Home Television Recaps ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ – ‘Shadow of the Past’ – Review
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ – ‘Shadow of the Past’ – Review

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ – ‘Shadow of the Past’ – Review


As the year’s biggest streaming release Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has garnered much attention and intrigue from long-time fans and casual viewers alike. Now streamers get their chance to witness this colossal series, and the scale and scope of this show are sure to enchant and surprise.

In the midst of the Second Age of Middle Earth, mighty battles are fought and new empires are forged as evil once thought destroyed shows its mark and a group of varied characters, both heroic and ordinary, make their first steps in a larger journey.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has enchanted audiences the world over with its thrilling tale of good versus evil, and its story is regarded as one of the greatest pieces of narrative ever crafted. While we are familiar with Frodo Baggins’s journey to destroy the one ring in the fires of Mount Doom, this was only a part of Tolkien’s great Legendarium as he termed it, and many more stories exist to be told in Middle Earth. This is where Prime Video takes us in what is the most epic undertaking of modern television history with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. And no expense has been spared in bringing this new story to life. In The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power we journey to Tolkien’s Second Age, and are witness to an entirely different Middle Earth where a new journey now awaits.

Under the stewardship of showrunners J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay, alongside the direction of J. A. Bayona, Episode One of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, ‘Shadow of the Past’ is brought to life. And it is a monumental epic. Without leaning into spoilers, the world-building of this first episode is towering and immense. With a monumental scale, audiences are transported to the mighty citadel of Lindon, capital of the Elves, along with finding themselves on the lush wildlands of Rhovanion and the rugged and hardy lands of The Southlands, the realm of Men, and all of these locations, and their vast architecture, set dressing, populace and artistry transport audiences back to the realm of Middle Earth. The series creators have worked to bring a lived-in texture and feel to Tolkien’s world and there is much to enchant the eyes of its audience.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a truly colossal vision, and this is a streaming series on a whole other level. Its 17-minute introductory chapter sets the stage for what is to come, and the action, drama and intensity are dialled up as we are introduced to the series’ central character Galadriel, a young elf who has devoted herself to the art of the sword for centuries and who is far away from the elder stateswoman that she will one day become. It is Welsh actress Morfydd Clark who has the responsibility of bringing the Lady of Light to full-bodied life in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and she brings an entirely new spirit and motivation to this character that audiences will find captivating and unexpected. Clark’s Galadriel is the frame from which this story will grow and her presence leads much into the exposition that the series will follow.

While we’ve known for some time about the large and varied cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Episode One, ‘Shadow of the Past’ introduces us to this first group of characters who help to build out its first chapter. We meet a young and untested Elrond, played by Robert Aramayo, who although a talented architect and would-be politician is trying to find his place in the capital of Lindon and who acts as a reflection to Clark’s Galadriel. To the South we meet the inquisitive and adventurous Harfoot, Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot, played by Markella Kavenagh whose spirit yearns for something more, along with Ismael Cruz Córdova’s Arondir; a stoic warrior Silvan Elf who shares a complicated and hidden love for the mortal woman Bronwyn played by Nazanin Boniadi, a healer, who longs to reciprocate his closed-off love.

It is through these juxtaposing stories of these first characters that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power begins to build out, and even with their differences we begin to see connectivity at work. Payne and McKay, with the assistance of Bayona, are planting the seeds of this story and it is something brand new and different. Delving into Tolkien’s gigantic lore they are able to find new paths and routes to the heart of the story of The Lord of the Rings than we previously knew about, and the foundation is being built in this first episode. Each of these characters is possessed by a yearning for adventure, and forces, both evil and mysterious, find their way into their paths thus we have the start of a grand new mythos.

‘Shadow of the Past’ is but the start of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and what we have with this episode is the set-up for what is to come. It creates the intrigue and that first beat of this new series and ends with one hell of a bang. The first step towards adventure has been made, and it’s time to follow the untrod path forward into a new Middle Earth.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power streams on Prime Video.

Image: Prime Video