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[Spoilers] Rings of Power: Adar, can you hear me?


Ser Drewy
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2 hours ago, TheReal_Rebel said:

I have a question for those who don’t like The Rings of Power, is it better or worse than the Witcher or Wheel of Time?

I think RoP is much better than WoT. As far as I'm aware WoT is unfortunately saddled with the most incompetent writers in the business* (I'm not sure if that was deliberate on Amazon's part) and looks incredibly cheap, in addition to having very little to do with the story it was based on. But you know what I'm talking about - you had some small taste of the mental trauma of enduring WoT.

I think RoP is slightly better than the first season of The Witcher. Both have pretty bad writing (but not WoT bad); however, they both have occasionally well done parts, too, so it's not so much a wretched experience, but a mostly mediocre experience. RoP looks quite a bit better, though.

I'd rate season 2 of The Witcher on the same level of WoT. From all appearances those two shows are now having a terrible writing competition (maybe someone can pull up an interview that confirms this).

*To be fair Dave Hill is an actual good writer. The poor guy probably has some PTSD at this point. He saw the downfall of Benioff and Weiss at the end, and no doubt thought that the next gig must be an improvement, then somehow found himself among the television version of Planet 9 From Outer Space team of writers.

Edited by IFR
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I think RoP is marginally better than WoT for now, because by 3 episodes in, WoT was already crashing my much higher expectations for that show.

But that helped temper my expectations of RoP, and so far, it's closer to expectations, and sometimes mildly exceeding it, so it certainly feels easier to watch.

In terms of the GoT/HotD comparison, though, I feel it's understandable why the Witcher, RoP and WoT all struggle. They have a hell of a lot more world and concept to introduce, and that makes them do clunky character and dialog work.

It doesn't need to be so, however. Science Fiction shows have managed to do that just fine, for instance.

I just think with WoT and RoP (and probably The Witcher, but I haven't read those books so I can't say), they brought on writers who occupy an unfortunate middle ground. They're not able to claim any real fidelity to the books, even thematically, let alone plot-wise. But what they come up with isn't such a startling and interesting retelling that you go along with it. 

That means anyone who really knows the books just cannot jive with the changed story too easily. And there's just enough jargon and stage setting that doesn't get make sense early on that new audiences don't connect with the characters when they say portentous things. 

---

One clever way to do RoP would have been to lean into the lifespan differences of the characters and the long timelines. 

So you'd have one set of characters who'd be around for the whole show, the Elves. You'd use them somewhat sparsely, and show the great passage of time around them while showing us episodes of their lives that are important and allow us to see them subtly change.

The Dwarves would also have relatively long lives, and you could trace the raise of the Balrog and the fall of Kazad Dum relatively slowly, over a few continuous generations. So child characters in the first season would be grown by sometime in season 2, ruling by s3, aged grandparents by s4, all played by different actors.

In Numenor, you begin with Aldarion and Erendis. Use their life to anchor the first couple of seasons, like an accelerated Crown. Trace the rise of Sauron, the beginnings of the strife in Numenor, etc.

And then, do short arcs focussed on various other men in the South and East. Same for the Hobbits, whose slow road to becoming Gollum's ancestors as well as proto-Shire folk can be explored. Bring your best guest actor game here, and essentially write short stories in the sprit of the stories Tolkien told, but expand it to explore how the other people's of Middle Earth would have dealt with those events, with more tact and less racism than Tolkien, at least earlier in his writing, did. 

And have the Blue Wizard, or Wizards, cut through these stories, long lived, but aging, with only dim memories of their powers and past, struggling against an unseen enemy who has his full powers. For all of Gandalf's difficulties, how much more of a struggle it would have been to be Istari in the Second Age. It's not something Tolkien explored much, of course, so you'd need a lot of invention, but with that as the theme and focus of the narrative, I'd have been down for it. 

This immediately allows you to explore some of Tolkien's themes. In Numenor and with the men, you can see a discomfort with death, whereas with Elves, you can see the issues with eternal life. With the Blue Wizard, you get a preview of the costs and sacrifices the Istari had to make, which gives greater depth to Gandalf's character without actually placing him in a narrative that he does not belong in. 

