The day of wrath has come, uniting the Tolkien fanbase beneath a single banner in opposition to the looming bastardization that is Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The first two episodes of The Rings of Power premiered on Amazon Prime and were met with all the backlash expected from the Tolkien fan base following the utter annihilation that was the ratio for all The Rings of Power trailers. Fans knew the show was going to be horrific merely as a fantasy show but also abysmal as an adaptation of Tolkien. Even with the dissociation from Tolkien’s incredible world, The Rings of Power is still an extraordinarily dull and generic fantasy show at the very best. However, the fundamental ineptitude in every word spoken or written for these scripts can do nothing but surprise the audience, as it is far worse than expected. The show is so horrendous that Tolkien purists may need therapy after watching it, as Morfydd Clark allegedly needed following her action sequences.
It seems inconceivable to believe that this is the most expensive television show ever made, as the alleged budget appears to evaporate, none of it getting applied to hiring competent writers, crafting good costumes, or generating good CGI. This series must be used for money laundering or a tax write-off of some sort; there is no other plausible explanation to justify The Rings of Power’s complete lack of quality. This show has been compared to The CW, and that is honestly offensive to The CW. The CW created some good shows, like the early seasons of the Arrowverse and much of Supernatural. Even Batwoman, the worst show on The CW, is more entertaining, as a degree of masochistic and sadistic comedy can be derived from the failings of that show. None of that is present for The Rings of Power.
All the most egregious issues in these first two episodes are derived from their scripts. There are so many fundamental laws of writing broken, even in the first lines of voice-over. The dialogue is extremely modern, with characters often using words like “yeah,” yar,” and “OK,” all of which feel wholly out of place in a medieval fantasy. Scenes end and transition at a whim; the dialogue also randomly transitions like a schizophrenic person spouting nonsense, flitting from one subject to another without thought. No character allows a contemplative silence to communicate their motivations; each of them explains every facet of their personality as explicitly as possible. In episode 2, “Adrift,” several characters walk up to a sinkhole, look down at it, and describe what they’re seeing, not unlike, “Oh look, there is a sinkhole in front of us. I wonder why a sinkhole is here. Did you know that that’s a sinkhole?” The writers don’t trust the audience to infer that a sinkhole is directly in front of the characters when they’re being shown… a sinkhole directly in front of the characters.
As mentioned previously, even the show’s first line is bad writing. In voice-over, Galadriel says, “Nothing is evil in the beginning. There was a time before the sunrise.” First of all, things are absolutely evil to start off in the world of Tolkien. Morgoth was definitely evil right off the bat. Secondly, those two statements have nothing to do with each other; it’s a complete non-sequitur. On the first day of writing school, they teach you not to have non-sequiturs and to connect your statements in a cohesive manner that transitions from one thought to another well. “A Shadow of the Past” was not off to a good start from its very first lines.
Also partially derived from the writing — but also the lackluster performances — the characters within these first two episodes are incredibly dull, vapid, and overall unlikable. Not a single character offers anything for the audience to relate to them or even like them. Galadriel’s bastardization is by far the worst part of the show; even without the horrendous changes to her characters from the books and films, she is a genuinely off-putting character. Morfydd Clark’s recent description of her Galadriel as “Gross,” “Naïve,” and “Angry” is 100% accurate in these first two episodes. Clark gives an extremely one-note, underwhelming performance. She’s either angry or dismissive; those are the only emotions she displays throughout these first two episodes. Clark may be a good actress in other performances, but she brings near zero talent to this role. The show’s treatment of Elrond is also highly offensive to the book and film character, and he is also pathetic and unlikable in and of himself.
It is an unfair comparison considering the quality of those movies, but from the opening moments of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, each character was concisely introduced to the audience with their fundamental traits available for discernment and the reasons for their likability evident. In just a few lines — and without lines in some cases — Jackson created an ensemble of incredibly deep and relatable characters. Within two hours of television, the writers of The Rings of Power have failed at that most basic of tasks. Some of these supposed heroes are straight-up not even good people. As shown in the trailers, Galadriel is more than willing to allow one of her soldiers to be left in the snow to die if it means continuing her mission. That makes her a bad person and a poor commander. Surprisingly, Grace Randolph’s description of Galadriel was spot-on when she said that Galadriel was “both a Mary Sue and Karen.”
The Rings of Power seems determined to berate and denigrate every established character, tearing them down and making them something completely different while creating all-new, genuinely off-putting ones. Without good characters or dialogue, there is nothing for the audience to connect with, leaving this entire show a complete and utter mess.
The Rings of Power is absolutely the Galadriel show; we knew this going in, but it’s far more her show than anticipated. The episode opens with her getting bullied as a child. Elves, who are supposedly beyond human vices and more resistant to emotional shortcomings, bully each other as children in the Undying Lands, where there is no possibility for sin or conflict. The bullying aside, the episode opens with this horrible metaphor from Galadriel’s brother on why ships sail that doesn’t make sense when taken either metaphorically or literally. Rocks don’t look down; that doesn’t make any sense. There is an applicable metaphor hidden deep in there about allowing yourself to be dragged down versus always moving forward like a ship. But instead, the writers choose a nonsensical metaphor, which may sound profound but is ultimately meaningless, to be the emotional crux of the episode.
Once the prologue is over, Galadriel spends the majority of the first episode hunting Sauron or arguing with other elves about why she should be allowed to continue her hunt for Sauron in revenge for her dead brother. However, King Gil-galad of the elves determines that she’s far more dangerous to the elves than beneficial, so he sends her off to the Undying Lands to achieve eternal peace. When Galadriel sails to the Undying Lands and reaches the border between Middle Earth and the Undying Lands, she just yeets herself off the boat and begins the long swim back to Middle Earth. Galadriel attempts to swim across the Sundering Sea. As shown on the map below, that is an astronomical distance. That sea is wider than the breadth of Mordor. It may even be a farther journey than Frodo took to Mount Doom, yet she attempts to swim it.
