The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Adar
September 10, 2022 6:38 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Arondir finds himself a captive. Galadriel and Halbrand explore a legendary kingdom. Elendil is given a new assignment. Nori faces the consequences. (IMDB)
posted by Countess Elena (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Isuldur must be being set up to transport Galadriel to Middle Earth. If not, he's got to get there eventually.
posted by transient at 8:29 AM on September 10, 2022 [3 favorites]


I...probably would not have, as a writer, chosen to place Arondir in a forced labor camp. This is not a choice I am all that crazy about, myself.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2022 [9 favorites]


The whole "Sauron's sigil is actually a map" thing seemed like goofy, very TV-style plotting, and I'm not sure what it was meant to tell us, or the characters. Galadriel already knows there are orcs rampaging around the Southlands! I guess this for the audience who doesn't recognize what Mordor looks like on a map?

But it just came across as silly. Sauron inscribing cursed runes on things and people: pretty spooky and intimidating. Sauron writing his itinerary down: not particularly?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:30 AM on September 10, 2022 [11 favorites]


I thought this was overall a good episode, and I really enjoyed the classical Greece flair of Numenor.
posted by Alex404 at 9:49 AM on September 10, 2022 [4 favorites]


Apparently Adar means "father" in Quenya. That's a choice I wouldn't have made, but I guess it's reminiscent of the orcs calling Saruman "Sharkey" and gives a little window into their orc brains. Even orcs have filial bonds.

If this was the Silmarillion, Arondir would be tortured by Sauron and then allowed to escape so he could go home and inadvertently betray his people.

Anyone want to speculate who (what) the Stranger is? One of the Maiar who is having trouble adjusting after transit? Something completely new?

Also, elves ride bareback. Just saying.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2022 [4 favorites]


This episode for me was all about getting to see Númenor. It's heady to see these living, moving representations of places I really only ever expected to see in my own imagination.

Winnie, I'm pretty confident the Stranger is Olorín. This would be a nice origin story for Gandalf's special relationship with the hobbits. Like, who else would it be?
posted by potrzebie at 10:31 AM on September 10, 2022 [11 favorites]


Also, so nice to see Galadriel just having a nice time riding a horse on a beach! It really brings home how much younger she is here than in the trilogy.
posted by potrzebie at 10:33 AM on September 10, 2022 [5 favorites]


I like the occasional call-outs to the Jackson movies. The orcs look, talk and grimace like Jackson orcs. Halbrand in certain scenes has a look that reminds me of Vigo Morgenstern's Aragorn. The Númenor flame-lit beacon tower echoes the one in Gondor (or I suppose I should say vice-versa!). And, yes, the Stranger must be Olorín/Gandalf because he captures, whispers to, and releases fireflies just like Gandalf did the butterfly on the top of Orthanc.
posted by mono blanco at 11:02 AM on September 10, 2022 [8 favorites]


Okay, I can totally see him as a younger Gandalf. That makes so much sense.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2022


But it just came across as silly. Sauron inscribing cursed runes on things and people: pretty spooky and intimidating. Sauron writing his itinerary down: not particularly?

Yeah....I grew up watching Buffy, so I have a high tolerance for "we know the next stage of the plot because of an ancient text conveniently located in the local library," but that was a howler. It was also interesting that Galadriel was deferring to Halbrand on human manners, when she was the only person familiar with Numenor.

Everyone on Twitter kept guessing that Halbrand is Secretly Sauron, but I thought it pretty clear Adar is Sauron? I hope Halbrand is not Secretly Sauron, because I like him. He feels like he's being written as a foil to Aragorn, though, which might not say great things about him.

(I liked seeing Numenor, but I'm beginning to feel embarrassed about how easy it is to make me happy by just displaying another setting.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 11:47 AM on September 10, 2022 [2 favorites]


(I liked seeing Numenor, but I'm beginning to feel embarrassed about how easy it is to make me happy by just displaying another setting.)

I've been feeling a bit of the same, but that's kind of a lot of the pleasure of adapting such a visual work, isn't it? Seeing how well the filmed version matches your imagined version? I remember avidly following the casting announcements for the movie trilogy while it was being made, and reacting with so much delight when someone looked just right. I don't think there's anything to be embarrassed about.

I am not someone who generally has a strong visual imagination, but even I had a general sense of what I thought Númenor looked and felt like. And it was a lot of fun to see it fleshed out and populated. That's okay!
posted by potrzebie at 4:43 PM on September 10, 2022 [1 favorite]


Everyone on Twitter kept guessing that Halbrand is Secretly Sauron, but I thought it pretty clear Adar is Sauron?

