‘The Rings of Power’ Will Be a Masterpiece…We’ve Just Got to Get There

We’re five episodes into The Rings of Power and that counts as five hours of storytelling and yet the series has been met with a lukewarm reception so far. There are either people who are enjoying the film for its gorgeous visuals, slow-burn dramatics, or its sweeping score. And then there are others who find the show tediously boring or are not fans of the divisive diversions from canon. We’re not going to even delve too deep into the people who are still mad because the show had the audacity to make Galadriel a warrior (which J.R.R Tolkien described in texts about her in the First Age) or to include Black characters in a fantasy world they wanted to claim as all-white.

For me, the first two weeks of viewing were fun but I was still skeptical about the story. The first two episodes undoubtedly sucked me in with their impressive visuals and apparent attempt at setting the groundwork for what could be one of the most epic series ever made. The third episode took a couple of viewings to really embrace. I liked the addition of Numenor and its cast of characters but it almost felt like it was too much to take in at once. Then the fourth episode happened.

I watched the fourth episode at midnight, fully expecting to be slightly enthused about the newest episode, and instead, I was utterly blown away. It was the first episode that felt like the foundation that had been laid in the first three episodes was actually getting somewhere.

The epic use of Sophia Domvete’s literally chill-inducing singing was stunning and one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in any production featuring Tolkien’s work. Elrond and Durin’s friendship was lovely to revisit. The sneak peak at Numenor’s doom via the Queen Regent’s haunting vision was eye-widening. And the ending with Tar-Miriel announcing that she was going to aid Galadriel in her quest to save the Southlands left me utterly taken aback by how it made me feel.

It was the episode that completely convinced me that I loved this series and it felt like the official turning point of the season. The fifth episode was the first episode of the season that actually felt a bit like The Lord of the Rings trilogy to me.

For the first time in the season, I was absolutely riveted by every scene and every section of storytelling that the episode took us. I’m more and more intrigued about The Stranger. I thought he was obviously Gandalf but after that fifth episode, I’m not quite sure. Galadriel finally broke through for me, becoming a character I’m ready to root for rather than get exasperated by. Halbrand and Isildur have risen on my list of likable characters. Adar is more interesting than ever. And the Southlands has transitioned from intriguing to maybe becoming the best storyline in the series so far. Oh, and I can’t get enough of Elrond’s storyline as it pertains to the fate of the Elves and his friendship with Durin.

As someone who has seen The Hobbit trilogy so many times I know the movies by heart (even the Orcish) it’s not hard to understand why I would like The Lord of the Rings series as much as I do. But I’m also a pragmatist and I can completely comprehend why people are not as vocally enthused about this series as they could be. The answer to this conundrum is mediocre writing.

For five hours to have passed the story feels like we’ve just hit the halfway mark of The Fellowship of the Ring when the Fellowship was created and they were on their way to Mordor. That, of course, happens within the span of an hour and thirty minutes.

This series, even with as much time as it’s consumed, has barely given viewers a reason to care about these characters and the stakes that face them.

The ultimate villain, Sauron, is an invisible evil that lies just at the edge of the story, constantly eluded to yet not providing enough of a presence to make us understand why Galadriel is so freaked out. Nearly every episode leaves these characters in the same place storywise as the previous episode.

The Stranger can still barely talk and remains mysterious as ever. Galadriel has been haranguing all those around her about this great “darkness” since the first episode and it’s just taking until now for something to happen. Halbrand has a mysteriously dark past that he hasn’t wanted to revisit but Galadriel’s borderline-annoying persistence has forced his hand. Elendil and Isildur are still having father-son squabbles. The Harfoots are still migrating and aren’t really adding anything to the big picture other than they’re now potentially aiding The Stranger in getting him closer to those stars he’s been trying to get to since the second episode.

The only two storylines that feel like they’ve been actively evolving each week have been Elrond/Durin’s storyline and the Southlands storyline. These two threads have provided an anchor to the series which actually does provide the necessary stakes to keep us invested.

And yet despite the series’ shortcomings, I have absolute faith that this first season is going to set up a series that by its third season will be the talk of the town.

The great thing about Tolkien’s work is its undeniable epicness. Very soon, Sauron will be a major part of this show and when that happens the story will finally, truly, begin. The politics surrounding Numenor will deepen, Celebrimbor will begin to make the iconic Rings of Power of which this show is named, and who knows what other incredible storylines will spring from the show’s enthralling story.

By the time we get to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men which we only barely scratched the surface of in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring not only will The Lord of the Rings trilogy be better but the scope of what television can be will be changed. And that is an exciting prospect.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a fantastic day.

3 thoughts on “‘The Rings of Power’ Will Be a Masterpiece…We’ve Just Got to Get There”

  1. Wicked blog theory I’ve seen: Halbrand is Sauron in a deceptive form. His smithing skills coming out of nowhere are rather odd (Sauron was, at heart, a craftsman), and Galadriel being duped into bringing him right to Mordor is a thing.

    I don’t know who the Stranger is, or who the weird beings searching for him were. I’m pretty sure Adar isn’t Sauron either. They’re obviously setting us up in a mystery to see who is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m struggling to keep watching. On top of Amazon having issues with the video feed being 5 seconds ahead of the dialog. It took me an hour to finally get it to buffer correctly and then cut back to the Amazon Home Screen about 20 minutes into episode 5. I may just let a few episodes build up before I continue. It feels like it’s missing something.

    Liked by 1 person

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