Warning: This story accommodates all the particulars of the massive twist on the finish of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Energy. Click on away in the event you do not wish to be spoiled.
Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy has been constructing as much as this second for weeks: the reveal that Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), which the present introduced as an Aragorn-like chief of males and the final rightful king of the Southlands, was truly JRR Tolkien’s large unhealthy himself, Sauron. It is a huge game-changing twist that forces viewers to reexamine each episode within the sequence to see the little hints and clues dropped all through.
At the very least, that is what the showrunners had been hoping for.
In actuality, when Halbrand confirms his id to Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), it is probably many viewers — notably the astute ones — passively accepted a foregone conclusion. Many individuals found out the twist lengthy earlier than this week’s finale, and even in the event you did not fairly join the dots, there was sufficient chatter on the web that anybody with a passing curiosity within the present probably bumped into the favored fan concept. (For the complete recap, learn my colleague Erin Carson’s rationalization of the Rings of Energy season 1 ending.)
Had this twist performed out within the period of community tv, with out assistance from the web and a neighborhood of eagle-eyed viewers to share and unfold their theories on YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and extra, the conclusion of Rings of Energy would’ve been much more impactful.
Now, it elicits an uninterested shrug.
Rings of Energy marks simply the most recent reminder that it is getting more durable for tv reveals to shock anybody — assume Jon Snow in Recreation of Thrones — particularly within the age of streaming and hypercritical audiences. It is also a warning to showrunners of the dangers that come from hanging your present’s season on some large twist. Followers catching on too early deflates any probability you’d have the ability to shock and delight your viewers.
That is notably the case when a present drops an episode per week, as Rings of Energy did. It is simpler to hide a twist if you launch each episode without delay, like Netflix does, because you’re much less more likely to decide up on clues and focus on them when binging. Having per week in between episodes permits folks to decelerate, analyze and share their theories.
In Rings of Energy’s case, the twist, had it truly stunned anybody, might’ve redeemed what was an uneven season. Whereas solely eight episodes, the present moved at a glacial tempo, dotting between plotlines of various high quality and curiosity.
At finest, it was a lesser model of Peter Jackson’s unique Lord of the Rings trilogy, notably the bromance between Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur). At worst, it was flat out sleep-inducing. I could not keep awake for among the early episodes, even for those set within the stunning, however oddly soulless Númenor set items.
The present picked up steam in the direction of the tip and actually peaked with the sixth episode, which had its personal medium-sized twist with the eruption of Mount Doom and the creation of Mordor (which the present needed to actually spell out with a title card that appeared to recommend little religion in its viewers). That twist had additionally been constructing within the background in earlier episodes, however was extra subtly laid out than the hints about Sauron.
The Sauron speak started with the premiere, when the present launched The Stranger in a spectacularly fiery approach. Certain, the sensible hypothesis fell to Gandalf or another wizard. However there was sufficient on-line chatter concerning the character being Sauron that it served as a crimson herring. Not like the Mount Doom twist, Rings of Energy courted the Sauron hypothesis from the get-go.
The state of affairs jogs my memory quite a lot of Star Trek: Discovery, one other present constructed on a well-established franchise for the needs of driving audiences to a streaming service. STAR TREK SPOILER WARNING: The Paramount Plus present constructed its debut season round a giant twist, that Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), a human Federation officer and love curiosity to foremost character Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Inexperienced), was truly a Klingon double agent.
This was one other state of affairs the place hard-core followers found out the twist forward of time, dampening any potential impression. Other than the twists, the season was met with blended reactions. The excellent news: Discovery’s showrunners tailored in later seasons, steadily enhancing and shifting away from that ONE. BIG. TWIST.
Which is the place I hope Rings of Energy goes. The reveal of Vickers’ character as Sauron opens the door to a extra human interpretation of the character, one thing we did not see in Jackson’s six movies. And Galadriel’s shut brush with Sauron ought to present attention-grabbing wrinkles in her arc in season 2.
However the savviness of followers and our potential to extensively and instantaneously join with one another means the showrunners higher be actually, actually intelligent on the subject of hiding these twists. It is actually doable — The Good Place is an ideal instance, though it did not have the scrutiny of a giant franchise property. Higher but, simply forgo the twists altogether. Relatively than a giant reveal, I would recognize it if they may create a extra persistently compelling present.
After this uneven first season, that is likely to be the most important shocker of all of them.