OT: Rings of Power (spoilers!!)

I watched the fist two episodes this weekend (did not watch anymore football after Friday night, could not bring myself to watch the other games) and I thought it was amazing.

Some of you are likely more versed in Tolkien and some of the books that this comes from so I am hoping you can shed some light for the rest of us on some of what is in this show which I believe takes place 2000 years before the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

One big question I have is what are the traveling halfling species? Are they a precursor to Hobbits or another species entirely?

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I watched the first two episodes yesterday.
I'm not the most knowledgeable about Tolkien's universe, but I've enjoyed the series!

I think the "half foot" people are the Hobbits' ancestors. One of the last names is Brandyfoot which is eerily similar to the Brandywine River that passes through the Shire. After a quick Google search "Brandywine" is the Hobbit version of the elvish name for the same river.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

I think you are likely right. I remember that Smegal/Golem was supposed to come from a "hobbit-like" species IIRC, so I guess they could be the early Hobbits, maybe before they settle in the Shire and are basically just traveling gypsies in this series.

Also, WTF is up with dude that came down in the comment?

The comet? Yea still trying to figure that out since I haven't done much reading of Tolkien's world outside of The Hobbit and starting the Fellowship. Do you think he could be a precursor to the wizards? Could've been sent down kinda like how Gandalf was brought back.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

That might be the case. Dude obviously has some power. Not sure how old Saruman or Gandalf are supposed to be, but I don't think it would be either of them, I don't think they are 2000 years old.

I believe the guy in the comet is Gandalf. If I remember correctly all of the wizards showed up on middle earth in the second age as old men and initially did not remember there own name or purpose.

Gandalf and Saruman are Maiar spirits in the Middle Earth mythology, so basically same level as Sauron.

I forget when they come in the scene, it's been a long time since I read that, but safe to say they've been around a LONG time.

They are basically minor gods (Maia) who help the major gods (Valar). Pretty sure they all there from the beginning of creation by Eru Illuvatar (the one above all) as described in The Silmarillion. I'm πŸ’― this is Gandalf as well. Wished they had gone more into the events of the First Age but really enjoyed it.

Yeah I couldn't recall if the Istari (the Wizards) were around since the beginning or were summoned later to help Middle Earth against Sauron.

I also think it's Gandalf, but the first time he is mentioned as showing up in Middle Earth was the Third Age, so who knows

Maia can take all different kinds of forms and names-for example Sauron appears as an extremely beautiful angel that eventually deceives Celebrimbor (sp?) into creating the one ring-its likely he has already been deceived as of episode 2 when he appears for the first time

Yeah, in the First and Second age he was one of the Maiar in Valinor, and called Olorin. He was sent by the Valar (major gods) with other wizards (Istari) in the Third age to oppose Sauron.

The show starts at the beginning of the Second Age, so its possible the writers are tweaking the timeline a bit by having him show up earlier. Also possible, as mentioned above, that he is another Maiar, whose story isn't outlined in the Appendices or the Silmarillion. But his traits and confusion are in line with what happened to the Istari when they arrived in Middle Earth, so perhaps artistic liscence was taken to create a new character to help combat the enemy in the second age. Maybe he will be explained as like an Istari Beta.

Yeah but Isildur and Elendil weren't supposed to be alive during the show's time period, they weren't born until much later supposedly, and Sauron had been back for a while.

I'm cool w the man being Gandalf, he was around in Valinor since the beginning and I find it hard to believe he wasn't in Middle Earth for the big war and missed the whole alliance between elves and men

I find it hard to believe he wasn't in Middle Earth for the big war and missed the whole alliance between elves and men

You'll have to take that up with Tolkien then...because he was pretty clear in when Gandalf and Saruman showed up in Middle Earth

Balrogs are Maiar that fell under Morgoth/Sauron's control.

I am looking forward to watching it with HokieEnginerd. We were going to watch it Sunday or yesterday but forgot. Maybe Mini-LancerHokie will end up watching too, she read The Hobbit on her own for the first time recently.

2 time Longwood grad married to a Hokie.

I enjoyed the first two episodes. I am not well versed in lore outside of LoTR and the Hobbit and I've read lots of complaints that it is really divorced of Tolkien's world, but since I am not so close to it, it doesn't really bother me that much. Especially since this series won't really touch on the events of LotR and the Hobbit directly. I'm sure there are plenty of superfans who feel differently though.

After so much of the fantasy genre in film has been just poorly made and not internally consistent at all, I'm willing to sacrifice some faithfulness to the material if the end product is worth watching. Really, the Hobbit movies were so bad that this series is going to be graded on a bit of a curve.

It's actually not very divorced from Tolkien at all (so far).

These people are upset about diverse casting and short-haired elves. Neither of which did Tolkien take a strong stance on in his books. The bigger casting blunder IMO (and with what's actually written in a book) is casting Galadriel and Elrond to appear the same age with Celebrimbor and Gil-Galad being much older. If anything Galadriel should appear similar in age to Gil-Galad while Celebrimbor and Elrond should be closer in age.