Meanwhile, the Hobbits, uncorrupted by Morgoth, have a different attitude to death. Not inviting it but not going out of their way to avoid what they see as a fact of life. Tie that to their resistance to the temptation of the Ring (this they may already be doing).

It also allows you to trace the slow growth of Sauron, the many missed opportunities, the sweep of the great losses and explore how lifespan touches so much about memory and culture and temptation.

It would have been a wildly different show than most stuff out there, it's own distinct identity. Within that, there would have to be a lot of deviation from the text, but at least you're building to something.

 

Edited by fionwe1987
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I found that that one was even weakest than last week's. As usual, there were a few things to enjoy here and there, but we have already watched the first half of the season and I still don't have a grasp of most of the characters motivations, or what they are trying to do with the show.

Many things to dislike: Theo's laughably escaping from dozens of blind and deaf orcs that surround him, followed by his and Arondir's even more laughable escape, the palantíri used as crystal balls, Durin going from wanting to keep the discovery of mithril as the uttermost secret to giving away commercial samples, the random collapse of the mine, Numenórean politics making no sense, Isildur's stupid strategem to get fired from the Sea Guard, Halbrand being realeased from prison who knows why, new reasons to suspect that the Stranger may be Sauron...

Edited by The hairy bear
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The story veers ever away from the books, but this was a much stronger episode, for me. Some good scenes, some good acting, some more character work. All in all, the story and the stakes of this season are becoming somewhat clear. 

It's a fairly straightforward fantasy sword and (some little) sorcery story, with the LotR flavor helping sell it, and giving it it's few moments of depth. But as that, it's becoming fairly watchable.

Thoughts:

1. Durin and the mithril story. Clearly the Kazad Dum arc had to focus on mithril and lay the seeds for the Balrog to arise. I hope they don't move that event into the Second Age. But I fear they will.

2. Elrond, Disa, Durin and Durin were all very watchable, though.

3. If the South battle is to be the finale, this seems pretty bizarre. Is Adar meant to be a fakeout? And the meteor being a sign of Sauron's rise... It's read plainly as a misdirect, to me, but the prophesy itself is likely real, in which case, we just may not have seen Sauron yet, at all.

4. So we had a rebellion in Numenor. Sigh. And telegraphing the end of Numenor this early? That's a really dumb choice, I think. And this is pure nitpick, but there were way more than 7 Palantir in Numenor. 7 was the number that Elendil was able to save from the Fall. I wonder if in the season where Numenor falls, we'll see some kind of hunt to reclaim the seven stones, since that's the only number available. 

5. Having Halbrand teach Galadriel the art of negotiation and diplomacy was just awful. 

6. The Celebrimbor scene was weird, but I can't quite place what about it weirded me out. Is there in book evidence of Earendil meeting Celebrimbor?

7. Speaking of, the more clear, even casual references to the Valar, the Silmarils, Morgoth... I'm glad they do this. It would be weird for people to have forgotten all this. 

 

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WoT, HotD, The Witcher and RoP all want to be an epic fantasy series for adults... but what they don't get is that the best thing about GoT was not the gore, the sex scenes, the war sequences or the special effects... it is the metadiscussion and theorycrafting, like what is going to happen. The scope for that is far less in all the other series when compared to GoT. 

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15 minutes ago, slant said:

WoT, HotD, The Witcher and RoP all want to be an epic fantasy series for adults... but what they don't get is that the best thing about GoT was not the gore, the sex scenes, the war sequences or the special effects... it is the metadiscussion and theorycrafting, like what is going to happen. The scope for that is far less in all the other series when compared to GoT. 

For me the reason GoT worked and was so successful was because it was a series of relatable human stories that just happened to be in a world of dragons and ice zombies (and those fantasy elements were very much pushed to the back at first). It was a story about relationships, both personal and political and that was what allowed the audience to become invested in the world.

