Review Over the Flaws and Strengths of “Rings of Power”


Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Galadriel is escorted by Elendil through the kingdom of Númenor. This act will lead to a strong friendship between the two characters.

“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is a tale of the heroic legends of the Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. A quick take? This series is excellent with well-drawn characters and a beautifully written narrative. Spoilers ahead for the first three episodes. 

The Second Age of Middle-earth is thousands of years before Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings.”  That means no Bilbo, Frodo, or any of the other more well-known characters. It was created by showrunners J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay for the streaming service Prime Video. In collaboration with HarperCollins, New Line Cinema, and with input from the Tolkien Estate, it is produced by Amazon Studios.

Elrond discusses an alliance with elves and dwarves with Durin. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

It’s aimed to be a five-season production that will cost at least $1 billion. It would then rank as the most expensive television program ever produced. 

The diversity in this cast is outstanding. Fantasy is for everyone so it’s important to represent a variety of groups. The many different faces help capture the world of Tolkein, creating a unique atmosphere. So far in the show, the acting is fantastic. The actors do an excellent job of capturing the emotions of their characters, like the actors playing Queen Miriel and Elrond who show a broad range of emotions. 

In these first three episodes, we visit the ancient elves of Valinor and travel across the Sundering Seas to Middle-earth, where we follow people in the Southlands, nomadic Harfoots in their clandestine camps, Silvan elves in their fortresses, and dwarves in the underground city of Khazad-dum.

Haven’t read the books? No problem! With the production team’s simplification of the plot and timeline, there is no need to read “The Tales of Years” to understand what’s happening in the series. 

Story-wise though, there are some differences in the book like the new characters Nori, Arondir, Browyn, and Halbrand. Despite these characters being new, they still fit well in Tolkien’s work. They bring some enjoyable surprises to a cast that already features several well-known characters and fill in some gaps in Tolkien’s advanced timeline.

Arondir and Browyn’s story will likely follow a similar story to “Beren and Lúthien.” The story of “Beren and Lúthien” is one of Tolkien’s earliest tales of Middle-earth. It is a love story that follows mortal man Beren and immortal Elf-maiden Lúthien. It tells a tale of forbidden love for one is immortal and the other is doomed to die.

The most prominent change is with Galadriel and her involvement. “The Rings of Power” examines Galadriel’s position as a commander and leader before becoming the Lady of Lorien, making her the main character in a way she hasn’t been previously. It’s an interesting change that offers a fresh backstory for a previously seen character. Galadriel from “The Rings of Power” feels similar to that of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy while being sufficiently different to show that she still has room to develop.

However, Galadriel’s character change from canon also proves problematic. The writers aim to sound Tolkienesque, but it doesn’t come across that way at all. The primary character, Galadriel, is written to be unlikable. It is not surprising that when given the chance, her troops declare they are leaving because, despite being a supposed great warrior and leader, she would be more than happy to leave one of her followers behind to freeze to death. 

Galadriel had been around for millennia by the Second Age, and people respect her for her knowledge and advice in the books. Instead of being the “scourge of the orcs,” she is a leader who inspires with advice and direction. It would be foolish to portray her in any other way. Galadriel was a war leader in the battle against Morgoth and Sauron. She was not the spoiled, impulsive child portrayed in this series.

Her scornful Elrond encounter comes off as that of a whining child screaming about her parents’ lack of empathy. She claims that Elendil spared her from certain death in Episode 3, but then jumped off the ship to certain death. Then there’s the wonderfully mature way she belittles and insults her hosts when she demands assistance in Númenor. These reactions were out of character for Galadriel. 

All around they seem to have made her into this problematic character, creating problems instead of fixing them. I hope in future episodes they’ll fix her personality and make her the strong warrior leader she is.

The show seems more like a standalone fantasy because of this change of plot. Despite the flaws that came with Galadriel’s character, I enjoyed this series’ visuals and new characters. I can’t wait to see more in the following episodes and seasons.