The Rings of Power premiere review, a fantastic start with a few missteps along the way. This review will cover both opening episodes of Season 1 of The Rings of Power, called ‘Shadow of the Past’ and ‘Adrift’ respectively. As for SPOILER policy? For now I’m keep as SPOILER FREE as I possibly can. That could change as the season progresses but for now that’s my plan.
Bit of background. I’m a fairly big Tolkienite, and have read pretty much everything he wrote many times. Yet, there are still some out there who far outstrip my own knowledge. I came at this show with trepidation because ultimately this is a fan fiction project. Okay, it’s licensed by the Tolkien Estate and there are some rules as we understand. However this is still largely fan fiction. So was it any good?
I must admit, I was entertained. I said in the title there were a few missteps and I’ll get into those criticisms below. However, there was also a lot to enjoy. The brief backstory told in episode 1 I enjoyed. I know some fans are already annoyed they skipped over so many details. However instead I feel like it’s a nod to those who do know and an encouragement to those who don’t to go read the First Age history.
The show is very beautiful and it’s a bit of a geek out moment to see some of these landscapes brought to life on screen. So far the dialogue has been better than I had expected it to be, given that Tolkien really didn’t write any dialogue for these characters in this Age. It’s trying to be Tolkien like, but it’s pretty hard to compare to genius. Tolkien had a way with words that made him unique in my mind. At least so far the aim is there and I think that’s about as good as we can expect.
As for the story on show, so far so good. I don’t want to get into the weeds of where all this is going in case you’re new to Tolkien’s outside of the movies. Ultimately we know where this story is going but do not quite know how we get the pieces all on the board where they need to be in later Seasons.
The Story and the Characters
As such, all we can really comment on is how enjoyable each of the storylines being shown are so far. There are by the end of Episode 2 five distinct main stories developing here. The Harfoots and the Stranger; Celebrimbor, Elrond and the Dwarves; Galadriel, Halbrand and one would guess the Numenoreans; and finally the Southlands with Arondir and Brownwyn. This could split further if we spend more time with Gil Gilad in Lindon. Or alternatively if the Numenoeran story splits off itself into more threads.
So far the only story thread I’m not loving is Galadriel’s. Sadly, that does seem to the be main focus. It’s not to say my mind won’t change there, however a few of those missteps I spoke about, for me happened in Galadriel’s story arc. However I am really enjoying all the others. I’m surprised I think I find the Southlands story to be the one intriguing me most. That may be because I kind of know where that story is going? However it’s engaging nonetheless.
I won’t be getting into theories here, not yet, though I have a few. Feel free to check out our Review of the Rings podcast which we record tomorrow morning. I will share a few early theories on there.
This was never going to be perfect. Therefore the fact I have so little criticisms of the show so far is definitely a good thing.
I spoke about Galadriel, so here we go. I see what the writers are going for here. Galadriel will grow into the Cate Blanchett version as this series progresses, but for now she feels broken inside and unfulfilled.
The problem we have here, is that Tolkien didn’t write an awful lot about Galadriel. The character only really came to life for Tolkien after he wrote The Lord of the Rings. Whereas, much of Tolkien’s mythology was in place before writing his masterpiece. Tolkien then spent the rest of this life rewriting his mythology to fit more closely with LOTR. Galadriel’s history changed several times with no one, true canon. Therefore the writers are sort of just making all this up.
Obsessed Galadriel who has a vendetta against Sauron, does it work? So far for me, no, not really, I’m sure it’ll all even out. I think Clark does a great job with what she is given here. However, so far, very meh. I simultaneously had a geek out moment and a WTF moment also. Something so cool I’ve often imagined in my head was shown on screen. Yet, something absolutely ludicrous happened straight after it and ruined it slightly for me. If you have not seen the show, and don’t want SPOILERS, all I’ll say is that Galadriel must have been some swimmer. I’ll leave it at that.
I’m also not so far keen on how Gil Galad is dealing with Galadriel. I’m trying to imagine if Tolkien had written a version where Gil Galad does send Galadriel away. But for me Galadriel is too senior an Elf at this point. Also given Galadriel’s background as a Noldor and family member of Feanor, I think his solution for her is a bit odd. However I am prepared to wait and see how it all develops.
This show could still take a dive off a cliff in terms of quality. However if they can keep up what’s good and improve on the few missteps, this could be possibly one of the best pieces of fan fiction ever made. After all, truly adapting this story, especially with the rights they have, is just not possible for now. However I am taking that into account in this Rings of Power review.
Please leave your own The Rings of Power Premiere review below if you can, or let me know what you think of what I had to say? Do you agree with me, or disagree after watching the show?