The Rings of Power E5 Review

By: Laurel Elizabeth

In this episode it did feel like it finally picked up a bit of pace and started things moving along, although still just incrementally, which definitely makes me feel more invested than I was previously. Part of the issue I’ve had is the fact that the main conflict thus far, Galadriel trying to convince the Númenoreans to fight, is something we already knew the resolution before the show aired, because the promotional material made it obvious. So the fact that it’s taken us the better part of a season to finally get there makes it feel like the season’s been wasted.

Speaking of Galadriel, though, are we supposed to think it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the people of Númenor to listen to her? It’s confusing. On one hand we’re supposed to see it as a negative that they are hostile to elves, on the other hand there are hints that it’s a bad idea to listen to the elf. This is a problem I’ve been having throughout the whole show. I don’t know whose side of an issue I’m supposed to take, and not because both sides are compelling, but because neither side is compelling. You don’t know if you’re meant to see the way Galadriel acts as flawed and wrong or if you’re supposed to see her as in the right because at different times in the story we’re given different signals. You don’t know if Gil-galad is meant to be a dismissive jerk or a wise king because he always seems to be scheming which makes him untrustworthy. Are we supposed to think Nori was destined to help “the Stranger”, as she seems to think, or that she’s foolish? I feel so lost on who I’m supposed to root for and who I’m not supposed to because most characters have little personality and it’s hard to tell what the show is trying to portray as good or bad, wrong or right. Moreover, it’s frustrating that I can’t tell if the writers are intentionally trying to make the story more “morally grey”, if they’re trying to misdirect, or if it’s all unintentional.

Onto our storylines, we’ve got harfoots again this week, and honestly it was the storyline I’d say I enjoyed watching the most, maybe that’s because Nori feels like someone with an actual personality. The song they put in is nice enough but I don’t like them using a version of the “Not all those who wander are lost” line from the poem about Aragorn in LotR, it makes no sense to have it there, it’s done purely to remind you of The Lord of the Rings. The song also felt a bit too… produced for me, especially when it went from diegetic to playing over the travelling montage. The travelling montage, itself, was off for me. I don’t like their use of the Indiana Jones style map gimmick in this show and I think this scene was one of the worst uses of it. It made it really feel like I was watching a Disney movie.

There’s not a whole lot I have to say on the Southland’s storyline. The sword the bratty kid, Theo, found is apparently super important. Adar is an interesting character and I find him more likeable than the characters I think we’re supposed to be rooting for, for whatever that is worth. Bronwyn goes from “LETS STAND AND FIGHT” to “It’s hopeless, we should give up” real fast, and Arondir doesn’t do a whole lot besides having a bonding scene with Theo.

I really don’t have a whole lot to say about the Númenor plot line right now, besides what I already said above. Elendil mostly stands around, Isildur mopes about, Galadriel gives some guys a fighting lesson in yet another poorly done action scene, Halbrand forges swords, and we learn a bit more about Pharazôn’s motivation. I found his motives pretty well done. I want more scenes like the one where he discusses his plans with his son. Eärien apparently has the opposite viewpoint on going to war with Sauron as her brother and father but never actually discusses it with them, which would have added much needed natural conflict and character building.

Back on Middle-earth, we get the awkward Thanksgiving meal with Gil-galad, Elrond, and Durin. Gil-galad acts condescending, Durin steals the table, and we find out some extremely non-canonical stuff about mithril that is by far the most absurd thing in this show, as of now. It’s downright preposterous and I worry about the ramifications of it and how it might shift the downfall of Moria from a tale about the woes of greed to something more altruistic. Now it might be a misdirect but I’m tired of everything in this show being a potential misdirect because it makes it impossible to even know what the real plot is. And if it does turn out to be a lie from Sauron, or something to that effect, why would Gil-galad of all people be fooled by it? The elves in this show are largely portrayed as ignorant if not downright malicious, which disappoints me, because I really love Tolkien’s elves.

To summarise my main thoughts on the episode, I wish we had a better idea of the timelines in the story, especially between different plots. What feels like a few days worth of storyline in Númenor or the Southlands, seems to be a few weeks or even months in other plot lines. They also jump between them a bit too much, just as you’re settling in at one place you’re whisked off to another. There are still too many metaphors. Those aren’t a substitute for good writing and should be used only sparingly or when necessary to get a point across. We have 3 episodes left and I suspect these ones will see the plot finally move along. I think we could have progressed a lot more in one season than we have, especially if there had been a slightly more episodic nature and used the time more wisely. My issues about dialogue and plot and costumes still stand, the Númenorean helmets are particularly bad. This episode was simultaneously most engaged and most frustrating to me, but at least it seems the next few episodes may be less stagnant.

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