First Impressions – Lord of the Rings: The Rings of PowerThe Dark Herald
You would have to have had the hubris of Morgoth himself to take on this project.
As a writer, I would have been terrified of it. . If the producers had come to me to finish the Unfinished Tales by Tolkien plus some original pastiche based on the Appendixes, I wouldn’t have touched it. A professional screenwriter said he would have told them. “Look, I’ll require two years of prep time before I write word one. I’ll need to completely immerse myself in Tolkien’s work to the exclusion of all else. Then I have to spend a lot of time with Tom Shippey and other scholars, plus a Catholic priest with three doctorates who is really into JRR’s work. And at the end of the day, it still won’t be Tolkien, just so you know.”
Who would take this on? Bad Reboot that’s who.
The inarticulate slaughter of every franchise where they press diseased foot is their bread and butter. Their mode of operation is now predictably obvious. Being completely incapable of creativity themselves, they select anything at all that might have an audience, invade and metastasize, then give it a Bad Reboot treatment. This consists of a Feminist Heroine’s Journey combined with a bunch of mystery boxes to lure foolish audiences along. Be sure to break the bank on flashy effects scenes.
I spent some time in sales, so I can see what Jar Jar Abrams’s school of non-writing is. It is sales tactics disguised as writing. It’s just a hook with nothing attached to the hook but the next hook. It’s just one long sales pitch trying to keep you watching despite the fact that there is in fact nothing to watch.
Let me assure you now, there is nothing to watch here.
The show opens with little girl Galadriel making a magic origami boat, while grown-up Galadriel in voice-over, moans about how happy everything used to be. The little elf boys are teasing and taunting her saying it won’t work. She puts it in the water and it works perfectly (of course) until the little boys sink it with thrown rocks. The patriarchy is now oppressing our heroine, that is always step one these days.
Why the hell is Narrator Galadriel so weepy about life in Valinor? It looks like it was a miserable place to grow up.
A tight relationship with her big brother Finrod is established through the use of dialog that is meant to sound something like Tolkien’s and doesn’t. “A dog may bark at the Moon… But it can not bring it down.” Blech. Also, there was no moon yet.
The camera pulls back, and you see Telperion and Laurelin shining brightly. At that point, Tolkien left the building and was glad to be gone.
The Enemy, Morgoth killed the trees and the elves left Valinor to do battle with him because of this.
I realize there are rights issues, and the Silmarillion isn’t something you can summarize in five minutes. But if you bring up Morgoth then you need to tell the audience who and what he is.
Which was a major problem for Woke Middle Earth because Christianity had to be completely excised from Tolkien’s world. That was always going to be priority one. If you are only familiar with the Peter Jackson movies then you will have no idea who Melkor was or how he became Morgoth, no matter how hard you roll the R in his name. If you read anything by normies who watched this, it’s obvious that Morgoth was just another name for Sauron so far as they are concerned. Granted, the show did mention that Sauron was his number-one Man-Friday. In a single sentence.
Just to be clear, Morgoth was Satan.
Fienor, the Silmarils, and the Valar get no mention at all, so you are left with the vague impression that Morgoth was the Great Enemy for committing Eco-Terrorism and he was just a super wizard.
But then they do show some imagery from the final battle of the War of Wrath where a giant eagle is fighting a dragon and Giladriel’s older brother, Finrod is screaming like an idiot during the battle. Also, he was dead by then.
We get the two-second shot from the trailer showing a city west of Erid Luin sunk beneath the waves. And that was all you were getting because water is expensive to CG.
According to the legendarium, Sauron surrendered and begged pardon. He was ordered to return to Valinor and receive judgment from the Doomsman Mandos. Sauron said he would but apparently didn’t like his odds and hot-footed it.
In this garbage bag, Finrod vows to catch him for no discernable reason. Mostly, I guess because the audience had heard of Sauron, so Finrod had to go get killed so the series could happen. In the Legendarium, Sauron did indeed kill Finrod, before the War of Wrath.
So anyway, we get to see Commander Galadriel the Warrior Princess take up her brother’s quest to find Sauron. Like every feminist heroine, her primary obstacle is disbelief. Her MEN don’t believe in her quest to find Sauron. This is fundamentally stupid because it’s based on the belief that he died of old age which is kind of hard for an immortal to do.
