The first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is free to watch on Prime Video. You can see our reviews of the episodes below.

The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings.

The third episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was reviewed.

The fourth episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was reviewed.

The fifth episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was called "partings".

"Udn" is a review of the sixth episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

"The Eye" is a review of the 7th episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was reviewed in the 8th episode.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power faced an enormous struggle in living up to the hype. It needed to satisfy both of the people who have studied J.R. R. Tolkien and also the people who have not seen Middle-earth before. It had to contend with the challenges of building mystery and tension within a prequel while competing for viewers with a new Game of thrones spinoff.

That huge investment paid off. The first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was not flawless, but it was good. J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay may have been too cautious in not revealing the identities of their characters in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but they still produced a show that richly developed both brand-new characters and the long-lived elves and wizards who appear in the trilogy.

The Second Age of Middle-earth is where The Rings of Power is set, though it condenses events that have taken place for thousands of years. The rings don't make their first appearance until the end of the season. The episodes leading up to that reveal allow the writers to show off the world through gorgeous shots of elves, men, and dwarfs. It takes a lot of time to develop the people who live there and show them how to deal with darkness.

The Second Age has many of the same conflicts as the Third and it's difficult for them to acknowledge or respond to larger problems because of their own internal conflict. The story is both timeless and relevant because it draws on the fantasy canon that Tolkien imagined as he lived through World War I.

Characters and locations are sometimes abandoned for entire episodes of a plot. It's a structure that works well at times, like in the action-packed Episode 6 where cutting to something besides the spectacular central battle might've felt odd. Sometimes it feels like reading an epic fantasy novel with multiple narrators and wondering how many chapters you have to get through until your favorite character comes back up again.

It is difficult to make their stakes feel real because they are protected by the plot until they achieve their distant destinies, and it is also difficult to care about the minor characters placed around them just to produce a sense of drama. The low point of the season is episode 4 because the Rings of Power can't overcome those challenges.

Morfydd Clark gives the best performance on the show as Galadriel.

That's right.

Galadriel and Elrond are two of the show's most well-known characters. Both The Lord of the Rings and The Rings of Power provide rich development of their younger selves by using their endpoints as guides. It explores the fury that could have turned Galadriel into a queen and the contrast in Elrond's youth as an ambitious and charming half-elf diplomat.

The best performance on the show was given by Morfydd Clark as Galadriel, a warrior so consumed in her quest to fight an elusive enemy that she become more like him than she would want to admit. Clark embodies the grace and power of the elves even as she struggles with the limits of her own power. In her scenes with Halbrand, a man with a mysterious past she pushes to live up to his potential and at her most terrifying, she demonstrates how far she's willing to go to fight the dark forces. Both actors in turn open up around her like flowers drawn to light, with both of them delivering a romantic chemistry held back by powerful secrets and Joseph Mawle transforming Adar from a generic villain to a far more nuanced character.

The premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power may take a little while to hit its stride, but once it does, it immerses us in a gorgeous fantasy world. The full review can be found here.

The dealings with the dwarfs of Khazad-dm are what defines Robert Aramayo's new-faced version of Elrond. The relationship between Legolas and Gimli in The Lord of the Rings is an example of the odd couple humor of his relationship with Durin. There is a genuine warmth to every scene involving him and Durin that shines through all the makeup Owain Arthur is wearing to play the dwarf lord and it extends into a sweet found family that also includes Durin's clever and charming wife Disa.

When the story shifts away from the big players, original characters can help flesh out the world. The war against Morgoth brought the elves to Middle-earth and provided a counterpoint to the normal fantasy narrative where the best leaders are nobles. The harfoots deliver plenty of comic relief and a portrait of innocence as they do their best to navigate an increasingly dangerous world. Markella Kavenagh is charming as the oddly adventure seeking Nori who takes it upon herself to help him however she can, even though Daniel Weyman doesn't get to do much else besides act addled.

The Lord of the Rings movies are ordered according to Cronological order.

The Rings of Power tried to get around the problem by hiding the identities of their characters. Much of the season is devoted to trying to figure out where Sauron is and what he is up to, and it is a question written to get viewers wondering the same thing. Is he the mysterious stranger who falls out of the sky and is taken in by the harfoots, the dark lord with an army of orcs, the handsome scion of a lost dynasty, or someone else entirely? It isn't surprising that when the final shape of the puzzle is revealed, the pieces don't fit together perfectly.

Many of the mistakes can be forgiven because the show is so good. There are moments of beautiful tenderness, focused on the power of friendship and community. The fight between good and evil is constant, waged with fire, swords, and the hearts of every person when they face the choice between love and hate. Even though The Rings of Power takes liberties with its own course, it feels like it's in the same league as the author.