The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power has a lot of plot ahead, and the first half of the first season reaches its peak when the 4th episode comes to an end. The show goes through its events at a rather leisurely pace, but the events themselves are still a classic enjoyable fantasy action movie.
Episode 4 “The Big Wave” was directed by Wayne Che Yip, like the previous part, but screenwriter Stephanie Folsom is a newcomer to this series. She joins the duo behind the pilot episode, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, to bring this new episode to life. We hope that the constantly evolving team will continue to bring new elements to the series.
“The Big Wave” avoids the narration of Nori and the Harfoots, leaving the episode, unfortunately, devoid of the most charming element of the series. Instead, the show returns to the adventures of Elrond with his friend Durin in the dwarf lands of Kazad-Doom. The series shows where the dwarves go when they discover the most important resource of Middle-earth, Mithril. Fans remember this magical metal as an active ingredient in armor and weapons throughout the franchise. It’s a big discovery, but the series is sliding into the same territory as modern “Star Wars” movies like “Rogue One” and “Solo.” The mistake is in the spotlight, as the show seems to attach too much importance to this thing that ordinary fans remember. On the other hand, the interaction of Durin, Diza and Elrond is one of the best works in the series at the moment, so this is an ambiguous situation.
Meanwhile, the new settlement founded by Bronwyn is struggling to feed its residents and ensure their safety when they leave their ancestral home. The warrior Arondir, cynical and angry because of a failed prison escape in the previous episode, finally meets the doomed enemy Adar. He’s a pretty standard fantasy villain, wielding images and daggers with equal skill and efficiency. He utters the phrase “lulling your murder”, he kills his people, he talks about becoming a deity, all this is very standard. Joseph Mole, best known as Jon Snow’s uncle Benjen in the first season of Game of Thrones, does a lot with this role, but it has already become clear that his default fantasy villain antics are only part of the puzzle. When Browin’s son Theo comes out to save the day with the powerful handle he found, the show turns into a funny place of fantastic action.
In the fabulous fantasy land of Numenor, Galadriel continues his misguided campaign to decisively anger all the important figures on the island. Her amateur political skills lead to clashes with Princess Miriel again and again as she struggles to raise an army. These primordial enemies are coming together to see the approaching evil with the help of another political force. Miriel’s cousin, Farazon, a populist who masterfully manipulates citizens with favors and booze, announced his desire for money and fame. Farazon is very cheerful, at the same time a well-born aristocrat and a man of the people. Tristan Gravel very energetically conveys the charisma of the character, really lifting the material. Events in Numenor are moving slowly, but the episode suggests that things will get better in the second half of the season.
Rings of Power strives for something big, but the most constant problem has always been the pace. The show has trouble focusing, constantly keeping an eye on elements that don’t necessarily need them. He faces the same problem that modern remakes of the foundational genres of fiction often face. When adapting, even in general terms, something as important to the canon of Western fantasy as Tolkien, you can walk a fine line. Adherence to the source material seems to be common, since this source has generated most of these cliches and conventions. Deviation from the source material causes a wave of hatred from hardcore fans demanding absolute fidelity to its laws. For example, the other villains from The Lord of the Rings seem a bit generic because they are the mainstay that other works have stolen over the century. Adar enters this conversation with the added elements of many years of development, but this does not make it original, even if it is interesting to look at.
Rings of Power struggles with many difficulties, but still manages to enjoy a fantasy adventure every week. There are a lot of things to love about the series, and it seems to be heading towards a higher peak than it has been achieved so far. The pace is a bit erratic, and the elements seem a bit fanservice, but “Rings of Power” can well be considered one of the greatest fantasy works of the 2020s, when all is said and done. At least there is a season and a half left, and fans will have to hope that in the remaining time he will gain acceleration and fully realize his potential.