The Rings Of Power: Woke Garbage Or Regular Trash?

Written By Daniel Bordman, Posted on September 5, 2022

Amazon’s Billion dollar Rings of Power set in J R Tolkien’s universe has released its first two episodes, and it is terrible. The only interesting question is why. Is this plane hubris of mega cooperation lazily adapting a classic IP, or is this a flash point in the culture war where we are getting Ibrahim X Kendi’s Lord of the Rings? 

Spoilers for the first two episodes ahead.

First I will say what is good about the show: it looks nice. Some shots look very expensive and at least some of the VFX people hired were worth the money. That is it.

The story, which is by far the most important aspect of any TV show or movie, can best be described as a “slow burn”. Really it’s just boring, as a quarter of the way into season 1 and nothing important has happened so far. 

(Photo from Amazon)

Arguably the second most important aspect of a show is the writing, and this is by far the weakest aspect of the Rings of Power so far. The most common axiom in script writing is “show don’t tell”, and a conservative estimate would be that over 50% of the dialogue so far flagrantly violates this rule. 

One example that stood out to me, since it actually caused me to laugh out loud while alone in my apartment was during a scene with Galadriel and Elrond standing in a memorial hall to fallen elf warriors that actually looked quite nice, again the strong part of the show. The hall is filled with these trees where the likeness of fallen elves is grown into the trees like humans would do statues.  But part way through Elrond literally states to Galadriel something along the lines of “do you want more elves to end up in this hall where their likeness is grown into living things”. Any reasonable audience member already picked that up, and why would in-world Elrond feel the need to state that to Galadriel who also knew that?

Almost all of the dialogue is either exposition dumps, characters outright declaring their motivations, or people stating plot points which means that their characters are all flat. It is obvious which ones the writers want you to like and dislike and there doesn’t seem to be much grey area incoming.

For me and many other fans of the fantasy genre, we want to know how such a popular property with so much money behind it put out a product of such poor quality. The obvious culprit most people will point to is Woke nonsense. 

There is some evidence to this claim, but not everything is bad because of wokeness. For example, the two showrunners, JD Payne and Patrick McKay are to steal some woke terminology “mediocre white men”. Their previous major experience was a writing credit on the third Star Trek reboot film, and if you did not see that movie, all you need to know is that the third Star Trek is the reason there wasn’t a fourth one.

It is highly likely that Payne and McKay are legitimate Lord of the Rings fans. It is doubtful that their master plan was to swindle Amazon into providing them the means to create a show in Tolkien’s universe, so they can throw out all of the established lore and make 5 seasons of a satanic Rings of Power show that when played in succession will summon a 500 foot tall Robin Deangelo to come and lecture the world on intersectional feminism.

If there is any evidence of wokeness destroying the series it is in the main character Galadriel. This is not the same Galadriel from the Peter Jackson trilogy, the beautiful, ethereal elf queen of the forest who rules with wisdom beside her husband Celeborn. 

This Galadriel is completely different. She is a strong-headed warrior on a revenge quest against Sauron, no husband like she had in the books and she is all brash and no tact. 

(Photo from Culture Slate).

The general problem with woke media is not that there are more women or minorities, it is that when they do appear they are so uninteresting since they have zero flaws and don’t require any personal growth to accomplish their goal. This seems to be the destiny of Rings of Power Galadriel.

In one of the first few scenes, Galadriel is leading her forces through a frozen wasteland and a member of her company collapses, at which point we learn that Galadriel is a terrible commander with no regard for the lives of her troops, a sin even worse in this universe as elves are functionally immortal. There is then some more lazy dialogue before a terrible fight scene where Galadriel single-handedly takes out a troll after lazily watching the rest of her company get kicked around in a fight which makes the 1960s Batman look like John Wick.

In a normal show written by competent writers, this series of events would indicate that Galadriel is a callous villain or at least has a long way to go before being seen as a hero, but a good amount of heavy-handed exposition dialogue lets us know that Galadriel is absolutely right about everything and a total ‘Girlboss’.

