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Review: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ Season 1

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 has come to a close after last week’s finale full of twists. The show takes place during the Second Age, which lasts a whopping 3,441 years. While the series will certainly condense the immense story, it’s been clear since before the start of production that there is an enormous amount of ground to cover. Knowing the rich myths and lore of the Tolkien novels, the task ahead for the cast and crew of this show is still almost unimaginable. It was hard to imagine a proper The Lord of the Rings television show could ever be made, but somehow Prime Video was able to pull it off. 

The show takes an almost Game of Thrones-esque style to it, by dividing the story into almost four or five continuously ongoing storylines. The show’s first season mainly focuses on Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), with this season feeling like her show.

It certainly makes time for the many other characters and storylines though. We see a few familiar faces amongst the likes of Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Isildur (Maxim Baldry), two other very important characters in this series that also made appearances in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. The rest of the characters we are introduced to are famous Second Age characters like Gil-Galad, Celebrimbor, Prince Durin, Elendil, and Miriel. Along with new characters like Arondir, Bronwyn, Theo, Adar, Nori, and the rest of the Harfoots. Let’s break down each storyline in season one of The Rings of Power and my thoughts on how they played out. 

[Warning: Spoilers from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 are below!]

Galadriel, Halbrand, and The Numenorians

The choice of making Galadriel the main character of season one always felt like a smart decision to me. She was always the most mysterious character in the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Giving insight into who Galadriel really is, gives a whole new look at the character. Seeing her without her ring of power is something incredibly intriguing. Galadriel is essentially a fierce warrior throughout this first season, with one goal in mind; to hunt down Sauron and prevent the darkness from spreading across Middle-Earth. 

Having Sauron hidden in plain sight as Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) for the entire season was a twist that was done quite well. It could have very easily become a cliche plot point, but up until episode six, I really did not believe Halbrand was Sauron. Sauron has always been known as the deceiver, Charlie Vickers played that role so well that he even deceived some of the audience.

I really look forward to seeing how the legend of Sauron unfolds in the second season. Once I realized Halbrand was probably Sauron in episode six, I couldn’t wait to see the facade that is Halbrand break and become Sauron again. The performance Charlie Vickers gives as Sauron in episode eight is nothing short of iconic and is by far his best performance of the season. 

Lord of the Rings of Power season one Galadriel
Galadriel – The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video).

Seeing Numenor come to life has to be exciting for any longtime Tolkien fan. The show does a fantastic job of displaying Numenor as a beautiful island kingdom with rich scenery and culture. I never got tired of the time we spent in Numenor. There was also something interesting about Galadriel and Halbrand in Numenor as outsiders and the conflict that ensues. While Galadriel’s time in Numenor gave us a more grounded insight into the character, by episode six she’s back to being this god-like elf leading the Numenorean army into battle in the Southlands. 

Seeing a young Isildur, long before the great tragedy that befalls him, is surely setting up fans for heartbreak. The growing relationship between him and his father Elendil (Lloyd Owen) is a highlight of the season, something that I’m sure will continue in further seasons. Overall, I would love for the show to spend more time in Numenor, even seeing Galadriel go back to Numenor would be fine with me. I feel as though a lot of the heart of this show will eventually end up there. 

Elrond and The Dwarves

The main highlight of Elrond’s time spent at Khazad-Dum is his endearing friendship with Prince Durin (Owain Arthur). The friendship here is arguably the main plot point of this storyline, showing how early the alliance between elves and dwarves started. While the inspiration for this close friendship is obviously inspired in part by the charming friendship between Legolas and Gimli, it feels fresh in its own way. 

Another highlight of this storyline is seeing the great Khazad-Dum, in a time where it’s lively and full of dwarves. In The Fellowship of the Ring, the fellowship travels through an abandoned Khazad-Dum, battling orcs, goblins, and even a Balrog. Late in The Rings of Power season one, we learn that the Balrog has been in the depths of Khazad-Dum for thousands of years. 

Lord of the Rings: The rings of Power season one Dwarf
Owain Arthur as Prince Durin in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season one. (Prime Video).

The plot for Prince Durin may be one of the stronger storylines so far. The internal conflict between his loyalty to the dwarves and saving the Elves slowly chips away at him throughout the season. It all comes to a head at the end as ultimately Durin goes against his father’s wishes and helps provide Elrond and the elves with Mithril, a magic ore that could save the elven race. Durin is ultimately stripped of his title of the prince, a plotline to be continued in the second season for sure.

