Boring. That is the word to describe the fourth episode of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. And when we are halfway into the first season of a show, that is unforgivable. Especially when it showed promise with its first two episodes that focused on laying the ground and followed up with a third that seemed to start moving the story forward.
By the third episode we had found a Legolas-like elf to root for in Arondir. The ‘who is Adar’ question kept us looking forward to this Friday’s episode. Galadriel made interesting discoveries in Numenor. Elendil and Isildur looked like an interesting addition to the storyline. And it was visual magic. Yay, win!
Nope, no win. Because at the end of the hour-long fourth episode, Adar, who is an elf gone to the dark side (and, if we go by the burnt face, is probably the elf Maeglin from The Silmarillion), has set a perfectly healthy and capable elf like Arondir free to take a message to the Watchtower that the Orcs are coming (duh!). Galadriel is annoyingly naive, bordering on petulant and ends up fighting against being asked to sail to Middle-earth when that was her demand in the first place (duh!). Isildur lets his selfishness destroy the lives of two of his friends and then feels ashamed of his actions (duh!).
But it isn’t just that the character development feels like the Fellowship of the Ring on the Redhorn Pass, i.e., stalled, the story itself seems to be moving at a pace that would make the Ents’ decision-making seem hurried. We know who the characters are by now, can we just get on with it?! It is time for Galadriel to be back in Middle-earth bickering with the Elves and telling them ‘I told you so’, instead of bickering with the Queen Regent of Numenor saying ‘You’d better, or else…’. It did not take two episodes to get the people of Rohan behind the walls of Helm’s Deep and equipped to fight and it's been two episodes and we are still waiting for the Orcs to attack the Watchtower. And we already know that Isildur can hear voices and doesn’t want to become a sea-guard, why did that need to be repeated in another episode? Also why was so much time wasted on Earien, Isildur’s sister, who is not even part of the canon and doesn’t take the story forward in any manner?
The only parts of the episode that were worth the watch were all in Khazad-dum and involved Durin, Disa and Elrond. Elrond is probably the only character who is moving towards becoming the character we saw in The Lord of the Rings. He is diplomatic but not above breaking certain rules to keep ahead. He is kind but firm in his dealings. His equation with Durin really sets the stage for any fallout that might result in the Elves vs Dwarves feud we witnessed in LOTR.
All in all, an extremely disappointing episode which instead of getting us more invested in the characters makes us dislike them more. This feels like exactly what went wrong with The Hobbit series, when a 300-odd page book was stretched into three films, visual magic be damned. We hope the next couple of episodes will be better.