The Rings of Power ep.4 – The Rings of MAGAThe Dark Herald
Okay, okay, you can do this. Just do what you do to create any kind of new habit. Stimulus, action, and reward. Stimulus: Mash the Play button. Action: Suffer. Reward: Collapse sobbing. Right, I got this.
Mashing Play now.
An hour and ten minutes, oh god it’s getting longer. I’m never gonna make it.
This thing is s-o-o-o… s-l-o-o-o-w. I know what they are doing. They are padding their run time to get to their contractually required fifty hours without having to shoot ten episodes each season.
Opening scene: Okay, Míriel is doing something feminine? Wow, okay. She’s blessing newborns and they’ve finally realized they were falling down the job regarding diversity. Apparently, they’ve been keeping all the Asians on Númenor. Having the queen blessing newborn infants is kind of promising. It’s something you would actually expect a queen to do.
Then there is a warning like rumble. Trying to remind the audience of Pompeii on an August morning in 79 AD.
Oh, great Manwë you hath delivered me! Númenor is being destroyed by a massive tidal wave. The series is ending early! My torment is over!
And… OH. DAMN. IT. TO. HELL!!!
Okay, never mind, it’s a just dream. The queen is having a nightmare about the destruction of Númenor. It looked impressive, very George Pal; When Worlds Collide stuff and I finally got to see the White Tree. Nice that somebody remembered to put it in. But they shouldn’t have teased me like that. It wasn’t fair.
(Future DH: turns out Nimloth was in the second episode, I probably fell asleep)
Quick cut and we are in the forum (I guess). Anyway, the smelting guild member (whose ass Not-Sauron kicked) is giving an incendiary speech about illegal elf immigrants sucking up their jobs and I’m not kidding in the slightest. It’s a “Dey tuuk r’ jubs” thing. The crowd is getting pretty worked up about these wet ears who work harder, never sleep, never need retirement benefits because they are immortal, and will soon storm the borders… Wait a minute. What borders? Númenor is an island and there is exactly one elf on it, and she would very much like to leave.
And just a reminder. What made the Men of Númenor come to resent the Elves was their immortality, (not their willingness to do the jobs Númenoreans wouldn’t). They wanted to be immortal themselves. The Men of Númenor had pretty long life spans too, one hundred years old was just hitting middle-aged maturity so far as the *Númenoreans were concerned. Which made this desire a bit petty.
Chancellor (gack) Ar-Pharazôn arrives and steals the guild master’s thunder by giving a populist speech that allays the crowd’s fears and gets them chanting his name in the media-approved Alt Right fashion.
Well, now we know the form of the destructor. In the legendarium, he was known as Ar-Pharazôn the Golden. He seized the throne by forcing his first cousin Míriel into a marriage with him against her will. In Tolkien’s world, she was a tragic figure rather than an annoying one. Ar-Pharazôn himself led a war against Sauron. Scattered his army of Orcs and took Sauron back to Númenor in chains. He was the kind of guy you would have hired Yul Brynner to play.
Even though, his later actions directly lead to the destruction of their beloved and beautiful homeland, Elendil’s surviving Númenorians erected a giant pillar as a monument to Ar-Pharazôn in Minas Arnor to honor his great victory over Sauron. When Sauron’s forces captured Minas Arnor the first thing he did, was to have the pillar destroyed.
Ar-Pharazôn was an Adonis. An Alpha’s Alpha who was ultimately brought to ruin by his pride and his own iron will.
In this version he’s Trump.
What were you expecting? Something good and/or original? These guys were trained by JJ Abrams.
So, Ar-Pharazôn gives an impromptu Make Númenor Great Again speech, (MaNGA is not going to work as an acronym, it just won’t) while Ar-Pharazôn’s son macks on Elendil’s scholarly daughter. No, as a matter of fact, I can’t be bothered to look up their names. Neither of them exists in the legendarium.
Karen-Galadriel forces her way into the manager’s office to give the queen a piece of her mind, she has once again exchanged her resting bitch face for her active bitch face. The queen is as ever, unmoved by it.
The Elf Warrior Princess vociferously demands that Queen Míriel, on Galadriel’s, say so and nothing else, go to war out of the blue and invade the Southlands. She is to then put Not-Sauron, (a castaway hobo and bar room brawler, whose claim to the throne is based solely on the Southlands royal sigil he is wearing on a hunk of driftwood hanging on a piece of string around his neck) on the fucking throne of the Southlands. Which incidentally hasn’t had a throne for a hundred years or so.
