The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Partings – TV Review

TL;DR – As much as the title describes, this is an episode of crossroads, not all of them good.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.

Harfoots migrate.

The Rings of Power Review

I always knew that The Great Wave would be a hard act to follow. Indeed it would be a hard act to get close to that again. However, I was not expecting this week’s episode to give me pause. Not a significant problem per se. More like when you are walking through a forest, and you stop because you have seen something odd in the corner of your eye, pause. Let us now dive into this week’s episode to explore what I mean.

So to set the scene, we open in on the Harfoots as they begin their long migration north, over mountains, through grasslands, and even some marshes where the dead will lie one day. Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) and her family would have been left behind leagues ago because of their father’s (Dylan Smith) foot and being put in the back of the caravan. However, thanks to the help of The Stranger (Daniel Weyman), who fell from the sky, and much to the annoyance of the rest of the caravan, they have kept up. But in this wood, something stirs, and when there is no food, a couple of Harfoots look like a tasty morsel. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.   

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House of the Dragon: We Light the Way – TV Review

TL;DR – The more we try and break out of King’s Landing, the more the story feels small.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.

Danger in The Vale

House of the Dragon Review

Few phrases carry more weight in the world of Game of Thrones than that of a wedding. Whether it is the Red Wedding or the Purple Wedding, no good has ever come from walking down the aisle in Westeros. The bells are ringing today, so the danger must be near.

So to set the scene, tired of the endless stream of poor suiters, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) took the invitation of her uncle Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) for a night on the town in King’s Landing. This led to calamity when Daemon was publicly seen leading her into a house of ill repute. Now Rhaenyra has no choice over who she marries as  King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) makes his way to Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen’s (Eve Best) home on Driftmark to petition them to allow Rhaenyra to marry their son Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan). But over in The Vale, Prince Daemon has returned to great his lady wife, Rhea Joyce (Rachel Redford), and we see a side of him we knew was there all along. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The Great Wave – TV Review

TL;DR – This is an episode with joy and tears, warmth and horror, action and romance, and warnings for the future

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.

Queen regent Míriel walks towards the sounds of crushing water.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Review

When they announced that Amazon would commission a new Lord of the Rings prequel series, many people [including myself] doubted if they could pull it off. Especially when it was revealed just what they could work with given the limited window their licence gave them. However, as I sit back from watching the fourth episode, it has become clear that those concerns were misplaced because few episodes of televisionthis year have moved me as much as this one did today.

So to set the scene, in Adar, we were introduced to the island kingdom of Númenor. A land was once given to man by the Elves, but a land that Elves are now unwelcome, something that Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) discovers first-hand when she is brought there by Elendil (Lloyd Owen). However, there is something behind Númenor’s reluctance, which haunts the dreams of the queen regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). However, things are going from bad to worse in the Southlands because the orcs have returned and are capturing people to dig their tunnels. Still, as Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) stands in chains, he looks in horror as the leader of the orcs is an elf called Adar (Joseph Mawle). Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.   

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House of the Dragon: King of the Narrow Sea – TV Review

TL;DR – This is the episode of ‘rise and fall’, and several characters get caught in the wake.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.

Rhaenyra looks in frustration.

House of the Dragon Review

Even though House of the Dragon is a prequel to Game of Thrones, with the theme song blaring at the start of every episode, there was the question of how it would work tonally compared with its predecessor. But if there were any questions as to if both shows would be walking down different roads, that was answered today.  

So to set the scene, due to pirates raiding ships in the Stepstones and also a need to prove themselves in the eyes of the people Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) took their dragons and their armies to route out the threat. It was an abysmal failure. However, after receiving word that King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) was going to send his Navy to help save them, Daemon implements a dangerous plan devised by Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan) to draw the pirates out of their caves using himself as bait, and it worked. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.    

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Adar – TV Review

TL;DR – As a show, it continues to balance all the competing stories while being a thrilling ride.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.

Galadriel rides a horse alone the shoreline of Númenor.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Review

When you have a large ensemble cast, it is easy to lose people and whole stories in the cut, where you end up seeing someone on screen and wondering where they came from before. Three episodes in, The Rings of Power might have one of the biggest ensemble casts I have seen for a while, but they always make sure you know the context of every person.

So to set the scene, in Adrift, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) decided to jump off her boat and swim back to Middle Earth, through the Sundering Seas, than leave her quest unfulfilled. Luckily for her, she spots a raft and is helped by Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), but after a storm leaves them asunder, they are rescued by Elendil (Lloyd Owen) and taken to the island kingdom of Númenór. In the Southlands, Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) has been captured by Orcs, but instead of being killed, he is led through covered tunnels full of captured human workers. They dig a tunnel to keep the orcs protected from the bright Sun. Things are bad, but they are worse when Arondir gets to the pit and discovers that all his Elvish companions were also captured before they could return home. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.   

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The Sandman: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a genuinely odd series bouncing from one story to the next with the power of a tsunami, yet somehow it all flows together into a grand gothic fairy-tale.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this series.

Warning – Contains scenes of abuse and scenes that may cause distress.

The Sandman looks into a sunrise.

The Sandman Review

In 2019, I wrote an article on how we entered a New Golden Age of Science Fiction on Television. However, in the last twelve months, we have gotten, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Shadow and Bone, The Wheel of Time, The Witcher, and more. It is such an incredible rise that I think I need to update my article and explore the new Golden Age of Fantasy on TV, and the next entry into this world is the dark gothic fairy-tale set in the modern world.

