Okay, So I Caved…

…Yes, I watched The Rings of Power.

I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t. Mainly because I don’t have Amazon Prime and won’t buy it because I strongly dislike Amazon’s business practices. But in fairness, I found myself spending the entire school holidays away from home, housesitting for a colleague of mine who was on holidays.

I come from a big family, so I’m used to getting home from work and eating dinner with my family and spending the rest of the evening all hanging out together and talking or whatever. So when I found myself living as a lonely single, without even my dogs for company, I was like…well, what the heck do I do with myself? And it just so happens this particular household had their own Amazon Prime subscription.

Anyway, I have thoughts, which I’m now going to unload upon you, dear reader.

Disclaimer

I love The Lord of the Rings both the books and the movies, but I haven’t read The Silmarillion, or any of the other Middle-Earth stories, and I have definitely never read the appendices at the back of LOTR, so I have no idea what this show is supposed to be based on, if it’s even based on anything at all. Please don’t come at me if I complain about something not making sense, because frankly if it doesn’t make sense without reading a hundred half finished manuscripts it doesn’t make sense.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s get into the things I love/like about the show!

Things I Love:

The Actors and Acting:

I think the cast and the acting is one of the strongest points of the show. I love all the actors and I don’t think there’s a weak link among them. Like the original movies, the show went the route of picking smaller, newer actors and I think any production that chooses to do that usually comes out stronger for it. There’s no big names in this show, and I think that keeps me (personally) from being too distracted by who the actors are, and focussed more on their performance.

And let me be controversial* here, there are actors of colours here, and the world did not end. Wow. I know a lot of people were concerned, shall we say, about what would happen when the world was introduced to black dwarves and black hobbits and, *gasp* black elves, but everything turned out fine.

*not really

People were also upset feeling that these actors were probably only chosen for the Diversity Points, but I don’t care if they were?? They’re all good actors, and they’re inclusion definitely doesn’t weaken the storytelling at all. Anyway, enough of that, let’s move on.

The Harfoots

Again, I know the Harfoots were another controversial inclusion, but personally I loved them. And I also think they were necessary for the story arc. If you think about it, Gollum was a Harfoot and he’s obviously a major player in this story, not yet but in the future. I thought it was cool to see them, and I liked seeing their early civilisation and culture. It was similar enough to the hobbits we know and love, but also so different and it was fun. Also, was it a coincidence that Nori has the same name as Sam’s daughter? I liked that too. It made the series feel connected with the original story in a way a lot of other little details haven’t.

And Nori is just a fun character and I like her. I’m definitely weak for the tomboy rebel girls with messy hair. Not like I relate or anything.

The Weird Old Giant Man Who Fell From the Stars

Speaking of the Harfoots…yeah, that’s got to be Gandalf. Or Saruman, but no its definitely Gandalf. And if it is Gandalf… then I really like this subplot. Has it got any basis in the lore? I don’t know and I don’t care. It explains why Gandalf likes the hobbits so much and has so much faith in them, and cares about them when the powerful people of the world barely know they exist.

Whoever he is I liked watching his little journey of growth, trying to learn how to control his destructive and yet nourishing powers, and causing a lot of chaos as he goes along.

What are your theories here? Is this Gandalf? It’s got to be, right?

Arondir

Arondir was so cool, let me just say that. Though it took me until Episode 5, and finally giving up and googling a cast list to work out he actually had a name, let alone what it was. However, I did really like him.

I think I liked him because he reminds me of one of the characters in my own novel (which incidentally is inspired by the LOTR’s unfinished sequel). So I just have to say, the idea of a cool black elf guy was entirely my own, and Amazon stole it from me (you can read about Zmaj, and the rest of my novel here).

Elrond

Elrond is one of my favourite characters in LOTR, and obviously I love Hugo Weaving’s interpretation of the character (I mean, my dog’s name is Hugo, what more proof do you need?). I was a bit unconvinced by Robert Aramayo’s portrayal at first, but he’s definitely grown on me. He doesn’t quite strike me as being Elrond just yet, but maybe he’s a younger, more carefree, more optimistic Elrond, before he becomes more bitter and jaded by the war and the foolishness of men.

