Welp, I might as well get this out of the way. Why review two episodes to start and then not finish the series? Now that I’ve begun, I’m probably going to follow through to the end (partially because this is marketable content and partially because I just like the show), and one review per episode will be released every Monday until the season ends.
This review’s going to contain a few spoilers, but I’m not going to include my usually summary as part of the critique. This article will be best for people who have already watched the series thus far or who want to know whether it’s watchable and don’t care too much about minor spoilers.
First off: the show is still not woke or going bad in any meaningful way. I had my reservations: I really liked the Book of Boba Fett up until the third episode, but then it bottomed-out and became a useless, notorious flop. In The Rings of Power, characters that I thought would be super annoying are actually well-written, well-casted and well-acted. Politics hasn’t invaded the show yet, and neither have terrible plot holes that ruin the series altogether.
First, I’ll mention the things that seemed pretty weak in the story: The Harfoots, initially conceived as big on family and love for the tribe, seem to have a contradiction in character: every year they migrate to another part of Middle-Earth, but any Harfoot who falls behind in the caravan will be left behind completely.
While the tension this creates for the Brandyfoots because of Nori’s father’s broken ankle is solid, we have had a misconception of Harfoots this entire time. They don’t prize family above all else: they prioritize survival. Although this is plain to see now, we didn’t get enough of a hint that pointed to the truth behind their ever-loving façade. We needed a foreshadowing that hinted at an ends-justify-the-means scenario that might come if the Harfoots have to leave the Brandyfoots behind. It was also false to give us the feeling that Harfoots were as gentle, loving and innocent as Hobbits. It’s an easy fix, but not something that can be undone now.
Also, the scene with the twenty-second slow motion clip of Galadriel riding a horse was, I must say, pretty amateurish. That was just annoying and didn’t have much to do with the story, but it’s definitely lacking in terms of cinematography. And considering that the rest of the TV show was well-shot and acted, I don’t know why such a clip would be in the series.
But other than that, episode 3 was delightfully entertaining and well-plotted. You can sense the plot beginning to speed up when we find out all of the elves have been taken by surprise by orcs and captured, being forced to dig trenches for their enemies. The twists and turns were unexpected but delightful (in a very sadistic, bad-for-the-good-guys kind of way) and generally well-written. This honestly would have been an easy place to give way to a few gaping plot holes, but the information was structured in such a way that the elves were in a place definitely not in their element and therefore at a bigger disadvantage than any of us at first thought.
I was worried that Halbrand’s character would be neglected in episodes to come, but he was, in fact, supercharged into being the highlight of the story thus far. I was very pleased with how they handled his character: his backstory well-finances his actions thus far, and his aptitude as a rogue and a fighter make him as competent as his agreeable character makes him likable. He’s a classic character and is pretty refreshing overall.
Galadriel remains a strong-will, thick-headed non-Karen. Her character is one of the most simple but not one of the most interesting, at least until her arc really picks up. Right now her arc has sagged somewhat, but I don’t expect it to pay off for quite a while. A little more introspection might help this, as well as more of Elrond’s advice and a few more clips of her failing. She’s not annoying, but she doesn’t do much for the story.
I was super hyped for Elendil’s entrance to the story, and I was not disappointed by his cool-tempered resolve, smooth and clever conflict resolution, wise demeanor, and attitude towards his son. Right now Elendil doesn’t need to be any better of a character than he already is. I feel like he’ll be a useful catalyst in Galadriel’s evolution into an older, wiser character.
Isildur in the father/son conflict is good as well, very much a young man in many ways but with the buddings of the great, competent warrior who will follow in his father’s footsteps. The conflict here is unbelievably utilized in all kinds of storytelling, but remains a very good way to inspire sympathy for the characters.
The characters are good, the story is well-paced and intriguing, and the information is handled very well. So far, the series is turning out to be pretty good, and I am very pleased with what I’m watching. Again, I can’t see anything that has wrecked the show or is bringing such bile to the throats of haters. We’ll see how good it is going forward, but so far it’s very good.
Good luck, and happy writing!
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