- Based on the novel The Lord of the Rings and its appendices by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Developed by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Showrunners)
- September 1, 2022 to Present
- Prime Video
- Galadriel-Morfydd Clark
- Adar-Joseph Mawle
- Finrod-Will Fletcher
- Thondir-Fabian McCallum
- Rían-Kip Chapman
- Sadoc Burrows-Lenny Henry
- Marigold Brandyfoot-Sara Zwangobani
- Malva-Thusitha Jayasundera
- Vilma-Maxine Cunliffe
- Largo Brandyfoot-Dylan Smith
- Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot-Markella Kavenagh
- Dilly Brandyfoot-Beau Cassidy
- Poppy Proudfellow-Megan Richards
- Elrond-Robert Aramayo
- Gil-galad-Benjamin Walker
- Arondir-Ismael Cruz Córdova
- Waldreg-Geoff Morrell
- Tredwill-Peter Tait
- Rowan-Ian Blackburn
- Bronwyn-Nazanin Boniadi
- Médhor-Augustus Prew
- Revion-Simon Merrells
- Theo-Tyroe Muhafidin
- Celebrimbor-Charles Edwards
- The Stranger-Daniel Weyman
- Durin IV-Owain Arthur
- Halbrand-Charlie Vickers
- Disa-Sophia Nomvete
- Durin III-Peter Mullan
- Míriel-Cynthia Addai-Robinson
- Isildur-Maxim Baldry
- Pharazôn-Trystan Gravelle
- Eärien-Ema Horvath
- Elendil-Lloyd Owen
- Kemen-Leon Wadham
A threat looms in the shadows during the Second Age of Middle-earth.
Ep. 6: Udûn
- Directed by Charlotte Brändström
- Written by Nicholas Adams, Justin Doble, J. D. Payne, and Patrick McKay
- September 30, 2022
Udûn is quite possibly the strongest episode yet of the series. The overarching narrative presented here is focused and thus interesting. There is as much action as there is plot and character development. We see Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) further embracing his kingship and Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) demonstrating some actual skill as a leader.
The CW style stuff with the kids isn’t nearly as juvenile as it had been before, and the captain’s son shows some elements of character growth. Isildur (Maxim Baldry) as a character has left some of the soapie stuff behind and matures somewhat here.
More importantly we learned what Adar’s (Joseph Mawle) plan is and though it’s no surprise he is revealed to be one of the first Orcs (or Uruks as they prefer). However I’m not too certain if the major event of the story is actually part of his plan or a side effect of him being manipulated into accomplishing something for Sauron. What we get is that mysterious hilt being used to release water and destroy a dam with the flooding ultimately setting off the dormant volcano which is revealed to be Mount Doom. Was this his actual plot or was he manipulated?
Vagueness is an issue and I am thinking they assumed viewers would automatically know the whats of everything because of a popular film series. LOTR is a densely crafted world and most people have not read all of with most knowing the story from the movies.
Two of the four major storylines converge in this episode. The dwarf storyline as well as the bit focusing on the Harfoots is nowhere to be found. This is more proof that the Harfoots slow up the story but also demonstrates that as a series this show can only juggle two major storylines without harming an overall episode.
Udûn is perhaps the strongest episode yet and gives me greater hope for a season finale worthy of Lord of the Rings.
Ep. 7: The Eye
- Directed by Charlotte Brändström
- Written by Jason Cahill
- October 7, 2022
As episodes of the series go The Eye doesn’t exceed previous episodes but it’s not a downturn either. I guess that is a good thing? Should not be though. This is a show that did not start out strong but at least has managed to build itself up a little bit.
The Harfoots are a major factor in this episode and honestly I am still not liking them. Not only are they a drag on the narrative but their presentation is incongruous with how they actually are. They talk as if they are a tightly knit group but this tightly knit group dumps individuals that are the slightest problem. I think the more this goes on the more I realize that is my main problem with this particular species. It just doesn’t make any sense. You can’t be a tight knit group and then dump somebody that has a broken foot or just gets slow. But that’s what they do.
Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is much better here but that is because she is lacking interaction with Halbrand (Charlie Vickers). One thing I picked up on is that she often talks down to the male characters. The tone and the words she uses comes off as if she sees them beneath. This is in contrast to queen regent of Númenor Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). Míriel was openly hostile towards Galadriel upon their first meeting but Galadriel treats Míriel so much better than the men in the story.
They are trying to craft Galadriel as a wise warrior but in her presentation she waffles between wise and warrior with the two never crossing over really. I’m not sure why they can’t seem to merge the two but we get two very distinct enough presentations of the character. Obsessive warrior nearly consumed by destroying Sauron. Wise sage elf who tries to hand out wisdom like Pez on Halloween.
The elements focusing on Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Durin IV (Owain Arthur) are better acted and honestly far more interesting in general than the portion in the recently devastated Southlands. Somehow the emotional turmoil and struggle to do the right thing by their friend packs more of a punch than dealing with the aftermath of a volcanic eruption and the beginnings of Mordor. And it all goes to the acting. You actually believe there’s a relationship between the two.
The major problem with this is as dire as things are supposed to be they don’t feel as dire as they should. The Harfoots’ wintering place has been struck by volcanic debris. The Southlands now are a volcanic wasteland. And Elrond and Durin are at a critical juncture in not only their relationship but in the existence of the elves. The narrative just never feels like it’s a serious deal probably because in the end we know how things turn out. And that’s one of the dangers with a prequel series. You may not know the specifics, but you know the ultimate ending and they do little to work around that.