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson

I have also seen some people upset that Durin's wife did not have a full beard. I found that funny.

People just look for an excuse to be upset.

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I was pretty upset with that. Completely took me out of the episode

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While this is a valid criticism, I understand why the showrunners went a different direction here lol

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson

Apparently the Tolkien estate had veto power over certain plot points as part of the agreement to make the show in the first place-perhaps this was a casualty of that

I'm really enjoying the show so far (with what little has happened). It's beautiful, well acted, and the vibe has been right.

The only minor break in the canon so far is treating the return to valinor like it is a gift from the king. Not really the case in the books. I'm slightly concerned about the meteor man plot line. IIRC Gandalf, Saruman, and Radagast don't arrive in M.E till the 3rd age. He may be a blue wizard but even still, the major known plot points from the books do not involve the istari (wizards) at all. It's a little weird seeing middle earth with the pacing of a show instead of a feature film.

Glad I'm not seeing the overly toxic takes here. The show is good (so far) but it seems the combination of it being Amazon and the mere inclusion of diversity within the cast caused lots of people to write it off entirely before it even aired. Being a massive hater seems to be the trendy thing to do in online fanbases these days.

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson

Yeah the online hate over diversity casting for this show, as well as House of the Dragon, is very unfortunate and sadly also very predictable in this day and age. The internet truly amplifies the worst of humanity.

Yea, it's honestly sad that simply seeing a black Harfoot invokes rage in people and immediately ruins the show for them when the books literally say Harfoots are darker in skin color and hair.

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson

I get the feeling that such people are often full of rage about everything and don't enjoy a lot of things.

The casting doesn't bother me in the least. I will say though that overly diverse casting was an issue for me in the mess that was the Wheel of Time show.

And the only reason for that is that anyone that has read WoT knows that Robert Jordan was addicted to describing how a character looked (and what they were wearing all the time) in exquisite detail to the point of being a bit over indulgent. To see characters that were so different in appearance was an actual problem that had nothing to do with being too "woke" or anything like that. After reading physical descriptions of these characters countless times over thousands of pages, just made it very difficult to connect to them in the show.

You might want to go back and re-read some of the early character descriptions because the casting of the show is one of the least problematic departures from the source material. Really, Rosamund Pike's height is the biggest discrepancy casting-wise for the main cast and it isn't really an important one.

The story issues are another matter.

I think Rosamund Pike and her icy demeanor are a perfect fit for Moraine.

As for the other characters, the original descriptions are pretty clear and consistent on Two Rivers folks having a similar appearance except for Rand specifically. It's why Elayne, when meeting them all for the first time, pulls down Rand's sleeve to see that his arms aren't tan and pegs him from not being someone originally from that area.

You are correct it's a small problem in light of the show as a whole, but when you have a mess like that even small problems are noticeable.

Agreed--I think if they nailed one casting choice it was Rosamund Pike as Moiraine. I'm not sure about her height or whatever, but I'm currently reading Wheel of Time for the first time ever (currently on book 5) and I think that pick was a home run. The guy who plays (errr..."played" because evidently he left the show) Mat was also really good imo. As far as the other main characters, they might not look like they are described in the book but I think they play the part very similar to the book versions of their characters. Honestly I feel like the worst one unfortunately is Rand haha. He feels way more whiney on the show for some reason.

Yeah the actual characters themselves were close. Nynaeve was certainly like that in terms of attitude and strength. Perrin was close, although he certainly wasn't married let alone killing his wife in the books. I thought that was a really strange choice to exhibit his animalistic nature due to being a wolf brother. Seemed way out of character, especially how loyal he is to his actual wife later in the books.

Mat is a trickster, but I think they made him a bit more malevolent and craven in the show than his character actually was under the influence of the dagger. He was by far my favorite book character, and I didn't like him very much in the show.

I'm on a 2nd re-read of the WOT series and it is a very diverse world. The casting is fine. Having to replace a main actor is a big hit though. Also the writing for the show is questionable but we all knew it would be very difficult to fit to the screen.

Edit: the trollocs were awesome.

The "gift" of the return to Valinor made feel like they were dying.

2 time Longwood grad married to a Hokie.

It was essentially exile right? I wanted badly to see what was on the other side.

Exile in the sense that Gil-Galad wanted to get rid of Galadriel and her single minded pursuit. But definetely not a punishment.

But you already did see what is in the other side, that's where the scenes of Galadriel as a little girl took place.

Going to Valinor is not a bad thing. There is a reason Frodo got to go at the end of LOTR, it's a reward. It was a big deal when Arwen decided to stay in Middle Earth with Aragorn instead of living forever in paradise. The show made it seem like sailing to Valinor was something akin to death, but it really wasn't that at all.

Ah thank you! I am not well versed but really like the show. They most certainly do make it seem like it is not a good place to be.

I didnt read much about it, and only really saw the trailers. I was prepared for disappointment based on those clips though, and some initial reactions from friends a couple of days before I got to sit down and watch it.

