The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Adrift
September 2, 2022 4:30 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Galadriel find a new ally. Elrond faces a cold reception from an old friend. Nori endeavors to help a Stranger. Arondir searches for answers while Bronwyn warns her people of a threat.
posted by paper chromatographologist (39 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Disa is adorable. To be honest, I got bored and stopped watching halfway through, which is a review in itself. The trouble is that it just doesn't have enough of a flavor of Tolkien in this one.

I read fanfic, for my sins, and what keeps me reading is when 1) the characters are in character and 2) the story has the spirit of the original work. This episode just doesn't. The spirit of a Forgotten Realms book, maybe.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:23 PM on September 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

I expected this to be garbage, but I'm really into it. (I didn't like the Jackson movies and I figured this would be even more derivative.) I feel like this team gets the source material -- at least in the ways that are important to me.


Celebrimor: "Have you considered seeking partners outside the confines of our own race?"
Elrond: "How far outside?"

The scene cuts there but the answer could be, "Literally created by a different god."
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:35 PM on September 2, 2022 [4 favorites]

Elves looking at leaves with deep remembrance and sorrow. People transfixed by weird gljyphs. Mithrandir, a supernatural angel, thrown down by god to serve the good. This is good Tolkien.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:22 PM on September 2, 2022 [6 favorites]

So far, so good; I'm enjoying it well enough.

In general I agree with the Washington Post and NY Times reviews: gorgeous yet somewhat boring. The casting is great, the visuals are beautiful, the acting is plenty good, the limitless budget is apparent, the characters are engaging so far; but it's not really grabbing me.

Specific nitpicks:
  • The pacing: There is so much of: "This beautiful scene is setting up something important, please stand by for further details."
  • The score: it's so basic yet forced to carry the bulk of the emotional work in so many scenes.
  • The Galadriel/sea monster sequence felt like tedious make-work. Because of plot armor, those castaway scenes had less tension than a weak episode of Archer.
Things I really liked:
  • Disa, Durin, plus Elrond; I was glad the writers finally managed some engaging dialog... plus the visuals of Khazad-dûm's age of prosperity were great.
  • When Poppy Proudfellow says, "Mind your own fire." Tolkien used song and poetry to add depth to his characters, but this is a 2022 project and that little bit of culturally-aware Harfoot Hobbit snark was just perfect.
Anyhow, so far, it feels like the show is glossing over 1000's of years of storytelling to squish everything into a tidy, yet hopefully epic, but perfectly linear and easily understandable storyline. It feels kinda sanitized from scope of Tolkien's universe. I'm going to watch the rest of it and I hope they prove me wrong.

If this whole series is just about Elrond, Galadriel, and Isildur doing bad-ass elf stuff, it's going to be boring as fuck because there's just no way for them to fail. In the LOTR, the most powerless characters, four homesick hobbits, determined the fate of history somehow.

So if this was my project: I'd put the battle of good vs evil to the forefront by telling a multi-millennial story by using a Westworld-style time-trick narrative based on the gimmick that the elves don't age. I'd tell multiple storylines simultaneously that span over 1000s of years by focusing on the point of view of the immortals: Elrond, Galadriel, Isildur, Gil-galad, Celebrimbor, and (sparingly) Sauron and Gandalf. I'd tell this story by showing Middle Earth when things were good, when things were bad, and when things were chaotic and resolve the tension between those storylines through the heroic sacrifices of the mortal peoples that live in the mortal world of Middle Earth. Because it's the imperfect humans and dwarves and hobbits that have real emotional stakes that we can relate to.

What they're developing with the Arondir/Bronwyn storyline and Durin/Elrond tension gets close to this and so far it's the best part of the show for me so far. Because, really, there is such a limited emotional palette to draw from if you're telling the story of well-loved, immortal, ultra-powerful characters who can't die because the sequel was written 70 years ago.
posted by peeedro at 9:24 PM on September 2, 2022 [8 favorites]

I also enjoyed this and the first episode. I really don't know what the people who aren't happy with it so far are on about. I was actually quite pleased that they didn't leave Galadriel hanging out in the middle of the sea until next week.
posted by wierdo at 9:28 PM on September 2, 2022 [5 favorites]

If this whole series is just about Elrond, Galadriel, and Isildur doing bad-ass elf stuff, it's going to be boring as fuck because there's just no way for them to fail.

