‘The Rings of Power’: Who Is That Guy?

Oct 04, 2022 · 92 comments
It is amazing how a short article like this is so much smarter and thoughtful than a billion-dollar show...
Michele (Seattle)
In only this show had a coherent plot, characters who were well-developed, and a discernible dramatic arc, I might be able to care about it.
JEB (Austin TX)
If this is based on "a line here, an aside there, or some tiny revision," one wonders why it was every conceived or created at all. Unlike Lord of the Rings, which is a powerful story, Rings of Power is simply a collection of footnotes, snippets of background to a story that is yet to be told and that may or may not come to pass.
lldddd (Detroit)
He is most probably Tom Bombadil who may be the anti-Sauron. In the books he appears to be almost omnipotent. Ps "Rings" is blowing "Games" away. Games is a serious snooze fest. No action and boring characters.
Robert K. (at large)
@lldddd Tom Bombadil is the "anti-Sauron"? I don't think so. Old Tom was vastly more powerful and commensurately disinterested in the dealings of Maiar, Men and Elves.
lloyd (detroit)
@Robert K. the icy hands made me think he was the anti-sauron. Now of course he's a wizard
Chris H. (Milwaukee)
It took me a minute, but I've figured out what LOTR stands for. That makes this prequel BLOTR.
HRH (Seattle)
I am mostly enjoying the series. Our 14-year-old daughter, who also happens to be a scholar of Tolkien, cannot be bothered. Due to her very vocal complaints, we can't watch the show together (I jest). I do wish, for her sake, they had honored the characters and timelines a bit better. Galadriel is apparently not everywhere and doing everything as she is in the show. At least we can still watch Derry Girls together!
QDub (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
Ugh!!! Can we please stop speculating on nonsense attached to this God-awful series? We've got Galadriel portrayed as a modified Legolas (will kill anything in front of them), with none of the mystery or majesty of the book or films; Gil-Galad, whose sword was long and lance was keen in the books, is a fat bureaucrat; Elrond is a flitting elf who shows no relation to the majestic portrayal by Hugo Weaving (and, Legolas' dwarf affection has been transferred to him, apparently); Elendil looks like a bum; and Isildur is a bum. The Mysterious Stranger? Who cares? Because of copyright restrictions, and so few Maiar being mentioned in LOTR, he'll be some Maiar custom-made up for the occasion. Couldn't Jeff Bezos find another way to burn his money? I wholeheartedly agree with the one reviewer who said "OK, I'm rooting for the orcs now..."
amanda (WA)
you could just not watch it and let people have their fun speculating
Not Half Elven (New York)
@QDub Elendil looks like "a bum" why...?
Zeef Cabrita (Vancouver BC)
This charming article neatly sidesteps actual questions that should be asked of this project regarding its creative intentions and results. It reads like a commentary on a city's architecture as it burns to the ground, while ignoring the fire.
Dewi (Uk)
A bit harsh. The series is not over yet. Would you criticise a painting half way through?
Zeef Cabrita (Vancouver BC)
@Dewi Well since 6 out of 8 episodes is 75%, and since a painting is a totally different medium, so the analogy has no real meaning, I guess my answer is no. Having said that, if a painting is bad by the time 3/4 of it is done, why would a good one quarter subsequently make it good?
Tom S. (Houston)
If the last 1/4 is covering it with pitch, then yes.
eric thomas (texas)
No character shown so far will become Sauron. It would be stupid if Halbrand, for example, became Sauron and then transforms into Annatar. Celebrimbor is already making his great forge so that he can get into the ring making business. Annatar has been guiding him all this time, he is probably already an old friend (hundreds of years) of Celebrimbor, we simply haven't seen him yet.
Rachel (SoCal)
Hillebrand aka the eventual Agmar the witch king….
Todd Parola (DC)
Umm. Gandalf. Obviously. Or not, obviously, but it’s one of the best and most subtle side narratives the production has going for it.
Groot (Colorado)
I do not understand the complaints people have about this show’s “slow pace.” Have you read the source material? It takes several chapters for Frodo to even leave Bag End—I mean literal hours of forests and roads and mushrooms and songs. That is part of the way this lore works.