But I love it so far. The neat thing about Lord of the Rings is it takes place at the end of the time of the higher beings, where middle earth (which becomes our earth) is becoming only inhabited by humans. Peter Jacksons movies brought home that feeling so well visually. The fellowship was constantly hiding out, or passing through ruins that were countless centuries old. You could sense that ancient peoples with crafts and magic beyond those in the contemporary story were responsible for creating those relics. You knew that eons had passed, and that knowledge had been lost. Great civilizations diminished by war. In the Rings of Power you get to see some of those older civilizations (elves and dwarves) in all their glory. The visuals are incredible. And I don't mind a little slower developing plot if there's backstory being built.

Meteor man definitely should not be Gandalf, as he (and the other 4 wizards) didn't arrive until the Third Age.

I've seen some good theorycrafting that meteor man is actually Sauron. That would be a hell of a reveal down the road, but I'm not sure how the timing works out.

The Wizards most definitely didn't come to Middle Earth until we'll into the third age after it was feared Sauron was already back.

We watched the first episode last night. The crash site with the Meteor Man at the end looked like the Eye...

2 time Longwood grad married to a Hokie.

That has to be a red herring.

Or could be adding to the idea that Sauron truly has not been defeated.

2 time Longwood grad married to a Hokie.

Dude sick username, welcome aboard!

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Judging by the timeline that's canon to this point, Sauron is already back and starting construction on his fortress by this time in the Second Age. The Stranger might be the biggest question mark for this first season.

Love it so far. Only real issue is where is Galadriel's husband and child? I figured that would have come up with the whole being sent back across the sea and all that. Otherwise, really interested in where they take this.

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Agreed. I assume they will show up, but there is definitely some license being taken with Galadriel's story. In the literature she more or less stayed in Middle Earth after the War of the Jewels because she liked being a big fish in a small pond.

There are definitely more knowledgable Tolkien experts than I am. But I did read The Hobbit as a small child, first read The Lord of the Rings in 8th grade (and subsequently re-read them at least 3 more times), and finally tackled the Silmarillion in college (with one re-read later). If that sounds like I'm bragging, I am. And if that sounds sad, it is.

First my quick take on the "controversy" and negative reactions from the interwebs: Completely ignore them. Like totally ignore all of it. There are some liberties taken, plot-wise. And yes, there are (gasp!) some brown folks playing some new major characters. But the Second Age when the show takes place is easily the most sparsely fleshed-out Age in Tolkien's work, and Amazon specifically only has rights to cover the Second Age.

Objectively speaking, the show has beautiful cinematography, the writing is good-to-excellent, and it's well cast and acted. Despite only comprising about 25 pages of Tolkien's novels, there are some epic events that take place in the 2nd Age, so there's plenty of awesome plot material to cover over the 5 seasons of the show. Subjectively speaking, I've really enjoyed the first two episodes. As a Tolkien fan, I'm not disappointed by any aspect of the show so far. So bottom line is, if you want to watch the show, great. If you don't, that's cool too.

As for some specific questions/theories people have posted so far, here are my takes:

--The Harfoots are clearly Hobbit precursors. Hobbits (more often referred to as Halflings in the books) are never mentioned in the 2nd Age. But they have to come from somewhere, right? And as reclusive as they are in the show, it makes sense they could have been left out of the history of that era. Side note: I wasn't thrilled about there being Hobbits in the show, but the actress playing the main Hobbit Nori is fantastic, and those scenes have been a real pleasant surprise.

--"Meteor Man" (officially called The Stranger in the credits) is a total mystery. He clearly shows Gandalf-ish traits, and could be any of the Istari (Wizards). But while the Wizards are lesser gods who existed since the beginning of time, they were not sent to Middle-Earth until about 1000 years into the 3rd age. Some have theorized that Meteor Man is Sauron (the flames surrounding him are cool like the elves' torches at the evil fortress at the beginning of the first episode), and some have predicted he's a Wizard (because, well, he looks and acts like a Wizard). But I have no idea.

--Galadriel is ancient in the LoTR movies. They take place in 3019 of the Third Age, while the Second Age ends with Sauron being defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men (the first scene of the movies) in 3441 of the second age. Galadriel was born in the FIRST Age, which makes her a minimum of ~6,500 years old in the movies (my guess is she's closer to 10,000 years old). She is one of the most important characters in Tolkien's universe, and there is a lot of trepidation about how she'll be portrayed in the show. That's probably the most legit worry/criticism from Tolkien geeks, although I personally don't share that concern.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

Great summation, I also read the hobbit and later the lord of the rings series as a kid, never tackled the Silmarillion, but I'm aware of most of the lore of the First Age. Just started a re-read of the lord of the rings to see if it still holds up to what my memory has it being. My major issue with the show (I've stopped watching at this point because the story progression and writing is not good/gripping, plus the timelines are janky) is the Galadriel issue that you raised, and to a lesser extent how weird Numenor is portrayed. I was super excited to see Numenor, and to see it's corruption by Sauron and eventual destruction, but they (the writers) have messed with the timelines of everything in a way I don't like. That's personal preference of course. At least House of the Dragon is worth watching.

