Avoid Like the Plague – Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of PowerThe Dark Herald
Definition – : the direct opposite.
(1): the rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences (as in “action, not words” or “they promised freedom and provided slavery”)
(2): OPPOSITION, CONTRAST the antithesis of prose and verse. The second of two opposing words, clauses, or sentences that are being rhetorically contrasted
(3): philosophy : the second stage of a dialectical process
Example: Amazon’s the Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power is the very antithesis of every aspect of the author J.R.R Tolkien’s complete body of work, aesthetic principles, personal belief system and the totality of his religious faith.
Avoid Like the Plague is my lowest rating, I’ve only given it two other times, and it takes a lot to get it. A production really has to work for it before I’m willing to put my ultimate seal of disapproval on it. I mean you got to dig deep and put your back to the wheel before I stamp that label on something. A show must do everything it can to earn it.
And this one did just that.
Throughout ten hours of runtime this travesty never let up in its determination to win my abject hatred for every aspect of its very existence.
It consistently fails on so many levels that you can’t help but be fascinated by its relentless incompetence.
This show is absolutely, and in all ways, the exact opposite of what J.R.R. Tolkien achieved with his life’s work.
There have been other attempts to subvert Tolkien. Writers who at the core of their work were trying to write an editorial reply that would somehow disprove Truth to be found in the works of men like J.R.R. Tolkien.
George RR Martin set out to invert the tropes that were established in the Lord of Rings, and it ended in the most hilarious series of failures of all time. At this point Martin is undoubtedly hoping he can run out the clock before he has to display the completeness of his artistic bankruptcy.
A better example is His Dark Materials. Phillip Pullman set out to create an atheist Chronicles of Narnia. The Golden Compass has been frequently remade in films and TV. It ends in debacle every time. Read John C. Wright’s review if you want a complete evisceration by a writer who leaves me in the dust.
But none of them come close to equaling the magnitude of the disaster that is, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. These attempts to present the Lie as the Truth always fail like this.
The aesthetics of this show were the opposite of J.R.R. Tolkien’s.
The series has been both gaudy and cheap throughout. The grand CG scenes were simply garish. There was no attempt at tasteful restraint. The ship designs were absurdist, (split sails aren’t very good at catching the wind). Except for those very few scenes of grand CG vistas (which were only in half the episodes) everything else looked like it should have been on the CW.
The sets were either green screens or confined. The grand invasion of the Southlands was a lousy three ships because it kept the expenses (but somehow not the price) of this billion dollar production down. The costumes looked like something from a 1980s tits and sandals, straight-to-video quicky shot in Mexico.
Despite it being twenty years older, every aspect of Jackson’s epic, from costuming, to props to CG effects look incomparable better than this ludicrously more expensive production.
This show is also the antithesis of J.R.R. Tolkien’s belief system. Which is kind of an achievement given that it is incredibly obvious the showrunners have NO belief system of their own. A storyteller needs believe in something if he wants to get anyone to listen to his stories.
“We had reached a point — we’d been writing movies for 10 years that should have gotten made,” McKay says. “Movies where the director was right, the cast was right, the script was right, the title was right and it was a big IP — and it still wasn’t happening.”
Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results but it’s usually a reliable indicator. Those directors all moved on to successful projects. Their cast members got rich on other acting jobs. The IPs got made into films (although no good came from it). The only continuing element that seems consistent in this decade long parade of failure is McKay and Payne.
Inconsistency and moral bankruptcy are the hallmarks of this show.
In an earlier episode Elfagorn says that the Elves don’t have doctors because most wounds to their bodies heal themselves and what healing they do need must be done to the soul. Not Tolkien, but okay, whatever. Then in the 7th episode Galadriel says that Not-Sauron’s open gut wound can only be healed by Elf medicine. Which this show has explicitly stated: Does. Not. Exist.
The show needed to get Galadriel and Not-Sauron to Eregion, and they couldn’t do it organically, so they came up with a contrivance that flatly contradicted something they already established in another episode.
At one point Galadriel says to Not-Sauron you saved me for drowning on the raft. To which he replies, “and you saved me from drowning.” No. No, she didn’t do any such thing. At no time was Not-Sauron remotely in danger of drowning. Setups are not only completely forgotten about but frequently have payoffs that do the opposite of what the setup clearly intended.
Granted, the first example is the kind of corner any writer can paint himself into, (although, some editing in post-production would have solved it). But there is no such excuse for the second. Two things are in play here.
One: McKay and Payne fell in love with one cheesy line of dialog and didn’t want to give it up even though it contradicted a clear event that happened in an earlier episode.
And two: YOU TWO DIDN’T THINK ANYONE WOULD BE STUPID ENOUGH TO WATCH ANOTHER EPISODE OF YOUR GODDAMN SHOW, DID YOU?!?!
