This is a spoiler review for episodes 1 and 2 for The Rings of Power. For all our coverage related to the series click here.
The first two episodes of The Rings of Power successfully kick off the mega-budget series, albeit mostly exposition. We see the start of the elves in Valinor, the undying lands to the west of Middle Earth. Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) has a moment of learning with her brother Finrod (Will Fletcher), before we jump into a story of the elves’ battle with Morgoth, who Sauron is a champion for. They journey to Middle Earth where the battle between the elves and Morgoth’s forces, the orcs takes place for centuries. Finrod dies, and she takes up his vow to kill Sauron, and leads forces for decades through every inch of Middle Earth hunting orcs, and trying to find Sauron.
Galadriel and her forces end up further north than anyone else, where they find the symbol Finrod had carved into him when he died, as well as a snow troll. After defeating the troll, Galadriel is forced by her crew to return to Lindon. There they are rewarded with a return to Valinor. Galadriel is pressured to accept this accomplishment by Elrond (Robert Aramayo), who tells her if she doesn’t accept now, it may never come again. But on the ship, at the entrance to Valinor, she hears the words Finrod told her centuries ago, and dives off. She is intent on returning to Middle Earth to fulfill her vow. She swims until she finds a group of survivors on a cobbled-together raft. Only she and one other, Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) survive a “worm” attack and are found at the end of the second episode by another ship.
Elrond in the episodes for The Rings of Power is a half-elf who serves the king, though not with all rank and privilege you might think. He’s well over a millennium old at this point, and is still segregated from the people he chose to call his own. Elrond is one of Galadriel’s closest confidants, and is looking for a greater opportunity to create. He’s given that when high king Gil-Galad (Ben Walker) sends him to work with Lord Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) to help create something of great importance. Elrond finds out it is a forge they want to build speedily and suggests roping in the dwarves. After some disagreements between Elrond and Durin IV (Owain Arthur), Disa (Sofia Nomvete) is able to help Elrond and Durin reunite as friends, and Durin takes the missive to his father (Peter Mullen), only something is going on in Khazad’dum.
In the Southlands, the elven watch group is called to return home after Gil-Galad’s missive that the war is over. Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) wants to say one last goodbye (and clearly confess his love) to a human healer Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi). He finds a reason to stay, investigating the rotted land at Bronwyn’s hometown. They arrive to find the whole town missing, with passages underneath the town. Arondir investigates, ending up overwhelmed by what looks like several orcs. Bronwyn returns to her home to warn the town that they need to leave as the passages seem to have been leading that way.
She’s not believed, and when she returns home, she finds her home ransacked, and her son Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) hiding. He had found an orc in a hole he put in the floor thinking it was mice scratching underneath. They kill the orc, and Bronwyn brings its head to the bar, saying they’re leaving for the elven watchtower in the morning. Theo brings along the sword he found with Sauron’s symbol on it. The blade pulls in some of his blood from a cut, and grows longer. Very ominous.
The last place we visit is Rhovanion, where we meet the Harfoots, the predecessor to the Hobbit species. The Rings of Power gets a little wonky here, but it is by far the most intriguing part of the show. We get to meet Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) and her best friend Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) as they explore the lands looking for excitement. Later on, a meteor falls across the sky and Nori finds it with Poppy, where a strange man (Joseph Mawle) is in the middle of the crater. He has some form of magical powers, and looks human, but doesn’t seem to know the language. He’s looking for a specific constellation, which Nori has never seen. Despite this, she promises to help him.
Overall with these first episodes for The Rings of Power, I find myself very impressed. The only thing I might find to have an issue with is truly how much exposition is thrown at you in two hours. It’s a ton to take in, and can get overwhelming quickly. The scenes are all incredibly beautiful, with vibrant colors when it fits, and the dark scenes are still viewable! Both episodes are directed by J.A. Bayona, and he did an incredible job, focusing on all the characters, and making them stand apart on their own. Which is tough when you have to keep switching back and forth to continue everyone’s stories across the same time period. And it is very clear they’re in the same time period because of the meteor that crossed all four locations at the end of the first episode.
I love that we have truly seen, and will continue to see a diverse set of characters across elves, humans, dwarves, and hobbits. Our first dwarven female seen on screen is a black woman! It’s just so awesome to see the women not just be simple stand-ins like in the first trilogy. They are completely a part of the story, with important roles to play in the future. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel going into the show, with how neutral I have been in the movies, but I am totally enraptured. The storytelling still feels close to how Lord of the Rings is, and I can appreciate that level of adaptation. –Katie Rentschler
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episodes 1 and 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime. New episodes every Friday.