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Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried

So far the show has been great. Especially given that you know the end fate of 50% of the characters. I'm still invested in the how they get there though which says a lot about the writing through the first three episodes. My only nitpicks are the over use of slow motion and the lack of levity any point (outside of brief moments with Durin). To me one of the great things about Tolkien stuff is how sneakily funny it can be at times and I'd like to see some of that

I have nothing to base this off of except a weird gut feeling but. . . Somehow I feel like Halbrand ends up as the Witch King. He just has a witch-kingy vibe to him. Obviously after he's corrupted by one of the rings given to men but still.

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

Or the show could go really crazy and have Halbrand just be Sauron. I don't think that would happen, but Galadriel being adrift with the enemy she has been searching for would be quite something.

In Tolkiens writing we only really know that Sauron shows up as "Annatar" to the Elves and Celebrimbor. He can take on any appearance he wants, so there's nothing to say this isn't the way he got himself back to Middle Earth to begin with. But it's already known the creation of the Ringwraiths will feature heavily in this series, and the allusions being made to him being a southern king, the Witch King seems like a very real possibility.

Watched the third episode and i am really impressed with most of the aspects of the show except that there is an awful lot of runtime and not a lot actually happening.

I feel like it is the exact opposite of the Wheel of Time problem (among that shows many problems) where they had way too much story and way to little time. Here they are moving the plot along at a glacial pace with too much time to fill.

This feels like a common complaint with a lot of short-form seasons. The pacing will pick up as we move forward (it has to), but it's pretty good practice to use early episodes to world build and set context. I've read The Hobbit, LOTR trilogy, and The Silm about a dozen times each, but it's easily been 10+ years since I've last read the silm and i find myself fuzzy on timelines etc. In a world as lore-heavy as this one, i think starting slow makes sense

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Along with this, if the pacing isn't a slow burn during world building, you won't appreciate the actions scenes as much as they'll inevitably deserve.

With a show like this, you know shit is eventually going to hit the fan. You just hope they don't cram it all happening into the last 2 episodes of the entire series run. I do find it interesting that we're 3 episodes in and we really haven't seen much, if any, of the evil army and entity that we know is out there. Its all happening in the margins right now, which is kind of cool, but....

At the same time, I wonder if they're trying to have it play out with the same kind of build up and payoff that we all hoped the White Walkers would have done in GoT before they went on a speed run that last season.

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I've read The Hobbit, LOTR trilogy, and The Silm about a dozen times each

That's impressive!

I've read the Silmarillion 2 or 3 times, but it's also been a LONG time for me. If you want a quick refresher on the Second Age, here is a nice video on Sauron's shenanigans during that time. There's actually a lot of pretty epic storyline during this age, so I'll be surprised if the show doesn't pick up the pace pretty soon.

Sauron in the Second Age

For people who are not familiar with the Second Age and want to be surprised, there are a lot of spoilers in that video since it's pretty much a history of major events of that time.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

yeah man, my first online community (before even social media) was a LOTR fan forum in middle school (2003?) that was dedicated to the gameboy advance video game "The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of the Ring" that was rpg/turn based combat and didn't have any movie licenses -- the forum was hosted by the game developer that had other boards dedicated to Diablo, etc almost like how 247 has different boards for different schools. But since the community had rights to the books via Tolkien estate, we weren't explicitly allowed to discuss the movies that were coming out at the time, so it was mostly video game chatter (it was a difficult game and had a very fatal flaw glitch, which is how i found the board to begin with, looking to see if anyone else was having it) and all the books. So read them and read them and read them I did. I tried the Unfinished Tales and Book of Lost Tales but they were pretty dense for a 14 year old. SImpler times.

Also, my grandmother read me The Hobbit when i was but a wee lad, and she was a librarian who had lots of older books. I still have her copy of The Hobbit and so look forward to reading it to my kids if I ever get to that point. Lots of nostalgia around LOTR + JRRT's universe.

In many ways, that online community put me on a path to being here on TKP -- someone on the LOTR forums posted about a different MMO video game they were playing, so i checked it out and immediately immersed myself in that (my second online community). That game singlehandedly absorbed my life in a very unhealthy way until I was a college junior and figured I should probably do something more useful with my life and took necessary steps to cut out video games entirely and also to go get a PHD -- which led me to tech and ultimately to TKP, my third real online community. It's been a wild ride.

What a wild ride man -- probably more than you bargained for in terms of a response but thanks for yeeting me into a trip down memory lane lol. and thanks for sharing the video, i'm WFH today so I'll check it out

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

KingJames just updated his spreadsheet to identify me as a total nerd lmao

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

was a LOTR fan forum in middle school (2003?)

Thanks for making me feel old. 2003 is when I graduated from Longwood, started grad school, and started teaching...

When I was in 9th grade (1995-96), I was in my school's drama club production of The Hobbit as Balin. I've read The Hobbit twice and read LOTR last summer.