Stefano Carlo (North Carolina)
So, 7 episodes in, the writing only gets worse, if that is actually possible. Had they not spent $250 million to try it into LOTR they might have produced a likeable fantasy without the LOTR connection of which they have displayed none. No character development to make us care about these characters. Four separate storylines we are supposed to piece together and enjoy it? They claim that by season 5 all will be revealed. I doubt I will even indulge in season 2
Kathy A (St. Louis)
I think this series is far better than Jackson's Hobbit movies. I couldn't get through them all because they stretched one rather brief book into three long movies with lots of extra characters and side stores, albeit in gorgeous array and scenery. Maybe I'll give them another try. These streaming series always seem to take some time over the first episodes to build a head of steam. ROP is at a rolling boil now. I'm glad they are releasing weekly to let us hash over and speculate to our hearts' content before the next installment comes out.
Bob from San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
It's sad to see so much analytic effort paid to what I can only characterize as a disaster, a corruption of Tolkien's masterworks that goes for spectacle over substance, with only a passing association with the LOTR canon. I stopped watching after the second episode, especially after that scene from "The Real Dwarf Housewives of Khazad-Dum". I won't return.
Surele (NYC)
Dude. Halbrand is so clearly Sauron. Dark side? Check. Skilled at smithing beyond mortal ability? Check.
Carl Steefel (Beekeley, CA)
Not even close. Galadriel was suspicious from the beginning with Annatar. Certainly not promoting him as Galadriel does with Halbrand.
Michael (Lander, WY)
I thought the stranger might be Beorn.
Dadof2 (NJ)
You might want to mention that Melkor was Morgoth's original name. However the Amazon series is such a jumbled mix of Tolkien it's hard to reconcile with the writings. It certainly seems to mix up the chronology horribly. The story of Elendil and Isildur (who cuts the Ring of Power from Sauron's hand) takes place eons after the Númenóreans invade Middle Earth and bring Sauron back to Númenór as a captive, where his only "power" is poisonous advice that brings about the island's fall. I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a teen at the end of the 60's and bought my copy of The Silmarillion when it was first published in the US. Since the Wise wizards initially described as sent by either the Creator, Eru, or the Valar, as looking like old men, I'm guessing the Stranger is Gandalf, certainly not Sauron, nor Saruman.
Richard Hark (Philadelphia)
Ahh so many questions, so much mystery....so better that regular TV but that is not saying much. It is still a wonderful hour away from the reality reading the Post, the Times, or any other rag about the current state of affairs. Can we enjoy this please.
Coyoty (Hartford, CT)
I've finally identified the feeling I get when watching RoP. It's the same feeling and style I get from the Star Wars Holiday Special, but not in a damning way. It's theatrical and operatic, spotlighting performances, as if the characters are on a stage. The writing style is operatic as well. It's pretty much how Tolkien fandom has treated the material off-screen: twee and precious.
E (Hayward CA)
Could stranger be Saraman? But my guess is Gandalf due to relationship with Hobbits. Wasn't Tom Bombadil one of the earliest life forms? So I dont think it is him.
Carl Steefel (Beekeley, CA)
Yes, noted earlier. Gandalf has a special relationship with the Hobbits.
Dave Kelsen (Montana)
@E Yes; the elves called Bombadil "Iarwain Ben-adar" -- oldest fatherless. Dropping in to Middle-Earth in the middle of the Second Age doesn't seem to make sense. He was also deeply connected to his forest, so dropping out of the sky is counter-intuitive. There are many departures from canon in this production, though, so I suppose anything is possible. I enjoy it much more when I stop trying to connect it to what Tolkien wrote and treat it as a production that appropriated some of the names from another work.
Ted Siebert (Chicagoland)
@S Milligan. What a weak argument. Yes Tolkien put a lot of time into his stories and back stories, but please don’t tell me that Chris Tolkien didn’t smell lots and lots of money. Who could blame him? Reading Lord at 15 put me on a path to a creative career that I have enjoyed all my life. I seriously doubt JRR is rolling in his grave.
michaelscody (Niagara Falls NY)
As to the stranger, I seem to be the only person who thinks he could be Tom Bombadil. Consider; Tom lives near the Hobbits and is now traveling with the proto-hobbits to their new home. Elrond knew him as Oldest and Fatherless which could describe one who came that long ago on a meteor. His origin is unknown, his powers vast, and his personality in LOTR seems a natural outgrowth of the stranger.
