Particularly important to depicting the breaking of Egwene was establishing the rules of the collar and a’dam, the leash that connects a sul’dam to her damane. First, we are told that any harm to the handler is felt twofold by the one leashed. Second, the damane may not attempt to remove the collar, which prevents her from channeling except at the direction of her sul’dam. And finally, nothing that is perceived as a weapon may be handled by a damane.
But those are just the bare, horrifying facts of Seanchan slavery and its physical trappings. The brilliance of The Wheel of Time’s on-screen depiction lies in Mendes-Jones’ portrayal of Renna as a self-perceived compassionate owner acclimating their pet to its new home and in Madden’s powerful performance as Egwene refusing to submit and finally succumbing to defeat. These opposing worldviews clash spectacularly when Renna shows Egwene how powerful they are together by forcing the damane to use the One Power to destroy a tree that gave her hope of freedom.
And that’s not even taking into account the sacrifice of Ryma of the Yellow Ajah, who gave herself to the Seanchan after Nynaeve’s channeling was detected. The healer expected her warder Basan to kill her before she could be collared, but instead she was made to submit just as her sisters before her were, including the Sitter of the Blue Ajah who praises Egwene’s endurance through the wall between them in the final moments of the episode.
The whole sequence had all of the emotional impact that book readers hoped for but did not necessarily anticipate, and non-reader viewers of The Wheel of Time discovered a whole new level of enjoyment in a series that gets better with each new installment. In an episode filled with plenty of compelling subplots, the heart-wrenching tale of Egwene undeniably upstaged them all. No wonder Judkins considered these scenes his favorite part of season 2!