When Amazon announced it was creating a television show based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth saga, I was skeptical. How could a television production do such a grand, rich setting justice? I am happy to say that Amazon stepped up to that task in every single way. Not only in the scope of its awesome production, cinematography, and effects; I also liked each and every character the first time I saw them onscreen. I felt invested in their struggles. Rings of Power isn’t simply a return to the realm of elves, humans, dwarves, and orcs that spawned modern epic fantasy. It is a heartfelt production that improves upon Tolkien’s everlastingly poplar mythos.
Warning: this essay contains spoilers for The Rings of Power: Season 1. The show will be abbreviated as ‘ROP’ throughout. It also assumes the reader is familiar with Tolkien and his works.
For this massive production, Amazon drew material from the appendices to The Lord of the Rings. They weren’t able to secure the rights to the rest of Tolkien’s works, such as The Silmarillion, which is far more pertinent to the era ROP takes place in: the Second Age. Morgoth has been defeated, the armies of orcs, Balrogs, and dragons have been destroyed, and Sauron has yet to be apprehended. We are shown a world that has seen centuries of conflict, and though the war is over, there is a lingering anxiety that is perfectly encapsulated in Galadriel. I’ll begin this essay with her.
Galadriel, the Lady of Lórien as she is termed in LOTR, is shown here as an elven general that is driven by her desire to find Sauron and bring him to justice. She carries the dagger of her brother who was slain in battle against Sauron; her one physical link to her sibling, and the talisman that serves as a reminder of her vengeful need. This weapon, forged of gold and silver in Valinor, proves to be quite consequential to the story. It is from this blade, along with mithril, that the three elven rings are forged by Celebrimbor. This adds such a poetic layer to the saga, and particularly to Galadriel, for she will wear one of those rings, even into the Third Age when she hosts the Fellowship of the Ring in Lothlórien. Given her relationship with Halbrand (who turns out to be Sauron), this is such a great moment. This adds much more depth to her character, and underlines her…