The Rings of Power Needs to Cool It With the Death Fakeouts

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of The Rings of Power.The Rings of Power has started to develop a worrying habit over the course of his first season. During the worst moments of its first massive fight sequence in “Udûn” and following the eruption of Mount Doom, which plays out over “The Eye,” the show faked the deaths of several key characters, only to reveal they were beautiful moments later . This tactic is most often used to cheaply provoke an emotional response from the audience without committing to changing the status quo by killing a character, but in doing so it threatens to undermine the narrative and emotional engagement of the entire story . if The Rings of Power If this trend continues of pretending to kill its characters in future seasons, it will seriously affect the audience’s emotional involvement in the story.


The Eye was the worst offender between those two episodes, and over its run slowly revealed which characters survived the outbreak (which turned out to be most of them), focusing primarily on two groups: Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), separated from the other and evasive orcs in the ash-covered forest, and the surviving Númenóreans led by Elendil (Lloyd Owen) and Miriel (Cynthia Addai Robinson) back to their camp. This structure means that the fates of several main characters are up in the air for much of the episode until Galadriel and Theo arrive at camp to search for them. What follows is a series of scenes waiting to be revealed if Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordoba) and half border (Charlie Vickers) are alive for a few minutes.

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Theo first searches for Bronwyn in the hospital tent, first mistaking another woman for his mother, before his gaze falls on a body mostly covered by a blanket with long dark hair spilling out from under it. Theo almost uncovers his face from under the covers before Bronwyn and Arondir appear behind him and there is a happy reunion. Shortly thereafter, Bronwyn takes Galadriel to speak with Míriel and Elendil, and during this conversation she mentions Halbrand, vaguely asking if “nobody informed [Galadriel]’ of what had happened to him. As we cut to another medical tent as Galadriel walks in, the camera keeps Halbrand out of view until the last possible second, fueling the idea that Galadriel might be looking at her friend’s corpse instead of his lying hurt in bed.

While each of these scenes could work in isolation, their proximity to each other makes the emotional manipulation all the more obvious. Each scene is based on the idea that they might actually kill these characters, who are all original characters created for the show and are not destined by canon destiny to appear later in the series The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, making the threat feel like it actually carries some weight. Until of course they go back with Bronwyn and Arondir and minutes later try to do the same trick a second time with half border. This ruse may work well the first time, but once it’s revealed that the writers are pretending to kill characters they don’t intend to kill, all future character deaths lose their emotional teeth. Why would audiences emotionally invest in future character deaths when there’s plenty of precedent to suggest the writers will take it back any time soon?

These two scenes are also toned down by the fact that the show had pulled this trick twice before. At the beginning of “The Eye” is Isildur (Maxim Baldri) is seemingly trapped in a burning building while trying to save the people inside. After that point, the show treats him as if he were dead. This is obviously absurd – even casual viewers know that Isildur must survive until the end of the War of the Last Alliance and refuse to throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom throw. but The Rings of Power holds on to his guns as the character is still presumed dead by the end of the season, one of the few deaths of a character not to be pushed back, although audiences know it inevitably will be. Which undermines the emotional impact of his supposed death for anyone with any clue of what’s to come.

The other instance of an earlier death illusion occurred earlier, at the height of the battle between the Southlanders and Adars (Joseph Maulle) Orcs in “Udûn” when Bronwyn hits an arrow in the shoulder while the southerners race for the safety of their fortified tavern. By the time she is brought in and placed on a table to be attended to, blood is dripping from her onto the floor below. In one of the series’ most visceral scenes, Arondir and Theo are forced to quickly remove the arrow and cauterize the wound. Once they’re done, Bronwyn falls silent, and for over thirty seconds we watch as Theo tearfully tells his mother to wake up before she finally does.

Both instances of The Rings of Power A feint to kill Bronwyn feels remarkably similar to the infamous “Women in Fridges” where a woman is killed for a man’s motivation or development. The only difference is that Bronwyn isn’t actually dead in either case, but does that make it any better? By not killing her The Rings of Power is able to effectively “chill” her several times in scenes that focus more on Theo’s emotional response to the potential loss of his mother than her own experiences. In “Udûn” we don’t see her grappling with her failure to save her people because she’s too busy bleeding out, and when she’s better the Númenóreans have arrived to save the day. In The Eye, we don’t spend time with her as she overcomes the uncertainty of not knowing if her son is alive after the outbreak as she tries to help those around her. Each apparent death is more about Theo than her, and if she had actually died in both cases it would have been a textbook example of the “women in the fridge”.

As The Rings of Power continues, should it stop relying on the cheap emotion of its death fakes. Instead, it should focus on the real pathos the series already has, like the wonderful friendship between Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and durine (Owain Arthur) or the now very complicated relationship between Galadriel and Halbrand. One of The Rings of PowerThe greatest strengths of are its characters, both new and old, and it would be better served to treat them with the respect they deserve. This is particularly true in the case of Bronwyn, whose role as a single mother who must guide her people through a time of crisis could become a compelling character in her own right, but only if The Rings of Power stop pretending it will kill them when disaster strikes. The Rings of Power Needs to Cool It With the Death Fakeouts

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