So, they go to some Ice Fortress of ice, (Geode makes a guest appearance) and she kills an ice troll single-handedly, (second step of the Feminist Heroine’s Journey is now in the bag). She find Sauron’s mark thus proving Galadriel was right all along, but her men quit on her anyway. So, she is forced to turn back and report to Gil-Gilad.
Let me be clear about this, in a really bad show, Karen-Galadriel is the worst thing in it. Morfydd Clark is horrendously miscast. I’ve seen her act but only in Little Wounded Bird roles.
We meet Neil Patrick Harris Elrond. It’s an absolutely cringe scene as they declare their platonic love for each other. In the Legendarium, he’s her son-in-law. Here, he’s obviously gay. Elrond attempts to mansplain things to Galadriel who shoots him down as she’s supposed to in the Feminist Heroine’s Journey. She then gets some leaf crown as an award from Gil-Gilad. He then declares her recon team the greatest heroes in all of elf-kind so they get the super big prize. A one-way ticket back to Valinor.
Oh. What. The. Fuck?
Okay, after the War of Wrath all the elves had the option of going back to Valinor… EXCEPT GALADRIEL! If you know anything at all about Valinor then you know she can’t go there.
Galadriel was specifically prohibited from returning by the gods of Middle Earth themselves.
That door was completely closed to her until she refused the offer of the One Ring by Frodo. Only then was she allowed to “…diminish. And go into the west. And remain Galadriel.”
Just to state this one more time. Galadriel could not fucking go to *Valinor.
So, Galadriel heads off to Valinor. She and her men are standing in the kind of pose you find on medieval knight’s tombstones. It looks okay when they leave port but apparently, they stay in that pose while they sail all the way across the sea.
Quick cut and we see the Moosebacks from the trailer. I think they are supposed to be humans who are hunters, or they might be a particularly retarded species that Bad Reboot invented for the show. I really can’t tell and I’m not sure they knew either.
Once they pass by you see some rustling in the brush and filthy heads start popping out of the ground.
Oh my god, they’re Gully Dwarves. That is exactly what they look like. Grimy, smelly, poop-covered Gully Dwarves with twigs in their hair straight out of the Dragon Lance trilogy. I haven’t cracked one of those books for better than thirty years and that was my immediate reaction to the “Harfoots.” I don’t want to know what these things smell like; because they clearly live in the dirt and eat their own shit. They’re completely and unutterably disgusting.
This production can’t use the word “Hobbit”, so they invented a proto-halfling called the “Harfoot.” Which isn’t what the Harfoots were at all, but I’ve got to move on.
The Filthy Gully Dwarves pass around some pastiche Shire dialog and pick a fucking accent! Are you revolting little roach gobblers going to be faking an Irish or a Cornish accent? Stop trying to do both at the same time! At least the real Dwarves stuck with being Scots.
New character coming in, Elfagorn. I’m not going to drag this actor too hard because at least he’s trying. Ismael Cordova, is the only one who has delivered a performance that would have had any business being in one of the Peter Jackson films. I will however drag the inclusivity of his casting because in the first two episodes, black is it. That is all the diversity you are getting. No Asians, no one from India, no one from south of the Rio Grande. Heck that would have been silly, I guess. But if you put black people in a setting that would be as out of place as having Ralph Fiennes playing King Shaka of the Zulus, that’s all the diversity you need. Hell, the completely and utterly inbred Targaryen dynasty has a black family member now. Why should a story built to give the ENGLISH a legendarium be any different?
So, Elfagorn is in this village that is all white, so you know they are bad. Turns out their ancestors supported Morgoth in the war. Elfagorn thinks there’s bad stuff happening, but nobody believes him. Is he on the Feminist Heroine’s Journey? Is that allowed?
Quick cut, Galadriel and company, after weeks at sea, are still in the same pose. Now she hits the next step in the Feminist Heroine’s Journey and Enters the New World. This new world isn’t Valinor, it’s represented by her jumping into the sea like Ilúvatar’s Perfect Idiot.
Now the mystery boxes start landing on my head fast and furious. A rotting leaf lands Gil-Galad’s hand. Elfagorn and his single white human **girlfriend, find a burned-out village, still burning. No one is in it.
A meteor crashes and the female Filthy Gully Dwarf with an adventurous spirit finds Raistlin in it. I mean Gandolf but I don’t think they are allowed to use the name.