Deborah Musselman (Camp Hill, PA)
Thanks, that is a good idea! Recall that ‘the stranger’ is almost helpless at first, had to be taught language by little Elinor/Nori, [a Hobbit precursor, I believe]. And then after his special abilities appear, I can see him also developing ‘woodsman’ survival skills and emerging, in the next Age, to become Tom Bombadil, in LOTR, with his hearty management ability/can-do attitude. But who was the Stranger initially, and where did Tom and Goldberry come from, anyhow?
michaelscody (Niagara Falls NY)
@Deborah Musselman I wonder if Goldberry could be one of the three strange priestesses?
michaelscody (Niagara Falls NY)
@Deborah Musselman Perhaps Goldberry was one of the three strange priestesses?
S. Milligan (Coloma)
The LOTR and the Hobbit was written by a brilliant man of his time. No one today would put in the effort that he did. He created new worlds, languages, cultures and he meticulously fleshed them out so the reader could completely accept them as a full fledged society. The creators of this series are just scavenging from Tolkien's backstory notes which he never meant to publish. They are just looking to make a buck and I'm sure they will. To the sound of Tolkien spinning in his grave.
Steph (EU, thankfully)
@S. Milligan I disagree on the 2nd part. The Tolkien estate chose Amazon's pitch (and Amazon two newbie creators with very little credentials over much more established names, due to their enthusiasm as Tolkien fans and being able to build a story for all 5 seasons) over several others like HBO, Netflix etc. Because they demonstrated most knowledge of Tolkien's world (one of the showrunners speaks Quenya and did when introducing themselves to Tolkien's grandson) and willingness to allow Tolkien's estate creative input during production. Amazon according to industry reports did NOT offer the most money: that was apparently Netflix with those $250 mil. Amazon's initial offer was several tens of millions lower. The other networks pitches centered on Aragon's life - two of them chose that angle: trying to capitalize on one of the best-known, most fleshed out, established characters as an audience draw - or wanted to do "LotR as a Shakespearean drama". Payne and McKay had a coherent pitch that essentially wanted to tell the 10 minute prologue narrated by Galadriel in Jackson's series as a 5 season series, drawing on the appendixes rather than on another LotR-trilogy variation. Tolkien's estate would've "made a buck" whomever they'd chosen of the competing networks! So, unless you assume Tolkien wouldn't 've wanted his heirs to ever sell rights to his world for production - in which case he'd likely have made different arrangements! - why would he be "spinning in his grave"?!
Steph (EU, thankfully)
@Steph apparently my auto-correct doesn't like Aragorn (unlike me) and feels Spanish region Aragon are under-represented in this discussion.
Daniel Mozes (New York)
The most important piece of this new series, for me, is the invention of new stories. TLotR movies and the Hobbit movies didn't do that (actually I didn't bother to see Hobbit movies 2 or 3). The second most important piece is the ambivalence about the Orcs and the defense of them as having "names and hearts." Tolkien's original conception is marred by the racism and baked-in racist assumptions of his time and his identity as a white, English citizen of the British Empire, a Northern and West-European view of people from eastern and southern Europe and Africa. His wavering between thinking of the Orcs as former Elves or as their own race exhibits his confusion over this problem. If they're former Elves and not another race then they are the product of bad nurture, not racially evil. But that's not how it seems in TLotR books or in the films. Trolls in the books were supposed to be twisted Ents, too, but is that ever clear in The Hobbit, where they appear to be lower-class (and for that reason) stupid, oafish, oversize Brits? The evil "people" is a key stain on the original texts and I do wonder what the writers of the new series are thinking.
Bill (Baltimore)
@Daniel Mozes How did you have the foresight and wisdom to avoid The Hobbit 2 & 3, as New Line cast the book into the crack of doom, but are still watching this trainwreck? I am hanging in there, as I did with the Hobbit movies, out of a self-abusing fascination with bad writing and directing. I am sorry your good fortune or insights failed you this time around.
