By Jonah Fisher || Contributing Writer
With the release of the new “Rings of Power” TV show on Amazon Prime, the global corporate giant leaped out of the frying pan and into the fire of their rating system.
The highly-anticipated TV series takes viewers back to the lands of Middle Earth, following characters of each race in their quest to stop the dark lord Sauron. While having the largest budget in TV history, the show has been plagued by critiques from avid fans of the famous Tolkien fantasy.
Criticism ranges from the wide cast of characters being difficult to follow to the studio having to sacrifice large swaths of important lore in an effort to make the series digestible for the average viewer. During the initial launch of the show, Amazon even closed its reviewing system to viewers as the series faced hate-bombing from the most die-hard fans.
But really, what are people so angry about? In almost every category, the “Rings of Power” is hitting all the major Lord of the Rings marks: a strong cast of diverse characters, disparate storylines set to converge, grand backdrops and locales, scores to wow almost any viewer, and even the familiar dark lord as the antagonist.
Its similarities may be a major issue, though. Fans of the books will notice rather large changes across multiple key characters.
Galadriel specifically stands out. In the books, the Silver Lady is a wanderer, almost angelic in demeanor. She walks the woods of the world during the Second Age, assisting travelers much as she does for the Fellowship during the main series.
However, the Galadriel of this series is set in stark contrast to her serene older self. After the first war against Morgoth, Sauron’s godly master, Galadriel now swears herself to hunt Sauron to the ends of the earth and beyond. Her hunt takes her to the far north as an elven commander, and even back to the lands of Valinor, the Tolkien version of Heaven.
Some fans see this as a departure from the scripture of Tolkien, but it serves a developmental purpose. If the Galadriel of the books were placed into a TV show like “Rings of Power,” she would be seen as a blank slate of a character. Very little is written about what Galadriel does in the time before Fellowship, as she is meant to be a mysterious figure of great power. By showing this new rebellious side, fans can see how Galadriel learns and grows from the time she leaves Valinor, as well as her profession to the Lady of Lórien.
The other characters of course face criticism as well. Elrond, another familiar elven face, joins Celebrimbor, creator of the rings, when historically he never leaves Lindon until the First War of the Ring. The story playing out in the Southlands, what many viewers likely know as Mordor, is tinged with ideas of having evil in the human’s blood, as they were the servants of Morgoth a thousand years before the show takes place. The show also introduces another elf-human relationship, a rarity in the Tolkien universe that almost always ends with disaster.
Whatever you may believe about the “Rings of Power,” its story has yet to unfold. Every Friday, viewers are taken back to the world Tolkien crafted almost 70 years ago. While it may be hard to follow at some points or have too many characters to introduce, Amazon has already planned to produce five seasons of the high fantasy epic in the height of civilization on Middle-Earth. Give it a chance, as the new episodes guide viewers through the most critical times leading up to the famous trilogy that brought together fans all over the world.
Jonah Fisher is a freshman and a contributing writer for The College Reporter. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.