I am very very far from a Tolkien nerd or superfan but didn't LOTR only happen because of their collective failure?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:28 AM on September 3, 2022 [12 favorites]

This is way better than I expected it to be. I expected to be annoyed by the Harfoots, but their nomadic pre-hobbit hunting and gathering society is actually an interesting counterpoint to what we know of them in the LoTR timeframe. So far I haven't seen any major missteps and I'm enjoying the various storylines. I am a little annoyed by the apparent shoe-horning in of Gandalf, and I hope that character turns out to be Sauron or one of the the Blue Wizards or something.
posted by whir at 7:58 AM on September 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

The second episode really picked up. I think the most compelling stuff is Not Elves, although I enjoyed Elrond visiting the dwarves. But his reason for going there (build the biggest, hottest phallic symbol the world has ever known!) is stupid. Even setting aside the Freudian of it all, making a hotter forge is not how technology progresses.

The Harfoots are really growing on me, and I am unreasonably concerned about the Harfoot fellow with the broken ankle.
posted by jeoc at 8:29 AM on September 3, 2022

I really loved the portrayal of the friendship between Elrond and Durin, well done! It was great to see the obvious love and thus, hurt, from Durin, even as he slowly let him back in.

The show is surprisingly good, didn't expect to hold my attention so intensely. House of the Dragon looks like a poor and terrible imitation in comparison .
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:42 AM on September 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

I'm very interested in the relationship dynamics between mortal and immortal species and feel it's usually an underexplored aspect of worlds that have both, and I'm excited this episode kinda got into it! I feel like so SO SO much of the tension between elves and everyone else in Middle Earth has got to be that elves just don't really get that it matters to a mortal if you fall out of touch for a couple decades. Operating on such different time scales makes things so awkward. Just the idea that you can work on a project for centuries is so weird.

But that being the case, it was wild to me that Elrond just accepted that Celebrimbor needs his facility done by spring. Elves don't do deadlines, man! Why on earth would they? That should have been such a red flag! I guess Elrond is kind of a yes-man and striver on this show and maybe he just feels like it's not his place to question the star artisan he just got assigned to assist, but it felt worth probing to me, if only to understand what sort of help he needs to recruit.

I feel none of the male elves are spooky and androgynous enough for my taste though. What is with this short hair, guys? Second age elf fashion sucks.

Love the chemistry between Durin and Disa so much! These are some horny dwarves and I'm here for it.

I think the writing on this show is very bad, but I'm going to keep watching it so I guess it's good enough. Still I feel like they could have got a few fandom dweebs from the internet to punch up the script on a volunteer basis and it might have been dramatically improved.
posted by potrzebie at 11:22 AM on September 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

This episode was so much more engaging for me than the first. I really enjoyed it. Even the stupid stuff. Even dwarves using Skeksis legal process. Even Galadriel going full Garnet.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:30 PM on September 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

Ok, so my general take in on this show thus far is "This is a pretty good adaptation of The Second Age by someone whose only familiarity with Tolkien was through the video games based on Jackson's movies." That said, I'm perfectly content to let this show deviate from "the lore" and make the changes they need to tell a story that is largely built around a series of date entries in a ledger.

I really like what the show did in fleshing out Dwarven culture in this episode and seeing Khazad-Dum in all its glory was magnificent. The Harfoots become more annoying with every scene they're in, though, and seem like an ugly representation of Irish Travellers. I feel like we're one step away from a "My Big Fat Hobbit Wedding" reality show.
posted by KingEdRa at 3:26 PM on September 3, 2022

I feel like we're one step away from a "My Big Fat Hobbit Wedding" reality show.