If you don't have that, if you don't have characters you can relate to, who feel like people, then it doesn't matter what story you are telling.

Edited by Heartofice
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31 minutes ago, Denvek said:

Tell Me Where Is Gandalf, For I Much Desire To Speak With Him.

Frodo: "Sorry, have you had a stroke?" 

22 minutes ago, slant said:

WoT, HotD, The Witcher and RoP all want to be an epic fantasy series for adults... but what they don't get is that the best thing about GoT was not the gore, the sex scenes, the war sequences or the special effects... it is the metadiscussion and theorycrafting, like what is going to happen. The scope for that is far less in all the other series when compared to GoT. 

Well, we know how all those stories end already.

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7 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

I just think with WoT and RoP (and probably The Witcher, but I haven't read those books so I can't say), they brought on writers who occupy an unfortunate middle ground. They're not able to claim any real fidelity to the books, even thematically, let alone plot-wise. But what they come up with isn't such a startling and interesting retelling that you go along with it. 

 

That means anyone who really knows the books just cannot jive with the changed story too easily. And there's just enough jargon and stage setting that doesn't get make sense early on that new audiences don't connect with the characters when they say portentous things.

This seems a pretty astute assessment to me.

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

Frodo: "Sorry, have you had a stroke?" 

Well, we know how all those stories end already.

Yes, exactly! 

New episode is out, watching right now. Let us see this Adar fellow. 

2 hours ago, Heartofice said:

For me the reason GoT worked and was so successful was because it was a series of relatable human stories that just happened to be in a world of dragons and ice zombies (and those fantasy elements were very much pushed to the back at first). It was a story about relationships, both personal and political and that was what allowed the audience to become invested in the world.

If you don't have that, if you don't have characters you can relate to, who feel like people, then it doesn't matter what story you are telling.

Yeah, this is pretty true. 

Edited by slant
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Joseph Mawle is a superb actor, really puts a lot of presence into a very small appearance. He was great as Benjen Stark but I think he was born to play villains.

Pretty solid episode, and I think this is (if nothing else) the definitive portrayal of fantasy dwarves on screen. Really great stuff.

The Southlands stuff is starting to kick into gear and its's better than in the first few episodes. More lore callbacks, although Adar immediately knowing where in Beleriand whatshisface is from is a bit odd. Beleriand was the size of western Europe and home to many rivers.

The stuff in Numenor is okay, although Galadriel not knowing how to engage in basic diplomacy is odd. The actor playing Pharazon has potential. Elendil was a bit of a chump in this episode. Also a bit of a Deus Ex White Tree in how Miriel changed her mind on sending aid to Middle-earth.

Also, a lot more use of the actual landscapes for once. That was refreshing.

They also addressed the, "well, my dad got turned into a star, that was kinda weird," family history of Elrond.

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5 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

6. The Celebrimbor scene was weird, but I can't quite place what about it weirded me out. Is there in book evidence of Earendil meeting Celebrimbor?

Before the War of Wrath, when pretty much every Elven kingdom in Beleriand was destroyed, most Elves took refuge on the island of Balar or the mouth of the river Sirion. So maybe that's where they met.

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4 hours ago, slant said:

WoT, HotD, The Witcher and RoP all want to be an epic fantasy series for adults... but what they don't get is that the best thing about GoT was not the gore, the sex scenes, the war sequences or the special effects... it is the metadiscussion and theorycrafting, like what is going to happen. The scope for that is far less in all the other series when compared to GoT. 

That may have been true for show GoT, especially after season 4 when it waded into the unknown,but as books, this was definitely not true of WoT. And the show just squandered that potential by deciding that the best mystery to focus on was "who's the Dragon Reborn".

1 hour ago, Werthead said:

Joseph Mawle is a superb actor, really puts a lot of presence into a very small appearance. He was great as Benjen Stark but I think he was born to play villains.

Agreed. He was a highlight. 

1 hour ago, Werthead said:

Pretty solid episode, and I think this is (if nothing else) the definitive portrayal of fantasy dwarves on screen. Really great stuff.