I suppose this is their version of Aragorn begging King Théoden to send the Riders of Rohan to Gondor.
Míriel rejects this idea due to the fact that is fundamentally retarded. Karen-Galadriel demands to speak to the manager’s manager and orders Míriel to give her an audience with her father, the king. Míriel remains unmoved by Galadriel’s bitch-face.
Nope my mistake, she is moved enough to throw Galadriel in the clink.
I got to say it, I’m starting to warm to Míriel.
In writing; if you know what you are doing, you keep track of the sequels. In this definition of sequel, it means thinking through the logical outcome of future events, based on past actions.
Galadriel is a barely tolerated nuisance so far as the queen’s government is concerned and is a major political problem for the queen herself because her father was very pro-Elf and it went over badly with the general population.
Now, the nuisance in question is suddenly demanding that an isolationist island nation go to war and for no better reason than a mark on a piece of wood around some bearded rando’s neck.
When Théoden gives his “where was Gondor” speech, you got to know where he was coming from. He was an experienced warrior king and who he knew the price of war. Much more importantly, so did his author. This show was written by generations of spoiled children who never saw blood bubbling in the mouth of an eighteen-year-old kid as the light goes out of his terrified eyes. There is clearly and obviously no clue as to the price of what this “Commander of the Northern Elf Armies” is demanding. And is demanding on the basis of…nothing. And the guy she wants to put on the throne is fucking SAURON! Yet the overwhelming theme of this retarded show is that no matter how wrong these women are, they are always right in whatever they do.
Next, we are on a training cruise and Isildur who only wants what he wants and doesn’t care about the consequences deliberately screws up. The Captain instructor is naturally apoplectic with rage and throws Isildur out of the academy. He also throws out the two guys that were standing next to him. It is unjust but I can understand the sentiment.
Isildur’s black friend who actually wanted to be in the Númenor Navy is justifiably furious with whiney ass Isildur for getting him kicked out of the academy and the angry black friend is Valandil?!?!
Valandil, eventually became the king of Minas Arnor because HE WAS THE YOUNGEST GOD DAMN SON OF ISILDUR!
Calm down, Cataline. Calm down. You know there is undoubtedly worse things to come, save your energy.
Okay, Isildur’s son is pissed with his Dad for getting them both kicked out of the navy and not marrying his mother (I guess). But hey, he’s got a lot to look forward to, like being born in Rivendell right before the Last Alliance of Men and Elves marches off to war. Becoming King of Minas Arnor and his great-grandson 31x Aragorn becoming High King of Men. And who doesn’t get mad at his old man now and then, especially when they are the exact same age? There is also the humiliation of having a whiney little bitch like Isildur as your father.
Isildur ends the scene by walking off and sniffling about how sorry he is. We’re supposed to like him. I don’t. Credit where it’s due, you can totally buy this Isildur kid chumping out on his ring quest and taking it for himself. Elrond should have cut his throat and had some career Sergeant take care of it.
Back to the slave pits. Elfagorn is about meet the orc leader, Adar.
Yep, I called it, he’s an elf. Adar is called Lord-Father by the orc band. Eww. I’m pretty sure I know what that means. The Orcs, by the way, are way more broken up over the death of one of their own than the Filthy Gully Dwarfs were. Anyway, Adar prattles about nothing while trying to sound like a Tolkien character and then decides to use Elfagorn as his messenger to the humans hold up at the Elf’s old watch tower. Mystery box time; we don’t get to find out what the message is, despite the fact that it is obviously something like, surrender or die.
Cut to the old watchtower, conveniently abandoned a minute before the Orcs showed up.
Elfagorn’s single white mother girlfriend, Bronwyn, is grappling with white male disbelief as any feminist heroine must. There isn’t enough food. They were too stupid to take any food with them when they ran from their village. None of them thought to take their animals with them. Her son, Theo (who isn’t white) wants to solve the problem instead of talking about it. His mother forbids him to solve the problem like a man would. He should only go hungry and talk about his problems. The kid decides to solve the problem without her permission. Don’t worry, his smarts won’t last.
Theo and his friend Incelnor get a wheelbarrow full of supplies, which won’t last a day but viewers are expected to believe this wasn’t a waste of effort.
All of the animals, which they should have brought with them, are dead. Theo’s buddy wants to call it and haul it. Theo wants to look around for just one more thing.
