Blind Watch: The Rings of Power; Episode 5, Partings
“Name it. I beg you. See? You were right to watch us, because we are destined for the darkness. It’s how we survive. Perhaps, it’s who we are. Who we will always be.“
Welcome back to another Blind Watch! We’re back for episode 5, “Partings.” Partings indeed! This episode was the showrunners doing their best to make an action show and divert from the core material. The characters are all the same, but the events and the characters are entirely different from the books. Not that this is a bad thing. The show is still beautiful and entertaining, and it is just quickly becoming a very highly funded fantasy show, instead of a Tolkien based show.
Let’s dig into it, shall we?
They follow three main storylines in this episode; The Númenóreans, the Southlanders, and the Dwarves mining Mithril.
I want to start with the story about the Southlanders because this is the one storyline that is not rooted in the source material. So why would I cover it, then? Specifically for two reasons. The first is the “key” hilt which Theo found. I still think this is Gurthang, Turin Turambar’s sword, which makes sense because there is a good possibility that these Southlanders could be descendants of Turin, but the question is, why would Adar want it?
Adar is the Elven commander of the Orcs, and Adar is Elvish for “father.” During the First Age in the fight against Morgoth, many Elves were taken captive and endlessly tortured by Morgoth. The first Orcs were Elves corrupted by Morgoth so entirely that they turned into these creatures. Many Elves who didn’t turn became thralls of the Dark Lord. I speculate that Adar is one of the first thralls of Morgoth and assisted the Dark Lord in transitioning his kindred into Orcs. Thus he is named Adar, Father of the Orcs.
Gurthang was responsible for the death of many high-ranking generals in Morgoth’s army, so what better retribution than using their ancestors’ weapons to conquer the Southlandlers?
From there, let’s move across Middle-earth to the Misty Mountains. Or rather the Mines of Moria beneath those mountains. This storyline is probably what defenders of Tolkien are the angriest about (at least so far as I have read).
Mithril was already a known commodity by this time in history (in fact, they even found it on Númenor), so the discovery and hiding of it in the show seem strange; despite that, it makes for an entertaining storyline. Where the showrunners are following is that the Elves and Dwarves entered a partnership toward the end of the Second Age, and they made the Rings of Power together (with influence from Sauron) using Mithril. Celebrimbor even built the Gates of Moria (where the Fellowship enters Moria during “The Fellowship of the Rings.” That’s why they need an Elvish word for Friend to enter a Dwarven mine) and infused Mithril into runes to lock and protect the mines from intruders.
The Dwarves and Elves didn’t have the most fantastic relations, so how they portray them is fine. Still, Gil-Galad, the Elvish King, was a great hero in The Silmarillion. He was the one who brought everyone together to fight against Sauron in the Last Alliance (The big battle in the prologue to the movie where Sauron is defeated). Unfortunately, the show makes it seem like Gil-Galad has some mysterious or devious ulterior motive.
Don’t see what I’m saying? Well, he tells Elrond that without Mithril, the Elves will perish. That Mithril is actually from some fantastic story of an unnamed Elf fighting a Balrog on the Misty Mountains, and somehow the light of the Silmaril gets infused into Mithril. The Silmarils are a creation of Fëanor, a fiery Noldor elf who created them from the light of the trees of Valinor (they were the only light in the world before the Sun and the Moon were made). The Silmarils were what caused ALL the great wars in the First Age.
The only problem? That story never took place in Tolkien. In addition, the Elvish light doesn’t begin to diminish until the dawn of the Third Age. So one of two things is happening here, and neither is faithful to the source material. Either Gil-Galad is lying to Elrond about the history to get Mithril to create the Rings of Power (which, if this is the case, I guarantee it is because he has one of the Palantirí and is being corrupted by its visions which Sauron influences), or the showrunners are making him the enemy to elevate Elrond to power.
Lastly, let’s head to the West to Númenor.
As told in Akallabêth (the history of the Second Age and Númenor in The Silmarillion), Ar-Pharazôn forcibly married Queen Miriel to gain power. Once he did so, he became the Nero (meaning the Roman Emperor who played the fiddle while Rome burned) of Númenor.
I’ve already covered that Galadriel never went to Númenor in the source material (so the vision of her being the catalyst for the downfall of Númenor is false). Beyond that, Miriel never sailed to fight for the Southlands. I think the showrunners are doing this to avoid an uncomfortable theme of Pharazôn forcing himself on Miriel, and quite frankly, I’m happy with this decision.
My more significant issue is actually with a single character. Isildur is a spoiled brat in the show. They are making him that way because they want to give him a redemption arc, but it’s just poor writing. Isildur was a young, impressionable man enamored with the history of the world. He trusted his father and the elves so much that he risked his life to save the seed of Nimloth, the descendant of the trees of Valinor (the same Trees the Silmarils were created to emulate).
The redemption arc is not an issue in and of itself, but Hollywood (even though this is Amazon Studios) has the propensity to give a massive angle for all characters. What I miss is having a character (like Legolas or Gimli in the movies) who is just a good character who doesn’t need redemption for what a douchebag they used to be.
I want to highlight these differences in honor of the core material, but I also want to say that I love the show so far. The storylines may be diverging, but the sets and the world-building are spot on for how I imagine everything looking at this time in Middle-earth.
One last thought. The Dwarves delved too deep into the Second Age, looking for Mithril. Instead, they woke a Balrog from the First Age, and that Balrog destroyed Khazad-Dûm. What does that mean? We’re going to see a Balrog soon!
Join me next week as we dive back into the source material and cover the first portion of “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.”