My First Impressions of “The Rings of Power,” Episodes 1 and 2

No Spoilers in This Section!

A few days ago, I posted about why I was finally excited to watch Amazon’s adaptation of Middle-earth’s Second Age, The Rings of Power, after being skeptical for so long. But now that I have actually watched the first two episodes, I’m not really sure what I think. Definitely a lot of the plot and characters are made up, and at times it seems obvious (as in, it doesn’t feel like something Tolkien would have written). But I don’t hate the show either, and all the fears that the show would be some horrific affront to Tolkien and his work seem a little overblown. Mostly I feel neutral at this point, and that’s disappointing.

The first episode took a while to get going, and while it’s definitely pretty and most of the actors are great, this installment probably suffered from how much background information it had to get through and how many characters there are. I didn’t love the prologue, which seemed to want to cover a lot of The Silmarillion without actually getting into any details about The Silmarillion. I understand this is likely a combination of the studio not having the rights to discuss some events and of wanting to get through things on a basic level so people unfamiliar with the plot could follow, but I still felt underwhelmed by it. However, there was some decent imagery, and you can tell the writers are trying hard to work with what they have.

I decided to keep watching because, frankly, the first episode of a lot of shows leave something to be desired. I think the first episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender is a snooze fest, for instance, but the show as a whole is great! So I kept up my optimism for episode two.

It did deliver, a little. The second episode made me more invested in the characters, as I saw more of them, and I got more invested in the plot. To be fair, the general plot of the series *as a whole* still seems unclear besides “Galadriel thinks Sauron is coming back, and he probably is,” but I got invested in what some of the characters are doing in their own little plot lines, and the writers seem to have a thing for ending on cliffhangers to keep viewers hooked.

My only real issue is that I’m not feeling as if I’m sucked into Middle-earth. The show certainly looks like Middle-earth. The scenery is beautiful. I want to go live in Lindon now. But I don’t know about the story, even if I haven’t quite pinpointed why. Is it the dialogue? The plot? The places where the show deviates from Tolkien? I want to give the show more of a chance to see if it can grab me, but I’m disappointed my general feelings are, “This show is okay, but I don’t know if I would rewatch it for fun or go out of my way to recommend anyone else watch it.”

Spoilers!

Here are some random thoughts I have about some details in the show so far:

  • I don’t know that the Harfoots as a whole are doing anything in particular in the show (i.e. that they’re “necessary”), but I’ve decided I kind of love Poppy, who doesn’t want to be adventurous or take risks but does so for love of her friend. She wants to pretend she’s not a good person sometimes, but she is. And she has a hidden sense of wonder.
  • I think the Galadriel plot line is causing a lot of issues. Like with the writers having Gil-galad send her and the other Elves to Valinor. (Uh, why is this his decision?) And then the weird portrayal of the journey to Valinor itself. I thought it seemed like Valinor was already outside the circles of the earth due to the magical protective cloud wall and the light that seems to assume people into it, but I don’t know if that’s what the writers were going for.
  • Durin and Disa are very fun. I want to see more of them.
  • I don’t love Arondir as much as other people seem to. He comes across as rather stiff to me.
  • It’s so awkward everyone just calls Finrod Galadriel’s brother all the time, instead of his name.
  • Celebrimor seems promising as a character. I like his story about Morgoth and the Silmarils, even if it isn’t canon.
Briana

21 thoughts on “My First Impressions of “The Rings of Power,” Episodes 1 and 2

  1. Kim @ Traveling in Books says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first two episodes and barely noticed the passage of time while I was watching them. I was a little iffy about Galadriel’s “return” to Valinor, too, but given that they showrunners don’t have access to The Silmarillion, I can understand how things like that won’t necessarily play out the way we expect them to. I’m a little in love with Nori, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her plotline with the Stranger plays out. I’m also curious to see how Sauron’s eventual return plays out, especially when it comes to Celebrimbor’s desire to be as great a craftsman as his grandfather Feanor. I’ll probably rewatch the episodes over this long weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I want to get behind Galadriel, but for some reason her plot seems the craziest to me, like the writers were struggling the most to make everything fit and ended up making some weird choices because of it.

      I do think Nori and the Stanger are interesting! The Stranger is bugging me because a lot of the show seems to be signaling “Gandalf,” but Gandalf isn’t supposed to be around so ??? I’m just thinking of him talking to the firefly, like the moth in LotR, and Nori’s quote about being “meant to find him,” and the fact that being saved by Hobbits/Harfoots would tie in with his interest in Hobbits.