End episode one, onto episode two.
The second episode is titled, Adrift. Okay, that was something they got right. The title. I have to give them that.
Galadriel is swimming along in the open sea, apparently not regretting any of her questionable life choices, when she comes upon a raft with a diverse cast. So, you know they aren’t all bad but they are desperate, so they don’t want to let an elf aboard. The good-looking white man is obviously Sauron.
I’m going to skip over all the stuff with the Filthy Gully Dwarfs and Gandolf. Nothing happens there anyway.
Elrond is sent to Celebrimbor by Gil-Galad for reasons. And suddenly Feanor and the Silmarils are in the story in the most ‘are you shitting me(?)’ way available. We are shown an incredibly cheap-looking prop hammer and told it was Feanor’s. None of Feanor’s crimes are mentioned, only that he created the Silmarils and get ready for this one, they were so beautiful they n-e-a-r-l-y turned the heart of Morgoth himself.
Uh…no. Not even a little bit. He stole them, sure. But he was long past regretting any of his actions by then. Melkor was gone, there was only Morgoth at that point. This was all introduced with a closeup of Feanor’s cheap-ass-looking hammer.
This show has no production consistency at all. In one shot you see a setting that is vastly soaring and luscious and in the next scene, you have something that looks no better than a Babylon 5 set. This thing reeks of reshoots on the cheap to make it more Tolkeinish.
Celebrimbor wants to build a mighty forge that looks like Sauron’s Tower and he needs Elrond’s help to do it. Elrond sets off to see his good buddy Prince Duran of the Dwarves.
“But the delight and pride of Aulë is in the deed of making, and in the thing made, and neither in possession nor in his own mastery.“
No one ever asks why Tolkien’s Dwarves and Elves don’t get along too well. The reason literally goes back to before the creation of Middle Earth when Aulë without orders from Ilúvatar created the Dwarves because he couldn’t wait for the Elves to come forth. Once they were created then Ilúvatar appeared and wanted to know why he had done this. Aulë in tears submitted them to Ilúvatar’s judgment and raised his hammer to strike them. Ilúvatar was possibly worried about having another Morgoth on his hands. When he was certain he didn’t, he told Aulë to stay his hand, then he put the Dwarves to sleep for while he would not harm them, he would not suffer them to come into the world before his own children. The Dwarves while a reflection of the mind of Ilúvatar, was not from the mind of Ilúvatar.
The problems between Tolkien’s Elves and Dwarves go back that far.
The producers had their own problem with the Dwarves. Peter Jackson had come up with an aesthetic for them but you never really see them in any of his movies where they are living in one of their cities. You never really got to know Dwarves in their day-to-day society. This show actually did a good job with them. Which means either these Bad Reboot alumni can be genuinely creative if only given a chance, or they were ripping off Terry Pratchett. I know which way I lean and I am honestly waiting for the Dwarves to start singing that old Ramtops classic, “Gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold.”
Duran is big mad at Elrond for not dropping around for the past twenty years and after a profoundly retarded contest of rock breaking, he is about to kick his gay elf friend out when Duran’s wife invites Elrond for dinner. Probably the most fabulously fashionable person she has ever met. In all honesty, she may be the best thing in the show. She is also trying.
Back to Galadriel. The raft is attacked by a sea monster and Sauron unties his quarter of it and drifts off. Shortly, afterward, he pulls Galadriel out of the drink. Galadriel doesn’t like him anyway. This may be Galadriel confronting her true enemy, the one who has been oppressing her all along. Or else she’s going to end up sleeping with Sauron.
Once Elrond is gone, Duran is consulting with his Dad the king about something. There is a literal mystery box on the table.
That was embarrassing.
It was also Mithril. The Dwarves have found Mithril. It’s the stuff the rings are made out of.
Galadriel and Sauron are rescued.
That’s the recap. Spoiler alert I guess.
I suppose there’s always room for improvement and this thing has nowhere to go but up, yet, somehow I doubt it will get any better.
Where did this thing come from? Is the question I will cover in the next post.
* Letters of J.R.R. Tolkein page 386. Letter 297, dtd August 1967 you god damn nerd.
**I’m not doing a Guess Who’s Coming to Second Breakfast Joke. It’s been done already.