Thoughts on Rings of Power – E07 and E08

Fourth and last episode of my very rambly, very disorganised thoughts on Rings of Power. The first episode was here (click), the second one there (click), and the third one there (click).

Spoilers ahead!

Episode 7

What. A. Great. Episode!

I was hooked and loved that the pace slowed down to immerse us in the survivors’ trauma. Not that it was pleasant, but I appreciated that we weren’t pushed back into action and fights.

The Southlands

That first image of the horse in flames chilled me to the bone. A few minutes into the episode, I was ok with most of the characters having survived (even though that makes no sense) and I was adequately moved by poor Ontamo.

Rings of Power showrunners explain that epic Mordor reveal | Radio Times
I loved that most of the effects in this episodes were managed on set and not in post-production. Everything is so tactile it’s a delight.

I was only taken aback by Galadriel’s revelations about Celeborn, and although I wasn’t very fond of how they used Lúthien here, I enjoyed and will enjoy speculating about Celeborn. Then of course I hated the flirting side-eyes between Galadriel and Halbrand, but that’s because I hate the idea that a man and a woman can’t talk together without there being romantic intentions.

Finally, we see Halbrand on the brink of death, but he magically stands up, gets on a horse and leave for a multiple-day horse ride? That is far beyond mere suspension of disbelief.

Harfoots

I was wondering when the Harfoots would be impacted by the volcano, and here we finally had it. The poor, lovely Hobbits deserve better but I’m still invested in their storyline. And then, when Sadoc gave the Stranger the star-map, something clicked. Isn’t it Gandalf’s rune in the shape the stars make? I wouldn’t like it very much if the Stranger was Gandalf, but it’s not the worst thing these writers would have come up with (see my hate for the Mithril plot in episode 5).

Elrond & Durin

Friends, I almost shed a tear (a rather rare event nowadays for me). The scenes with Elrond and Durin were perfection. Filled with so much emotion and care for each other. Although I’m still angry at that mithril business, seeing Durin being heartbroken and about to say his best friend farewell absolutely broke my heart. Then the dialogue down in the mine…

https://www.nme.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Rings_Of_Power_Episode_7_Durin.jpg

Expectations for episode 8 

Actually, the end of the episode worked very well as an end-of-season episode, so I feel like episode 8 could be dedicated solely to another plotline entirely. But the only characters we haven’t seen in episode 7 are Pharazon, Gil-Galad, and Celebrimbor and please don’t give me a whole episode with only Celebrimbor, except if you decide to introduce Annatar.


Episode 8

Here is my first reaction as I wrote it just after watching the episode (imagine it in angry capitalised letters).

What. A. Terrible. Episode. It makes me both sad and angry to write that, because I was ready to enjoy myself immensely after most of episode 7 went so well.

I was so upset by the big reveal that Halbrand is Sauron that I completely obliterated the things there were to love in this episode. Fortunately, I rewatched it two days later and had a long chat with friends, and here I come with a little more nuance and a little more detail.

As a general observation, this episode is full of lovely pictures, from the very first one with the vegetation drenched in rain. But then the plot troubles start for me.

The Stranger & Harfoots

The beginning was lovely and intriguing, until Nori was revealed as one of the cultists. If you’re putting yourself at the service of someone, why would you behave so menacingly towards them? I’m not an expert in personal relationships, but bouncing someone around and tying them after putting them to sleep with your magical foul breath doesn’t sound like these persons are fun to be around.

That being said, and despite how much I hate the fire balls, I do enjoy those three mysterious characters. Most of all, the fact that we know they came from Rhûn, a land that Tolkien didn’t write about, makes me hope that in season 2 we get to discover a whole new civilisation with cool designs.

Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power' Season 1 Episode 7 Recap

The Harfoots part was lovely, and I don’t have anything but good things to say. Sadoc’s end was really emotional (though I was too distracted the first time and not surprised the second time). Poppy came very close to breaking my heart when she and Nori said goodbye. All in all, the Harfoots kept on being very cute and even though my interest for them waned as the episodes went by, I was glad for the balance they brought to the series as a whole. It’s important not to have only powerful characters doing important things. You also have to consider small people doing small things.

Last but not least, it was funny that as soon as we discovered the Stranger at the start of the season we considered that he might be Gandalf but ditched the idea because Gandalf isn’t supposed to appear before the Third Age.

Númenor

I’m doing this slightly out of order because I want to keep the big part for last. Since episode 7, I wasn’t expecting to be reunited with Elendil, Míriel and Eärien before season 2. So I wasn’t really invested in these scenes, being too busy processing the ones in Eregion. However I did enjoy the dialogue between Elendil and the queen, and the glimpse we had of Eärien (who is so good at drawing she can draw a three-quarters-left profile of someone she is currently seeing in three-quarters-right). It feels more and more certain that Eärien will be the one building Annatar’s temple in a future season. I don’t see how her having a look in the Palantir can make her change her mind since she seems to be siding with Pharazôn, but we’ll get to that in season 2.

