Near universal consensus is the first episode is the weakest one and it gets much better in the following episodes.
Which sucks but dropping 200 pages of exposition into an hour is rough. I understand why they wanted to get out of Emond's field as fast as possible, but the book spent a LOT of time there so there was a lot of space to slow drip feed infortmation.
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Or do they plan to keep this show a watered down loose adaptation along its whole duration?
They were never planning on filming a 300 episode series that took 14 years to do, so yeah, stuff is going to be cut.
For the better in the long run, some of it needs trimming.
It sucks for the infodump heavy early parts but, such is adaptation.
Plus the decision to show the weaves in the first place is weird. They chose to show Moiraine's perspective, which is why the weaves are visible.
Because its a visual medium. "This magic is invisible" works in writing but it doesn't work great in visuals. Just look at how bad Haki was in One Piece before Oda added the black effect. But even with that, it was used invisibly in the opening with the Reds and to heat the water, so in this case it was to be showy and have a visual viewers could see so they understood the full range and power of it.
Do the concepts of saidin and saidar even exist any more? Since Moiraine thinks a male character's power could have migrated towards a woman?
The dragon has been reborn. Rebirths don't have to keep the same gender.
But mostly its so that they can easily justify dragging along Egwene and Nynaeve without spending 20 minutes of screentime explaining why they're being brought along. And so that the audience that doesn't know who the dragon is hcan have a few different candidates instead of it being blatantly obvious.
Similar reason they moved Thom from being in the first episode to being in the third episode.
Yes, in the book the Karaethon Cycle is pretty clear about the new dragon being male again, but prophecies do have a way of being wonky without full context so they could just keep using He for the sake of referring to the first Dragon.
And why doesn't Moiraine have a sa'angreal?
The entire first season is under 8 hours. The audiobook is almost 30. Stuff is going to get cut or moved around or explained later. Part of adaption. She can still have the thing without stopping to make a big explanation about it in the moment.
This is the same reason the Lord of the Rings movies didn't have Gandalf and Frodo talk about Gollum at Bag End and moved that conversation instead to the mines. They still had the same conversation, just later. You split the exposition up for a different pacing and medium.
A lot of the first episode changes people are disliking about the town are there so Matt and Perrin can have actual personalities and arcs prior to book 4. Showing some of their later character and conflicts earlier.
If Jordan had had the luxury and hinsight of reworking the earlier volumes after the later ones were written, he would have adjusted things. Just look at New Spring and how casually it takes for granted all the stuff from the first 9 books despite being a prequel. He shored up the characters and the world as he went, and however attached you are to the first book, its not as strong and fully fleshed out as it would have been were it re-written with hindsight.
Some changes are made for pacing, some for consistency, some for the sake of giving the cast anything to do so its not just The Rand Show before mutating into an ensemble later.
Also for better or worse we're in a post GoT world so some kind of shock value or "more realism" was probably required. And, as much as Jordan romanticized andmade things PG, he still had bloody battles and sex and darkness in the books, he just sort of looked away from it. But it was there.