The Rings of Power
Last night, I finished the second episode of The Rings of Power, a new Amazon Prime show based on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s a prequel to The Lord of the Rings and I’ve been waiting all summer to watch it. Episode 4 comes out on Friday so I’m scurrying to catch up and avoid any spoilers that proliferate as people discuss the show on the internet. So if you haven’t watched and you plan to, click away!
Both of the first episodes have quotes that I loved.
Episode 1: Finrod tells Galadriel,
“Do you know why a ship floats and a stone cannot? Because the stone sees only downward. The darkness of the water is vast and irresistible. The ship feels the darkness as well striving, moment by moment, to master her and pull her under. The ship has a secret. For unlike the stone her gaze is not downward but up—fixed upon the light that guides her; whispering of grander things than darkness ever knew.”
It doesn’t like much scrutiny to realize that most of us feel darkness, both our own and that in the world, striving to master and submerge us. The aim is to keep our eye on the light, to remember God’s story about the world is far greater than any other story we might be tempted to believe about the world.
Episode 2: Disa tells Elrond,
“A mountain’s like a person. It’s a long and ever changing story made up of countless small parts.”
She also describes how the dwarves have learned to sing to the mountain and the mountain reflects back the song, revealing what is contained inside.
I love this description of a person. It captures the dynamic and manifold nature of a person’s humanity. We aren’t one dimension, regardless of what social media might like us to believe. We are ever changing, hopefully growing and maturing toward our true humanity. And it takes great care and skill and practice to “sing” to others in a way that honors their true substance. God practices that first with us.
I don’t want to overly-theologize about the show, though I don’t apologize for it either. Tolkien’s faith was crucial in his creation of Middle-Earth, though that might or might not be true for the writers of this show. Regardless, both of these quotes left me contemplating the true nature of things. That’s what good art does: it reveals something true about the world without preaching. It’s easier to see and consider and remember.
Galadriel’s story-line has seemed slow. Besides a few opening scenes in the first episode, she has spent most of her limited time in the story on and in the water. I’m eager to see how the plot develops.
There are many competing storylines. As I watched episode 2 last night, I actually found myself rehearsing the different ones—Harfoots, Arondir and Bronwyn, Elrond, and Galadriel—to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any.
The Harfoots were unexpected (and I’m not great at Tolkien lore but I immediately assumed they were ancient Hobbits. I was right.) I love their simple and homey way of life, but especially Nori’s insatiable curiosity about the world.
Say what I might about Galadriel’s storyline, I love the potential of her character. Her determination and devotion to duty, as well as her obsession with her quest, speak to my soul.
I LOVED seeing how beautiful the Khazad-Dum was in a height of glory. The Elven cities are glorious, almost painful actually. It is a visually satisfying show. I’m also concerned about Bronwyn’s son Theo. I’ve wanted to intervene with him every time he’s on the screen.
I’m hoping to wrap up episode 3 either tonight or tomorrow before episode 4 releases on Friday. I’m not great at watching tv, ask my husband. Three+ hours of tv in a week is a lot for me, but I’m thoroughly enjoying being back in Middle-Earth watching a mystery unfold. Here’s hoping they do the story justice.
My friend Breanne is writing about the series as well and she does know her Tolkien lore. I’ve only read her recap of Episodes 1 & 2 but I’ll be checking out her thoughts on Episode 3 as soon as I have finished it.