2 time Longwood grad married to a Hokie.

That video was awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Glad you liked it! That YouTube channel (Nerd of the Rings, great name lol) has a bunch of really good Tolkien videos. Everything from the history of the Balrogs to some cool what-ifs (like what if Gandalf or Galadriel took the One Ring).

He's also done a lot of videos on the show, so it's a nice way to keep up with the various plot lines.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

I'm really enjoying the show so far. At this point the biggest issue I have is the face on Galadriel during the slow motion horse ride this week. Reminded me of when my kids are insistent in making silly faces for a serious picture and we just have to resort to choosing the one that sucks the least.

Which is to say if that's my biggest complaint, the show is doing pretty good for itself so far.

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Yeah, I'm a fan to this point. For starters, other than a few bits of wonky CGI, the visuals are stunning. Arda never looked so good.

Each story piece is interesting to me. I am all in on finding out who the Stranger is, and the Harfoots in general are characters I care about.

Elendil's character is awesome IMO. Learning more on him will be worth the time. I mean I know who he is, but seeing more of him on screen will be a good thing.

The action scenes, the few we've had, have been well done. The elves and orcs in this last episode was compelling, and Arondir feels like a great warrior without seeming like a superhero.

i am all in on the theory of Halbrand becoming the King of the Dead -- too much lines up with what we know for KotD vs Witch King. Perhaps could become one of the other Nazgul, but the Witch King is from the North. It's very easy to imagine a scenario where he returns to the southlands with the gang, takes up place as king (royal lineage having been hinted at), swears allegiance to Isildur, does not fulfill his oath, and is cursed (with his people) by Isildur for doing so -- only to later fulfill that oath to Aragorn son of Arathorn, Isiludur's heir, wielder of the sword of Elendil yadda yadda yadda

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

This is a very solid theory. I had been all-in with the prediction that he'd end up as the Witch King, but you're right, the Witch King was from a northern kingdom, and Halbrand has said he's from the south. I hadn't even thought about the King of the Dead, but the timeframe matches up. If I remember correctly, the books go into more detail about Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli's journey to fulfill the oath and control the army of the dead than the movies do.

The irony of the Peter Jackson movies is that they are so good, and I've seen them so many times, that I sometimes find myself forgetting that they do have some fairly major changes, and some key scenes that were left out from the books. When they first came out I immediately noted these discrepancies (No Tom Bombadil, Arwen rescuing Aragorn and the Hobbits from the Nazgul instead of Glorfindel, no Cleansing of the Shire, etc.). All these years later I've gotten more fuzzy on the details. I really need to read the books again lol.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

Elves at helm's deep instead of the huorns, eomer being a jerk and rescuing helm's deep instead of erkenbrand, ghan-buri-ghan leading the rohirrim through the secret pass, the army of the dead actually being at minas tirith instead of just helping aragorn's company of dunedain capture the boats, faramir being a jerk to frodo and sam, frodo banishing sam to set up a dramatic return later, so on and so forth.

Omissions for the scourging of the shire and tom bombadil had to be for run time, there's just too much. If the movies were made now then they could easily be split into two each. Some of the other character tweaks were just to prevent having more characters to keep track of (eomer). The army of the dead being a swirling green deus ex machina at minas tirith really bothers me though.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Does anyone know the scope of this Series? Is it leading up to the War of Wrath?

War of Wrath already happened. That's when Morgoth was defeated.

I believe this is taking us to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men (the flashback scene that starts the LoTR movies)

Ahhh that's what I was thinking - the War of the Last Alliance not the War of Wrath.

It has been kind of cool to see Middle Earth in the heyday. When watching LOTR you will notice that there are just ancient ruins everywhere, so to see the vision now at the height before Saraun forges the rings I think is pretty cool.


Every time my wife and I have watched the LOTR trilogy or The Hobbit I always comment that they really need to do something that shows these vast communities and civilizations in their heyday. Seeing Khazad-dum in all its glory already was awesome. And even better, the showrunners didn't dwell on it. We were there, it was a setting, and then we left.

So far, this show has absolutely perfected fan service. Its just enough to scratch the itch without it overwhelming the experience.

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Episode 4 was pretty good. We get our first look at Adar.

Wondering if we have seen Sauron yet, considering he was supposed to be able to take any form to disguise himself. I'm not sure if this character is supposed to be him or not. There was some foreshadowing in this episode that would suggest that the stranger is actually Sauron, but I am still not quite sure as that seems a little to obvious to me.

I took the comment about the stranger falling out of the sky as a prophecy sort of thing which pointed to the rise of Sauron, not that he himself was Sauron

Wondering if we have seen Sauron yet

That's the million dollar question isn't it? I guess it all comes down to whether the writers want us to be surprised/deceived by Sauron's appearance. Personally, I kind of hope we have not seen Sauron yet, but I guess these are the 4 possibilities:

1) It's the Stranger (aka "Meteor Man") - I really hope it's not, and I think this is the least likely possibility. To have the Hobbits unwittingly assist Sauron would be heartbreaking, and his innocence and confused kindness just don't fit. Nori said "it's like I was meant to find him," and it would be unforgivably un-Tolkien like for him to turn out to be Sauron.

