Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Padan Fain's Role In The Wheel Of Time Explained

Season 1 of Amazon's "The Wheel of Time," an adaptation of author Robert Jordan's beloved fantasy series, attempts to bring all the mystery, adventure, and intrigue of the 19-novel narrative to life on screen. In order to do this, it has to introduce viewers unfamiliar with the books to a litany of characters whose potential, abilities, motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and backstories have to unfold over the course of just eight episodes. Though many of the series' main protagonists and antagonists are apparent from the onset, there's one character in particular — Johann Myers' Padan Fain — whose future role in the story remains a mystery at the conclusion of the season finale

In the novels, Fain's story goes something like this: he begins life as an everyday peddler from a country called Murandy, but becomes indebted to the Dark One in exchange for a promise of immortality. The Dark One sends him on a quest to locate the Dragon Reborn, and he's given special powers in order to help him achieve his mission. Once he locates three potential dragons, he brings an army of Trollocs to their village to obtain the three young men and bring them to the Dark One. Though his initial plan fails thanks to Aes Sedai Moiraine (played by Rosamund Pike in the TV series), he continues to haunt the potential dragons and makes himself a dangerous nuisance throughout their story (via WoT Wiki). 

Luckily, this is exactly how he's portrayed in Amazon's adaptation, though the audience doesn't learn of his true identity/treachery until the season finale. When we first meet Fain, he seems to be little more than a hard-bargaining peddler who comes to the Two Rivers once a year to sell lanterns. As it turns out, he's so much more. 

Padan Fain could play a key role in Season 2

Though several fans of Robert Jordan's book series have alluded to their ultimate disappointment with where the narrative takes — or fails to take — Fain as a character (via Reddit), he does play a key role in a storyline that the series has already begun to touch upon. In Episode 2, "Shadow's Waiting," Mat (Barney Harris) ignores Lan's (Daniel Henney) instruction not to touch anything in the cursed city of Shadar Logoth when he finds and takes a bejeweled dagger. 

Unsurprisingly, the accursed object begins to have a destructive effect on Mat, who's saved from the throes of madness only by Moiraine's later intervention. When Fain reappears in Episode 8, we catch an ever-so-brief glimpse of him sheathing what appears to be the exact same "ruby-hilted" dagger. We don't learn how or from whom he obtains the dagger (though we do see him earlier in Tar Valon), but several fans, like u/Kurapica147 on Reddit, have speculated that Season 2 might open with an explanation. 

In the novels, Fain's acquisition of the dagger and the protagonists' quest to retrieve it is a storyline unto itself. In the novels, Mat is healed by Moiraine, but not fully, and as a result must stay near the dagger. It becomes a pretty urgent issue, then, when Fain steals the dagger in the novels (along with the Horn of Valere, which we also see him take in the series), and Mat must set out to recover it and ensure its safe-keeping (via WoT Fandom). Given that Fain's actions so har have remained true to the series' source material, it seems probable we'll be seeing a lot more of him, his stolen dagger, and the Horn in Season 2

Padan Fain is more than he appears in Amazon's The Wheel of Time

Padan Fain represents an ever-important literary archetype in "The Wheel of Time" books — that of the character whose weakness and inability to resist temptation and promises of power turns him into a force of evil, albeit a conflicted and ambivalent one (see: Loki, Darth Vader, and Smeagol/Gollum). Not only do these characters act as foils to their prospective narrative's hero, they also illustrate what said hero could become in the event that they're unable to resist the strength of the darker forces at hand. In the novels, Fain is a recurring antagonist, and Season 1 of "The Wheel of Time" appears, so far, to be following this character arc. 

In Episode 8, having stolen the Horn of Valere, Fain delivers an important speech to a confused Perrin (Marcus Rutherford). The way he sees it, his actions are justified because the world needs balance: "We need the dark," he says. Both literally and symbolically, the light can only exist where the dark exists to offer a basis of comparison. Like all the best sympathetic antagonists, Fain has the makings of a relatively reasonable argument. A story that follows only pure and perfect heroes who are completely beyond reproach lacks the tension and real-world relevance necessary for a compelling narrative, and the same is true of a story's villains. 

It does a protagonist no good to "resist temptation" if the viewer isn't given some insight into what, exactly, they're resisting. Fain, then, is an invaluable character not only because he serves to complicate (plot and action-wise) the proverbial "hero's journey," but because he shines a light on the necessity and appeal of the Shadows