In this case the hilt of Sauron’s broken sword. Which I am guessing is an idiot’s callback to Aragorn’s broken sword, Andúril (the flame of the West).
Of course, the Orcs get after Theo. The kid manages to stab himself with the pommel of the sword hilt and his blood makes the hilt grow a blade of fire. Reasonable question: Would any human’s blood do that or is there something special about the kid’s? The hilt is what the Orcs have been looking for. Theo evades them by jumping into a well. Killing the Orc with the obviously magic sword would have been a better idea.
Cut to… Oh what the hell?!?! This new forge-tower thing is halfway built. I mean this should have taken years with iron age equipment. Sure, maybe a bit faster if you have ill-defined magic powers but I’m seeing a lot of Tower of **Babel-type scaffolding. This is yet another huge complaint about this show. There is nothing that approaches a consistent sense of the passage of time regarding the events in the show or for that matter, events in general. Some events obviously take months while others could have only happened in a week.
Again, they aren’t even trying to look after sequential actions. This is weak and amateurish writing at its worst.
And that is about to become more obvious than a white Orc whipping a black elf. Also, when was this project agreed to by the Dwarves? I might have missed it in the second episode and damned if I’ll go back and check, but it would be just like this show to forget about putting in a scene where the Dwarves agree to help build the tower-forge.
Elrond is talking to Celebrimbor, who pointlessly babbles about his father (because he has the hots for Elrond, shudder) and I wish to hell he hadn’t mentioned Eärendil the Mariner at all because my brain is trying to shut down in self-defense against the waves of stupidity crashing upon it.
Eärendil was one of the biggest heroes of the first age. As a member of the Half-Elven descendants of Beren and Lúthien, he was mortal and therefore condemned to die as was any man who set foot on Valinor. Morgoth was winning his war in Middle Earth, just about everything had fallen to him. And what hadn’t soon would. Eärendil took it upon himself to try and reach Valinor and beg the Valar’s aid, even knowing it would mean his death. His wife, Elwing, turned herself into a bird and flew to him baring one of the Silmarils. He wore it on his brow and through its power found his way to Valinor.
The interesting part here is that, while the Valar doomed any of the children of Men who set foot on Valinor to die. It is crystal clear from the way that he was greeted upon his arrival that the Valar were desperate to be found and to have their aid begged for in the war against Morgoth:
“Hail Eärendil, of mariners most renowned, the looked for that cometh at unawares, the longed for that cometh beyond hope! Hail Eärendil, bearer of light before the Sun and Moon! Splendour of the Children of Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning!”
That voice was the voice of Eönwë, herald of Manwë, and he came from Valimar, and summoned Eärendil to come before the Powers of Arda. And Eärendil went into Valinor and to the halls of Valimar, and never again set foot upon the lands of Men. Then the Valar took counsel together, and they summoned Ulmo from the deeps of the sea; and Eärendil stood before their faces, and delivered the errand of the Two Kindreds. Pardon he asked for the Noldor and pity for their great sorrows, and mercy upon Men and Elves and succour in their need. And his prayer was granted.”
This was the beginning of the War of Wrath and the destruction of Morgoth.
The Valar were so pleased with Eärendil and Elwing that their children were offered the choice of becoming men or elves. Elrond chose to become an elf. His brother Elros chose to accept the Gift of Men and live a mortal life and then he…
…freaking founded the kingdom of Númenor.
They are acting like the War of Wrath ended maybe a century or two ago but Elros died at the age of five hundred. He should still be around and inviting his brother over for Yule Day’s Eve dinner.
Anyway, Elrond has decided he’s super suspicious of his best friend and goes to Dwarf Town to spy on him. It’s fairly obvious that the Dwarves are the only thing that Payne and McKay are interested in because it’s the only part that is actually interesting.
But other than pretending that Elrond was morally justified in spying on his best friend about fifteen minutes of screen time are wasted in Dwarf Town. The narrative is not advanced in the slightest. You remember my telling you the mystery box from episode 2 contained Mithril?
The Dwarves left me with a couple of questions. The first is, why aren’t they showing Duren and Dissa’s kids? In the second episode they were wearing masks. This time Dissa is just yelling at them while they are off-screen. Twice, means they are hiding them. And why did we have to see Dissa’s THIC thigh? Seriously, if you’re a chubby chaser leg man this episode was your jam. Regrettably, I am not.