Unquestionably, the worst violation of Tolkien’s belief system was in the antithetical iteration of Galadriel. She was the opposite of everything Tolkien intended his heroes to be. Vain, haughty, prideful, driven by rage and determined to follow her own will.
And she is constantly praised and validated for this.
McKay and Payne started with the assumption that the audience would love Galadriel despite doing nothing to earn that love and in truth, behaving with malignant arrogance to every character she interacts with.
When she arrives with the wounded Not-Sauron at Eregion, Elrond asks Galadriel, “what are you doing here?”
She bitchily replies, “what are you doing here?”
So far as the events of this series is concerned, she is supposed to be in Valinor and Elrond is supposed to be right there in the place their king ordered him to go. He has business being there, she doesn’t. She was specifically ordered to go somewhere else and stay there. She has no conceivable reason to be acting like he’s a hypocrite for asking a legitimate question.
But this show assumes she is always in the right no matter the circumstances. When ordered to return to Valinor, she disobeys the lawful order. When she arrives in Númenor she breaks her word, repeatedly breaks the laws of the Kingdom and finally drags the kingdom off to a foreign war and none of that was to do good for the sake of good. It was all to satisfy the demands of her thousand year old rage against Sauron.
When Adar is shown to hold paternal affection (we may as well call it love) for the Orcs, she threatens to torture them by dragging them out in the sunlight. She tells Adar that she will keep him alive so he can know she has killed all of his children.
Every single action Galadriel commits in this show is evil. Yet we are expected to accept her actions as morally justified, without any justification being provided for them.
Excusing evil is the fundamental antithesis of Lord of the Rings.
This brings us to this series being the opposite of Tolkien’s faith.
So, about Halbrand being Sauron?
In the season finale Galadriel finally does what she should have done and asks for the genealogical records for the Southlands Royal family. It turns out the Royal family (that they couldn’t be bothered to give a name to the family) died out a thousand years ago.
Galadriel uses her angry bitch-face to demand what Halbrand’s real name is. Menacing music rises and Not-Sauron replies that he has had many names, one of which is obviously Sauron. She points out that he was wearing the royal sigil of the Royal house of the Southlands. He points out that he said, “I took it off a dead man.”
This is the one setup throughout the entire series Payne and McKay were consistent about preserving no matter what, because it was the only setup they truly cared about. Sauron never out right lied about anything. Galadriel is such an idiot she just took his half answers and built elaborate fantasies around them. But the important part is that while Sauron was deceptive, he never outright lied.
The only reason to do this was to give Sauron credibility with the audience. When he states something as fact the audience is obliged to accept it because he’s the only one that never lied.
Sauron then says that when Morgoth was cast into he was finally free and he just wanted to heal the world. He wants Galadriel as his queen. And that with her at his side he can keep from being totes evil.
Sauron: You bind me to the light. And I bind you to power and together we can save this Middle Earth.
Galadriel: Save? … Or rule?
Sauron: I see no difference.
Galadriel (Being fierce and brave): And that is why I will never be at your side!
You can tell Payne and McKay were running around the writer’s room high fiving each other. They are so convinced that that this was super profound.
This iteration of Sauron is entirely colored in shades of gray and JRR Tolkien painted that character in jet black. Sauron was in no way ever meant to be a sympathetic character. That is opposite of the authorial intent of J.R.R. Tolkien which Payne and McKay nakedly violated. It’s hardly a surprise that students of Abrams would reject the concepts of absolute good and absolute evil by claiming The Truth is always somewhere in the middle. This is the biggest lie there is. It was designed as one a very long time ago. If there is no dividing line between good and evil, it’s easy to drift into moral relativism.
It’s easy to say, I know it’s wrong, but…
Instead of just saying, I know it’s wrong (and a put a period right there).
This last brings us to the series’ most fundamental problem. The moral impairment of its creators. What they believe to be morality is nothing more than fashionable aesthetics. Every single one of Karen Galadriel’s choices were dictated by her own will not what was the right thing to do. All of the worst things that happened to the Númenóreans were the direct result of her actions and the showrunners can’t see it.
Every single event that took place in all four books of the Middle Earth books, from the death of the Great Wyrm Smaug, to the glorious restoration of the rightful king of Gondor, and finally the destruction of a fallen angel who served a evil god. None of these things would have happened had it not been for an act of mercy by Bilbo Baggins. This was Providence as addressed by Gandalf at the end of the Hobbit. “You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit?”
In contrast, all of Karen-Galadriel’s adventures and escapes were managed by absurd contrivance. Usually, the result of some evil act she had performed. And they were unquestionably for her sole benefit. Manwëknows it never helped anyone else.
And Sauron is presented as someone who just wanted to stay on his island paradise and create things on his forge. Galadriel pulled him away from all that with no regrets because it served to further her ends.
In this series, Sauron is the penitent, not Galadriel.
Consequently, the Dark Herald pronounces his Doom upon this entire wretched series.
Avoid Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Like the Fucking Plague!