“Rings of Power” Episodes 1 & 2 Review

Story posted September 12, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Ethan Hetrick.

For a show about rings of power, the first two episodes have zero rings.

On a more serious note, Amazon Prime’s one-billion-dollar fantasy epic is worth every penny so far.

The show is a predecessor to all the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies. Yet, it still features memorable characters from the franchise with the main protagonist being the warrior version of Galadriel (now played by Morfydd Clark instead of Cate Blanchett) and the looming antagonist Sauron. There is even a younger and more playful Elrond (now Robert Araymo rather than Hugo Weaving).

But don’t worry, there are new characters for fans to grow attached to like the illegally smitten elf Arondir or the legendary Dwarven Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur). There is even a new hobbit group being led by the curious, hobbit Nora (Markella Kavenagh)

With the show having so many characters, the way the plot is handled is like “Avengers: Infinity War” as in there are multiple groups, each with their own story, and when the audience is hooked onto group the show cuts away to another group right at the most interesting moment leaving the audience hooked on each plot line. It can get annoying because sometimes it would work better if the show let a certain plot line play out longer rather than jumping back to it later. It doesn’t overall hurt the show, but it is tedious.

The broad overview is that the world is in peace but there are signs that the orcs are going to remerge and declare war once more. The story is following four minor plots that follow different groups.

The first one is being led by the elven warrior Galadriel. She is seen to be hunting down the orcs and trying to get vengeance, but her company and elven community thinks the orc threat is gone. The elves send Galadriel and other notable warriors to go be at peace at the undying fields. Galadriel, still hellbent on vengeance, jumps into the ocean before she can enter the fields. She is rescued by a group of humans but after a heated argument the group is attacked by “the worm” which is a sea monster that kills all except Galadriel and a southlander that gives her a lead on the orc army.

Arrondir is an elven soldier that is falling for a human girl named Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi). The issue is that elves should not marry anyone other than an elf because their lives are so long, and they cannot remarry. Bronwyn's village despises Arrondir, and besides their forbidden love, they are also the first case of orcs attacking their village and they must evacuate the town.

Eldon is sent on a quest by the king to try to gather an audience with King Durin III. To do this Eldon heads to the Khazad-dûm to talk to his old friend, Prince Durin IV. After being denied to the mountain, Eldon must invoke a rite to battle the Prince in a rock smashing contest. If Eldon loses, he is banned from all dwarven lands but if he wins, he is allowed to stay.

Eldon loses, but manages to weasel his way into staying and finds out that the Prince is mad at him because Eldon has missed his wedding and birth of kids. After a long dinner, Eldon manages to regain favor with the Prince, but the Prince is still one edge when he brings the topic up to his father.

Nora is a young hobbit girl that wants an adventure that her community won’t provide. Her hobbit community hides and fears the world. They are also a very superstitious group.

While Nora was wondering, a comet falls out of the sky and lands by her feet only to see an unconscious man. When she goes up to him, he screams and the flames around them go wild, but he eventually passes out and the flames go back to normal. She hides him from the community and the next day she slowly builds a friendship with him, but he goes in a rage again screaming out gibberish. He starts to write on a rock but each line he makes another one of her villagers gets hurt. She eventually gets to calm him down and returns to the village.

The stranger could be a one of Middle Earth’s wizards or perhaps even a young Gandalf which this show could be his backstory, but little is still known about him.

Where the show excels at is its visuals. Instead of having the darker tones of medieval fantasies like “The Witcher” or “Game of Thrones,” the show manages to keep the mystical and bright scenery from the films. Each set piece looks straight out of the movie. It is also wonderful to see Khazad-dûm in its glory before it is filled with a Dragon in “The Hobbit.”

The monsters in the show are spectacular. Instead of CGI orcs for “The Hobbit',' the show goes back to the muck up department like in “The Lord of the Rings.” Yet, the show also has amazing CGI monsters like “the worm.” The series has finally hit its stride on a good mix of practical and CGI effects.

The show doesn’t feel like a downgrade from the movies. It feels slower but more fleshed out. It reminds the audience of the early 2000s when the series was first kicked off and made it even better.

The biggest flaw which plagues all “Lord of the Rings” products is that you must like the slower parts because there are a lot of slow moments where they build up characters and speak a lot of fantasy lines that would confuse an average fan.

Overall, “Rings of Power” finds its stride in the first two episodes and any casual television and hardcore Lord of the Rings fan will enjoy equally. Hopefully, the rest of the show is just as good as the first two episodes.

Rating: 4.5/5

Ethan Hetrick is a second-year telecommunications major. To contact him, email eth5186@psu.edu.