I think Adar is Sauron and I expect, if Halbrand is going to be anyone - eventually, he'll be the Witch King. Or at least one of the men with one of the nine rings, ie. the later Ring-Wraiths.
posted by crossoverman at 4:49 PM on September 10, 2022 [8 favorites]


The constellation map stealing hijinks was so incredibly hokey. A whole hierarchy of professionals was making the most expensive television show in history and presumably all of them were, like, “Good enough!”
posted by snofoam at 5:40 PM on September 10, 2022 [3 favorites]


if Halbrand is going to be anyone - eventually, he'll be the Witch King. Or at least one of the men with one of the nine rings, ie. the later Ring-Wraiths.

Ugh, I hope you’re wrong but I think you’re probably right. At this point I like him a whole lot more then Elendil. But I guess that’s what makes a tragic figure.

He does seem to have trouble controlling his temper.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:55 PM on September 10, 2022 [4 favorites]


Sort of an Anakin Skywalker you think? I hope not. Halbrand doesn't feel that way to me. More like a friendship/love interest for Galadriel just as the (non canonical) elf Tauriel was for dwarf Kili in Jackson's Hobbit movie. You know, to evoke romantic feelings among the audience. To bring in the punters.

One might ask, "Well then, why not Elendil?" But you see, that wouldn't work because that would be counter-canonical rather than simply non-canonical. A big difference.

My prediction? Halbrand inspired by Galadriel will perform amazing feats, be proclaimed king of the Southlands, then die in Galadriel's arms.
posted by mono blanco at 7:49 PM on September 10, 2022 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I get the sense that Halbrand is meant to be a love interest for Galadriel, while Galadriel is meant to be an unrequited love interest for Elrond.
posted by corb at 8:33 PM on September 10, 2022 [1 favorite]


Everyone on Twitter kept guessing that Halbrand is Secretly Sauron

In the opening scene of this series, I had a brief panic that the mean boy throwing rocks at the boat was Lil' Sauron and we were going full Phantom Menace. But then they showed Sauron in his full get-up leading Orc armies. It doesn't make any sense for him to go undercover and have wacky adventures stealing guild tokens.
posted by Gary at 10:10 PM on September 10, 2022


It doesn't make any sense for him to go undercover and have wacky adventures stealing guild tokens.

Joanna Robinson (of the Ringerverse and Vanity Fair fame) had a theory that's growing on me- that Sauron as Halbrand could be earnestly trying to turn over a new leaf at this time, only to turn tragically to the dark side despite himself later on.
posted by ishmael at 10:42 PM on September 10, 2022


The constellation map stealing hijinks was so incredibly hokey.

Seemed like the perfect level of humour for Hobbits/Harfoots. I'm glad this show has a sense of humour.
posted by crossoverman at 12:13 AM on September 11, 2022 [7 favorites]


I also didn't understand the point of stealing a guild badge. It's not like he could have strolled into the forge the next day and said "guess what I'm a guild member now!" Everyone seems to know who he is by sight anyway. They know he's from out of town. The badge is just a marker of your guild membership, not a ticket.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:24 AM on September 11, 2022 [12 favorites]


I was not completely happy with the first two episodes but I enjoyed them. Enjoyed this one the least of the three so far. The slow, almost still scenes of Galadriel riding the horse were just weird, I'm sorry. They broke the flow of the show for me and left me wondering what they were trying to do or show except, IDK be 'artsy' or something.

The think I am least happy about is completely made up in my head at this point, but Arondir has lost his chance to escape and is about the meet Sauron. Sauron is a notorious corruptor. I am going to be so extremely pissed off if the black skinned elf becomes an agent of Sauron, and after Amazon cast a dark skinned actor as Padan Fain in the Wheel of Time I completely expect it.
posted by natteringnabob at 7:28 AM on September 11, 2022 [2 favorites]


Isn't Halbrand Aragorn's ancestor?
I'm not sure about timelines, but the whole king in exile bit was not something I saw as a mystery at all until I read this thread.

Are there any clues other than "older than you think" and "knows how to forge" that point to Sauron?

Adar is looking for something, which is obviously that cursed sword. Maybe Arondir gets that for him?
posted by Acari at 8:03 AM on September 11, 2022 [1 favorite]


I would frankly be astonished if Arondir is not the male heroic lead of this show. He and Galadriel both appear to be superheroes in battle, and pure in every action. I really hate the idea of him being corrupted, but I think I would kinda be impressed if they subverted expectations like that, when he's clearly a paragon of virtue.

(On the other hand, I feel like it's a problem that we've been watching this show for like three and a half hours and there's still room to question who the main characters are. It may point to some structural flaw. Who can say? Not me!)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:16 AM on September 11, 2022 [3 favorites]


Isn't Halbrand Aragorn's ancestor?

