Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead!
For Rings of Power’s seventh and penultimate episode, “The Eye,” to stoop even lower than my already low expectations is impressive, if incredibly depressing. I don’t envy the job of any writer tasked with wrapping up all of this terrible show’s flimsy loose ends, but my sympathies quickly ran dry as the inconsistencies of this episode kept piling up, creating a brutally maddening viewing experience.
In the wake of Mount Doom’s climactic eruption at the end of the last episode, “The Eye” opens in what remains of the Southlands. Now turned into a ruin of ash and smoke, the triumph of Adar’s armies weighs heavy on Galadriel as she fully takes in the extent of the Orcs’ cruelty and heartlessness— and possibly that of her own. A sharp cut to the Harfoots storyline quickly and effectively kills any tension that Rings of Power has worked so hard to build up as the show’s pacing comes once again to a grounding halt. Even putting aside the somniferous effect of most of the Harfoots’ scenes, their presence has never felt more out of place than when juxtaposed with the hellish landscape we see in the Southlands. Flip-flopping between the gory scenes of burned and severed bodies to jolly Harfoot singing and apple-picking isn’t interesting or profound—it only further highlights just how glaringly irrelevant the Harfoot storyline feels contrasted with the rest of the series’s tone and plot, which is significantly darker and more somber. Indeed, the Harfoots’ and the Númenóreans’ respective stories feel cut from two different shows entirely—ones with entirely different premises and intended for entirely different audiences.
For the entirety of the season so far, the Harfoots plotline has advanced at an excruciatingly slow pace and provided shockingly little in terms of plot. Just as major events finally begin to unfold in this episode, our patience is rewarded by an inane and schmaltzy speech from Nori’s father Largo about the loyalty of Harfoots— a rich statement coming from the man whose whole family was about to be abandoned by his people over a sprained ankle. This lazy, easily preventable mistake follows a trend of intensely poor and distracting writing decisions—ranging from the illogical to the infuriating—that should be unforgivable in a show with this kind of scale and budget. Galadriel and Theo are somehow separated from the Númenóreans and leave countless wounded villagers to their painful demise—all so that they can have some contrived bonding time in the woods. Míriel uses her father’s Adûnaic name rather than his Quenya name while pronouncing her oath, which she would never do as a Follower of the Eldar surrounded by fellow Faithful. Halbrand, heavily wounded and just short of dying, is somehow still able to ride a horse all the way to Eregion. The cheesy way the writers literally spell out “Mordor” onscreen after the Orcs establish their claim over the Southlands broke any bit of immersion I could muster during the episode. All of these are errors of the most elementary level, and to try to justify any of them is giving the screenwriters far too much credit.
Let us now address the elephant in the room. As if in direct response to my—and many others fans’—frustrations with Rings of Powers’s apparent attempt to romantically pair up Galadriel and Halbrand, Galadriel unceremoniously reveals to Theo that she believes her husband Celeborn is… dead? The fact that up until now Galadriel has never even uttered his name—let alone in the context of her grand revenge quest—only to then reminisce about him with some random child is downright comical. While Celeborn is most definitely due to return in a future season, the mere fact that Galadriel presumes that her husband is dead without any conclusive proof is odd, especially after telling Theo earlier in the same episode to not assume that Bronwyn has died— which we all knew is not the case, considering that this show’s main characters all have a serious case of plot armour.
Lloyd Owen’s performance as Elendil is one of “The Eye”’s few saving graces. In an episode laden with grief and loss, his striking reaction to the death of his son is the only part which proves to be genuinely moving. Equally strong are the performances of Elrond, Durin, and Disa, as they continue to carry the show’s most emotionally hard-hitting storyline, even though the mithril Macguffin remains one of Rings of Power’s most unconvincing and blasphemous contrivances. The ending teases an appearance from a Balrog, awoken from the depths of the mines of Khazad-dûm— a premature revelation which left me feeling totally numb.
The fact that there is but a single episode left in this disastrous season is perhaps the one truly good thing to come out of “The Eye.” Even as a longtime skeptic of the show, I could have never foreseen just how shamelessly Amazon’s Rings of Power has exploited Tolkien’s writings and fans—all to produce what is largely a mediocre, factory-made fantasy show. Even all of Amazon’s money can not save Rings of Power if little to no care is given to its most fundamental elements: its writing and storytelling. It has never felt worse to have been proven right.
Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the latest episode of Rings of Power! Look out for coverage of the upcoming season finale.