Anyway, now I love this Elrond, even if I love him more for his own unique character than I do for being Elrond. He’s such a sweet, gentle soul and he’s so earnest and loyal. I love his relationship with Durin and Disa, and I like the way he challenges the elves and makes them think, and often points out their flaws. I don’t think we’ve ever really seen the “half-elven” side of Elrond before, and I like it. (Also Robert Aramayo is my new celebrity crush but we don’t talk about that).

The Creation of Mordor

Very clever and super cool visually, didn’t expect it at all. I don’t really have anything to say about this that doesn’t veer into spoiler territory, but I did like it and it was rather shocking.

Moria

I thought Moria looked great and it was probably my favourite of the settings in the show. I liked being able to see Moria as it once was, beautiful and bustling, full of life and love and day to day life. A far cry from the desolate wasteland that we finally get to see in LOTR. So I liked that, and I also liked seeing more of the dwarves culture. Very cool.

Adar

Adar is some elf turned orc-thing, and while I obviously didn’t love his character because he’s nasty and horrible, but I did think his inclusion was interesting. Tolkien is always so vague about the orcs and their origins, so I liked this little glimpse at the evolution of elf into orc. I also liked his little chat with Galadriel. He almost made me feel sorry for the uruk 😦 and considering they’d just slaughtered an entire village…that was no mean feat.

The Wanderers

These are those three creepy androgynous…creatures? I don’t know whether they’re supposed to be elves, or humans or something else entirely. Whatever they are, they’re kinda cool and also creepy. They’re probably the only thing that has made me feel real fear so far.

Things I…Do Not Love:

Galadriel

I knew this was going to happen. My last post was a long winded rant about my fears for Galadriel and sadly they were all proven true.

She drives me up the blooming wall. I do not like her. She is not Galadriel at all.

Having said that, I do love Morfydd Clark and I do like the character somewhat, she’s just not Galadriel, you know. Anyway, the less said about this the better, moving on.

There’s No Rings, Literally Not a Single One

It’s called the Rings of Power, and not a one of the rings is in it. Not even Sauron is in it. There’s one episode to go, what the heck.

Isildur

He’s just annoying, and again, it’s hard to see him becoming the absolute idiot king we get later. Also, what’s with the fake out that he’s dead at the end of episode 7? It completely lacks any sort of tension because we know of course Isildur isn’t dead, he’s got to do the whole “cast it in the fire, Isildur! Destroy it!” Bit first. This is a major problem I’ve found with pretty much every prequel ever, they lack tension because of moments like this.

The Southlanders

I just don’t care about them, they’re boring. None of them really have much of an arc or a personality really. And are there just two villages in the whole south lands?

Also, Hallbrand, or as he would be better known as, Homebrand Aragorn. He’s also annoying. 10/10 do not like. Also has no character arc and I do not want to ever see him again.

The Jumpscares

Why are there so many jumpscares? I hate jumpscares and I almost died about twelve times, especially in the first few episodes.

Things Don’t Feel Real

Things in this show just don’t feel real the same way Peter Jackson’s movies did. The costumes don’t look like clothes, the houses don’t look lived in, everything is clean, and even the dirt on people’s faces looks like makeup. Everything looks nice and fine…it just doesn’t look quite authentic. You know how Viggo Mortensen hiked up mountains in his costumes to make them look like Aragorn had been…hiking up mountains? Or how Gandalf’s cloak was hand washed time and time again until it looked worn out and old? Or how Ian McKellan hit his head in the tiny hobbit hole set and they kept it in because it was real? And the tiny, tiny details in every set and every prop and piece of clothing?

Yeah, well, this is just lacks that attention to detail. It doesn’t seem like the people working on those extra things cared, or if they did they weren’t given enough creative freedom to express that.

It Lacks Originality

I get it, its trying to be Peter Jackson’s movies. It’s trying to appeal to the same audience. But I don’t know that it’s working, and I think a pinch of originality would have helped. The score is uneventful and boring, the cinematography is pretty but not really that interesting. The actors are really good, and definitely my favourite part, but even then I think they could have given more, could have expressed themselves more originally, could have shown new sides to old characters, the way Aramayo does with Elrond, which I really like. But not completely changing the character, the way I feel they do with Galadriel.