No, Elendil and Isildur are Aragorn's ancestors. Halbrand is apparently a (very reluctant) king in exile of the Southlands- kind of a knockoff Aragorn, but not actually related to him, and I don't think he exists in Tolkien's canon.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:38 AM on September 11, 2022 [9 favorites]


My partner and I were shocked by some of the choices to show violence on-screen - it’s felt pretty anodyne so far, sometimes even to the extent that I wonder if the dialogue or plot dynamics were written to a PG-13 level in order to draw in multiple age groups. But the fight scene in the streets of Numinor and the maulings by the warg at the end were explicit, visually arresting and foley’d for impact. Showing intestines? A skull-crushing? There are movies where this makes sense, where the scene has been set and the audience assumed to be up for those kinds of elements - John Wick is darn good entertainment! But here they felt upsettingly disorenting.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 12:00 PM on September 11, 2022 [8 favorites]


The slow, almost still scenes of Galadriel riding the horse were just weird, I'm sorry. They broke the flow of the show for me and left me wondering what they were trying to do or show

It did briefly turn into a 1980s Calvin Klein commercial, yes. It was a deeply odd choice. I suppose it was to show her joy at her freedom but... really? That’s how we’re doing this?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:11 PM on September 11, 2022 [4 favorites]


Really, really, REALLY do not like the blood splatter on the camera thing. Not at all necessary.
posted by cooker girl at 12:51 PM on September 11, 2022 [4 favorites]


Indeed the sound of the guy's arm being broken was awful and unnecessary.

I'm on board with Halbrand maybe being the Witch-King eventually. He's from the Southlands, and textually a member of the people who actively supported Morgoth (although that was at least some hundreds of years ago, it's amazing any of the humans remember or care). Apparently he was a king or could be a king. He's pretty cynical in a lot of ways but also competent, and has no patience for the glory of the Elves or for Numenor except as a place to get by. Does he even want to go back to Middle-Earth? I think not at this point.

My speculation: he gets inspired by Galadriel to be more altruistic, and goes back to the Southlands to try to protect "his" people. Except Sauron is there, and war is starting, and he has no power, no army, no authority. Nothing with which to defend his people.

Sauron (possibly in his Annatar guise) shows up with one of the rings and says, "Here, this will help you protect your people because the Elves and Numenoreans clearly do not give a shit and think you're all evil anyway." He takes the ring, uses it, gets corrupted, etc. Becomes the Witch King in thrall to Sauron. Totally tragic, and not unlike the story of some fallen Jedi, who looked for power in the Dark Side to do good things, and got warped by it instead.
posted by suelac at 1:05 PM on September 11, 2022 [4 favorites]


I was going to complain that the elf who got his throat cut seemed to have died of very low blood loss, but the others made up for him. That seemed like a pretty poorly planned escape overall, grab at the chains rather than get a few weapons. Fighting the Warg one at a time also seemed a bad move.

Arondir hanging on the edge of the trench also made me notice that everything was covered in DIY/garden centre wood chip/mulch. Have a look, they must have bought loads.

Dialogue on Numenor was very weak I thought. Nearly every phrase seemed clunky.
posted by biffa at 2:47 PM on September 11, 2022 [1 favorite]


I thought Tolkien Elves were generally rather taller than Men (with High Men [Numenorians] being a bit taller than Common Men)?

Galadriel vs the ship captain is within the bounds, but I would have thought they'd make Galadriel taller.

That entire crew would be tall like professional basketball stars.
posted by porpoise at 4:59 PM on September 11, 2022 [2 favorites]


Elendil particularly was part Elvish (his nth great grandfather was Elros, who was half Elvish). According to one LOTR wiki he was like 8 feet tall, which was tall even for Numenor.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:48 PM on September 11, 2022 [3 favorites]


Did they ever show who shot the elf that made it out of the trench? It would be fittingly heartbreaking if it were complicit humans, providing cover where the orcs can't go.
posted by cardboard at 6:13 AM on September 15, 2022 [1 favorite]


They did not show it, but your guess makes sense. Prepare for Middle Earth-wide conflict.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:34 PM on September 15, 2022


Did they ever show who shot the elf that made it out of the trench? It would be fittingly heartbreaking if it were complicit humans, providing cover where the orcs can't go.

The fletching on the arrows looks like orc fletching, but I guess it could be anyone.

