SPOILERS on Episode 7 of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
Yes, you can do it that way! The end of the Southlands and the birth of Mordor, a homeland for Orcs and Uruks. That was already excellently presented (with one exception). Especially the opening, where the ash-breaded Galadriel awakens in a blood-red fiery hell, had a lot of cinematic magic to offer. Suddenly you are in Mordor, and you didn’t have to take a step for it! In the run-up to the last episode next week, the show has to put up with the question of whether so much has really happened in this first season. I would actually say no – and still think it’s perfectly okay like that.
Of course, there were always bumps in tone, pacing, or understanding of what is now gripping character drama and what isn’t. As a preliminary balance, I have to state: Elendil and the like are still of the least interest to me. His concern for his son is documented to be unfounded, the tensions between him and Galadriel are thus constructed and presumably without consequences. Then there’s Arondir – who I actually like – and Bronwyn, whose fates smack too much of Forbidden Love for me. You have to earn your excitement about this, not just assume it, because that’s the way these stories work.
The most interesting speculation so far has been on Halbrand as to whether he is actually Sauron. But that should have been done with episode 7 of Rings of Power. And yet there is enough goodness in this that I can accept this prequel to Lord of the Rings without secretly labeling it as fan fiction. From the Numenor haze, Miriel is the most likely asset for the show, for which her father’s dark prophecy that only darkness awaits her in Middle-earth is literally fulfilled in two respects.
It’s still the case that the real love didn’t arise, I only got emotional at most in the scenes between elves and dwarves. King Durin the Third is excellently played by Peter Mullan, Disa – who’s hard to believe her casting sparked outrage in advance as good as the character is, and Prince Durin is a fabulous combination that doesn’t require brooding why they are married. And how Elrond nobly and with dignity accepts the death sentence for his people through his friend, as only an Elf can do who looks back on thousands of years of life, I really liked that. Between these two of all people there is a lot of humanity, if you can put it that way.
As for the healing properties of mithril… that’s very MacGuffin-esque and even less literarily supported than the rest of this show – at least from what I’ve heard and read. I’m rather cautious about developments on this front. Then again, we have this magic mineral to thank for the entire arc of my two favorite characters. I think I’ll have to live with that.
I also fell in love with the harfeet. In this episode, the traveling folk are treated incredibly badly and they still decide to help the stranger. That says a lot for her. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in addition to the birth of Mordor, we also experience the birth of the Shire and the remaining harfeet begin to dig holes in the hills during the trip of Nori and Co. It would be a very convenient coincidence, but okay! And Galadriel also has a few gems to show for the best. A gifted, but ultimately often unsuccessful, ponderer like me still lingers on her “What cannot be known hollows the mind” in that I often wonder things whose answer is uncertain – and then as a gigantic vacuum fills my skull.
But there was one thing I found unintentionally funny: I don’t envy the creators when they had to decide who was the first to come up with the name Mordor for this new land. They give this answer in the manner of a PowerPoint-hardened PR man: “We simply fade out the ‘Southern Lands’ lettering and ‘Mordor’ over a Mount Doom panorama and leave it at that.” I have no idea how this could have been done better. But the way it happened, it wasn’t good at all.
Aside from that, a good penultimate episode if you take the show for what it obviously wants to be: A colorful backdrop to a story everyone knows and loves.
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