There’s a delicate balance when it comes to creating new media in an established world. It has to be similar enough to the original that people who loved the original love the new as well, but it also needs to feel like a new experience, not like a copy and paste of the first version. And I think that’s always difficult and what causes a lot of prequels and sequels to fail.

Time for a tangent. I think the LOTR musical did this quite well. Unfortunately it was a financial disaster because of how expensive it was to produce, but to this day it has an extensive and dedicated fan base. It clearly gives a few nods to the movies, the main actor is clearly meant to resemble Elijah Wood, Gollum is definitely taking his cues from Andy Serkis, and the Shire in the musical looks like the iconic Shire in New Zealand. But it’s also very different. The music is Bollywood and Indian inspired. Galadriel does aerial silks while singing, the costumes are fascinatingly strange, and even Legolas has black hair and a massive scar across his face for…reasons.

While a financial success it was not, it clearly struck a chord with people who loved the LOTR story and I think it was because of how ridiculously out there it was in so much of its production.

Anyway, nobody came here for my LOTR musical rant. Let’s move on.

Things That Confused Me:

The Timeline

My LOTR nerds, help me. What is the timeline for this story? Like, obviously just before the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, or whatever it’s called? But there’s no rings, yet, and Isildur is like a child? But Galadriel and Elrond look way younger than I feel they should. And Celeborn is dead? What? When does this take place? In the mists of time somewhere? I do not understand.

Celeborn is Dead

As mentioned above, Celeborn is supposed to be dead? He’s still alive when the Fellowship reach Lothlorien. I mean this is something I don’t really care about either way, Celeborn is a mediocre character at best, I’m just baffled. Maybe he’s not really dead? But whatever, Galadriel thinks he is.

There’s No Rings?

Yeah, I’m repeating this because…there’s one episode to go of the first season and there’s still no rings. I feel like the whole plot should be centred around the creation of the rings, but there’s not even been the slightest hint of it. And maybe I’m just impatient and this is more a personal preference than something wrong with the show, but I would have liked to see at least some ground work laid out for forging the rings and the One Ring.

Where’s Sauron?

There is a distinct lack of Sauron so far. Now for a bit, I (and probably other people) thought that Adar was Sauron, until he literally had a tantrum about someone asking if he was Sauron.

There’s some theories that Sauron is already in the story, but in disguise. I’ve seen some people suggesting Hallbrand might be Sauron? Which I desperately hope is not true because Hallbrand is such a boring, bland character that I firmly believe Sauron deserves better. Sauron is supposed to be the Big Bad Guy, not Homebrand Aragorn.

Edit: Hallbrand is Sauron. 10/10 do not like this at all, Sauron is an amazing character, Hallbrand is cringey and the most stale water cracker character of all time.

There’s other theories about Sauron as well, like maybe the Stranger living with the Harfoots is Sauron. I don’t buy this one because the Stranger can heal things and make things grow, which is directly in contrast to what we know of Morgoth and Sauron. It’s a common theme in LOTR that evil can only create mockeries of what already exists, the way orcs are a mockery of elves and trolls are a mockery of ents.

Overall, there’s not a single character I feel strongly is Sauron. I don’t know if the creators are going with the surprise reveal, or whether Sauron will just show up one day, and I’m honestly not sure which would be better.

Numenor and Gondor

So this might be just my own unfamiliarity with the mythology of Middle-Earth, but I’m not sure I quite understand what’s going on with Numenor and Gondor in this story. Obviously Gondor doesn’t exist yet, Numenor still does, Elendil and Isildur are Numenoreans, but aren’t they like the founders of Gondor or something? But the Numenoreans need to rebel and be buried beneath the waves still? But we haven’t even got Sauron there to help stir up discontent, and like I just don’t understand. I’m confused, and maybe that’s a me problem, and maybe that’s a show problem, I really don’t know.

Addressing the Controversies

The Elves’ Hair

I think it is a bit weird that most of the elves have short hair, but for some characters I think it makes sense. With Elrond, not only do I think the actor would look strange with long hair, I think it helps make Elrond feel young. In LOTR, Hugo Weaving’s long hair, robes and general demeanour make him appear old and wise, as he is. TROP is going for a more youthful version of Elrond and I think he’s short hair, and much simpler clothing is very effective at portraying that.