2) It's Halbrand - More likely than Meteor Man, as Halbrand is also a mystery and seems to have a knack for persuasion, if not outright manipulation. As you said Sauron can take any form, so it's not impossible. But at some point Sauron will deceive first the elves (most of them at least), and then later the king of Numenor. Is that Halbrand? It doesn't feel like it to me.

3) Adar is Sauron - On the surface this seems to be most likely. I mean, he's leading the orcs in perverting the lands into what will eventually become Mordor. He's clearly evil, and he's clearly powerful. And yet it seems a little too obvious. And as I said, Sauron eventually needs to deceive and manipulate Celebrimbor and the elves of Eregion into crafting the lesser Rings of Power. I wouldn't buy a magazine subscription from Adar, much less let him come into my beautiful kingdom and craft some cool rings with him.

4) We haven't seen Sauron (aka Annatar, aka Gorthaur, aka The Dark Lord) yet - This is my hope. Sauron is to literature what Darth Vader is to movies, The G.O.A.T. of bad guys. He's pure evil. He commits atrocities like you and I blink, creates pain and despair because it's fun, and only the greatest heroes in Tolkien history could even stand in his presence. I personally don't want to see Sauron floating on a raft with Galadriel or working as an orc foreman on a digging project.

All that being said, Sauron will also bide his time for centuries, if that's what it takes to destroy the kingdoms of men and elves. So almost anything is possible.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

For me it doesn't really make sense and would kind of annoy me if it's Halbrand. If it was, why did he say he had been driven from from his lands by orcs? And why would he dive in to save Galadriel?

I definitely think the elven king is already being controlled/manipulated in some way, and that his comment about fanning the coals comes true in some way.

My bet is we haven't seen Sauron yet, but another option is the advisor to the queen in Numenor. He clearly has ulterior motives.

To your last point, the advisor Pharazon ends up being another ruler that gets fooled by Sauron.

I'm with you that I don't think we've seen Sauron yet, or if we have it's going to be the last person we'd expect.

I have seen some people theorizing that Halbrand is possibly the Witch King.

I'm all in on King of the Dead (for now)

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

So I don't hate it as much as the internet channels do. I don't love it either. We really don't have an 'A' story yet, just about 4 'B' stories. So I'm going to be patient. I'm looking forward to Durin awakening the Balrog.

I am on the fence about made-up characters like Adar. If they push the story forward, OK. We'll see.

My biggest complaint is casting. With all the money you'd think they'd hire a few name actors. I knew probably half of the LOTR cast prior to the films. I know ZERO of the Rings of Power cast.

Reality has a mighty pimp hand.

I agree with you on the pacing of the show, it's been a little bit slow so far, although I thought episode 4 picked things up nicely. On one hand, I think it's important to set up the multiple characters and branches of the plot. On the other hand there are "only" 40 total episodes, so things need to get going soon, and that can't truly happen until Sauron gets into the mix.

I'm not 100% sure Adar is a made up character. He seems to be an elf from the First Age, because when he asks Arondir where he is from, he talks about his travels in Beleriand (which was largely destroyed at the end of the First Age). I've seen it speculated that he is a corrupted elf (the First Age was pretty dark, so there's a lot of "bad" elves), and it's possible he could even be Maglor, a son of Faenor. Maglor did a lot of nasty stuff during the elf-against-elf Kinslayings during the conflicts over the Silmarils, but interestingly he spared the lives of Elrond and his brother Elros' when they were children.

Sadly, we won't get to see Durin awaken the Balrog in the show. That didn't happen until 1980 of the Third Age, when it killed Durin VI and drove the dwarves out of Kazad-dum, which the elves then renamed Moria ("the black pit"). But it's down there somewhere!

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

Him being Maglor would be interesting! Especially with Elrond being such a main character and Elros being mentioned so often.

For your point about the Balrog, I wouldn't be so sure we won't see it, there is a Balrog in the trailers for the show and the writers are on the record that they're basically condensing thousands of years into a much tighter timeline for the sake of a 4(ish) season show so there are likely going to be things happening much earlier than people expect it to.

basically condensing thousands of years into a much tighter timeline

And personally I am totally ok with this, but you know there will be several people out there that are hardcore fans that will get super pissed if you have 3rd aged events happening in the 2nd age, or any changes at all really. Which, honestly is really sad, just enjoy that you are getting more content and not nick pick the details.

This. I love Lord of the Rings and the lore, I read the books once a year since I was 13 (40 now).

But I'm not gonna get bent out of shape if the timeline gets smushed. The show is visually sumptuous. Give me the Balrog waking up and wrecking Khazad-dum. The Tolkien estate is well known for only allowing things that they approve. If the content is good enough for them, it's good enough for me.

I agree, the show is beautiful. I have not read more than the hobbit/LOTR so it is really cool just to learn more about this world and history of people those who haven't read the Silmarillion or any of the other things out there only know by name.