Leland (Oregon)
I’m starting to think Halbrand is Sauron. Why? The rings made by Sauron were freely accepted by elves, dwarves and men. This would indicate that they were all “friends” at some point. It’s all very Star Warsy as with Palpatine.
Ubet (West of here)
@Leland The rings crafted by the Elves were hidden away and never touched by Sauron, so not exactly 'accepted'. But, true that while in a very appealing form of disguise, Sauron persuaded the free peoples to craft magical rings as a joint venture. He then corrupted the rings to darkness. The Elves saw through his deceit in time to save their rings and use them to fortify and strengthen their time in Middle Earth.
Laurabat (Love free or die)
I had been assuming Halbrand was going to end up a Nazgul, but the theory that he's Sauron puts a really nice twist on his conversation with Adar ('don't you recognize me?').
Dan Strauss (Brooklyn)
You should be covering Cobra Kai, the best show on TV, period.
David B. Benson (southeastern Washington state)
Halbrand the smith will have a role in crafting the rings of power. The Stranger’s formidable magic will infuse at least some of the rings. MMW: Mark My Words!
Patrick Prescott (Albuquerque, NM)
I have discovered what it is like to listen to a movie as if I were blind. Since everything is filmed at night and most of the show is only a black screen.
Not Half Elven (New York)
@Patrick Prescott try House of the Dragon!
Deb (CT)
I really felt sure at first that the Stranger is Gandalf, especially after he communicated (poorly) with insects. That is a skill that could be honed and perfected. But even though I’d welcome it if he IS Gandalf I think it’s too simple/obvious. Maybe he’s Maiar or a different wizard. Looking forward to finding out.
Bill (Baltimore)
@Deb Don't discount the obvious. The show has been very predictable so far.
scott (acton ma)
Very hard to read this non-analytic cheerleading for one of the least satisfying television experiences today. This Amazon product has little to do with Tolkien, especially details that would logically lead to what most have already seen in The Lord of the Rings, and simply ignores basic world-building that fantasy - aka creating an imaginary world - requires. Doesn't have to be like Tolkien, but needs to have some internal consistency - needs to do by showing what it says it is doing. At the end of the last episode, we are left in "the Southlands" - a place, as far as this show goes, populated by a half tavern of peasants, a watchtower, a volcano, a homeless guy with a king badge and no backstory, somewhere between 40 and 40,000 orcs, and 75 naval academy dropouts who volunteered to ride horses (no more could fit on 3 small ships). Never mind the protagonist who is supposed to be bigger and brighter than most humans, played by a 5 foot 2 actor, people checking her ears to see what she is. With such inept writing, demonstrably worse than, say, the umbrella academy and 100 other fantasy shows all over, what is there to take seriously here? Not every thing lacking explanation is a "mystery" - there need to be stakes that demand a solution. Meteor Man can be a flying monkey from Oz at this point - what difference does it make?
Deborah Musselman (Camp Hill, PA)
I can’t agree that ‘details’ in this story must comport with what we’ve already ‘seen’ in Lord of the Rings — this story is set in the Second Age of Middle Earth, while the story of Bilbo and the quest to destroy the Ring is set thousands of years later in the Third Age. Middle-Earth goes through tremendous upheaval from one age to the next, and evidently it’s always traumatic. But the Great Ocean is there in the Second Age, and the next age finds the Grey Havens somewhere in the west. Suggestions of loss are implied in the Second Age, with references to the destruction of the Two Trees, which gave rise to the Valar [I think!]. And in LOTR Numenor is referenced as a sort of Atlantis — that is prefigured by the ‘great wave’ vision shown by the Regent Queen to Galadriel in the Palantir. Please, correct me, careful readers of the appendices and the Silmarillion — I’m looking forward to seeing the forging of the rings!
Dave Kelsen (Montana)
@Deborah Musselman -- At the end of the Second Age (shortly after this material, and before the events of LotR), Ar-Pharazon the Golden has the effrontery to sail to Valinor with the mightiest fleet ever assembled. The Valar (who had sung Middle-Earth into creation, and specifically created the Two Trees in the First Age to replace The Lamps, previously destroyed by Melchior) laid down their guardianship of the world, and Eru destroyed Numenor, changing the shape of the world itself. From that time on, Valinor was not reachable by sailing, except by the elves, who could reach Aman the Blessed.
expat (Japan)
It's the grandson of the guy who washed up on shore at the beginning of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
DRC423 (Pgh)
@expat "It's........."