The Eye isn’t a downturn, but it doesn’t up the stakes that much. It’s one episode away from the finale and it should feel like everything hangs in the balance, but it just feels as if things are important. I can stick with this until the end but I’m not sure what the end will bring in terms of being worthy of Lord of the Rings or just good televised drama. We will see.
Ep. 8: Alloyed
- Directed by Wayne Che Yip
- Written by Gennifer Hutchison, J. D. Payne, and Patrick McKay
- October 14, 2022
So here we are at the finale. Season One of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has come to an end. It ended on a high note in comparison to its beginning, but it also ended on a tease that teased one more episode and wraps up very little in the way of the narrative of the first season. Season finales should give some real payoff and this really does not.
The Harfoots are not nearly the drag they were here as they were in any number of the preceding episodes. Here they are actually interesting and what bit they share in the story is worthwhile though ultimately to the narrative of Season One it’s pretty meaningless.
Basically their storyline in all of Season One was to set up for Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) to go off with The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) who is apparently Gandalf in a fashion very similar to not only The Hobbit but Lord of the Rings. If this had somehow intersected with the rest of the narratives other than what happened to the last episode I think I would be fine with it but it was its own separate story.
Pretty boy Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) is Sauron. It’s an interesting though not exciting reveal and how his plan worked fits very well with the character. Essentially he uses good intentions against people. He tricked and deceived and that was a great twist.
There was plenty of revelation and plenty of action. It felt like the penultimate midpoint of a Lord of the Rings film. And that’s the problem. This is a tease to something greater and pays off very little. It feels as if there is one more episode coming but this is the season finale. It doesn’t end with a bang but ends with preparation for a bang.
And where is the Balrog we saw in the last episode? Maybe its portion was rather forgettable (a distinct possibility in this show) or they just ignored a major creature tossed into the story in the previous episode. This is a big deal that was not followed up here.
Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) figures things out rather too late and rather abruptly. Seriously. It is in the final episode she becomes suspicious of Halbrand whom she has been championing to one extent or another since meeting him. She recognizes the mark on his skin but does not know he is ultimately a fraud? That makes no sense. She is supposed to be intelligent and cunning but is really that blind?
And there is something else that bothers me. How did Halbrand survive a several day draw ride nonstop and recover quickly? Nobody thinks that’s a problem? That should have been a big red flag. A smart writer should have given that some consideration. Then again the story can only be as good as those involved with it. And if they have no outside perspective to take a look and question it and simply assume they are good issues and any problem that they may miss will not be caught.
Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards), the wise elf and metalsmith with thousands of years of experience and more knowledge of metallurgy probably that any human could forget, doesn’t know what to do with the magical material in order to save his people? In a rather ham-fisted way in the finale he’s led around by the nose by Halbrand. Really?
Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) is completely missing from this story as is Durin IV (Owain Arthur). They took up a good chunk of the first seven episodes but are not important enough for the finale? Why did they get narratives if they could not get something here?
How exactly do the rings equate to a cure for the elven decline as originally designed? The problem is that the solution they ultimately come up with feels a bit like magical Wi-Fi and I’m just not seeing how that is a cure equivalent to what they originally went for.
Alloyed was an okay ending that should not have been the ending but rather the episode before the end. I’m happy the show came to an end on this but ultimately as TV shows go it is a bit of a letdown. As the ending of a Lord of the Rings story it was very weak.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power as a series is not bad but it’s not great. In comparison to other Lord of the Rings material it is subpar. It is simplistic and poorly executed at points.
The Harfoots are a drag whose actions are not consistent with how they are attempting to be presented with their story being ultimately unimportant so far to the series. The subplots with the kids of Númenor come off more often than not like an episode of a CW teen soap opera. It’s not as mature or sophisticate as what we should be getting.
The characterization in this show has been rather poor and inconsistent. Galadriel who is probably the most significant character in this whole show other than Sauron waffles between wise sage and fanatical warrior when they appear to be going for wise warrior. And something that happens-whether intentional or not-is that Galadriel often treats the female characters with vastly more decency than she does the male characters. More often than not she is condescending towards them if not outright dismissive. In a world where previously all characters were of relatively equal strengths and levels this stands out.
And Galadriel is supposed to be intelligent and wise and all this stuff but she gets easily fooled by Sauron. So is Galadriel responsible for every bad thing that happens in The Hobbit and LOTR? It certainly seems like it based on this show. Halbrand/Sauron wanted to say stay in Númenor and be a metalsmith but she kept pushing him to be king of the Southlands because he was the heir to the throne of the Southlands based on a tattoo, but that lineage died out 1000 years ago when she was still alive so apparently she forgot about that bit of information. Not that some important military leader would need to keep in mind who the governments are in their general vicinity.
The show ultimately is a watered down and Americanized version of a classic bit of British fiction. It lacks the general craftsmanship of its source material. Characterization is poor but that’s probably because the people behind it feel looking cool is more important than telling a good story.
In the end The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power compared to other shows is okay but not great and that’s making it weak in comparison to other LOTR material. I will call it an interesting diversion but nothing that at this point needs to be sought out.