Can you get a spec script of this by COB?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:34 PM on September 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

The Irish Times takes issue with various artistic choices regarding the proto-hobbits. Although they liked some elements too. (Posted in this thread because the first two episodes are discussed.)
posted by Coaticass at 9:01 PM on September 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Lots of expensive special effects, most of them boring. Except for Khazad-dûm. That was neat.
posted by mono blanco at 9:04 PM on September 3, 2022

Khazad-dûm was soooo great!!
posted by potrzebie at 9:22 PM on September 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

We’re liking the series so far over here and are going to keep on keeping on!

Not interested in whatever the haters are hating. Go watch something else, I guess.
posted by jquinby at 9:53 PM on September 3, 2022 [10 favorites]

Book nerds: they don’t have the rights to The Silmarillion. This series is based on having the rights to the Appendices from the back of Return of the King. So this show ain’t gonna be The Silmarillion, and only has passing reference to things from that book.

Re: Time compression. Yes, they’re compressing the timeline. If they didn’t, this would need to have 20 seasons, and the human characters would grow old and die every other episode.

It’s A Fantasy Story. The Elf boats are going to look and work differently because Elf Magic is used to sail across the Sundering Sea and pass out of this world to Valinor (Elf heaven). They need to build a huge forge that’s super hot, not for technological realism, but because Celebrimbor wants to make some powerful magic rings (Elf technology). Remember how the One Ring could only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom? Yeah.

I’m with this so far. There have been some parts that were a little slow, but there are other parts that have this Tolkien nerd excited.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:01 AM on September 4, 2022 [8 favorites]

“This is a pretty good adaptation of The Second Age by someone whose only familiarity with Tolkien was through the video games based on Jackson's movies.”

I had a powerful flashback to Shadow of Mordor during the scene at the top of the lookout tower. I expected Arondir to dive off.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:18 AM on September 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Sadly not liking the show much. It just seems really tedious; a review talked about it being like unskippable cutscenes in a video game and ouch. I noticed halfway through this the score is really dragging on me. It's Bear McCreary, a very good video and game composer, but the music here is just so bombastic and epic all the time and it's exhausting. But I'm intrigued enough I'll keep watching and will try not to be negative if I post here.

There was a lot of things to like in this second episode. Nori is a lot of fun for sure, she's got the young Bilbo spirit of adventure and inquisitiveness and also child-like innocence. And Arondir is a very interesting character, an Elf outside his culture's stereotypical seclusion. Khazad-dûm was terrific and Disa brought joy to the screen; I hope we see more of the Dwarves but it's not clear if there's room for them here.

The best writing for me is something potrzebie picked up on above; the psychological impact of Elf immortality. The way Durin complained to Elrond about missing twenty years was hilarious. And very weird for real-world people but made perfect sense in the Elf context. I like peeedro's idea of telling a time-spanning story centered on immortal Elves but I think it unlikely this show will do anything so ambitious and disorienting.

Also appreciate that they have so many interesting women characters. Love Tolkien but his books are famously a men-only thing. I was afraid at the start that having Galadriel as Joan of Arc was going to be them ticking off the "well, got a girl" box. But no, not at all. Nori and Bronwyn look to also be central characters and there's plenty of women of different types in the supporting cast.
posted by Nelson at 7:24 AM on September 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

I thought we were pointedly shown an anvil with Sauron's sigil and a pair of tongs to demonstrate that some evil jewelry making had gone on, even if that doesn't make sense.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:26 AM on September 4, 2022

At the end of the day for me it doesn't really matter how bad or good this series is because I'll keep watching anyway. Because I like all cookies, even licorice.
posted by mono blanco at 8:41 AM on September 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

I thought we were pointedly shown an anvil with Sauron's sigil and a pair of tongs to demonstrate that some evil jewelry making had gone on, even if that doesn't make sense.