Galadriel is determined to make the Queen follow her to Númenor’s destruction. Yet, Míriel still seems disinclined to be an active participant in her people’s genocide. Some queens, huh? No reasoning with them. Míriel does what she should have done in the first place and says Galadriel is going back to the mainland under armed guard.
Galadriel is about to be taken from her holding pen but she girl boss kicks ass and throws the five hulking guards sent to take her to the ship in her old cell. Actually, they kind of walked into the cell without putting up any kind of fuss. Why does Galadriel want to lead these guys to war?
So, she scales the tower and breaks into the king’s bedroom to find the old king bedridden. They don’t explain what from, but Alzheimer’s is inferred. Queen Míriel explains her precarious political situation to Galadriel using small enough words that the Elf Karen finally agrees to be sent home just like she wanted in the first place.
Okay, that would be a good place to end the episode. Is it over?
So long as we’re stuck here. Let us unpack Karen-Galadriel’s unreasonable demands, shall we?
In the first episode, there is no sign of trouble whatsoever. That was the whole point of the setup where Galadriel gets sent back to Valinor (gack). Then some village in the Southlands is attacked by Orcs in the middle of the night and all the villagers are carried off. Nobody believes either Galadriel or Bronwyn when they say that trouble is brewing. In the first case because there is absolutely no evidence and in the second because an all-white village is too evil to believe an off-white woman like Bronwyn. But then she presents an Orc head to people in the tavern and they follow her to the watch-tower (without bothering to collect every scrap of food they could find).
This is it so far as the Orc threat is concerned. This is all we’ve seen. Just one isolated village, (admittedly in pretty big trouble), one isolated Orc band who have gathered some slaves. And. That. Is. It. As far as we can tell, nobody outside this region knows there’s any kind of trouble. There was no, ‘we must send a messenger scene.’ More importantly, there was no messenger arriving scene. This would be like the United States invading Weimar Germany in 1925 because it was rumored some guy named Hiltner gave a speech in a bar. You would have to be that prescient.
If there is major trouble all over the Southlands by this episode they should have shown, or maybe just mentioned it. You know, give the island characters a clue something is going on.
As it is, there is absolutely no reason at all for Númenor to invade anything.
Theo proves he is just as dumb as everyone else in this show. These Orcs have serious trouble with daylight. He is at the bottom of a well, granted, he’ll be hungry for a day, but water is a bigger deal, and he has plenty of that. Wait until morning and these Orcs will have to go hide from the daylight. But Theo climbs out of the well, in the middle of the night, when the Orcs are at their performance peak, so he can pretend he’s in a stealth game. There were no extenuating circumstances mentioned like, ‘this water is too cold, I have to leave or I’ll freeze to death.’ Maybe just have him shiver dramatically when he gets out of the well.
Theo almost completes his platforming segment but makes an alert sound and an NPC nabs him. He is immediately rescued by Elfagorn, who now has a sword, bow and quiver. Apparently, Adar really wanted him to get to that watch tower. But didn’t tell any of the Orcs to leave him alone.
Call back coming in! Ready? This time it’s the scene where Boromir got killed. We h-a-v-e…a…r-e-a-l-l-y…s-l-o-w chase scene where no one gets killed except some Orcs. Snatching a slow-motion arrow out of the air extracts all of the cool from snatching an arrow out of the air.
Galadriel is leaving on a rowboat that is way too small for the open sea, standing the entire time by the way, (again, this is on a small rowboat). Just then petals from the White Tree start scattering across Númenor. Galadriel’s stupidity finally rubs off on Míriel. The queen decides that it has to be a sign. Rather than the wind picking up. And the Queen-Regent decides to go to war.
NOW, it’s over.
From what I’ve heard the executive floor at Amazon is furious with Amazon studios. This is two flops in a row but this one is deeply embarrassing the entire corporation.
The decisions being made are do we chop off a few heads or just shut down Amazon Studios completely? I would not be surprised if there was an announcement that Amazon Studios is devastated by studio chief Jennifer Salke decision to pursue new career opportunities.
This is a show where they have gotten nothing right. Nothing. Jeff Bezos’ vanity project is now a humiliation project.
Let me leave you with this last bit of dialog.
Elrond: My father singlehandedly sailed to Valinor.
No, he didn’t. Your Mom was with him, asshole.
*That may have only been the royal family.
**Yes, the Snow Crash book discussion is coming, I promise.
POST SCRIPT: Gandalf’s review of last week’s episode