Arondir and The Southlanders

At first, I didn’t quite understand why Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), and the rest of the Southlanders were in the show, to begin with. After the first episode, I quickly became fond of them, especially Arondir who radiates the most charisma on the show. After the end of the second episode, it became clear their arc would revolve around the Orcs invading the Southlands. Once I came to realize that the Southlands actually ends up becoming the land of Mordor, I could see where the story was headed. 

Besides the widely overarching story of Men vs. Orcs, the story of Arondir and his protection of the Southlanders was quite a charming tale. Arondir consistently was the most courageous and charismatic character on the show, at times rivaling Galadriel for the best heroism trope. His romantic storyline with Bronwyn was perfectly balanced with the rest of his arc, not too much not too little. Arondir is a character I look forward to seeing much more of in season two, following the Southland’s descent into Mordor.

Bronwyn might have been the most unexpected character of the entire series. The writers did a phenomenal job of not sidelining her while also making her equally as important to the survival of the Southlanders. To see how quickly she took command and became a true leader of her people feels relevant to the entire story of Middle-Earth. After all, the entire story of Middle-Earth is about the salvation of people.  

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season one Aradonir
Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season one. (Prime Video).

My favorite part of the season and this storyline is when this Southland storyline converged with the Numenor plot, giving us one massive battle. Seeing Galadriel and the Numenorean army charge to save Arondir and the Southland gave me one of my favorite episodes of television in years. Not only was episode six stellar, but the ending was also truly shocking as we witnessed essentially the birth of Mordor via the eruption of Mount Doom. 

The Stranger and The Harfoots

The most underrated storyline of the season is certainly the tale of The Stranger and The Harfoots. The series took a page out of The Lord of the Rings by allying an Istar (Daniel Weyman), who is probably Gandalf, and the Harfoots, who will probably become the Hobbits. While many fans were upset over Gandalf’s potential way-too-early appearance, I was not, as it has not been confirmed to be Gandalf yet. Yes, the “follow your nose” line in the finale is a bit of a giveaway, but there is always a chance this could be one of the unknown Blue Wizards. These wizards supposedly show up in the second age. If it does turn out to be Gandalf, I will not be too upset, to be honest as the show seems to be leaning a bit on familiarity. 

I originally thought I wouldn’t care too much for the Harfoots, but they are way too charming not to love. It’s become clear they are a very early version of the Hobbits, which I would guess they will assume the title of eventually. The standout is certainly Eleanor Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh), or as known in the show as Nori. 

Much like Pippin and Merry, Nori radiates an undying urge for adventure. The Harfoot tradition keeps her from straying off the path too much, but once she meets The Stranger, her ambitions get the best of her. Her growing maturity and loyalty to both The Stranger and The Harfoots make her a character easy to love. I look forward to seeing the journey of Nori and The Stranger in season two. 

Overall thoughts of The Lord of the Rings: the Rings of Power season 1

Overall, I was more than happy with season one of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was incredibly important to me during my childhood, some of my fondest memories as a kid are sitting down and watching those films. I remember as a child I collected all of the action figures and sat down and played with them night and day. To see Middle-Earth return felt incredibly familiar, at times it felt like a piece of my childhood had returned to me.

I look forward to many aspects of Rings of Power season 2. We will certainly learn more about the true nature of this mysterious Istar in the next season. We will also see how Galadriel recovers from her time spent with Sauron after gaining a ring of power for her own.

I mainly look forward to seeing Sauron return. Sauron is a character we have really spent such a limited time with in the films, only now are we getting a true glimpse of the dark lord at work. I am more than excited to see Charlie Vickers back as Sauron in season two, getting to truly perform as Sauron and no longer just Halbrand. Overall the future is bright for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 is currently streaming in its entirety on Prime Video. Are you looking forward to season two? Let us know in the comments below! And if you haven’t already, check out Uday Kataria’s article mapping out the first two seasons of The Rings of Power!

Mapping out The Rings of Power Seasons 1-2

rings of power seasons 1-2

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power SDCC 2022 Panel

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Drew Reed

Hey I'm Drew Reed, Staff Writer here at The Cosmic Circus. I love Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Lord of The Rings and many more fantasy and sci-fi universes. You can find me on twitter @ DrewReed1099

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