My Thoughts on Episode 6 of “The Rings of Power”

Rings of Power episode 6 review

Spoilers!

I seem to be in the minority here, but I didn’t love episode 6 of The Rings of Power. I understand the positives that left a lot of viewers thinking this was the best episode yet: It was cohesive, following just the Southlanders and the Númenóreans as their plot lines converged. It was meant to be pretty epic, with a battle and some big reveals from Adar. And, of course, the ending.

The problem is that the show just isn’t really making me feel as much as I hoped it would. I can see what the show wants me to feel. I am supposed to be in awe of Galadriel, to be afraid for the Southlanders who have never fought before and now must defend themselves against a large army, to root for the love between Arondir and Bronwyn, to see the wonder (and, uh, squalor) of Middle-earth through the eyes of Isildur. But I just don’t. I haven’t perfectly pinpointed why I don’t, but I think it’s a combination of the fact that 1) I can see how the story is crafted, which takes me out of it and 2) there hasn’t been enough build-up for some of the characters.

Seeing the craft means I can see what the writers are going for in each scene, but it also means I am thrown out of the story by all the homages to Peter Jackson’s work. I can’t become immersed in the story if I am thinking, “Ah, this scene is like Arwen riding her horse,” or, “Oh, like when the Rohirrim rode over the hill to Helm’s Deep.” It’s distracting. I also am sometimes thrown out by the references to actual Tolkien. When Bronwyn gave Theo her motivational speech about the shadow being a small and passing thing, with light and high beauty forever beyond its reach, I didn’t even really think of Sam Gamgee; I thought that was a completely bizarre thing for a mother to say to a small child who had a nightmare! I cannot believe someone wrote that into the script.

As for build-up for characters . . . I think focusing this episode on the Southlands was meant to help with that, and I liked seeing more of Bronwyn and Theo, but I still am baffled by the romance between Bronwyn and Arondir. When Arondir suggested getting a little house together after everything was over, I think I might have been more surprised than Bronwyn herself. Do they even know they like each other??? And now he’s basically proposing??? I know this is a great ship for a lot of people, but I haven’t been able to get invested in it.

Adar is a stand out, however, and I do love his scenes. It was also great of the writers to explore a bit of the problem of orcs with the dialogue between him and Galadriel. I hope he’s not actually dead because right now he’s one of the best parts of the entire series.

I am still watching the show. I hope I will love the last two episodes. It’s been interesting to see this take on Middle-earth, but it’s just not compelling to me.

Briana

6 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Episode 6 of “The Rings of Power”

  1. Gemma says:

    Honestly the writing is just terrible. I don’t know if they are trying to hard to attempt to be Tolkien (and there’s so many things you could say about them missing the point there) but for the most part it’s just bad (in most cases I do like Durin and Disa and Adar has been okay). And when they do try to go for these big moments it’s just completely unearned and falls flat for me.
    Ugh sorry if I’m ranting but I honestly can’t believe with how much is supposedly riding on this show for Amazon the scripts and story have been such a mess.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yeah, there are definitely a lot of moments where the writing is not working for me, and there are things I don’t think make sense, and it’s frustrating when the show does seem to have a lot of potential.

      And then just things like the distances and times not seeming to add up, which is also frustrating when you consider Tolkien was so detailed about his work. Like if he describes the moon, the moon is actually in the correct phase that he figured out. But in the show we get people debating whether it was actually physically possible for Waldreg to get from the village to the fortress to put in the key in the time he did.

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  2. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    I agree that some of these moments that seem to be call outs to the films are jarring. Especially the “Ah, this scene is like Arwen riding her horse” scene! I was thinking, hmm, this just isn’t as cool. I’m sure there is some level of nostalgia that plays into looking more fondly at the films than this show, but I agree that something isn’t quite right, or, something just isn’t there.

    Maybe it’s what you’ve noted about not having enough build up for some of the characters. I have this sense that the something missing is something related to the plot. And it seems the showrunners are doing that deliberately, with some reveal to come in the final episodes that will change how we view the earlier episodes. But I don’t think that’s a great storytelling technique for a show like this…

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, I’ve seen people arguing that we just need to be patient and maybe it will all make sense or all be more moving by the last episode because we have to let the writers build things up, but I do think it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re writing a show that takes 7-8 weeks to watch that some people won’t MAKE it to episode 8 if the show doesn’t seem to be going anywhere or coming together.

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  3. Krysta says:

    I find it interesting that there have been speculations that there are going to be big reveals at the end of the season, and that people have to look for clues to figure out the puzzle because it’s all really a huge mystery. Because I don’t think Tolkien’s writing is like that. It’s actually usually very straightforward. There aren’t typically huge reveals that something wasn’t the way we thought it was. It just doesn’t seem Tolkien-esque to go, “AHA! WE MADE YOU THINK THIS WAS A HARFOOT, BUT IT WAS ALWAYS SAURON IN DISGUISE! YOU SHOULD HAVE NOTICED HIS FEET WEREN’T QUITE RIGHT AND HIS DIALECT WAS OFF. HE USED THE WRONG WORD FOR ‘PUDDING!'”

    Yes, there are surprises in LotR like Gandalf the White coming back, or Frodo being alive in the tower, or Merry and Pippin NOT meeting Saruman in Fangorn Forest. There are elements of suspense and places where Tolkien was clearly relying on people to wonder what would happen next. But LotR isn’t really like, say, Lost. Tolkien does not routinely put in weird and unexplained things just to keep an avid fanbase guessing. That seems like more of a contemporary storytelling method that probably benefits from the internet, where a bunch of people can watch together and puzzle it out together immediately after online.

    I don’t know. Finding out that Rings of Power was deliberately misleading viewers in order to shock them eight episodes in wouldn’t be in the spirit of Tolkien, to me. A straight-forward fantasy narrative would make more sense. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that, regardless of what other shows are doing.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That’s what I keep thinking. It’s weird the whole hook is, “Who is Sauron?” like it’s a big mystery.

      If this were actually an adaptation based on an existing story (like the LotR movies were based on the LotR books), then practically none of it would be a “mystery” or “surprise” to anyone who had read the books. All on the interest shouldn’t hinge on some sense of mystery. That also means rewatching it might not be that interesting.

      I also personally don’t CARE who Sauron is, and I think half the theories are absurd. I cannot believe anyone honestly believes the Stranger is Sauron, for instance, but apparently they do???

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