Carl Steefel (Beekeley, CA)
And the argument against Halbrand as Sauron is that Tolkien said neither Gilgalad nor Galadriel trusted the fair-faced version of Sauron (Annatar) in the Second Age. From Unfinished Tales: "...that Galadriel would be his chief adversary and obstacle, and he endeavoured therefore to placate her, bearing her scorn with outward patience and courtesy. [No explanation is offered in this outline of why Galadriel scorned Sauron, unless she saw through his disguise..."
Westfaliawolff (Herford)
I guess the stranger is Barliman Butterbur, the landlord of the The Prancing Pony in Bree.
rgrace (Tacoma, WA)
Oh, c'mon. Everyone knows Halbrand==Sauron. :D It's not even in doubt. I can't wait for the Big Reveal.
Rachel (SoCal)
Agmar the witch king
Adrian (The Cotswolds, UK)
@rgrace - rubbish! Halbrand is obviously Anakin Skywalker... just went out for some replacement batteries for the old sabre, got a bit lost on the way back and found himself in the ghastly Southlands. Astonished so many people fooled by this one.
ASPruyn (California - Somewhere left of Center)
Looking at the Stranger’s face and demeanor, my money would be on Gandolf. He has the same distracted look and manner that Ian McKellen often provided in the movies.. If you think back to how Gandolf the gray looked and acted you can see a lot of that in the Stranger.
Robert Valenti (Baltimore)
Meteor Man is Gandalf! If we could find our annotated Book of Lost Tales, we’d prove it to you all, yes we would! But it’s lost!!
David (Major)
It’s got to be Gandalf.
P King (Bay Area, CA)
That’s guy from the headline photo is obviously a cross over from The Life of Brian!
DRC423 (Pgh)
@P King Well, he's definitely not the Messiah.
Ted Siebert (Chicagoland)
I think it is too easy to say the stranger is a wizard. That seems far too obvious. This is just my opinion but I think the stranger could be Tom Bombadil because he seems to be the only person in Middle Earth who the ring has absolutely no effect on and his character was never fully developed in Lord of the Rings, but as a bonus guess I’ll bet all my knowledge of Tolkein’s books that Galadriel is absolutely completely blind that she’s been hanging out with Sauron. If he gets carted back to Numenor and imprisoned there - I will rest my case. Love the show. Took a bit to get into it, but Friday nights in the Fall is my favorite time of year.
Slim Charles (Baltimore)
@Ted Siebert Bombadil was around well before Melkor arrived, so I don't think he's the Stranger, though I do hope Merry Tom makes an appearance in this series.
Steph (EU, thankfully)
@Ted Siebert So, you think they'll go against Tolkien's writing there with Galadriel and fair Sauron's relationship? I'm citing Carl Steefels comment here for convenience: "neither Gilgalad nor Galadriel trusted the fair-faced version of Sauron (Annatar) in the Second Age. From Unfinished Tales: "...that Galadriel would be his chief adversary and obstacle, and he endeavoured therefore to placate her, bearing her scorn with outward patience and courtesy. [No explanation is offered in this outline of why Galadriel scorned Sauron, unless she saw through his disguise..."" I've been wary too, but I'm enjoying the show a lot. By far better fare than GoT/HotD in my book!
Carrell (Bee Cave TX)
The Stranger is definitely a Maiar, but which one (and it might be one we don't know)? I don't know. Halbrand isn't a "main" character IMO. He doesn't fit with Sauron, any known King, etc. Great show so far. The only think I'm disappointed in so far is the elves. Tolkien's elves were portrayed as somewhat otherworldly. The Hobbit elves and LOTR elves were different in their otherworldliness, true, but the ROP elves are neither. To me they're just guys/gals you'd find in an airport terminal building wearing Spock ears. And why don't they speak Quenya or Sindarin when conversing with each other? I'd rather that with subtitles than how ROP renders everything down to some form of English. I mean - of course hobbits spoke English, but elves? C'mon.
