Wheel of Timing Analysis: an S1 Breakdown
Or how screentime and speaking time were split between the 55 named characters of the first season of the Wheel of Time.
This article contains spoilers for the first season of the Wheel of Time TV Show.
A few months ago, I shared an article about the gender balance of the first season of The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime, where I showed there was not a clear imbalance between men and women regarding screentime, speaking time, or death count. I intended to write a follow-up analysis giving more timing details for all those 55 named characters, but, you know. Life can sometimes be busy.
But that moment has finally arrived! Here are too many charts that I will try to give some context and explanations for.
I will be looking at two types of screentime-related numbers. The Total Screentime includes whenever a character is present in a scene (whether physically or through voiceover), no matter its state of consciousness (so conscious, asleep, unconscious, or even dead). Meanwhile, the In-Scene Screentime corresponds to whenever a character is physically present in a scene and conscious. For most characters, those two numbers are very close. Moiraine is the biggest exception since she has spent such a long time being unconscious.
I will also be looking at two types of speaking time-related numbers. The Speaking Time is, well, the time when characters are speaking. Probably the most frustrating time to take among them all: do you count the silence between two sentences of a single character? How do you handle the accumulation of seconds of imprecisions over the length of a discussion? As a result, I also decided to include the number of words spoken per character (the Word Count metric).
Over those four numbers, the Word Count is the most reliable but is still not free of simple mistakes like misattributing a sentence to a character who did not pronounce it. The Speaking Time is the less reliable, but the multiple checks I’ve done during and after its computation should at least make the comparison of Speaking Time between characters reasonable. In terms of reliability, Total and In-Scene Screentime should be somewhere between Word Count and Speaking Time.
After removing the recaps, title sequences, and ending credits, the first season of The Wheel of Time ran for about 7h13m13s or an average of 54m09s per episode. We encountered 55 named characters, which shared 23h06m40s of total screentime, 22h05m54s of in-scene screentime, 2h35m21s of speaking time, and 26 073 words.
With 2h52m29s of total screentime (12.4% of the S1 total screentime), Moiraine came up first, closely followed by Rand with 2h41m39s (11.7%). The rest of our main cast followed, with Egwene (2h21m23s, 10.2%), Lan (2h01m57s, 8.8%), Perrin (1h55m50s, 8.4%), Nynaeve (1h45m25s, 7.6%) and Mat (1h32m40s, 6.7%).
There was a significant drop between the last person of our main cast, Mat, and the first of our secondary characters, Liandrin, who had 35m03s of total screentime (2.5% of the S1 total screentime). Meanwhile, Basel Gill was the named character with the lowest total screentime, with about 15s only.
A few things change when considering only the in-scene screentime.
First and foremost, Moiraine now falls behind Rand, as she spent 17m13s either on voiceover, asleep, unconscious (13m13s!), or dead in Rand’s dream. This represents about 10% of her total screentime, so let’s wish her a very stab-free season 2.
Most of the main cast also loses a few minutes, although not as much as Moiraine. Several secondary characters also lose a few spots once removing their unconscious or dead time. This is the case for Stepin, Dana, Tam al’Thor, Lady Amalisa, Kerene Nagashi, Uno Nomesta, Lord Yakota, Laila Dearn, and all the members of the Grinwell family.
The speaking time is overwhelmingly dominated by Moiraine, who spoke for about 27m48s, 17.9% of the total speaking time for the first season. Well behind can be found Rand, with 15m07s and 9.7% of the total speaking time, followed further down by Egwene (10m and 6.4%). Most of the main cast then comes closely: Nynaeve with 9m39s and 6.2%, Mat with 9m35s and 6.2%, and Lan with 8m30s and 5.5%. Perrin trails further behind, with 5m47s and 3.7%.
The drop from the main cast to our secondary characters, that we observed for the screentime charts, is no longer present when looking at speaking time. In fact, one of our secondary characters, Siuan Sanche, even got more speaking time than Perrin, with 6m33s and 4.2% of the total speaking time in this season.
There are not a lot of changes when looking at the word count. That’s on purpose, as I used this number a few times to detect big discrepancies in my speaking time computations. Overall, an increase in percentage from the speaking time distribution to the word count distribution may reflect either an underestimation of the speaking time or a character that tends to speak faster than other characters. Similarly, a decrease in percentage would reflect either an overestimation of speaking time or a slower speech pace.
For example, the Wheel of Time characters said on average around 2.80 words per second of speech in the first season of the show. But not every character follows the same speech pace. Siuan Sanche, when she talks as the Amyrlin Seat, tends to have a slower speech pace, putting her at 2.55 words per second. Thom Merrilin spent several long seconds singing in Ep3, putting him at 2.19 words per second in Ep3 and 2.38 words per second for the full season. Both Logain and Loial spoke a bit more slowly than other characters, with averages of 2.41 words per second for Logain and 2.49 words per second for Loial. Meanwhile, Dana had a lot to say in a short time, speaking about 3.22 words per second.
Again, I have to reiterate: the complexity of computing speaking time makes those numbers not super reliable compared to a word count. As I’m writing this article, I am looking back at Moiraine Damodred and her 2.98 words per second on average, now wondering whether I have undercounted her speaking time in some places. I refuse to investigate more, as I have already spent way too many hours on my