Review: Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, "Adar" | Season 1, Episode 3
Amazon's prequel finds its heroine in the world of Men
Okay, so here’s where things get real. The Lord of the Rings: the Rings of Power’s first two episodes worked well enough, but it can be difficult to judge the premiere of a new series, especially one that’s dependent on a pre-existing fandom. I’m not a Tolkein die-hard (as the many, many comments on last week’s review demonstrated–love you all, you are nerds), but I still have considerable fondness for both the books and Jackson’s original trilogy, and just hearing some familiar music, recognizing the names, getting that whole vibe back, was enough to carry me for a couple of hours. My critical brain didn’t turn off, but my curiosity kept me from being able to concentrate for longer than “oh neat,” and I don’t even feel particularly bad about it. That’s how spin-offs and prequels are supposed to work, at least at the start; they jump past the ever difficult problem of attracting audience attention by offering them what they already know they like in a slightly different package.
Now we’re at episode three, though, and while the “oh neat” factor hasn’t worn off its welcome completely (and likely never will), its diminished enough that it’s possible to see the actual show inside of it. “Adar” likely won’t sell anyone who was put off by the premiere, but it’s absolutely a step in the right direction, taking us into the world of men and all that comes with it, while finding time to check in on Arundir, the Elf we last saw getting grabbed in a Tunnel of Evil, and Nori, her Stranger, and the rest of the Harfoots. The season is still in rising action mode, leaning into foreshadowing about the shadow that looms over the land, but the hour (and change) also makes space for decent character work and the now-expected gorgeous imagery. Oh, and it even has some kick-ass action sequences, if you’re into that sort of thing.