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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 review: A visual treat but wasted potential

The Lord of the Rings prequel series, despite its eye-watering production budget and intriguing storyline, is inconsistent on a number of critical aspects. But the season finale is a visual treat that keeps audiences intrigued about what’s to come for the second season

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 review: A visual treat but wasted potential

Last Updated: 02.35 PM, Feb 26, 2024


Story: After the fall of Morgoth, the Elven warrior and commander of the northern armies, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), is obsessed with finding Sauron, Morgoth’s successor. Her journey leads her to the flourishing human city of Númenor. She pleads her case with the Queen regent (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) of Númenor to travel to Middle-Earth to save the Southlands from the Orcs, who have mounted an attack against the human population under the leadership of Adar (Joseph Mawle). Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) and Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) attempt to rally the villagers to make a stand against the Orcs.


The Elven High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) entrusts Elrond (Robert Aramayo) to travel to the Dwarven kingdom to unite the Elves and Dwarves in order to help Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) build a new power. Elsewhere, Nori (Markella Kavenagh), the Harfoot befriends a mysterious human who fell from the sky. She believes that the man (Daniel Weyman) with strange abilities has arrived there for a reason.


Review: The series has faced intense scrutiny since the pilot was released last month. Most of the complaints aimed at the show were unfounded, but as the season progressed, the series has been unable to maintain the lofty standards the production budget demanded. There is undeniable quality in terms of its visuals and some of the action sequences. There is also clear evidence that there has been significant effort poured into recreating the lore of the world built by J R R Tolkien. The series offers an immersive experience with its excellent set design, costumes, and it’s unique characters. However, the development of these characters apart from Galadriel and maybe even Prince Durin (Owain Arthur) is unconvincing.


Despite stellar performances by the cast, the audience is not compelled to be invested in these characters. It is disappointing considering the potential they have and what they could offer to elevate the series. This is partly due to the fact that some of these characters and their arcs are diluted over the course of the season. The story could’ve easily been told in five episodes, instead of eight, and it would’ve stopped the character arcs from being disconnected from the audience after each episode. In many ways, most episodes are a collection of great moments poorly stitched together in post-production. A more ruthless approach in trimming down the overall length of the series would have certainly made it a worthy challenger to HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon.


Despite the few notable issues plaguing the series, there is one episode that truly captures the essence of a Lord of the Rings story. Episode six titled Udûn is arguably one of the greatest episodes ever produced for television. It offers a balanced narrative, scintillating action sequences, and standout performances by the cast. It is a shame that episodes of a similar ilk are few and far between. However, the finale does offer a few twists and turns, along with some truly remarkable cinematography of course, and it surprisingly does keep one pleasantly intrigued for a second season. The final episode also touches upon several Easter Eggs and nods to the original films. It has also given closure to several unanswered mysteries surrounding Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) and the Stranger — revelations that will certainly excite any fan of the franchise.


Verdict: The series definitely stands on its own for its striking visuals. But despite the promise of something truly groundbreaking, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, is ultimately a TV show that does not live up to its immense potential.



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