The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power recap episodes one and two – like you’ve never seen on TV

The following article contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Don’t read until you’ve seen episodes one and two…

Hello and welcome to the first recap of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. It’s been a big two weeks for fantasy television – you may have noticed a certain other the show started a few weeks ago – but we’re here to celebrate, not to make constant comparisons to House of the Dragon, so I’ll keep them to an absolute minimum – and my colleague Tom Huddleston writes some really great recaps if you want to discuss it. This town is big enough for both of us.

Let’s also keep references to RoP’s budget to a minimum – which is said to be $1bn (£860m) for all five seasons, making it comfortably the most expensive TV show ever made. Let’s just say that from the first frame to the last, The Rings of Power is unlike any show I’ve seen before. Scale and ambition ooze from every scene; the costumes, sets, sets, and props exist on a level of grandeur perhaps only matched by Marvel’s bigger-budget offerings, surpassing even the gritty, lived-in aesthetic of the original LotR trilogy by Peter Jackson. Anyway, enough of that. To Valinor!

Gravity? What is that?

Don’t get cold feet! …The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Photography: AP

We started with a solemn voiceover from Galadriel, informing us that she remembers the times before everything went wrong, when “the world was so young there had been no sunrise”, and something about dark and light.

We were shown that young Galadriel (Amélie Child Villiers) was ready for a fight. As she got the better of the boy who had sunk her sailboat, her older brother Finrod (Will Fletcher) arrived to calm things down and offer questionable advice.

“Do you know why a ship floats but not a stone? ” He asked. Apparently it’s something to do with darkness and light – I sense a theme here – rather than gravity and density. He then whispered something in his little sister’s ear. Presumably: “Pay attention to the shipwreck thing, it’ll come in handy at the end of the episode when you’re chilling at the thought of being on that boat.”

Then we were treated to a summary of events, explaining how the Elven people, including Galadriel, traveled from their idyll in the west to the realm of Middle-earth to fight Morgoth and his armies. We met our heroine Galadriel as an adult, played by Morfydd Clark (she won’t become Cate Blanchett for a few thousand years). In mourning, she took her brother’s dagger – and his promise to kill Sauron.

We picked up a few centuries later, when even Galadriel’s company, primarily Thondir (Fabian McCallum), had lost faith in the mission – even after Galadriel killed a snow troll with such panache that I can’t wait. she is ambushed again.

And so to our first sighting of Harfoot. The Harfoots are a type of hobbit – along with the stoor and the fallohide – that JRR Tolkien didn’t write much about. Here, just like the hobbits do in Peter Jackson’s films, it looks like the halflings will provide some much-needed relief in a potentially heavy series with Ponderous Moments and dialogue that draws a fine line between emotional and horribly po-faced. (So ​​far it’s been successful…but the line is fine.)

We saw Lenny Henry play Sadoc Burrows for the first time – interesting Irish accent, Sir Len– and were introduced to Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) and her friend Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards). It was all pretty superficial in the first episode, and it wasn’t until the day after an object fell from the sky that we learned more about Poppy and Nori’s characters. But who is the Crash Site Stranger? First thought is a younger version of Gandalf, though I think the hair and beard are red herrings – plus Gandalf, Saruman and the rest of the Istari were only sent to Middle-earth sometime in the Third Age, thousands of years after the events of this series. The actor playing the Stranger, Daniel Weyman, said his character was important, essential to the creation of the titular rings. My bet is that he is an original character, not from the Tolkien books. That said, the way he talked to the fireflies (before they all fell dead) was very reminiscent of Gandalf, atop Orthanc, talking to the moth in The Fellowship of the Ring.

go west

Back to the elves, and we saw Galadriel allowed to return to the Undying Lands by High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker). It was immediately obvious that she didn’t want to go, and by the time we reached the end of the second episode, she had jumped ship, only to be rescued by Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), a mysterious and morally ambivalent character, a another created specifically for this series. Is it too obvious to suggest he’ll be a misguided love interest for Galadriel, or will they just bond over their shared hatred of orcs? And from what terrible things does he flee?

The romantic potential of scary cow’s milk

In the Southlands, we encountered Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) and other elven warriors who had been watching the region for signs of evil since the end of the conflict with Morgoth. After 79 years without much, it’s probably understandable why Arondir has other things on his mind, namely Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), and why he looks so disappointed when the news of peace is declared, which means that the elves can go home. It takes the rotten udders of a cow to keep this relationship going – isn’t that always the case? But as slow as this installment is to get started, the broken sword emblazoned with the symbol of Sauron, the deranged monster in episode two searching for him, and a city grappling with the fact that their ancestors fought alongside Morgoth suggest that it will be a rich seam to be mined.

Let’s talk about mining

In the kingdom of the dwarves… The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Photography: Prime Studio

To Khazad-dûm and the Dwarven Realm, where Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo) hoped to seek the help of King Durin (Peter Mullan) to create the greatest forge in Middle-earth. But only Elrond was allowed into the kingdom, and after losing to Prince Durin (Owain Arthur) in a smash contest, he had bridges to rebuild with his old friend.

I enjoyed the interaction between Prince Durin and his wife, Disa (Sophia Nomvete), especially since she undermined him when he tried to give Elrond the cold shoulder. And they did a good job of suggesting that the Prince and Elrond’s friendship, while frayed, had deep roots.

Globally

Perfectly cast… Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Perfectly cast… Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Photography: Prime Studios

Expectations were very high, but based on these two episodes, I’m excited for what’s to come. The first episode took a while to get going, but then there’s a massive world to establish. The second had a much faster pace and certainly benefited from the introduction of dwarves. Rounding and Bronwyn felt underutilized, except for the intense fight in the barn. Morfydd Clark, meanwhile, seems perfectly cast as a less ethereal Galadriel than we’re used to. I also have high hopes for Elrond once he realizes the world isn’t as idyllic as he would like. And this guy from Celebrimbor… a blacksmith, you say? Good at forging rings? It looks fun! I can not wait.

Notes and Observations

  • The Sauron symbol, as seen on Finrod’s skin and elsewhere, quite distracting, reminded me of the capital E on Epiphone musical instruments. Is the dark wizard a guitarist? Maybe he was a Beatles fan?

  • I said I wouldn’t mention Game of Thrones, but you might recognize Robert Aramayo, who plays Elrond, as young Ned Stark in the Tower of Joy flashback, cheating his way to victory against Ser Arthur Dayne.

  • As brief as his appearance in episode two was, it was Peter Mullan playing King Durin III, the actor recently seen in Ozark, where he played Missouri opium king Jacob Snell; and alongside Rings of Power cast member Benjamin Walker as Ridgeway Senior on Underground Railroad.

What did you think? Who do you think is the Stranger? And why did the broken blade react like this in Theo’s hand? Have your say below…

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