Carl Steefel (Beekeley, CA)
I don't get how this would be Sauron, and certainly not a Balrog. Gandalf seems likeliest, or one of the Istari. The argument in favor of Gandalf might be that Tolkien refers to how Gandalf helped out the Hobbits early on (even if these guys are the precursors of the Hobbits). Argument in favor of one of the Istari is that the Blue Wizards were known to have gone into the East. For Adar, he is apparently not Sauron, but he might be one of the Nazgul to be?? Lost king Halbrand? Nobody like this in Tolkien, although he bears maybe some similarity to Elendil's descendant Aragorn. But this looks like a case of the King without a Kingdom advanced by 3,000 or so years...
Scott (Long Island, NY)
@Carl Steefel I wonder if when people wonder if the Stranger is Sauron, they actually mean Saruman? That would make more sense.
cossak (between)
@Carl Steefel the Nazgul were corrupted kings of men...and their leader was the witch king of Angmar (the men of Carn Dum who killed those buried in the Barrow Downs, right?). If i remember correctly...
Not Half Elven (New York)
@Carl Steefel The Nazgul were men, not Elves. But I'm with you that the Stranger is Gandalf. His bond with the soon to be Hobbits is too deep to be anyone else.
Paul (Huntington, WV)
Love the theories. When he arrived, I thought the stranger had to be Sauron—something enhanced by his initial creepiness. But everything he's done since being rescued by our proto-hobbits is consistent with Gandalf. And this would explain his long and fruitful relationships with our hairy-toed friends. No, it's not the story that Tolkien wrote, but it works and not all re-imaginings are bad things. I don't think that he's one of the blue wizards. There's really nothing to suggest that, although I would love to see them come into some stories eventually. Tolkien said that they disappeared into the east—with a hint that they might have been destroyed by Sauron—although perhaps they were part of the White Council that drove the Dark Lord from Dol Guldur offstage during "The Hobbit". Adar's story is consistent with what I think Tolkien left as a rumour, rather than fact, about the origin of the orcs. But he's definitely lying about killing Sauron, unless, as someone suggested, he means it in the Darth Vader killing Luke's father sense. I thought he might be Sauron in disguise, but I just don't think Sauron could be subdued so easily, even in mortal form. But according to Tolkien, he could still appear beautiful until his original body was destroyed in the downfall of Numenor. The Maiar are supposed to be lesser beings of the same type as the Valar—the gods or archangels of Middle-Earth. Sauron and all the wizards were Maiar. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Sharon (USA)
@Paul I agree. I know it seems too obvious, but the Stranger's relationship to the harfoots makes me believe it is Gandalf. I would even go so far as to guess that little Nori is a predecessor of the Baggins', and that is how Gandalf came to choose Bilbo for the "adventure." He knew Bilbo's family from ages ago. Nori is very "Baggins-ish" if you get my meanin'... :-) We do not LOVE this series, but as someone who read the books in the 70s, I'm curious where it will lead.
Matt G. (Woodinville, WA)
My money's been on Tilion since his first appearance. The writers are explicitly not allowed by the Tolkien estate to contradict anything that Tolkien put into LOTR or its appendices, and the appearance of the Wizards is clearly stated in the Appendices to have come on ships from over the sea in the third age well after the Rings of Power were created. The scene with the stranger gazing up at the moon a couple episodes ago seems to be a dead giveaway to me. No doubt they will try to tie it into "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon," implanting the tale into half-forgotten ancient Hobbit lore.
Yojimbo (Oakland)
@Matt G. If he exhibits a strong affinity for Silver, which he has not yet encountered, I will drop my Tom Bombadil wish/hypothesis.
Manny (Ocala, FL)
I wasn't a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies and didn't expect much from Rings of Power. I was wrong - this series is utterly beautiful, the plot draws you in, and the actors are terrific. It is worlds better than the plodding and boring House of Dragon. As for The Stranger - ignoring all of the various hints in Tolkien's writings - I'm leaning towards a wizard. But this series is full of surprises - I certainly wasn't expecting Adar to claim to have killed Sauron.
