By Patrick Boyd Richardson
This time around, “The Rings of Power” gets into gear. The many loose ends from earlier in the season tie together in a grand finale worthy of a television audience. The more important arcs are finalized in a swift delivery of justice by the writing team. Although more could have been done to conceal certain plot twists, the entire show kept to an excellent pace. Despite some unwieldy exposition devices that hurt the series’ reputation for high-quality lore, the finale killed and improved the lackluster start almost too starkly.
The power of the rings are further explained with some unrealistic, stupid, and frankly cheap explanations for how they were forged or function on the wearer’s finger. There is a nascent sense that the villains are growing in power and hiding their power all along.
The unlikely collision of alliances between elf, dwarf, and man is totally brushed over.
I found the lack of depth for any explanation of the profound natural magic in the world disturbing. This is doubly so for the main character’s appreciation of their own geography and the staggering limitations on communications and travel insinuated therein. The whole show needs an intelligence boost because – at this rate – it treats the audience like it’s as foolish as the cartoon-like party that’s forced upon it.
We don’t need to know how the rings are forged yet we are told in excruciating detail just how it’s done. Yet, it makes absolutely no sense and defies logic. Somehow the interactions among well-established, elite characters remain entirely implausible.
Without spoiling much, be warned the showrunners and writing team will play games with your intelligence, that of any character in question, and even their own – with their desperate imaginations running completely on empty.
Still, the series has memorable moments, and endearing rapports amongst lovable characters. The live action series conveys like an anime made for anime otaku. It avoids reality while inconspicuously reminding us of its existence. It doesn’t enhance it or further prepare us for its challenges with literary wisdom. This is the main drop-off from the original “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The series exhibits a wanton disregard for personality, soulfulness, and above all, originality.
It isn’t necessarily a bad show. Indeed, it has no precedent. Unlike the “Star Wars” shows, such as “Andor” which can improve upon themselves every season, “Rings of Power” has no such precedent.
The fact that “The Rings of Power” relies on dark horse staff to establish itself is not a point of success and the finale’s glory only proves that this lukewarm new production team could improve after episode upon episode of additional creative experience.
I can only imagine with its billions of US dollars in the total budget, the next season can be far punchier and meatier in its delivery of basic, if even expected, drama.
A fantasy world embroiled in insane displays of limitless-seeming magic is no easy feat. Nonetheless, this incredible story needs to reign in the theatrics and pyrotechnics to ground back to reality. The story-driven series, a la “The Wire” or “Breaking Bad,” is the gold standard. I only wish “The Rings of Power” could be one as well.
At any rate, there is a particular quality to “The Rings of Power” – its cast, its set pieces, and make-up and wardrobe speaks thousands for the incredible love that clearly went into the series.
My favorite element is often the music. While Howard Shore does not write the interstitial themes and motifs, he composed the main theme and it shows!
There are silver linings to this show. I just don’t see how they compensate for the glaring faults the series has displayed with its many cliches and boring plot devices.
I wish “The Rings of Power” had dedicated its production to Christopher Tolkien, who recently passed, or even his son Tolkien. Yet, it does no such move and lingers in some myopic bubble encircling the attitudes of its tepid and inexperienced creators (including showrunners, staff writers, and acting talent).
If you seriously love “The Lord of the Rings” universe, this show is a must. However, I cannot officially recommend it to newcomers as it is altogether vague and lacking in the appropriate depth for an order of its anticipated magnitude. With hope, next season will fix all these glaring faults and then do far, far more to prove the show is what it should be – worth watching.