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You can find all available episodes of The Wheel of Time streaming on Amazon Prime Video. For even more Wheel of Time, check out the epic book series, also available on Audible.

Whenever a beloved book series is adapted for the screen, changes are going to be made and Prime Video‘s The Wheel of Time certainly makes a bunch. From letting Egwene (Madeleine Madden) be a ta’veren (like the boys) to showing us a tense meeting between Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) and Nyneave (Zoë Robins), The Wheel of Time is not afraid to change things from Robert Jordan’s books in order for the TV show to work.

However there’s one major change from the books in Prime Video’s Wheel of Time that might actually upset fans: Marcus Rutherford‘s Perrin Aybara has a wife. Perrin is married! Do you hear me? Perrin has a wife named Laila Dearn in The Wheel of Time show. She is played by Helena Westerman! She is a blacksmith! She also dies! At Perrins hands?!? WHAT IS GOING ON?!?

In case you haven’t read Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, Perrin Aybara, the beloved blacksmith of the Two Rivers, is not supposed to be married when the story begins. He is supposed to be a teenager who is awkward around girls. (In an adorable rhetorical trick, Jordan repeatedly has Perrin wishing he was as good at talking to girls as Rand, and Rand wishes he was as good at it as Perrin. Boys! Sweet boys!) So that means that Laila is a completely original character introduced just to die a horrific death. So what gives? Why did The Wheel of Time decide it was a good idea to introduce Laila to the story?

Decider went straight to The Wheel of Time‘s showrunner, Rafe Judkins, to find out why Perrin has a wife in the show. “One thing we wanted to do for all of the characters was give them something on screen. Perrin is such an internal character in the books,” Judkins said. “Almost all of his stuff is very internal, so we had to create something in the show that would allow the audience whenever they saw this character sitting quietly thinking about violence or what it means to him, that it would show impact for him when the camera is just sitting on his face. Because otherwise I think Perrin runs the risk of disappearing in the adaptation and you aren’t able to follow his emotional journey because it’s so internalized.”

Perrin's wife Laila in The Wheel of Time
Photo: Prime Video

Perrin actor Marcus Rutherford concurred with Judkins. “It’s something that we kind of have to navigate throughout the season and I think it’s something that provides a really integral part of Perrin’s journey,” Rutherford said.

“I think he’s got a particular side to him, a kind of demeanor throughout the books and I think Rafe wanted a visceral thing for the audiences to kind of know,” Rutherford said. “I think the addition of Perrin’s wife gives them a signal to look back to and to see how his journey goes forward moving from that point.”

Rafe Judkins also said that they wanted to age up all four main Two Rivers characters — Perrin, Egwene, Rand (Josha Stradowski) and Mat (Barney Harris) — from teens to twenty-year-olds so that The Wheel of Time wouldn’t feel like a “YA show.” Judkins explained how that choice also influenced the creation of Laila.

“So, to truly age them up, [you have to] show that they had a life that was happening before Moiraine arrived in the Two Rivers essentially. So, it seemed very natural that at least one of these characters would be married if they were living in this town and they were in their early twenties. It felt like it was an important choice to have one of them have that and Perrin was the most natural choice to sort of fit into that,” Judkins said.

Decider also asked Judkins if he was concerned that Laila’s character’s death could be considered “fridging,” a reviled trope in genre fiction where a female character dies to motivate the male protagonist.

Judkins said, “Obviously we talked a lot in the room about this character and what she means and what she means to Perrin, and out hope is that if we can put enough strong interesting characters on screen in the show that no one of them has to bear the burden of being the ‘female character’ in the show.”

So there you have it: the reasons why Perrin has a wife in the first episode of The Wheel of Time.