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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Galadriel in a palace - Rings of Power





Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

When you live forever, it’s hard to forget about the pains of the past.

At least, that’s how Galadriel feels. She remembers how the world was back when she lived in Valinor—when the warm light of the world was still provided by Telperion and Laurelin, those two great shining trees during the Days of Bliss. She remembers how her brother was killed during the First Age at the hands of Morgoth and his wicked forces. And she remembers how even though Morgoth was defeated, his faithful servant Sauron managed to escape with his ranks of orcish troops.

It may be centuries since then, but Galadriel—now a great warrior—hasn’t forgotten. And even if many of her elven kind have chosen to believe that Sauron is no more than a bad memory, she continues to search for him. Because she knows that it’s simply not that easy.

“Evil does not sleep,” Galadriel says. “It waits. And in the moment of our complacency, it blinds us.”

And while the elven master smith Celebrimbor commissions the young, honey-tongued Elrond to help him build a great forge, others across Middle-Earth begin to notice signs that not everything is as peaceful as people delude themselves into thinking.

An Old Power Is Rising

A wise little Hobbit once said, “Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.”

Well, Peter Jackson carried J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous work The Lord of the Rings to the big screen, and now, Amazon’s Prime Video has decided to take a crack at it. But rather than focus on the journeys of Bilbo and Frodo’s journeys at the tail-end of Middle-Earth’s Third Age, Amazon’s instead decided to give us a glimpse into the world’s Second Age.

If you’re looking for an estimated time period, the end of that age occurs roughly 3,000 years before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring. While the Frodos, Gimlis and Aragorns of the world are a long time away from being born, viewers will recognize the immortal elves Elrond and Galadriel—albeit looking a bit younger (as going backwards thousands of birthdays tends to do).

And as Galadriel searches for remnants of Morgoth’s wicked servant Sauron, viewers might see many of the major events of this hectic age in this and perhaps subsequent seasons—including Sauron tricking the elves into creating the Rings of Power, the downfall of Númenor and even the War of the Last Alliance.

Now, if you’re not deeply invested in Tolkien lore, those events might not mean much to you. But the confirmation of those events within the series means that Prime Video hopes to stretch over 2,000 years of Tolkien history into a single show—something that will definitely be interesting to see in the episodes and seasons to come. By contrast, Frodo and Sam’s three-film journey to Mount Doom spans a mere six months.

Of course, with a story so large, it should come as no surprise that we’ll see quite a few creative liberties being taken. Its creators have already introduced a number of characters who make no appearance in Tolkien’s lore, and the somewhat empty Second-Age story of Galadriel is given a Prime Video drama series worth of additional story.

All that being said, the show still feels like the Lord of the Rings we’re used to. There’s swordplay, violence and a couple frightening creatures. While much of it is similar to Jacksson’s trilogy, the camera can reveal a bit more blood than viewers may be comfortable with, such as when a warg tears into a woman’s side or when a character’s arm is gruesomely snapped onscreen. However, though there were rumors of possible sexual content, we’ve yet to see anything more scandalous than a man briefly seen wearing a scrap garment similar to Gollum’s.

And though families will want to be aware of the various spiritual elements that the various god-like Valar may introduce as the seasons continue (as a couple of them play a pretty significant part in the downfall of Númenor), even that’s still no different from what we’re accustomed to in The Lord of the Rings. After all, Gandalf, Saruman, Sauron and even the Balrogs are all, in essence, lesser gods who served said Valar.

Aside from a bit of increased violence over the Jackson trilogies, it seems that the biggest issue so far is just how much creative license the series will take away from its source material. But still, we’ll be the first to light the warning beacons of Gondor should any dangers arise to our audience.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 13, 2022 – S1, Ep8: “Alloyed”

Galadriel and Elrond reunite, and Halbrand helps Celebrimbor devise a way to save the Elves. Míriel and Elendil return to Númenor. The Stranger’s identity is revealed as Nori heads after him.

Someone is hit by a thrown dagger. Another few are attacked with magic (and some turn into skeletal figures). We hear a reference to using the restroom. Halbrand is briefly seen shirtless. A character nearly drowns.

Oct. 7, 2022 – S1, Ep7: “The Eye”

The Southlanders struggle to survive the eruption of Orodruin (better known as Mount Doom). Meanwhile, the Harfoots arrive at the Grove, only to find it different than how they remember. Prince Durin must decide between family and friend.

We see the burning aftermath of the eruption of Orodruin: Buildings collapse, both a man and horse are seen aflame and other corpses are seen among the ash. And the survivors carry injuries with them. Of the worst, a man is seen as his leg receives stitches, another man’s face is completely burned and a third man sits with a recently amputated leg wrapped in a bloody bandage.

Wagons are lit aflame. A Harfoot folk song references cannibalism. Durin and his wife kiss.

Meanwhile, we also hear a few discussions regarding good, evil and the will of the gods. “It darkens the heart to call dark deeds good,” Galadriel says. “It gives place for evil to thrive inside us.” Galadriel and Theo additionally discuss the benevolence of the gods’ plan.

“Bloody” is used twice.