Steve (Pacifica CA)
If any of these mystery characters turn out to have even the slightest relationship to Tolkien's original stories, I'll be awfully surprised. The plot and characters have veered very sharply from the original version. Which is fine; they can create whatever television show they want - but the similarities end with the proper nouns and the geography. I hope it encourages people to read the books.
Thomas (Canada)
@Steve You mean read the chronologies and the appendixes. There is time compression going on, but there is a vast amount of latitude in what they fill in with character arcs, side stories, additional characters. The orcs in fact are by far the best depiction yet-- the greatest relationship to Tolkien's original stories yet filmed.
Steve (Pacifica CA)
@Thomas Well, the chronologies are in the books. It seems to me the show is for people who only know the movies (if that). I mean 6'4" Galadriel married Celeborn in the First Age - the TV show character is very different. The Nùmenóreans were in Middle Earth for over a thousand years before Ar-Pharazon rose to power. It's a very different story. (I agree the Orcs are spot on.) I just think the mystery dudes will end up being something totally new.
Thomas (Canada)
Very good points. I suspect the showrunners are making the series more compatible with the movies than the books. That means instead of the Galadriel treatment in the writings (which wasn't consistent) we're getting the Galadriel who in Fellowship says she would become the female version of Sauron is she had the power. Be careful who you root for when it comes to those seeking to wield power. Many have found Galadriel in RoP somewhat repulsive, and Adar is a fascinating and even sympathetic "villain". Halbrand may or may not be Sauron, but he is also on a journey where he must deal with the power he is handed. There are many bad outcomes (see Nazgul) and few good ones. I do think the stranger is a blue wizard. I haven't seen episode 7, but with a pyroclastic flow on the loose, I note that there is someone in the neighborhood (relatively close to Mount Doom at this time I think) that may be able to deal with the intense heat (the meteor's fire was made cool) and have some command over nature.
rgrace (Tacoma, WA)
@Thomas I'm liking the moral complexity they're introducing with some of the characters. When we were watching the last episode, and caught Galadriel's orc-genocidal comments, we both looked at each other and said, "who's the bad guy here?"
cossak (between)
@Thomas Galadriel in the text certainly warns that she could 'raise herself up' and become 'beautiful and terrible, and that all would love her'...this is from memory but this was the sense of the warning...
Tom (New Mexico)
@rgrace Who's the bad guy? Bloodthirsty creatures who mercilessly kill anything not them. No moral complexity there.
Thomas K (Los Angeles)
Great write-up. Succinct and fun and focused on the right lore questions. Very impressed with the alternations and the combination theory of the various sources, like for the Blue Wizards. That could be very interesting if one of them got there first and is a baddie and The Stranger is a goodie. I personally have thoroughly enjoyed the Adar storyline, and again, a nice way of balancing the possibility of a synthesis of Tolkien's various wanderings around the concept of orcs, since most analysis I read out there treat it more as a binary either/or. And on Sauron, I really like Halbrand's character. There is something sympathetic in his pained but hidden past. I think Vickers is doing an excellent job. Because what could be more unsettling than watching someone we want to see redeem themselves, still fall so spectacularly? Like Gollum. That would be Tolkien worthy.
Chef Dave (Blufton, sc)
Letters, notes, margins, conflicting thoughts and meanings. Sounds like a writer working the stories out, asking for feedback, and seeking a comprehensive story line. Do we need to analyze all the Beatles outtakes, listen to all the Dylan bootleg recordings, me think not.
Don (Los Angeles)
@Chef Dave There's no need to, and personally I wouldn't listen to the Dylan bootlegs, but for some the Tolkien analysis is part of the pleasure of the books and the show. The rest can listen to Dylan's best stuff, listen to the best remaster of "Hey Jude", or just enjoy the show and skip the nerdier articles. World's our oyster. Or not, for those allergic to shellfish or keeping kosher or find them gross.
wrenhunter (Boston)
@Chef Dave Yes we damn well do.
Rita (Philadelphia)
I think "that guy" could evolve into an Ent. Just sayin'
GM (Ohio)
Hmmmm. I mean, Hoooommmm
Lee (Seattle)
@Rita We already saw ents...when the meteor was coming down.
See also