September 1st has finally arrived, and with it, not just the inklings of autumn—but the premiere of one of the most lavish television shows ever produced. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has been long awaited since Amazon spent millions of dollars for the rights to make a show based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. And with the release of the first two episodes, bated-breath-fans will finally get some answers to their many queries about this unprecedented exploration of the Second Age of Middle-earth. But will every Tolkienite will be satisfied?
The first two episodes may be a feast for the senses—but despite everything, the plot thus far seems lacking. This could simply be an unfortunate side effect of a few things, namely the fact that this is a world that most fans of the Peter Jackson film trilogy have not encountered, and it takes time to introduce not only characters but settings. After all, this is Middle-earth as it was thousands of years before the journeys of Bilbo and Frodo, when Numenor thrived, when the elves we know from the trilogy were still young, and long before Hobbiton ever existed. It feels like Middle-earth, sure, but this world is as far away from Tolkien’s Third Age as BCE is for our human timeline…a lot can change in two thousand years, even for immortal elves.
With that in mind, I’m trying to reserve judgment on whether or not the show is (or can be) objectively good. Does it have potential? Certainly, it does. But potential or not, the stakes are different for some than for others. Those who have studied the annexes and The Silmarillion will likely not have the same reactions to the show as those who have only read or watched The Lord of the Rings. But until we have a good grasp of what the story actually is, it is difficult to say whether this foray into the lives of Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), Elrond (Robert Aramayo), Nori (Markella Kavenagh), Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), Durin (Owain Arthur), and other characters—both of Tolkien lore and the showrunners’ own creation—will be what fans want.
While I wait on my metaphorical fence for a few more episodes to come out, at the very least there are many aspects of the show that are downright enjoyable—in fact, I would argue that everything aside from the plot and pacing is fantastic. It’s no wonder that reports have surfaced that this is the most expensive tv production ever made…you can see not only the money that went into it, but the care and skill. Those behind the scenes who did the costumes, the set designs, the cinematography, and best of all (in my humble opinion), the score, truly immersed themselves in the indescribable bone-marrow-deep feelings of Tolkien’s creation and imagination. When I say the show is beautiful, I mean it. It’s stunning, heart-fluttering, and blood-racingly lovely.
Is beauty enough? We will see.
The Rings of Power is streaming now, only on Amazon Prime.