Ricky Church reviews the season one finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power…
The end has come at last for the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Reveals were made, twists were had and characters have moved onto the next stage of their journeys. Overall ‘Alloyed’ was a good finale for Rings of Power, though the storylines the episode did not touch on were a bit perplexing, especially for the fate of one significant character. Still, it was exciting way to end the season with Morfyyd Clark and Charlie Vickers bringing it home very nicely.
Let’s get the biggest development out of the way first, shall we? All season long the show was playing with who or where Sauron could be and there were enough teases here and there (along with a short list of suspects) that the reveal Vickers has been Sauron all along didn’t come as much of a surprise. However, the fact it didn’t really surprise doesn’t mean there was no payoff as Clark and Vickers did a fantastic job against each other once ‘Halbrand’ was found out.
Sauron has always been described as a master of deception and Rings of Power certainly held him to that title as Sauron mixed truth and lies enough to sound convincing to Galadriel. Going back to watch the season should prove interesting to notice any hints or foreshadowing, such as why Halbrand has been so obsessed with smithing or how he never claimed to be the King of the Southlands until it was Galadriel who first said it, carefully lying by omission so he could still retain this ‘good’ and ‘remorseful’ persona he was putting on for Galadriel.
Vickers has delivered a good performance as Halbrand throughout the season, but now that he’s fully unmasked as Sauron he gave a nuanced performance as he put in enough menace into the future Dark Lord while making us question how much he really meant about wanting to heal the damage he’d done and tried convincing Galadriel to join him. The fact it almost worked harkened back (or perhaps calls forward) to her conversation with Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring where she admits feeling the desire for power and becoming a Dark Queen. The fact Sauron even quoted some of Galadriel’s speech word for word was perhaps on the nose, but still emphasized how much more development Galadriel has left before she’s the wise Elf of the Third Age.
The chemistry between Clark and Vickers was great as they finally spoke with nothing left to hide. Clark made it seem like Galadriel was really struggling between continuing her path for vengeance or actually joining Sauron. The emotions she conveyed as he made her believe she was talking to her brother once again felt earned and tragic after everything Galadriel had gone through in Finrod’s memory. It was also nice to see her back with Robert Aramayo’s Elrond as they shared a good connection in the premiere and renewed their friendship here. Now that they are united, it will be interesting to see more of them together next season, especially as Elrond now suspects the truth of Sauron.
There were a few points which stood out as slightly off, though. The pacing felt a little rushed, almost like the finale couldn’t wait to get to the Sauron reveal, and some of the editing was a bit jarring as a few early scenes ended abruptly to go to the next, such as cutting Galadriel’s arrival in Lindon off to her and Elrond already in conversation and having mostly made up rather than let us see the full discussion, or not even showing Gil-Galad’s reaction to her return.
It also seemed a little too quick for Celebrimbor to design the first Rings of Power, even if they did get have bad attempts before they faced success. Celebrimbor letting ‘Halbrand’ help also seemed a little too quick given he had just met him, though it was implied Sauron must have used what little power he had on Celebrimbor as the Elf seemed a little dazed when Galadriel asked for confirmation if Halbrand was the one to put forth the idea to make rings (it was clever, however, to use Adar’s words from her interrogation as the catalyst for her to suspect Halbrand was really Sauron).
It wasn’t only their story where scenes transitioned quickly either. Upon arriving in Númenor, the camera stayed on Míriel and Elendil, slowly panning to reveal a bunch of ships. It wasn’t immediately clear why those ships and their flags were important, or even if that was supposed to be the shot’s focus, until the next cut revealed Míriel’s father had passed away.
While the finale was paced well due to its sustained focus on Galadriel and the Harfoots, it was weird how no time at all was spent on the Dwarves or the Southland refugees, especially given some of the cliffhangers last week ended on. Perhaps it’s because their season one stories felt wrapped up enough in the previous episode, but the awakening of a Balrog underneath the Dwarves’ home isn’t something light to end on and there was little to no mention of what Bronwyn, Arondir or even Adar planned to do next.
A significant omission, however, was the fate of Isildur who they all believe to have died rescuing Southlanders from the volcano’s eruption when anyone who knows Tolkien lore or has seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy knows the part Isildur plays in the One Ring’s history. Seeing him alive and trapped in Mordor alone would have been quite a cliffhanger of itself so it is odd the show chose not to reveal him, but instead briefly focus on his sister Eärien back in Númenor.
Meanwhile, the plot with the Harfoots and the Stranger came to its own conclusion as they faced off against the mysterious trio of Sauron’s worshippers. It would have been nice to get a little more information on who or what exactly they were, but they each played their parts well and Bridie Sisson in particular conveyed plenty of menace and power with no dialogue, using the glare of her eyes and body’s posture to say more than any line could.
Using The Stranger as a red herring for Sauron wasn’t exactly a surprise either and Daniel Weyman did a nice job transitioning Stranger’s confusion to coherent power and speech. The show all but confirmed The Stranger is a very young Gandalf after he quoted one of the wizard’s lines in Fellowship, but there is still room for him to be revealed as another wizard like Saruman next season. Either way, Weyman and Markella Kavenagh played well opposite each other and it’s nice to know we’ll get more one-on-one time with them next season as they travel to discover The Stranger’s power and purpose.
The Rings of Power finale wasn’t a perfect one, but the progression of its story and characters was well done, even if some elements could have been touched on without cramming too much in. The editing could have been improved too with certain scenes and developments not feeling quite so rushed, but the later focus on Galadriel and Sauron brought the finale in for a successful landing.
Now that the Elves’ three Rings are in play, it shouldn’t be long in the second season for the others are created but we still have a long way to go in the story still. The Rings of Power had a lot of potential to meet and the bar has only been raised further for season two, but with the cast’s strengths and how much the writing and pacing improved throughout the season it should be an exciting wait to see what happens next.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.