It gets to the point where at the end of episode one she literally has a plan to swim the entire length of an ocean, equivalent to the Atlantic ocean, wielding a dagger. Really.

With six episodes left in the season, it is possible that the show could redeem itself. It is also possible that things could get a lot worse as the show’s world expands and the on-screen political machinations open up possibilities for heavy-handed injections of modern politics.

Perhaps an even more interesting question surrounding the Rings of Power is what will happen if it fails? Will Hollywood finally learn that if they go woke they go broke? Will the mainstream media lead a denial-fueled rage against the fanbase that shunned them? Or will we see something new come of all this? Only time will tell

Daniel Bordman

Daniel is the host of political satire show Uninterrupted, runs multiple podcasts and has written for a variety of publications. Daniel is also the communications coordinator of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation. You can find him on Twitter here. Uninterrupted on YouTube

9 responses to “The Rings Of Power: Woke Garbage Or Regular Trash?”

  1. j says:

    Bad acting and worse writing…but it looks good.

  2. R says:

    Tolkien LITERALLY made up a whole entire language for the elven folk. The characteristics were described as being fair of hair and skin (fair being not heavily imbued with coloration). Show is woke because Puerto Rican and Black elves – Asian would have been closer to the description (almond eyes as some elves have been described as having in other works), but there are no Asian actors playing these roles.
    Not that it mattered as much, but sure enough in Episode 3, a BLACK Queen of Numenor. Sure, there may not have been a lot of emphasis on the description about the men of Numenor (nothing I can recall offhand, and not going looking for) but just adding that in screams woke. Does it matter she’s Black? No. Is her role so pivotal to the story the coloration of her skin matters? No, again.
    Does adding a ‘Strong, Black Woman’s Voice’ arbitrarily whenever it can be shoe-horned in, in conjunction with all the areas where the racial profile was DEFINITIVELY identified, scream of woke-isms? You bet it does.
    The lack of actual ‘color diversity’ specifically written into the original works may be to blame (I mean we have green orcs, vertically challenged and overly hairy dwarves, short people hobbits with no concept of body shaming despite their desire to eat and eat and eat…and FAIR SKINNED elves that are taller than most men-folk) but then again, what definition of ‘inclusive’ are we referring to?
    Woke mob definition it seems. That’s the one where ‘if it’s White, it can’t be right – change it’.
    I’m still waiting for the fantasy based stories of Africa to be adapted to the screen, where a non-Black actor is cast in a role – just to see if the reception is taken to (or defended) as warmly…..
    I just hope it isn’t filled with pointless scenes, poorly written/disjointed plot and dialogue…..

  3. Buggerlugz says:

    Woke Garbage Or Regular Trash?

    A bit of both really. It appears to me that the showrunners were given cart-blanch to do whatever they wanted, and in doing so totally obliterated the works of Tolkien. The writing, acting and production is utterly dire in every respect, the lack of character development and insistency to verbally say what they’re doing drives me insane too. Now I wouldn’t have gone with the "Woke garbage" sentiment if it wasn’t for the media and press harping on about anyone disliking "The rings of power" is just being a racist. So now we’re not allowed to say something is crap because its got people of colour in? Well, its crap. 2 episodes in, I’m done.

    Why "the most expensive tv show ever made" couldn’t afford Peter Jackson is beyond me. It would have been at least watchable then.