Eregion

The location of Eregion is beautiful, but once again I wished for something different. It looks so much like an extended edition of Rivendell that I wasn’t hooked, although objectively it looked stunning. I did appreciate the level of detail, and how the architecture curves and leaves lots of nooks and crannies.

Rings Of Power Saison 2 sera plus canonique, déclare les showrunners du  LOTR - Sird

Everything about Celebrimbor irked me. First, and this is not new, his haste, which was never justified. Then, the fact that he’s a fascinating character in the books, even from the small amounts we are told in The Lord of the Rings, but in the series it didn’t seem to me that he cared a lot about what he was doing. I don’t mean that I resent his constant smile, because after all that’s part of Elrond’s charm and I love to see characters smile.

Then, the fact that his relationship with Annatar is over and done with in not more than 10 minutes is particularly frustrating. I had very high hopes for a slow-burn platonic relationship between the two, with manipulation and deception and lots of twists and turns. All we got was a couple of dialogues where the greatest of all Elven smiths gets patronised by someone who at that point is still supposed to be human. The fact that Celebrimbor doesn’t know everything there is to know about alloys is ludicrous.

Since Celebrimbor seems to take everything lightly, as soon as I saw the scene of the explosion on the tower there flashed in my mind a portrait of Celebrimbor in the state of Merry and Pippin after they set off Gandalf’s fireworks: sooty-faced and dishevelled. I’m very frustrated we didn’t get any of that.

The one thing I enjoyed tremendously in this episode, apart from the heart-to-heart conversation between Elrond and Galadriel, was Galadriel herself. I was so glad to see her display so many emotions so subtly. Her face off with Halbrand was very well written – I mean, despite the fact that I hate Halbrand-being-Sauron with all my heart, I do think the slow reveal was extremely well done.

But that confrontation should have involved Celebrimbor. Having him stripped of his friendship with Narvi and then his twisted relationship with Annatar, of course he’s left with nothing and I cannot care about him. Not to mention his hair. You see, I soon forgot about Elrond’s hair when I saw how utterly lovely a character he is. But with Celebrimbor, I still see the hair.

The Rings of Power' Episode 8 – Will the Real Sauron Please Stand Up? -  Bell of Lost Souls

Short digression about the whole Halbrand-Sauron thing

Having Halbrand be Sauron is so underwhelming. It feels like the writers picked the easy solution and robbed the viewers of hours of speculation.

From the start, Halbrand felt off to me. I found him mysterious enough and well written as a character, but I never understood how other characters (mostly Galadriel) were ready to trust him. The man had done absolutely nothing to deserve that trust. He was just a random white guy, reasonably good-looking, on the sea with a pouch he said himself he had stolen. But that didn’t stop people for giving him a crown and putting him on a throne. But for someone to be Annatar I need charisma and seduction and a power to convince. Which I didn’t get with him. I was just on my guard each time he appeared and knew from the start he wasn’t a good guy. Which I shouldn’t be – I have a long history of never spotting the plot twists and being surprised by the simplest things.

2022 - The Rings of Power saison 2 pourrait s'attaquer à la création de One  Ring - Actual News Magazine
You can’t convince me this is a good shot. It looks so cliché and I hate it, sorry.

Conclusion

I want to commend the actors and actresses in this episode, because my fury at the plot didn’t prevent me from appreciating how well they acted, especially Morfydd Clark who showed a lot of nuance (which the previous episodes didn’t really leave her chance to do). Her confrontation with Finrod especially blew me away. Will Fletcher, playing said Finrod, was excellent. And Daniel Weyman as the Stranger managed to channel tiny mannerisms taken from Ian McKellen which I really appreciated.

And last but not least, I loved Fiona Apple’s song at the end. Excellent way to wrap-up season 1.

Expectations for season 2

Please, please, screenwriters, do better with the rings plot. It’s the actual title of the series, it has to be on point. Give us a rational explanation why Sauron touched the Elven rings but neither the Dwarven nor the Human rings.

Please do not sacrifice Adar, because he’s such a great character and although we know eventually he’ll bow to Sauron or die, I don’t want him to disappear.

I’m looking forward to discovering new locations like Pelargir and Rhûn.

Eastern edge of the map for The Rings of Power showing Rhun

And last but not least, I’m looking forward to a couple years of speculation and drawing whatever clues we can from the tidbits Amazon will release in the meantime!

What about you, reader? What are your thoughts about *gestures wildly* all this?


OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Marie Bretagnolle (18 octobre 2022). Thoughts on Rings of Power – E07 and E08. Tolkien & illustration. Consulté le 13 juillet 2024 à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/v8v9


2 réflexions au sujet de « Thoughts on Rings of Power – E07 and E08 »

  1. Agreed: “A servant of the Enemy … would seem fairer and feel fouler.” Halbrand got the feeling-foul part right, but the writers never gave us much that seemed fair.

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