Having finished Rings of Power episode 5, I'm in a far different place than I was when I wrote my Rings of Power review. Amazon sent the press the first two episodes, and even though I wasn't a Lord of the Rings superfan, I found it interesting and I was excited to watch more of the Prime Video series.
Today, having seen the next three episodes? I'm itching to break glass and go with Galadriel's Elven squad — far, far away from this series. Yes, while Galadriel made the right call to keep the fight going, I wish I could bail on this story.
But I know I'm going to be watching next week's episode, and those thereafter. No, I'm not hate-watching, if such a thing exists. I'm not suffering to pull out all the differences from Tolkien's work to vent online.
I'm sojourning on — fighting the war against not-watching — because for all the things Rings of Power gets wrong, there's one thing that keeps me hanging on. So, let's break down what this Lord of the Rings show is getting right and what it's getting wrong. Of course, beware spoilers for Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 5 below!
Rings of Power episode 5 showed too many weak links
Early on in Rings of Power episode 5, I kept pondering who is enjoying the Harfoot migration. We can all tell they're not: the Brandyfoot family's misery of migration has been evenly split between misery and confusion about The Stranger. But, then, we got that odd little musical montage that grated on my ears. At this point, the Harfoot all feel like that one meme, as I can just hear someone saying "we have Hobbits at home."
Then, we got another very slight tease of evil in the Rings of Power world. This time, it was the trio of white-cloaked villains who were testing that crater left by The Stranger's arrival. All of these characters, the cloaked and the Harfoot, all exist seemingly to advance The Stranger's storyline since he's not really able to do so (thanks, amnesia). And even though one of these cloaked weirdos looked like a young Eminem, I couldn't find it in me to care.
Speaking of indifference, when we finally met Adar (Joseph Mawle), I was completely let down. When minions chant a villain's name, and you wonder about how cool that villain will be? Well, Adar's face is almost too scarred to be emotive, and his dialogue is too paltry to give you much.
Jump cut to the storyline where Bronwyn is trying to get her Middle-earthers to unite to fight back Sauron. And, while we get a decent moment between Arondir and Theo, I had a moment of thinking "wait, another rallying cry for the people? Didn't Galadriel do this already?" And, honestly, that's probably the point. The show is about whole multiple realms of people uniting or not-uniting.
And then there's that slew of Numenoreans. Almost all of their dialogue read like second-hand Shakespeare, or maybe that's just their aesthetics. The most interesting story of them all is Isildur's want to enlist and how everyone is against it.
Rings of Power episode 5 highlights its one great story
Admittedly, I started watching Rings of Power because we're covering it at Tom's Guide. And even if all of the show goes sour, I'll keep watching because it's my job. But midway into Rings of Power episode 5, I was reminded about the one part of the show I find it interesting: Durin IV and Elrond, who are played by Owain Arthur and Robert Aramayo, respectively, I mention actor names here (and not earlier) because this is the first time in the show I felt the performances.
Herein we have an actual personal story, the frayed friendship where Elrond's been gone too long and Durin's felt ignored. And it's been complicated by the fact that Durin and his father's suspicions about Elrond's intent have been confirmed. But, heartwarmingly, Elrond had no idea of the secret angle of his mission: that he was sent to discover the Mithril in the Dwarven base.
The moments that Elrond and Durin shared, as the former confessed, and the latter didn't get upset over it, were amazing. The trust you see between these two characters, and their support of one another, is fantastic.
Rings of Power outlook: Waning hope
I know other characters have personal motivations for their story, but aside from Elrond and Galadriel, everyone else's plots feel more like a very obvious game of chess — where pieces are being moved around as we prepare for battle — than anything else.
Or, in the case of the Harfoot: fulfilling an obligation to have some sort of Hobbit in your Lord of the Rings series. So that's where I hope the Rings of Power can start to improve things. Nori Brandyfoot's story could somehow feel more interesting, and less tacked-on?
If Nori's character didn't feel like the sherpa for The Stranger's story? I'd not mind watching more of Rings of Power. Because, as I've said, I'm here for work. I just wish watching Rings of Power didn't feel like it.
Next: Now that the whole season is aired, check out our guide to Rings of Power season 2 when you're ready.