Critiquing a series like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power after just two episodes is not an easy task.
Prime Video shared two episodes with critics. These episodes kickstart the franchise’s foray onto the small screen. For the most part, they’re set up for upcoming episodes.
That’s not bad, but seeing so little of what the series has to offer without much in the form of payoff makes you wonder what’s on tap for the future and, more importantly, how it will be handled.
The story takes us to the Second Age of Middle-earth, which effectively gives us a clear canvas that begins to fill up quickly with storylines.
It also makes the series a decent entry point for viewers unfamiliar with the franchise.
There is plenty of exposition off the bat, but there’s also enough action and intrigue that will keep you glued to the screen.
The cast is impeccable, with Morfydd Clark emerging as a scene-stealer in the role of Galadriel.
Utilizing such a pivotal character from the novels and the movies is a risky choice, but Clark is perfect as this younger version of the character we’ve met before.
Undoubtedly, people will be wowed by the production values. When the series was announced, reports were everywhere that it would be the most expensive TV series ever.
The live-action Lord of the Rings fare has been synonymous with beautiful cinematography, which is prevalent in the transition to the small screen.
It truly is a spectacle, and you can tell that much of the budget has been spent on making the series look a cut above everything else in the TV landscape.
It’s not uncommon for fantasy dramas to begin with a much lower budget before they prove worthy of better sets and more money.
Here, Prime Video pumps a lot of money into the product from the jump to deliver on its promise to take viewers back to Middle Earth.
The sheer scale of the storylines means plenty is going on that will keep people interested, but by the end of the second episode, I needed a break to process all of the happenings.
There has been much debate about whether a weekly or a binge release would work, but the beauty of such a meaty plot is that fans will theorize the moment episodes drop until the next is released.
The true test for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will be in whether the payoff is satisfying.
We don’t meet all of the key players in the opening episodes, and it’s tricky to balance a wealth of plots to appease viewers.
The series has all the makings of a hit. It carves its own path, tells new stories, and looks great in the process.
What more could you want?
Fans of fantasy dramas are spoiled for choice this year, and I’ve seen plenty of comparisons to House of the Dragon.
These shows could not be more different, and comparing them to each other is a disservice to their cast and creatives.
Will you watch The Rings of Power?
Check out the official trailer below.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.