So to set the scene, humans go about their day in the real world, but every night they dream, but for some reason, they feel that The Dreaming realm is somehow less natural just because it is filled with dreams and nightmares, and they wake up in the ‘real’ world every morning, well most of the time. The Lord of this Realm is Morpheus (Tom Sturridge), one of the seven Endless, powerful beings that shape all forms of reality. In 1916, when one of his nightmares, the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), goes rogue, Morpheus takes a rare trip to the ‘real’ world to take care of the matter personally. However, at that moment, an incompetent aristocratic occultist called Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) delves into spells he does not understand because he wants to capture Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) to bring back his beloved son, who was killed in Gallipoli. Still, he gets Morpheus and binds him under his mansion for 106 years. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.   

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House of the Dragon: Second of His Name – TV Review

TL;DR – We continue our slow build but at a pace that is verging on snail-like, which is odd given it has been about 2-years in-universe since the pilot episode.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.

King Viserys I Targaryen stares at a fire.

House of the Dragon Review

This history of the world, as well as literature, is littered with people doing stupid things that come back to stab them in the back. Indeed, Game of Thrones was famous for this throughout its run. Some chose honour over personal power, and that cost them their lives. Some overplayed their hands and were caught in the snare. Others still acted irrationally and rode themselves into an early grave. In House of the Dragon, we are starting to see some of these patterns rise again, which does not bode well for the little people about to get caught in the crossfire of dragons.   

So to set the scene, while King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) had declared that Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) was to be his new heir over Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), many in the court still wanted him to remarry quick. First, as a way of shoring up the kingdom with a marriage alliance. But also because, as the “Queen Who Never Was”, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) put it, the men would rather burn the kingdom to the ground than put a woman on the throne. While Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) maneuvered to pair the elderly king with his young daughter Laena Velaryon (Nova Foueillis-Mosé). The King stunned the small council and his own daughter when he announced that Rhaenyra’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), would be his next bride. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Adrift – TV Review

TL;DR – We continue to explore this world full of wonders and dangers.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.

Nori looking into the creator.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Review

In the realm of binging tv on streaming services, you can drop them all at once, creating an event weekend, or you can do a weekly realise that feels old-fashioned, but then you can build it up week to week. Or you can follow the Amazon model and employ a hybrid approach where you drop a couple of episodes up-front and create that event feeling while doing the rest week-by-week. This has been a successful model for the streaming service, and it is what we are doing this week with the next episode of The Rings of Power.

So to set the scene, at the end of Shadow of the Past, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) comes face-to-face with the undying lands, a reward for all her hard work. It is a great honour that no one has ever turned down before, but just as the boat approaches the threshold, she dives off because she can not enter with an unfulfilled oath. Meanwhile, across Middle Earth, there are rumblings of things being out of place and evil returning when a meteorite strikes through the air, crashing down near the home of Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh). But when she arrives, she does not find a rock in the ground, but a man, ‘The Stranger’ (Daniel Weyman). Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.    

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Shadow of the Past – TV Review

TL;DR – This might be a foundation episode, but it is a strong foundation that I hope they build something grand upon.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.

The Two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin and Telperion

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Review

I don’t think I have ever come into a project with such fraught feelings as I do with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. For all those who love cinema, there is always a gateway film that first lit that spark in our heart, and for me, that film was The Lord of the Rings. I revealed in its visuals, narrative, and soundscape in the cinemas, devoured it on DVD when it came out at home, and then delved into every aspect of the behind-the-scenes documentaries in the extended editions. They are such a strong foundation in my cinematic world that diving back in was always going to be precarious, even before the thought that its success or failure might change the course of the streaming business.

So to set the scene, it is 5000 years before the events of the Lord of the Rings films, in what is called the Second Age. When the world was young, there was no Sun, but the light was given from the Two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin and Telperion until Melkor came and destroyed them. The elves fought a centuries-long war again Melkor, travelling from their home all the way to Middle Earth to finally vanquish him. But one of his acolytes remained, Sauron, and after he killed Galadriel’s (Morfydd Clark) brother, she swore an oath that she would destroy him. Centuries later, in the frozen wastes of the north, she is the last one chasing down her foe, but when they find his last bastion empty [well, almost empty], her company demands to return home. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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House of the Dragon: The Rogue Prince – TV Review

TL;DR – While still mainly just politics this week, the world has come into shape, and those intrigues have weight.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this episode.

Death on the stepstones.

House of the Dragon Review

There is one genre that I do particularly like, and it is a political drama. It is part of why I still think Deep Space Nine is my favourite of all the Star Treks because it didn’t move, so it had to deal with the politics of where it was. However, last week was mostly just politics, but it felt flat for me. I was wondering if the show would click with me at all, but this week gave a better chance at that.

So to set the scene, in last week’s The Heirs of the Dragon, we discovered a dynasty at the point of fracture. King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) was named the king in a contested succession, and while he has tried to be a strong king, many see him as weak. But tragedy struck when his Queen Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke) died in childbirth, and even a caesarean section could not save their child. With succession now being called into question again, the king finally cuts off his petulant brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and declares his daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) as heir. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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