Why Mat Being Wheel Of Time's Most Interesting Character Is A Problem

Warning! SPOILERS for The Wheel of Time episode 4

Mat Cauthon has quickly become the most interesting and engaging character in The Wheel of Time season 1, and this poses a somewhat unique problem for the series for when it heads into season 2. The Amazon Prime TV series, based on Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic novels Wheel of Time, has already started filming for season 2, with a third season also already confirmed. The showrunners and executives behind The Wheel of Time clearly have a lot of faith in the series, but they will still face challenges maintaining viewership both between fans of the books and newcomers to the franchise.

The TV show has already introduced many key characters including Wheel of Time's Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike), her Warder, Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), and the five central characters from the Two Rivers. Each of the Two Rivers folk are following their own paths with only mild deviations from Robert Jordan’s original books. Several of these narratives have been given a darker edge in the TV adaptation, and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) is included in that, as his parents have become less pleasant people. However, he has maintained his puckish and quick-witted attitude alongside the changes to his character.

Related: How Wheel Of Time Changing Mat's Parents Impacts His Story

The new darkness to Mat’s character in Amazon’s The Wheel of Time helps to make his character more interesting, as it provides a concrete need for him to worry about his younger sisters and shows him stepping up to help with taking care of them. While the Mat Cauthon of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time is always puckish, this element makes him a more empathetic character. In turn, the effect of the Shadar Logoth dagger, turning him away from that good-hearted nature, becomes all the more interesting. While viewers might find themselves particularly invested in the new version of the character, that investment could present a problem for The Wheel of Time adaptation. Mat has been recast as Dónal Finn for The Wheel of Time season 2, and the new face and portrayal might make it hard, especially for new viewers, to continue feeling interested in one of the franchise’s star characters.

It is unclear exactly why The Wheel of Time recast Mat. No official statement on the reason has been announced. Based on Barney Harris’ portrayal of Mat in the early episodes of The Wheel of Time season 1, it seems unlikely that he was removed for poor performance. It is possible that there were unknown dynamics on set, or that Barney Harris may not have wanted to be pinned to one property for such an extended run for the show. This is ultimately just speculation, as all that is really known is that Dónal Finn will take over the role in The Wheel of Time season 2.

However, depending on where the end of The Wheel of Time season 1 falls in relation to Mat’s narrative from Robert Jordan’s books, it’s possible that the recasting will ultimately work in the show’s favor. As the dagger from Wheel of Time's Shadar Logoth has a greater effect on Mat over time, he becomes a distinctly unlikeable character for a while. Once he is healed by the Aes Sedai at the beginning of book two, The Great Hunt, he quickly reverts back to his old antics and often becomes readers’ favorite character, if they can forgive him for his previous actions. Having Dónal Finn take over the role at this point in Mat Cauthon’s narrative will give viewers a fresh face, and it might make it easier for newcomers to The Wheel of Time to separate the actions of Mat Cauthon as a person from those caused by the influence of the Shadar Logoth dagger.

Next: Mat's Dagger Explains His Wheel Of Time Episode 4 Ending

The Wheel of Time releases new episodes Fridays on Amazon Prime.

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Faefyx Collington (246 Articles Published)

Faefyx Collington (They/Them) is a freelance features writer for Screen Rant. They're a British writer of both fiction and non-fiction, focussing on science fiction, fantasy, and mystery for the former and on culture, gender, and current affairs for the latter. Never content to settle to one thing, Faefyx is also a co-host and producer of the podcast and video series "Unramblings," and can occasionally be found making music around the internet as well. Having acquired degrees on both sides of the Atlantic, Fyx has settled (for the moment) in the southern United States where they live with their spouse and an entirely appropriate number of cats.

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