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  2. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    I agree with all your random thoughts! I felt Celebrimbor’s introduction was a bit underwhelming, but I loved everything we heard from him. Currently I like Bronwyn (did the show even use her name yet?) more than Arondir – I feel like we’ve seen more of her personality. “I don’t know if that’s what the writers were going for” is my take on a few things we saw, including the implication that Valinor has already been moved (I have seen mixed takes on whether or not that is the implication, but that was my impression as well). One thing I’m wondering about is if the generational gaps between certain elves will be made clearer, or if that’s going to be irrelevant to the show’s storylines.

    I had a bit of a headache after watching the two episodes which I am attributing to the excitement surrounding the whole thing as well as thinking too hard about lore, hah. I’ve decided to stop thinking too hard about it and wait until the entire series has aired. I think it will be easier to make evaluations about what’s based on canon, what’s discarded, what’s original once we have some full story arcs.

    …That being said I’m already developing some theories about Halbrand, Theo, and the stranger which I am curious to see how they’ll play out 😛

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, I am really looking forward to what they do with Celebrimor! I was a bit disappointed he was introduced only to disappear once Elrond went to find Durin.

      I wasn’t interested in Bronwyn at all until she went all mother-mode to protect Theo. I thought that added a bit of personality to her. I can’t really get behind the romance between her and Arondir because they just seem to . . . look pointedly at each other? Initially it wasn’t even clear to me that she returned his feelings! So I hope she gets more stuff going for her as a character as the show goes on. And they did use her name at least once because I had the captions on and distinctly remember thinking, “Hey, someone said her name!: when I saw it!

      I was also thinking about the generational gaps! Galadriel kind of brings it up. But then I was thinking about the casting and it’s not even clear they went with younger-looking actors for younger Elves and older ones for older Elves, which I think is a bit confusing.

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      • Krysta says:

        I returned it to the library so I can’t reference it, but I think The Nature of Middle-Earth indicated that Tolkien was thinking that Elves basically stopped aging when they were in their prime? Like even really old Elves might still look like they were in their 30s? Not sure if the showrunners were thinking along those lines, but it would make sense to me if the younger generation of Elves were actors in their 20s and the older in their 30s.

        Of course, I believe Cirdan is described as having a beard and looking old in LotR, while in The Nature of Middle-Earth Tolkien’s writings indicated he thought no Elves had facial hair. So I don’t know what he finally settled on. And there is surely room for interpretation in the show!

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      • Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

        My sister had the same opnion re Bronwyn and Arondir – she thought they were super ‘meh’ until Bronwyn dropped the orc head at the pub. I’m also not really buying their romance but as someone who isn’t a romance fan in general, I’m glad it’s not super obvious, haha.

        I have shocked a few friends by telling them that Galadriel’s daughter marries Elrond so we’ll see how that generational thing plays out…

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        • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

          I feel as if they were trying to copy Orlando Bloom’s Legolas with Arondir, like have him look Elvish by staring very dramatically and looking kind of knowing and wise, but it’s not working for me in this case! He just looks as if he’s staring and not really doing anything! Maybe they can’t do much with the romance since all all know they can’t ACTUALLY be together as a Human/Elf couple though. And someone on Twitter pointed out the flower seeds Bronwyn gives him are the flowers that grow on the graves of the Rohirrim so maybe it’s foreshadowing he dies???

          Yes, it’s really weird to think Galadriel’s older than Elrond because you can’t really tell that at all.

          Like

          • Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

            Ahhh, I see what you mean with the Legolas/Arondir parallels. Legolas lightened up a bit as the movies went on, right, so maybe there’s hope for Arondir?? 😛 I agree that one of them (Arondir or Bronwyn) will have to die before the series’ up. I am not sold yet on who it may be. Maybe they will go the route of The Hobbit with Tauriel and Kili, and make it Bronwyn so Arondir can learn about loss, or something 🙄 (hopefully it would be better done lol). (Here is another thought I’ve just had; it would be quite curious if Bronwyn died and Arondir stepped up as a substitute parental figure to Theo… but I think that’d be extremely unlikely.)

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          • Krysta says:

            Can they not be together? I thought LotR implies some of Nimrodel’s people married humans? And Legolas says there is Elven blood in Prince Imrahil. Perhaps enough clues to let the showrunners imply that another Elf/human match did take place? (Though I do think they won’t follow through since it would likely upset a lot of Tolkien fans.)

            Like

  3. jan says:

    I’m watching this right now and I like it so far. (The elves having short hair really bugs me. Why.)
    Are you planning on continuing watching?

    Like

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