Sure it does. My own headcanon is that Ring making is really, really difficult, and there's a lot of experimentation and botched jobs in the process. Sauron has been working on it, but isn't there quite yet (or, at least, wasn't there a century ago when he was at that northern fortress that Galadriel found in ep 1). I expect to see other relics of the process - ie, that obviously evil sword-hilt that Theo found might be another experimental piece that was abandoned in the wreck after the War ended.
posted by Mogur at 11:44 AM on September 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Much better than the first episode. Really, it's a given that the first ep. of a series is going to have to spend time setting up characters and conflict, so I it deserved a pass no matter what. But I think the second ep. started playing up those conflicts nicely.

Female representation in this series looks promising. I was glad to actually see female dwarves! LOTR was short on women, but those we had were far from being throw-aways; this is making up for that lack.

I'm finding the music adequate. It's an improvement on Bear McCreary's score for Battlestar Galactica, which certainly wasn't bad. I think he's carrying the Howard Shore torch nicely here.
posted by lhauser at 2:57 PM on September 4, 2022

Whew. If this gets better, y'all will let me know, right? The interleaving of A/B/C/D plots means they each individually move like molasses. The constant, unending drumbeat of pointless cliffhangers is already driving me nuts. What could the super important secret that Galadriel's brother whispered in her ear and was unnecessarily hidden from the viewer ever be? It just was some trite advice, finally tossed out as a reward for making it all the way to the end of the first episode. What's going on with Radagast the Brown? (I know it's not going to be Radagast, just let me have one fucking beautiful thing here for a second.) Not a lot! By the time we got to The Box On The Table At The End Of The Episode I was beyond caring what was inside. Cliffhangers don't draw audiences in, stories do. If they're leaning this hard on silly tricks from day one, it means they either don't have much confidence in the story they're about to tell, or they don't know how to tell it.
posted by phooky at 8:01 AM on September 5, 2022 [3 favorites]

Very cool to see dwarves thriving! And look, "proper diplomat Elrond comes to greet an old friend and ends up in a rock-splitting contest" is comedy gold to me. I like Elrond a lot more now. (Admittedly not hard, after episode 1.)

I love Galadriel as someone who "does not have the look of someone to whom things happen by accident." And yeah, we all know that Galadriel makes it to the epilogue, so it would be nice if they don't rely on "
Galadriel-in-danger plot devices. On the other hand, the Bronwyn & kid mortal danger storyline was pretty scary, so I guess that evens out.

(Did Bronwyn & child STAY THE NIGHT after all that?! That's insane lol. I know traveling is dangerous, Really Dangerous, but so is staying in a house with an open orc tunnel. What if the orc supervisor comes by to check things out?!)
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2022 [15 favorites]

Pedantic anthropology rant: I’ve seen a bunch of language in reviews, etc. about Harfoots being some kind of not-yet-evolved-into-Hobbit species - specifically biological language, no less! This makes me growl, HARD. 3000 years ago, human beings were indistinguishable from our contemporary selves. Treat the language of evolution with some gorram respect, Amazon!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 9:55 PM on September 5, 2022 [3 favorites]

The opening credits are just perfect.
They're evoking those vibrating steel plates with salt on top, and it's a strong metaphor for the creation myth of middle earth.
Different tones/voices/songs creating different reality/physical shape/stories, and it's all so gorgeous. Seemingly chaotic changes for the individual particles, but when viewed from a distance, the pattern emerges.