The notion that orcs are corrupted elves is gonna be interesting if they explore it.
posted by ishmael at 7:24 PM on September 15, 2022 [2 favorites]


I remembered the other thing I didn't really like was Galadriel going on about hereditary heritage and the right to rule.
posted by biffa at 12:08 PM on September 16, 2022 [3 favorites]


oh yeah was that wild. "Your body is choked by this peasant garb when it should be wearing the noble armor of your kingship!" Galadriel, this is why you're going to have to leave Middle Earth.
posted by corb at 7:50 PM on September 16, 2022 [3 favorites]


I was underwhelmed by the first episode, pleasantly surprised by the second, and then . . . this one.

A couple of days ago I was only able to get through twenty minutes before I decided that I was maybe not in the right mood and I'd best wait until later to finish it. Tonight I made it a further fifteen minutes in before I found myself rolling my eyes and then fast-forwarding.

I thought this episode was terrible. That doesn't seem to be the sentiment in this thread, so maybe it's just me. But I don't know if I'm going to be able to force myself to give the fourth episode a chance.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:29 AM on September 17, 2022 [5 favorites]


BUT THE LANSCAYPE SO SHINY
posted by lalochezia at 9:04 PM on September 18, 2022 [2 favorites]


It did briefly turn into a 1980s Calvin Klein commercial, yes. It was a deeply odd choice.

That bit killed me, and my immediate reaction was that it was for a new fragrance called HORSE.

The explicit violence was a real no-no for me, just because I can’t reconcile it with the tone of any of the Tolkien at all, at all.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:17 PM on October 7, 2022 [1 favorite]


I had the same question about why Halbrand would try to steal the guild token. What the hell was his plan?

Everyone on Twitter kept guessing that Halbrand is Secretly Sauron

Sauron as Halbrand could be earnestly trying to turn over a new leaf at this time

Huh? How would either of those work? Both of those ideas would seem to contradict everything that's been set up in the exposition, right? Also... why would he be doing either of those things, either hiding as a human on a raft in the ocean OR trying to be a good guy for once?
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:48 AM on October 19, 2022


Huh? How would either of those work? Both of those ideas would seem to contradict everything that's been set up in the exposition, right? Also... why would he be doing either of those things, either hiding as a human on a raft in the ocean OR trying to be a good guy for once?

In the text, Sauron repents for his actions after Morgoth is defeated. But he is then commanded to report to Valinor to atone for his actions, and he disappears.

In this show, the idea could be that Sauron was trying to get away, possibly to Numenor, to start over with new identity and a new life.

Not that he was planning to find Galadriel in the ocean, but that fate or Eru put them in each other's paths.

I agree that if the showrunners wanted to do something like that, they should have been more explicit with Halbrand's motivations, but they were so in love with the mystery box idea that they were coy with the details. Hence so many people's frustration with the show.
posted by ishmael at 10:12 AM on October 19, 2022 [1 favorite]


Is Sauron identifiably human, then? I always thought he was some sort of demonic non-human something or other.

Forgive me if that's a dumb question, but despite liking the movies, I'm not a hardcore LotR fan. I read The Hobbit when I was very young, but didn't read the trilogy until right before the films came out, when I was already in my 20s. I don't know why I never read the originals when I was a kid; instead I was first exposed to fantasy novels through Dragonlance and other D&D based titles. So the upshot is that I don't have a strong emotional connection to the material or a deep knowledge of the legends and lore. After I read the books and watched the movies, I was sort of interested in reading The Silmarillion, but not enough to actually put in the effort.

On the subject of accents: as various people noted in threads for prior episodes, the accents in this show map pretty neatly onto traditional British economic and cultural stereotypes. The simple Hobbit folk are the Irish; the gruff, clannish Dwarves are Scots; the Elves are the Upper-Crust English, and Humans are just a mix. I found it rather amusing that the Orcs all have thick Cockney accents, being the low-class grunts that they are. Ahh English classism -- it's the gift that keeps on giving!
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:05 PM on October 19, 2022 [3 favorites]


Is Sauron identifiably human, then? I always thought he was some sort of demonic non-human something or other.

Sauron is a Maia, a spirit similar to an angel/demon. He takes on human form like a suit of clothes. Hence when Adar says he "killed" him, that could be true; he might have struck down Sauron's human form.

However, it takes a lot out of a being like Sauron to have to reconstitute his human body, and each time he does it, it's less "beautiful". That's why Sauron looks so ogre-ish in the prologues of the films; that last physical form was his 3rd or 4th attempt.
posted by ishmael at 12:20 PM on October 19, 2022 [1 favorite]


Hm, I think I'm realizing that this show could have used more sub-plots that were lore-explainers. As opposed to illogical set-pieces.

The audience shouldn't need supplementary explanations for the show to make sense.
posted by ishmael at 12:23 PM on October 19, 2022 [1 favorite]


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