To your point about the Tolkien estate and the control they have, a podcast I was listening to earlier in the season mentioned this and how it wasn't necessarily Tolkiens intention, he really wanted to build a world where other people could come and play and write stories of their own. Not saying one way is better than the other, it's just something interesting that I never knew before.

I wonder if Amazon just backed up the Brinks truck for the family to allow them to use these books. Apparently there were several things that Peter Jackson was not allowed to mention at all in either LOTR or the The Hobbit movies because the estate would not allow it. I think it was mostly stuff from the Silmarillion.

Apparently there are a lot of things they aren't really allowed to touch from Silmarillion and other books. I think there is even restrictions on what they can reference as far as the movies go because WB owns the rights to the movies. The podcast I listened to talked about how they had to tiptoe through the prologue for the show because there's a lot of first age related things that they don't own the rights to. I think they're mostly restricted to what's in the appendices and the LOTR books themselves.

I would love to hear Tolkien's thoughts on one of the biggest companies in the world spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bring his work to the screen via a streaming service.

He was not anti-capitalism per say, but his writings clearly indicate a disdain for industrialization and technology coming in and replacing "how things used to be done".

The guy saw the horrors of technology at the Somme in WWI. He watched forests in the Midlands get clear cut to put up factories. It's no coincidence that Isengard and Mordor are shown as slag pits run by forces with no regard for the beauty or powe of nature.

Just an interesting meta thought on someone writing from that perspective...and his work being produced by one of the greatest technology disrupters of all time that goes into towns and cities all over and builds million square foot distribution centers.

Yeah, Tolkien would not be a fan of Amazon at all.

Somewhat related, it always makes me laugh seeing people wearing a Che Guevara tee shirt that they probably paid $50+ for.

I would say very related. The message gets lost once the $$$ comes along. In most everything.

College athletics, literature, music, whatever

Wholeheartedly agree! I understand that for some people these stories mean so much to them that they want it portrayed accurately but at a certain point, like you mentioned, just sit back and enjoy that we're getting something like this at all.

Regarding casting, I too had no idea who any of the people were going into it. But that being said, I think they're all doing a pretty fantastic job. Especially Durin. That guy just exudes Tolkien dwarf energy.

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

I watched ep 5 yesterday and durin + elrond are carrying this show

Not sure who the androgynous blue haired elf(???) looking thing is that looks at The Stranger's crater and sees the Harfoot tracks

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

This was the first episode that was kind of meh for me. I didn't need a whole episode showing me Galadriel and Elendil getting ready to leave. Just get get to the point already with that storyline.

The Harfoots and Stranger still have me quite interested though, and I agree Durin and Elrond and their interactions are the highlight of the show to this point. Durin tricking them on the table was gold.

As for the three new wanderers, The Dweller, The Nomad, and the Ascetic were the character names in the credits. The show runners have said in an interview that they have come from the Far East (Rhun), which is an area that Tolkien really never described in the books at all.

So unlikely that one of them is Sauron, but clear connection to The Stranger.

This was the first episode that was kind of meh for me. I didn't need a whole episode showing me Galadriel and Elendil getting ready to leave. Just get get to the point already with that storyline.

The whole Numenor segment of the show so far has been absurdly forgettable. I just don't care about their inner turmoil, I don't. And they pulled a Return of the King when they finally set sail where it was like they had 4 or 5 endings planned, couldn't decide which one to use, and just decided to use them all.

This is my school
This is home

Totally agree that the Elrond and Durin dynamic is the best part of the show, and I think the relationship between the dwarves of Khazud-dum and the elves of Eregion (Celebrimbor) and Lindon (Gil-Galad) is going to be the most interesting plot line going forward.

Since no one asked, I guess 5 episodes in is as good a time as any to give my opinion of what I like and don't like so far. First, what I like:

--As you mentioned, the depiction of the elves and dwarves. The has been the most on-the-nose as far as what I expect from Tolkien's second age. The characters are majestic yet relatable, and the kingdoms (Khazad-dum in particular) feel ancient and fantastic. The mithril origin story is made-up, but hey, anything with a fight between an elf lord and a Balrog is always welcome.
--References to Earendil. For anyone who doesn't know, Earendil is arguably the greatest hero in the history of Tolkien's work. He is the father of Elrond, as well as his brother Elros, who was also half-elven but chose mortality and became the founding king of Numenor. Earendil essentially saved the world from Morgoth, by sacrificing himself to beg the Valar to help the elves and men. For his selflessness, he was turned into a star. Link to Earendil history -> Earendil was awesome
--Elendil, Halbrand and Nori. I just really like these characters in the show so far. The Hobbit/Stranger story has been better than I would have expected, and I think the actors playing Elendil and Halbrand are great. There are some casting choices I'm on the fence about (Gil-Galad and Isildur), but these 3 are great so far.