  4. Lindsay Haisley says:

    Having read just about everything J.R.R. Tolkien wrote during his life, or having had it read to me as a child in 1951, I’m pretty familiar with his fantasy world, his writing style, and his characters. Tolkien didn’t bother a great deal with "character development" in many cases, but did a great job of providing a fantasy tableau with LOTS of hooks for sub plots and satellite stories. Having seen episode 3 of season 1, I went back and reviewed Section I of Appendix A in "The Return of the King" (the book) on the history of Númenor, and I’m impressed at how the authors of "Rings of Power" hewed (mostly!) very close to Tolkien’s mythology – with the glaring exception of Galadriel, whose portrayal as a warrior-queen in the series is vastly different from her role in Tolkien’s tale as the guardian of the protected realm of Lórien, the fairest realm of the Elves remaining in Middle-earth during the Third Age. If you saw the Peter Jackson series of feature films, do yourself a favor and go back and read the books. Tolkien’s writing style is very unique, almost biblical in tone – not exactly the stuff of most TV shows, but the Amazon folks gave it a good shot.

    As far as the series being "woke", get over it! The amazing Doctor Who series had actors of color, interracial relationships, and even a Black queen of England in one episode – and I heard nary a whinge from Doctor Who fans! The dialog and character development isn’t great in "Rings of Power", but these were never Tolkien’s strong suit either. But it’s a rollicking good adventure story, at least as good as some of the crazy B-movies that come out of Hollywood these days, so sit back and enjoy it. The visuals are very Tolkien-esque, with huge statues hewn into rock cliffs (a la Mount Rushmore) and ultra-nasty looking orcs who haven’t been to see a dentist in at least a century. It’s ENTERTAINMENT. If you aren’t entertained, just change the channel.

  5. Daniel says:

    Woke trash. As I expected. I did try to push through the boring Mary Sue dialogue. Then comes dun dun dun… the forced Black Queen. Next let’s makes a white MalcomX movie

  6. wolff bachner says:

    Now explain how Galadriel survives a pyroclastic flow in episode six. ROP has the worst writing in the history of entertainment, and is atrocious fan fiction, at best. It absolutely craps on Tolkien’s legendarium. And, don’t presume to tell me I don’t know what I am talking about, as I have read LOTR and The Hobbit twice a year since 1965, read all of the Christopher Tolkien-edited books of his father’s work multiple times, read all of Tolkien’s scholarly works, and written extensively about Tolkien’s legendarium. I love and know the lore, and I was actually hoping ROP would be excellent, which is is not. The elves in ROP bear not even the slightest resemblance to Tolkien’s elves; Galadriel is entirely unlikeable and smug; Durin has been turned into a comic-relief character with daddy issues, and the Harfoots are homicidal creeps who want to remove the wheels from a disabled Harfoot’s cart and leave the family to die. In Tolkien’s works, Numenorean men were around seven feet tall, and Elendal was almost eight feet tall; Mount Doom was created by Morgoth centuries before the time of the show, not by pouring water into a pool of lava, and on and on and on. ROP is just awful. It has nothing to do with the world Tolkien created, and if the people responsible for ROP had any shame, they would take Tolkien’s name off of this ridiculous travesty.

  7. TS says:

    This show is just utter trash. Completely dimwitted plot, the typical American „poor decent people against the oppressive world“ nonsense and diversity and wokeness galore to completely oversalt it. Then there’s the mediocre scale. Some 200? Numenoreans have nothing better to do than to ride to the aid of a little village literally consisting of 6 huts which are to represent the „people of the southlands“. Really? That’s it? Where’s the epic in the supposedly most expensive show ever? Absolutely ridiculous. The costumes? Everyhing looks like plastic (except if it is a completely rigid wooden armour -.-) and completely non-functional. Not to start with the animations. An early 2000s LOTR did. them a thousand times better. Here it looks like a complete trash movie.
    Oh and sorry. Spoiler alert.

  8. JJ Morningstar says:

    I tried watching it – woke garbage
    Or just garbage doesn’t matter – it sucked too much to watch. After she fought the troll
    It was so corny I switched to a Netflix show.

  9. Br says:

    I hope fhey cancel it. When i found out Sauron was human i saw red. The one ring has Elvish writing on it. They disrespected Tolkien in many ways. But here is a thought that makes this even more cringey, what if Middle Earth is lost history of Earth, the planet we live on? Not only does that make the disreguard for the lore sloppy, it makes it unforgiveable.