It also makes sense for Arondir, he’s a solider living at a remote outpost and he’s hair is in a traditional protective style. I guess they could have given him locs or something, but imagine the racist outcry if that had happened.

And the rest of the elves just aren’t on screen enough for me to really have an opinion.

The POC Characters

I addressed this above, it does nothing to detract from the quality of the show, and you’re only saying it does because you’re racist. Elves don’t exist, so they can be black. Dwarves don’t exist, so they can be black. Humans do exist, and they are black, so there can be black people. Move on folks. Also, there’s some great Asian actors in it as well, though they’ve flown under the radar.

The Lady Dwarves

Do you people have nothing better to do? Move on.

The Harfoots and Irish Stereotypes

This is probably one of the only actually legitimate complaints I’ve seen about the show, that the Harfoots lean into deep-rooted anti-Irish stereotypes and stigma. It’s not really something I have knowledge on, so I don’t want to get too deeply into it, but I thought it was worth mentioning that some people hold that opinion and it would be interesting to look more into it.

Warrior Princess Galadriel

Yeah, this went about as well as I thought it would. It’s like the whole Tauriel thing over again.

Anyway, that’s my unhinged rant about the Rings Of Power. To sum it up, I enjoyed watching it. It’s well made and well-acted, I like some of the characters, though I do feel like it’s trying to focus on too many people all at once. There’s some issues with it, as I expected, but they’re not enough to destroy my enjoyment of it. I guess the best way to sum it up would be to say that I enjoy it as a fantasy TV show, but I don’t necessarily enjoy it as an edition to the world of Middle Earth. Having said that, I might change my mind as Season 2 comes out. Who knows.

What did you think of the Rings of Power, if you’ve seen it? If you haven’t, are you planning to? What’s your take on elves with short hair?

4 thoughts on “Okay, So I Caved…

  1. They killed Celeborn? What kind of move is that? Are they planning to resurrect him? Makes no sense, and that’s coming from someone who has read “The Silmarillion” and the appendices numerous times. (And he’s Galadriel’s husband. HUSBAND. I mean, what…? Where’s the logic here? Were they drinking too much of Butterbur’s ale?) Also, the rings were forged in the Second Age…which, from what I hear, is apparently when this takes place? Nevertheless, if they’re showing Isildur, then they need to have the One Ring in there at the very least. Yeesh. They should have gone with putting “The Silmarillion” into live action instead of attempting to create something Tolkien did not first pen.

    Ahem. The rant of this LOTR nerd is hereby at an end. I won’t be watching these movies.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I came here curious as I’m a bit nervous to get into the show considering all the controversy around it but, more than anything, because I’m a big fan of Lord of the Rings AND Peter Jackson’s work so I didn’t want to come away from The Rings of Power with a bad taste in my mouth and I feeling like I’ve wasted my time. Much to my relief, you seem to echo most of the sentiment I’ve heard about the show: It’s not as bad as some people make it out to be (I think some dramatics are coming into play) but it doesn’t feel quite like Lord of the Rings. Like you said, it doesn’t feel real and seems to lack the authenticity of the original movies.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts though and maybe someday I will have the time and energy to brave the show and come away with my own solid opinion but for now I think I shall settle for reading blog posts about such matters.

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  3. Thanks for the review, Chelsea!
    Though I’m not a die-hard fan of the LoTR *ducks from flying tomatoes* Wait, wait! I still like the concept of the whole story. I really liked the original Galadriel, along with Frodo and Sam (forever one of my favorite best-buddy-characters in the story-world.)

    *cough* Anywho, I started the first episode of the Rings of Power, but it was too slow, and violent for my taste. Not to mention that I was confused as to the timeline lol (but elves with short hair kinda sound cool. Still, it was more impressive with how Legolas could shoot arrows left and right without his hair bothering him XD.)

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  4. Oh that’s right! I was like, who’s Celeborn? And then I remembered *facepalm* I…have trouble keeping names straight XD. I haven’t seen that episode (actually, I started the first one, but decided the series wasn’t for me and ended up quitting.) Perhaps it’s one of those ‘fake deaths’, like they do in Star Wars.

    Liked by 1 person

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