TRoP: Episodes 1 & 2 Initial Reactions

It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.

Samwise Gamgee

Wow wow wow. So much wow. I’m almost not sure where I should start, so I will just begin writing as I form an opinion. First of all, as probably every reviewer has mentioned, it is visually stunning. If you were going to show Valinor in all its’ glory and pull off the prologue that they did, you have to go big. To their credit, they do, and that prologue sequence is glorious. I am so surprised at the events they tackle; the destruction of the Two Trees, introducing Finrod Felagund, and of course, the War of Wrath (who else saw Balrogs in the background?? Yes, several of them!!).

Right away, we jump into Galadriel’s story, continuing the fight on the hunt for Sauron deep in the Fordwaith. We get a good idea of where they are taking her character, being on some revenge tour to seek out the enemy and restore her brothers’ honor.

Having said that, I am really struggling with this Galadriel character they have constructed. Her rashness and disregard for her fellow Elves is a pull, but understandable if you are trying to construct some arc that will bring her to become the leader we know her to be. For me however, to have even contemplated going back to Valinor, or for that manner being permitted to, makes no sense. No, they can’t take everything from the books verbatim, hence Finrod having survived the War of Wrath apparently and dying directly at the hands of Sauron. But it is such an integral piece of Galadriel that it upset me greatly. Ditching the ship is not her big sin, rather it is leaving Valinor alongside Feanor and kindred in the first place (whether out of duty or desire to rule a realm of her own), only to test her drive for power ages later, when Frodo presents her with the One Ring. If Celebrimbor can name drop Feanor, then in my opinion they will need to bring up the kinstrife at some point, and the Ban of the Valar. Or more preferably, the blood oath of Feanor and his seven sons. Wouldn’t that be something to behold?

Outside of Galadriel, the characters are extensive, and hit-or-miss. Elrond and Durin (the IV) are powerful characters, and their relationship is an absolute gem. When Durin gives such a human response when discussing the twenty years since Elrond visits (the blink of an eye to an Elf), it truly stirs something in you. I can’t really say there’s bad performances, but with the constant cutaways back and forth between characters, it made some storylines far less interesting than others. If Amazon really wanted their own Game of Thrones type show, it might do well to use their format of having two or three character arcs an episode, instead of constantly going back and forth between the whole cast. First we see Galadriel and Halbrand, then its back to Elrond and Gil-galad, back to the Harfoots, back to Arondir and Bronwynn, back to Theo and bully, and finally back to Galadriel… it can be hard to follow. I’m sure Arondir and Bronwynn will play some importance later on, but at this point I’m not so sure I even want to see some Elf and Woman romance. Perhaps they just wanted to show the whole cast out of the gate, but the impending addition of the Numenorean cast makes me think this problem is not going away in Episode 3.

A piece of foreshadowing I loved; Celebrimbor shares with Elrond the hammer of Feanor, who Elrond skims over without touching, out of respect. As Celebrimbor recounts his tale, however, he picks up the hammer, nonchalantly, twirls it a bit, and even leaves a smudge. This character definitely has some ego to him; but I’m sure that won’t be a problem in the future!

More name drops that are heard in Episode 2 include; Feanor, Aule, the Silmarils, and several mentions of the Dark One by name. They are unapologetic in there reference to the lore. It makes me wonder if they’ll ever reveal exactly what deal was structured with the Tolkien Estate to allow this.

And finally, let’s get into the real opinion piece; Meteor Man. I am not sure what to make of this character, and I suppose it makes us resonate more with the Harfoots. Who is this stranger? Where is his kind? What is his true purpose on Middle-Earth? All reasonable questions asked by Nori, only to have an either developmentally challenged or severely concussed Meteor Man to retort, “unhhh?” At this point, it seems pretty glaringly obvious it is Gandalf, and if it’s not our dear Olorin, then an Istari or some Maiar-type character. There are so many alliterations to the Gandalf of PJ’s films, such as the darkness that arises when he speaks angrily. During one of these sequences, he repeatedly states a phrase, Mána Urë (which seems to be in Quenyan, according to the subtitles). A quick google search tells me that mána = blessed, úrë = heat, or possibly fire. So, if we were take this to mean “Blessed Fire”, what comes to mind? Personally it is giving me major “Flame of Anor” vibes. Could they be trying to throw us off somehow? Or did Manwe just simply catapult Olorin to Middle-Earth a little earlier than scheduled? “Next time”, says a still concussed Olorin returning to Mount Taniquetil, “we go by boat!”

Lastly, they do have some great cliffhangers to end on. I can’t wait to finally see the kingdom in store for Galadriel and Halbrand! Until next time ~

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