to get crispy in Fal Dara.