I watched the first two episodes on Amazon The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power I came out A pleasant surprise From the product display lavishly.
It was a bit of a slow burn, but I loved the world building, visual design, music, and fashion.
I could tell some big changes were made to established traditions, and I knew the show makers were condensing Era II into a more manageable timeline. But after the third episode, I have a lot of doubts and reservations about what Amazon does with this feature, and what kind of story is really unfolding.
Yes, part of this is about Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) who I find myself not actively in love at this point. It’s hard to be optimistic about a show whose main hero is its weakest link.
But more than one character is starting to feel out of place or just plain wrong, and I’m starting to wonder if the sheer scope of changes to Tolkien’s Second Age traditions are necessary or if there is a different approach to it. Adaptation might make more sense.
The schedule is probably the biggest issue, and it’s kind of a scratch. The First Age ended with the defeat of Morgoth, but that would have passed thousands of years in the past at this point, very few people remember there was Morgoth, let alone know about the existence of Sauron – yet the common people in the Southlands mention Morgoth as if they were The war was fought yesterday.
This leads to other embarrassing moments. In Episode 3, Galadriel and Ellendel travel to the Hall of Law, an ancient Númenorean library, where they discover that Sauron’s sign is actually a map of the Southern Lands. There is an old document that they easily discover almost immediately that contains a map and some of it is written in the “black letter” of the enemy. Galadriel reads it:
“He speaks not only of a place, but of a plan: a plan by which to create a world of their own where evil not only perpetuates, but flourishes, a plan to be activated if Morgoth is defeated . . . by his successor.”
Gladrill? Elendil asks.
“Things are worse than I expected,” she answers eagerly.
“Then the Southlands are in grave danger.”
“If Sauron really does come back,” Galadriel says, pausing for the dramatic effect. “The Southlands is only the beginning.”
Dramatic music cue.
This scene was painful to watch. Just swinging hard in the worst way. Did the black letter note really say that the plan was to create a world in which evil could not only survive, but thrive? Is this how Sauron, his goblins, and his assistants talk to each other while spinning their evil mustaches?
“What is your demonic plan, Lord Sauron? Should Morgoth be defeated, that is?”
“We will create a world!”
“a very Evil world! “
“Where can all our evil live?”
“Not just survive What a fool! It will be a world where evil thrives! Boahaaha!“
“Oh I love it, Sauron! So diabolical!”
“Yeah yeah, I hope you were writing all that. No? Well please do. We need to send this to all our wicked friends so they know the plan too! And make sure you draw a map. Our new world of evil!”
“The elves, sir?”
“Yes, what is the use of a demonic plot and a world of pure evil if we do not attract the good guys to us? How can we speak properly and possess them with all our evil machinations if they cannot find us?”
“Sparkling! Morgoth couldn’t have said it better, you evil dark man!”
“What do we call this new world, Lord of Darkness?”
No, you have to roll the letter ‘r’ like so: Mordor! “
And so on and so forth.
More than that, I’m not sure how this would change anything. Galadriel believes that Sauron is still really around. Finding what I suppose is a very old document (from a time when human spies were supposed to be sent to spy on orcs, which must have been a long time ago since no one has seen orcs for generations) does not prove that Sauron returned.
And the word “in the event of Morgoth’s defeat” sounds absurd. Morgoth was one of the most powerful beings in existence. I don’t think anyone was making contingency plans to create a world of evil if the Dark God were to be killed. All this seems to give very human and mortal impulses and logic to beings that operate on a completely different level. Why not create this world of pure evil, whether Morgoth is defeated or not? Why is this prepared even like a contingency plan?
Sauron hid at the end of the First Age and no one alive now remembered that he even existed – outside of ancient elves like Galadriel. But here’s where we get into all kinds of schedule issues.
Sauron returned from wherever he was hiding about 1,000 SA (1,000 years in the Second Age) and began setting up shop in Mordor, gathering his armies of orcs, trolls, and other villains for him.
Elendil was born in SA 3119, After more than two thousand years, Long after Sauron returns to Middle-earth and long after the rings are forged by Celebrimbor, he is deceived by Sauron, disguised as Annatar, and blinded by his own ambition.
It all happened around SA 1600, culminating in Sauron’s devastating attack on Eregion in which he captured and tortured Celebrimbor, taking the nine rings and learning where the seven were, but not learning where the elves were keeping all three.
Towards the end of the Second Age, several centuries later, Sauron was captured and held captive by the Númenóreans, which in turn led to the downfall of the kingdom as Sauron corrupted its people and leaders, prompting Elendil and Isildur to lead the nation’s survivors to Middle. – the land where they founded Gondor, and eventually teamed up with the elves Lyndon – the last alliance of men and elves – and defeated Sauron in battle, Isildur cut the ring off Sauron’s finger but refused to destroy it when he had the chance.
So the show takes the formation of the rings, the return of Sauron, the fall of the Eregion and it is likely that Sauron will eventually be captured and the fall of Númenor in one show and one timeline that spans a very short amount of time. This is quite a drastic squeeze of the second era, although if done right I can see how it would work out over several seasons.
The trick is to make it work – and if scenes like the one in the Hall of Law are anything to go by, I’m not too optimistic. We still need the timelines to make sense, even if they change, and that doesn’t work if you present the show as taking place at a time when Sauron is basically gone too long and no one remembers, but then you have all your characters know exactly who he is And who was Morgoth as if the first age ended last year. These things directly contradict each other.
However, I can see why they would want to combine everything into one story, as most fans aren’t excited enough for Tolkien to care about it. It would make sense for the Pharaohs and his Nemeanorian army to appear to fight Sauron after the fall of Erigon, for example, and take him captive, since he obviously can’t do that in SA 3261 when Mordor attacks at Tolkien. A timeline (with such a force and astonishing that Sauron’s armies deserted him and fled without a fight).
You can then take Sauron to Númenor where he makes his way to the king’s head, sowing the seeds that will turn that kingdom into darkness and evil.
But here we also have some weird timeline elements that don’t make sense. There is already a lot of discussion about who is and who is not loyal to the elves in Episode 3, but this will make more sense later on, when Sauron begins to turn the pharaoh into Morgoth’s assistant – when things really go wrong. It’s strange that this split is created now rather than after Sauron’s arrival.
Another approach Amazon could have taken on this show would have been an anthology-style show with different eras in stand-alone arcs, connected to immortal elves characters. There can be one or two seasons that make up the episodes and the fall of the Eregion. The next two seasons would have told the story of the capture of Sauron and the fall of Nimenor. Or maybe there was something between these stories about the rise of the Witch King and the Corruption of the Nine.
Of course, this means updating the staff every season (other than the elves) and that is definitely a risk in itself.
I think this still works as one intense schedule, and I understand why they approach it in this way, but the danger is a mixed, incoherent end product that travels all over its feet. Hopefully this is not the case and rings of strength He’ll find her move soon, but Episode 3 definitely made me more anxious than before.
You can check my discussion With my friend Patrick – who knows a lot more about Tolkien’s lore than I do – below. This is a pre-episode 3 discussion, so we’ll definitely have to have another discussion to talk about all these huge timeline changes.