Yeah I'm excited to see where this goes, as well. 

1 hour ago, Werthead said:

They also addressed the, "well, my dad got turned into a star, that was kinda weird," family history of Elrond.

I wonder if that part made sense to non-book readers. At some point, someone is going to have to point to Earendil in the sky.

31 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

Before the War of Wrath, when pretty much every Elven kingdom in Beleriand was destroyed, most Elves took refuge on the island of Balar or the mouth of the river Sirion. So maybe that's where they met.

Fair, but I was trying to remember if the meeting is mentioned anywhere in the text. I don't believe so.

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I agree that this episode was better on average than the previous but there were still silly things, like Galadriel's stuff and Halbrand's unexplained release from prison. Theo's continuous shot scene where he avoids the Orcs felt like a video game. 

This episode had some brief action scenes, and the one that could have been the best and most dramatic was given the slow motion treatment with music blaring in the background. sigh

The highlights were Elrond and the Dwarves. In terms of acting, Joseph Mawle as Adar was good, as was the guy playing Pharazôn. 

The part that bothered me the most was that the writing strongly implied that Númenor was an isolationist kingdom, not a colonial empire. Once again, this is not ah well we need to fill in the gaps choice because Tolkien didn't write that much about the Second Age, this is choosing to change something that was clearly established. I suspect, because of the timeline being so condensed, that all that may still happen - the slavery, the blood rituals - put will be put squarely on Pharazôn.

So it looks like this season will mostly boil down to a major showdown in the Southlands, between Númenor, the people of the soon to be Mordor region, and the Orcs led by Adar, with a possible appearance from the Stranger and his Harfoot companions. The Orcs will likely be defeated in the field, tactically, but Sauron will be revealed as the real winner.

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4 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

This episode had some brief action scenes, and the one that could have been the best and most dramatic was given the slow motion treatment with music blaring in the background. sigh

The music prepared me for someone to die, so the scene was even more stupid, because they just escape into the sun.

4 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

The part that bothered me the most was that the writing strongly implied that Númenor was an isolationist kingdom, not a colonial empire. Once again, this is not ah well we need to fill in the gaps choice because Tolkien didn't write that much about the Second Age, this is choosing to change something that was clearly established. I suspect, because of the timeline being so condensed, that all that may still happen - the slavery, the blood rituals - put will be put squarely on Pharazôn.

Yes. The preview for next episode has him proclaiming that the elves will be serving them, now. 

4 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

So it looks like this season will mostly boil down to a major showdown in the Southlands, between Númenor, the people of the soon to be Mordor region, and the Orcs led by Adar, with a possible appearance from the Stranger and his Harfoot companions. The Orcs will likely be defeated in the field, tactically, but Sauron will be revealed as the real winner.

Yes, seems to be the way this will go. I suspect Annatar will be ensconced in Erigion by season end, providing Galadriel with a phyrric victory.

Doesn't make too much sense they already know Mordor will be his base, though. 

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

The Southlands stuff is starting to kick into gear and its's better than in the first few episodes. More lore callbacks, although Adar immediately knowing where in Beleriand whatshisface is from is a bit odd. Beleriand was the size of western Europe and home to many rivers.

Yes, they are expanding some regions, swapping out names of cities with regions, and shrinking some areas as well. Even I was surprised that Adar knew exactly where Arondir was from the instant he said Beleriand. 

I liked Miriel and Galadriel teaming up, as well as them showing Isildur's family. It is nice to see the personal lives of those people that inspired the statues at Argonath. 

Then it was really cool that Durin gave Elrond a chunk of Mithril, maybe this will be used to make Nenya. 

The old guy saying the falling star was a sign of Sauron can be interpreted in two ways, either it directly means Meteor Man is Sauron, or that whoever Meteor Man is is tasked with combating Sauron (Gandalf). Will be a bit disappointing if Adar turns out to be Sauron though, but seems to me right now that this is the case. 

I didn't get what the Dwarves and Elves were constructing at Eregion, a fancy new forge?

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