Sept. 30, 2022 – S1, Ep6: “Udûn”

Arondir and Bronwyn rally the Southlanders for battle as Adar begins his assault. Meanwhile, the Númenoreans, spearheaded by Galadriel and Halbrand, arrive in Middle-earth.

As battle commences, dozens upon dozens of humans and orcs alike perish via arrows, blades and other weapons. Some people are crushed by falling rocks and other debris. An orc is impaled by a collapsing support beam. An orc’s head is seen impaled on a spike. We see a woman’s throat cut. One orc has a chunk of wood stuck into his eye, and he pulls it out, causing black blood to drip over the face and open mouth of his opponent. A horse is tripped, and others are cut with swords. Someone is stabbed through his hand.

A character has an arrow removed from a shoulder wound onscreen, and we see a lot of blood. Afterward, the wound is cauterized with a fiery stick.

Arondir and Bronwyn share a kiss.

[Spoiler Warning] What was thought to be a mountain erupts, sending flaming rocks and volcanic ash everywhere.

Sept. 23, 2022 – S1, Ep5: “Partings”

While the Númenoreans begin preparations for battle, Isildur attempts to join the army. Tensions grow between Elrond and High King Gil-galad as Elrond suspects Gil-galad has hidden motives. Dangers test the Harfoot travelers. The Southlanders, led by the one-time healer Bronwyn, debate how to respond to the threats of Adar, the mysterious leader of the orcs. Southlander Halbrand must make an impactful decision.

Wargs attack Harfoot travelers. An orc’s skin bubbles and blisters from the sunlight. The Harfoot Nori is thrown through the air by a blast of magical force. A man punches Isildur. Someone burns a boat, and it explodes. Another person has their throat cut offscreen.

People drink wine. We hear reference to the Valar Aulë and Manwë (prominent god-like beings in Tolkien theology). A man kisses his fiancé on the cheek.

A dwarf starts to say the s-word, but he is cut off.

Sept. 15, 2022 – S1, Ep4: “The Great Wave”

Arondir comes face to face with the orc leader Adar, who wants him to deliver a sinister message. Galadriel attempts to convince the Númenoreans to fight alongside the elves against Sauron. Queen Regent Míriel, leader of the Númenoreans, has an apocalyptic vision. Elrond discovers a new ore that the dwarves have uncovered.

An orc slashes at someone, striking his leg. Orcs beat each other, and other orcs are killed with swords and arrows (and one’s head is nearly decapitated). We also see the aftermath of an orcish raid on a village: Sheep are seen slain, and a cow’s decapitated head lays on the bloody ground. Adar stabs a dying orc.

Isildur punches a man in the face. A crowd is given wine to drink. In Míriel’s vision, a massive ocean wave destroys Númenor.

Sept. 9, 2022 – S1, Ep3: “Adar”

While Galadriel and her new companion, Halbrand, are taken to Númenor, Nori and the other Harfoots prepare for their migration. Meanwhile, Arondir is captured by orcs.

Orcs capture and hurt various humanoids, whipping and beating them as they force them to work. A man’s neck is cut, killing him. A woman and man are both killed by a warg (a large, vicious wolf) tearing at their abdomens, gruesomely spilling a large amount of blood. A woman takes a thrown hand axe to her back, killing her. Another person is shot and killed by arrows. Arondir and others strike orcs with their chains, and Arondir stabs an orc and spears a warg.

A gang of men attacks Halbrand, and he fights back, snapping the arm of one of them onscreen and slamming the face of another into cobblestone. A Harfoot reads the ways other Harfoots died at a memorial service. We hear a reference to the Valar.

Sept. 1, 2022 – S1, Ep2: “Adrift”

Galadriel struggles to survive a difficult decision, and Elrond is sent to ask for aid from the dwarves at Khazad-dûm. Nori attempts to communicate with a mysterious stranger, and Arondir explores a tunnel to find its inhabitants.

A man’s foot is broken onscreen, and it is later seen with a deep purple bruise. People are eaten or crushed by a sea monster. A boy smashes a floorboard. Two people fight an orc, and the end result is a decapitation. A dead sheep is seen.

The dwarf Prince Durin burps, and he kisses his wife. There’s also a reference to Aulë, the Valar (a sort-of angelic-god being) who canonically created the Dwarven race. We hear a reference to beer.

“Bloody” is used once.

Sept. 1, 2022 – S1, Ep1: “Shadow of the Past”

Though much of the world believes Sauron to be a finished threat, Galadriel continues searching for traces of him. Meanwhile, Elrond works to prepare a gift for Galadriel and her fighting force. The Harfoot “Nori” longs for adventure, and the Elven soldier Arondir discovers a terrible threat.

We see a couple scenes of general violence as elves and orcs fight, resulting in people being stabbed and killed. We see dead bodies and a couple bloody scrapes, and one hostile creature is stabbed in the head. A snow troll crushes people with rocks and throws them across a cavern, though they all appear to survive the hits—albeit in somewhat bloody fashion. We see some skulls, and general sorcery is referenced. A dragon bites an eagle.

Galadriel, as a child, tackles a boy to the ground. A cow is milked, and its udders exude a black ooze. A town is burned. We see an unconscious man wearing nothing but a ragged cloth garment around his waist.

“Bloody” is used once.

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Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He thinks the ending of Lost “wasn’t that bad.”

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