While all this is going on, the audience is introduced to the Harfoots, which should not exist for another 2000 years as they are a type of Hobbit, but that has been extensively covered by the lore experts on YouTube. The majority of their scenes are rife with the cheesy and nonsensical dialogue which defines this series so far, but it also depicts them as extremely dirty and devoid of basic hygiene. Some racism accusations have even been labeled against the show, comparing the Harfoots to the Irish. The Harfoot scenes are incredibly cringey, especially considering they were meant to be the comic relief. The pathetic shenanigans of the Harfoots are interrupted when a Wizard falls from the sky… also a few thousand years too early. All the interactions between the Harfoots and the Wizard — who is absolutely Gandalf — are also comedy-oriented and incredibly cringe. Very little happens with the Harfoots beyond the Wizard’s introduction, making them a nearly totally redundant addition to these first two episodes.
The choreography is also rather pathetic. The fight sequences are either super close-up shaky-cam to disguise the choreography’s ineptitude or overly stylized in an anime-like way. The worst moment of the latter is also featured in the promotional material for The Rings of Power, which sees Galadriel running up her soldier’s blade to be launched into the air and dispatch a troll with complete ease. That sequence is as farcical as it came across in the promotional material.
The music isn’t memorable at all; much of it is underwhelming. In the original Peter Jackson films, Howard Shore was able to craft numerous tracks that audiences could immediately hum along to and remember. However, even the theme song, which supposedly was composed by Shore himself, is completely forgettable.
In another example of “Where the hell did all the money go,” the costumes for this show are cheaply made and, honestly, pathetic. Again, it is unfair to compare this show to the masterful Peter Jackson films, but those movies put extreme detail into every link of chainmail and applied immaculate craftsmanship for every single piece of armor and costume. That is not the case for The Rings of Power whatsoever. Each outfit looks as if the production merely went to the local Spirit Halloween store to pick up the cheapest costumes available.
It may have seemed impossible for the scene from the trailers that featured Elrond telling Galadriel to put up her sword to be more cringe-inducing and pathetic, but “A Shadow of the Past” seems to have taken that assumption as a challenge, saying, “Hold my beer.” Galadriel’s asking what she is without her sword in response to Elrond is horrific from a lore standpoint, considering that, in the books and films, Galadriel is a regal and wise ruler and one of the most powerful beings in Middle Earth. To reduce her to a mean sword lady is the biggest downgrade in history. However, this scene is made far worse by Elrond’s response to her question: “You’ll still be my friend.” Instead of commenting on the amazing qualities that Galadriel has from the books, Elrond resorts to saying that they’re friends. This is the only genuine moment of levity that these episodes provide, unintentionally so. This Galadriel has repeatedly demonstrated that she cares not for any person — even those under her command — if they come between her and her hunt for Sauron. Why does Elrond believe that appealing to their friendship will sway her? In this single scene, they degrade all characters involved, showing a strong degree of stupidity and making an already cringey scene far worse.
The other subplot is entirely uninteresting and forgettable. Arondir and Bronwyn — like the rest of their castmates — had zero chemistry, making their entire relationship completely unbelievable. Their storyline is dull and uninteresting, and their performances even more so; there is very little to say beyond that. The only questions to come out of this subplot are, where did Sauron’s blade come from? How did Theo find a magic sword in some random barn somewhere? Why was it there? These questions were not answered. Even the whole tunnel digging situation is completely uninteresting and not worth breaking down.
Additionally, whenever mentioning Arondir, it must be noted that the Barber shops in Middle Earth are on fleek, as nearly every single character in this show has a near-perfect modern-day haircut. Even Galadriel’s brother has a tight fade. It appears as if working plumbing is not a priority for these people, but clippers are a must-have.
Episode 2, “Adrift,” has far more pacing issues than episode 1 but is far less offensive than “A Shadow of the Past.” There is very little to say about “Adrift” beyond its pacing issues, boringness, and Elrond’s subplot. Luckily, Galadriel is swimming or adrift for most of the episode, so she could not drag down its plot with her terrible acting, which is the only positive thing to say about “Adrift.” Regarding Elrond’s subplot, the Celebrimbor and elven stuff is abysmal and hard to watch, especially considering that Celebrimbor is now a soccer mom. However, some of the dwarvish stuff is interesting. The initial shot of the dwarven city has some interesting elements, despite its rough CGI. Additionally, the challenge between Elrond and Durin could have been more interesting if the challenge were more than just breaking stone, but there’s something good hidden in there.
The desecration of Elrond must be noted. The once regal and strong warrior is now just an effeminate architect man. It’s disheartening to see to what depths of depravity these writers were willing to denigrate the Tolkienian characters. Following the challenge between Durin and Elrond, the big, black, beautiful first female dwarf of color, Disa, is introduced. Her performance and depiction are just as off-putting as was expected, and her dialogue with her husband is some of the worst to come out of these first two episodes.
Overall, these first two episodes are some of the worst and most generic fantasy ever put to screen. It’s a slap in the face to the Professor and the incredible world he created, filled with some of the worst dialogue ever heard on television. There is near zero evidence of talent or basic competence in any area of this production, creatively or otherwise. It’s hard to imagine the subsequent episodes being worse than these first two, but Bad Reboot alums’ incompetence can often be surprising. Only the coming weeks will unveil how abysmal The Rings of Power can truly become.
These first two episodes are some of the worst and most generic fantasy ever put to screen. It's a slap in the face to the professor and the incredible world in which he created, filled with some of the worst dialogue ever heard on television.