Rings of Power: Season Finale And Verdict

Caution: This article contains spoilers. Watch the episode first.

Alrighty, we made it to the end of the series. If you’ve been watching this show every week, you probably have your own opinions on the series. Feel free to comment below on what you think of the series and of my critique! Have you been enjoying the series? Why or why not?

So, I’m just going to put this here and come back to it: if a piece of entertainment has entertained sufficiently, it has fulfilled its purpose. The Rings of Power is a TV show intended to entertain watchers, and if you had fun with this show, that’s pretty much the sum of what matters. Of course, we do debate things like the writing, cinematography, and dialogue, but we do so to determine whether or not the show is objectively good or bad. Some stories can be terrible but we still enjoy them: some good stories we may hate (read Moby Dick recently? Didn’t think so!).

So let’s take a look at the last episode from a writing perspective: I feared that the show was too ambitious for its own good, but everything was tied together quite nicely. I suspected that more would be unresolved, but this first season of Rings of Power leaves enough for there to be a good plot built off of it. But since the show is now finished, I think I’ll take a moment to highlight where the plot is weak.

First of all, the Numenor plotline was badly paced. There was nothing wrong with it as far as content was concerned, but the writers of the show were weak on traveling times. Tolkien’s original work was best as a travelogue, and this wasn’t. This led a lot of people to say that there was essentially “fast-traveling” in the show, and while it’s not that drastic, this is bad for the internal consistency of the story.

Second, most of the characters in the show were B or C tier at best, including Galadriel. While they don’t wreck the show, they’re certainly nothing to write home about. And of course, common or garden characters are pretty much dead weight in the show, so a bit of expanding on the show’s weaker characters would be desired. This show was mostly dependent on the strength of character to carry it through, and they did a moderately good job. The show’s slow, simple plot turned a lot of people off to it, but there was nothing explicitly wrong with it…except for maybe one thing.

While it wasn’t implausible for the elves’ light to be fading, we are only given nebulous reasons for Mithril being a saving grace. Logically, this would work, but it’s pretty silly that we aren’t given an explicit how to save the elves. Obviously Mithril is the answer and for good reasons, but the how is still pretty fuzzy. Vaccination? To the elves have to EAT it? This is unclear and would help a lot if we showed instead of told.

Which leads me to the show’s ultimate problem: too much tell, not enough show. This is a basic rule of thumb in writing, and this show didn’t adhere to it very much. For example, we’re shown Galadriel failing as a leader, as a diplomat, and as a moral warrior (she gets thrown in prison for her sharp tongue, her team abandons her because they’re just fed-up with her obsession, and her obsession shows that she comes close to being Sauron).

So she obviously have failings, and we’re told her failings have an effect on the story (so they do: elves die because of Galadriel, time is lost, people are manipulated, and the fact that Sauron lives is literally thanks to Galadriel). The problem is that we’re not shown: we need a shot of dialogue where Galadriel takes personal responsibility for the elves that she has led to death, feels sorry for saving Sauron, realizes that her delays have cost lives, etc. We’re told things about Galadriel that we are not explicitly shown, leaving a lot of watchers to conclude that they don’t exist, which is a problem. A bit more showing would have been appreciated.

A lot of people would like to tell you that Galadriel is a Mary Sue. She is–and, simultaneously, isn’t. I’ll explain: if you go off what we’re shone, she’s an untouchable paragon of virtue and skill. If you go off what we’re told, her actions leave elves and men to die, she’s awful at diplomacy and as a result has to take advice from Sauron to convince Miriel, despite her skill she’s a bad leader, and her obsession with Sauron is corrupting and blinding her. This is not shown as strong as is necessary, and Galadriel would have been much stronger if it had been so. As it is, a lot of people have differing perspectives on Galadriel, and it’s the show’s fault that they didn’t make the good parts of her character obvious.

But other than that, the show did not have any damning flaws. Yeah, I’ll admit some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy, but that’s not enough to destroy a show. The show was carried by its characters who could have been better but were still intriguing and interesting. In other words, the show was sufficiently good.

But do you know what’s far, far worse than the Rings of Power? The “critiques” the show is getting. I have heard very little logical argument for the show’s bad quality. The critics of the show are just baseless hecklers with no real reason to hate the show other than a perceived “agenda”.

The attacks on Galadriel’s character I will allow, not because they are true but because the show did a poor job of convincing people otherwise. I do not believe Galadriel is a Mary Sue (at least completely), but the show’s attempts to disprove such accusations were mediocre at best. The show’s writers need to work on showing things better and stop relying on the narrative to simply tell us things.

So should you watch the show? Well, I see nothing seriously wrong with it. I’d give it a 7.1: nothing groundbreakingly horrible, nothing incredibly masterful. Just a notch above your average popcorn series, I’d say. I had a blast watching it, and maybe you will too. Right now, the so-called “critics” without any meaningful criticism are blowing their stacks for exactly no good reason. I make allowances for things like bits of cheesy dialogue and Galadriel’s character being a severe miscommunication, but you’re fooling yourself if you say that the show is a historically bad train wreck.

After all, critique is not about one’s jaded opinion. Critique is about the objective quality of writing, and this narrative does not have enough plot holes, weaknesses, or lack of good character to deem it a truly bad show. I’m sorry: as much as you hate the show, you can’t make it worse by crying about it. For my fellow critiquers, I would recommend actually thinking of logical reasons why the show’s writing is terrible instead of “I’m not even going to talk about the terrible writing” or “this writing is some of the worst I’ve ever seen” without providing a logical basis. Save it for She-Hulk, an actually terrible show.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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