I guess I'm assuming that people know what those plates are. Chladni Plates. If you don't know what they are, then you're in for a treat!
posted by Acari at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2022 [8 favorites]

The Irish Times is generally favorable about it except:
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video, streaming from Friday, September 2nd) takes place centuries before the original Lord of the Rings, and the Harfoots are ancestors of the hobbits. If they don’t quite keep livestock in the livingroom, they are otherwise a laundry list of 19th-century Hibernophobic caricatures.
The accents embark on a wild journey from Donegal to Kerry and then stop off in inner-city Dublin. The Harfoots themselves are twee and guileless and say things like: “Put yer backs into it, lads.” One is portrayed by Lenny Henry, a great comedian and actor who deserves better than having to deliver lines such as “De both of ye, dis does not bode will” (in an appalling Irish accent). Scouring the internet, there is no evidence of any Irish actors having been involved.
Why do these primitive itinerant hobbits sound like something from the dodgy-Irish-builders episode of Fawlty Towers? According to the show’s Australian dialect coach, the accents are intended to be “familiar but different” – and the Harfoots are meant to have an “Irish base to their accent”, but they do not speak as though they’ve walked out of a “particular cross street in Dublin”.
The portrayal of “Irish” characters as pre-industrial and childlike – simpletons, really – threads neatly into the Anglosphere’s rich tapestry of disdain for Celtic peoples. It brings us all the way back to the 70s – the 1870s. There’s an early scene in which we see the Harfoots, wearing filthy rags, scrabble in the ground for food. What is this, Famine cosplay?
The Scots get it too in The Rings of Power. Stand-ins for the dwarfs, they are portrayed as aggressive and argumentative. It gets to the point where I expect Durin, prince of Khazad-dûm, to whip out a deep-fried Mars bar. Every other “mad Jock” cliche has already been ticked off.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:25 PM on September 7, 2022 [5 favorites]

I was glad to actually see female dwarves

posted by praemunire at 5:07 PM on September 7, 2022 [13 favorites]

(Disa was adorable though)
posted by praemunire at 5:08 PM on September 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to highlight Acari's comment-- the conceit of the opening credits was absolutely brilliant.
posted by phooky at 5:11 PM on September 7, 2022

I like this more than I expected, and much more than the Peter Jackson movies. Why?

I've been reading and rereading the LOTR decade after decade since the 1970s. I went into the movie adaptions with great hope but ended up very disappointed. I hated the way the films focused on gruesome battles rather than moral quest. I hated all the unnecessary ways the movie changed the plot and characters.

But none of that has been a problem with the Rings of Power, because this is so clearly a completely different story. There are some familiar characters at less mature stages of their lives. I can believe in this younger Galadriel and Elrond. I enjoy the Harfoots. And it's a whole new story, so I don't have to worry about those missing climactic scenes or fabricated plot points. It's all fabricated, and so far it feels like it's respectfully faithful to the moral texture of Tolkien.

I didn't realize that Amazon didn't have rights to the Silmarillion. Does that mean there's a whole other series to look forward to?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:56 AM on September 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh, but put me down as not liking the portrayal of dwarves. Too much comic relief, too touchy feely, and the women don't have beards!
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:57 AM on September 9, 2022

Holy moly I thought that the "fight" scene with the water drake was absolutely enchanting. The way the sound design changed as Galadriel came above then dipped below the water's surface, the absolutely visceral impact of the body of the drake hitting the water, the feeling of chaos and good.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:55 AM on September 12, 2022

I was disappointed she didn't take out the water drake with her dagger. That would have shown some mean elf chops.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:07 AM on September 12, 2022 [3 favorites]



Also I would like to see Arondir not be the only Black Elf; I would like MORE Elves played by BIPOC actors, please, as an antidote to Peter Jackson's identical Aryan Elves and their terrible, terrible wigs.

(In Tolkien most Noldor canonically have dark hair! Including Legolas! It's only the descendants of Finarfin who are blondes)

Galadriel vs. sea serpent: [Peter Falk voice] "She does not get eaten by the eels at this time".
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:08 AM on September 25, 2022 [6 favorites]

Holy shit, the dwarves found Marcellus Wallace's soul!
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:05 PM on October 16, 2022

If nothing else, I enjoyed seeing Kahzad-dûm in a more prosperous time. You almost never see that in fantasy, the good times are always in the past.

I was thinking that the reflected eye of light passing over things would be _really_ annoying though, getting a bright shining glare cast over you every now and then? Oof.
posted by Kyol at 5:47 AM on October 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

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