Things I'm not a huge fan of:

--To me, the depiction of Numenor has been underwhelming. The people of Numenor were given great gifts by the Valar for their heroism in the battle against Morgoth that sank the rest of Beleriand under the ocean. Numenoreans have 3 times the life span of "lesser" men - Elros himself lived to be 500 years old and even Aragorn, descended from Numenoreans, was like 90 years old during the LOTRs - and they were the mightiest of all mankind in stature (like 7-feet-tall) and intelligence. The Numenoreans were seen as almost godlike when they later settled Middle-Earth (Gondor, etc), but their depiction in the show is...well, not that.
--The slow pacing. This is all about the producers' decision to seemingly make the entire first season a slow-walk reveal of Sauron. Personally, I'm not interested in an "oh-my-god!" moment where we find out who Sauron really is. For me, it will be satisfying enough to see him cruelly deceive the elves, dwarves and men of Middle-Earth to their ruin. I just want to see Sauron doing, you know, Sauron-y things.

Finally, speaking of The Great Sauron mystery, here's my guess - and we'll see how well this ages lol. Halbrand is definitely not Sauron. And apparently Adar is not Sauron either. That would leave the Stranger, but wait! He's not Sauron either, he's a blue wizard. The creepy, white-robed people are looking for him because they know he's a Maiar and fear him. If I had to guess, I think the one digging around in the Stranger's crater (The Dweller) is Sauron. I know it's a woman (I thought it was a man because of the short hair, but it's not), but she looks perfectly menacing as Annatar, the Lord of gifts, the name Sauron goes by in the second age. As AZHokie22 mentions above, they are from the Far East land of Rhun, which while not fleshed out in any of the books, is where Sauron repeatedly fled when he was temporarily defeated.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

I'd restate the pacing issue this way: there is no real plot. They need an A story to drive the plot and they don't have that yet.

Reality has a mighty pimp hand.

there is no real plot

You said in five words what I said in like five hundred. :-)

I am confident that it's gonna pick up dramatically, because there are just so many dramatic events in the second age to cover. I'm honestly perplexed why the writers/directors chose a slow build up. They could have almost immediately started with Sauron tricking the elves into crafting the rings of power, followed by multiple wars to conquer middle-earth.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

only 3 episodes left I think so they really need to start picking things up here soon

Completely agree though. Starting in Numenor with a handsome silver-tongued devil, that you didn't immediately recognize as Sauron would have been great. And if it was done in a way that you even agreed with his points and thought him a wise leader/advisor until you discovered his poison. That would have been an epic show.

I'm no good with photoshop but this is my best attempt at my summary of the show.

Genuinely enjoying the show and really excited to see where it goes. To all those who are triggered by the show I direct you promptly to the clip below.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Dank meme, sick reference

Appreciate it. My skills in paint suck but I did my best. Couldn't stop thinking it 5 episodes in how obsessed she is

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

I've only seen the first three episodes so far, but some coworkers were saying that episode 6 is getting some awesome reviews.

Episode 6 takes the cake folks. That ending is chefs kiss levels of fucking story material can you say hello we to mount doom ladies and gentleman?

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Holy gazoones that was intense 😳

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

So I guess they just made Mt. Doom right in front of us. I did not see that coming.

I knew that area eventually becomes the blasted lands of Mordor, but I thought it would have been a more gradual, corrupting process. Not BANG!

I liked it. Fingers crossed we find out who the Stranger is here soon, and I will be pleased with this first season.

That was pretty awesome. Bronwyn did mention Mt. Doom by its other name (Orodruin) in a previous episode when she mentioned the refugees had come to the guard tower from all across the region. But I don't think almost anyone saw THAT coming.

Also a cool fake out by Adar to get the Morgul blade out of the village before the Numenoreans arrived. It's now obvious Adar is definitely not Sauron, but he's turning out to be a really interesting character himself.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

I kept calling it a Morgul blade in my head too. But I guess...Minas Morgul doesn't exist yet. So I don't know what you'd call that thing.

Would have likely been made in Angband, which was Morgoth's fortress before he was defeated for good.

Oh, you're right! It's technically not a Morgul Blade. I saw one YouTube channel refer to it as a sort of a "reverse morgul blade." Definitely ancient and evil though!

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

One thing I'm enjoying about the show is the detail and internal consistency. Two great examples in this last episode:

Arondir getting a face full of black orc blood, and then just a few moments later the revelation of the red blood for most of the "orcs" they fought and killed. Great detail there.

I've heard some people complain this AM that how did Galadriel and the Numeanorens show up at exactly the right spot. Felt too cliched , they said. Except that they already let us know she realized the mark she saw was a map, and did have an idea of exactly where to go. And Halbrand would certainly have some inkling.

There are areas it can tighten up for sure, but bringing together the narratives is a move in the right direction, and I'm enjoying the show.

I've heard some people complain this AM that how did Galadriel and the Numeanorens show up at exactly the right spot. Felt too cliched , they said.

These people must hate the Deus Ex Machina that happens constantly in Lord of the Rings, too

I've really enjoyed this show. It's what I look forward to at the end of my work week.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop