The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power 1×01 “Shadow of the Past” and 1×02 “Adrift” has welcomed us back into the arms of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and introduced millions to an epic adventure. And honestly, it’s everything fans have been waiting for something that will make newbies feel seen, maybe for the first time. So sit back, relax, and know that all there is in this review is an appreciation for a world I love while being honest about the ways it faltered.
The Good – The Women, Period.
The Rings of Power is chock-full of women that are not waiting for others to define their stories. They are the game-changers and the rulebreakers who choose to explore, conquer, and fight when no one else will. And the fact that every single woman in this show has that spark in them makes for a wonderful experience where you can connect with Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), Disa (Sophia Nomvete), Nori (Markella Kavenagh), Poppy (Megan Richards), and others without a problem.
Personally, I love Galadriel and Bronwyn to the moon and back. Galadriel is the kind of determined elf that leads with purpose but doesn’t forget that this isn’t all about her while serving up hard truths to others like Elrond (Robert Aramayo). This is about her community and all the people of Middle-Earth. And she will do anything, even jump off a ship in the middle of a vast ocean, to stop that evil from destroying lives like that of her brothers and the rest of her people.
Then there’s Bronwyn. She’s a single mom (which is already a badass in my book), a businesswoman, and in a seemingly impossible relationship with Arondir. But what really makes her stand out is how she doesn’t wait for others to give her the answers she needs. She makes her own path, finds answers, and then sets off a series of events to protect her home, people, and most importantly, her son.
We can’t talk about dynamic women in The Rings of Power without talking about Disa. She has a presence about her that fills an entire room with her warmth but also her strength. Her bond with her husband, and how she welcomes Elrond into their home, speaks of a warrior who is sure of herself and her place while being kind, considerate, and the kind of person you want on your side.
Simply put, The Rings of Power knows what they’re doing with these women, and I can’t wait to see how they shape Middle-Earth for centuries to come. Oh, and I can’t wait to meet Númenor’s queen regent Míriel. Bet she’s a badass too!
The Bad – Ignoring the Obvious
There were moments of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power where I felt like Jim from The Office, breaking the 4th wall and looking at viewers like, “Seriously?” I know it’s easier for us as the viewer to take in and see the warning signs of something bad looming, but come on! And because you ignored the warning signs and didn’t do your due diligence like our girl Galadriel was, you’re 20 steps behind Sauron. Because this baddie has been planning.
Basically, Sauron was like, “‘Cause while you were sitting around, waiting, doing nish, I was out, making moves.” It’s evident in the mark of Sauron that Galadriel found up in the ice wasteland, which was automatically dismissed for some reason, aka everyone wanted to go home to a nice and warm bed. And it was evident in the absolutely evil-looking sword that Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) decided to hide instead of showing his mother because he knew there was something wrong with it.
Even that black blood that the cow was giving off…that’s a sign of trying times around the corner. And yes, Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and Bronwyn didn’t ignore that sign and went to investigate. But everyone else in the village ignored it. And what kind of job were the elves doing in the 70 years they were there they didn’t catch that the orcs were digging holes and making plans to fuck shit up when the time came. Sounds suspicious to me.
The Ugly – The Haters Not Seeing the Beauty in This
There’s no denying that there are parts of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power that are far from perfect. No show is without fault. But none of it is ugly enough to fall into this section of this review besides the actual haters who are review bombing this series before even watching it or those that are shaking in their racist little boots because they aren’t the center of attention anymore and others are getting a chance to shine.
To those people, I ask, “What makes you think it’s all about you?” followed by, “Do you hate people finding joy in things and cringe at the thought of compassion?” Because if you really were a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s work, you would understand that this is a world that welcomes everyone and that makes a point of bringing everyone together to defeat the forces of evil that want to destroy us and keep us apart. And the changes that have happened in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are a natural evolution of that.
In addition, how can you look at someone as badass as Arondir or Disa and say they don’t belong or that he isn’t “accurate”? This is a fantasy show about elves, Harfoots, and dwarves. It’s make-believe. So we can make changes that represent our world while bringing in new fans into a much-beloved world. Because this property isn’t yours. It’s all of ours. Plus, if the Tolkien estate is involved in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and has no problem with these changes…what makes you think you can say anything about it or what J. R. R. Tolkien “might’ve” wanted?
Basically, sit down and watch or ship out and stop hiding your racism behind “oh, it needs to be accurate to the source material.” You’re not fooling anyone.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power airs new episodes on Friday on Prime Video.