An unexpected journey

Rings of Power's biggest weakness makes it the anti-Game of Thrones

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel could still surprise us — but will it?

It’s the end of Middle-earth as we know it. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Episode 6 ended on an explosive cliffhanger — literally — putting several main characters in a very precarious position. But should we be worried?

You might be concerned that your favorite Rings of Power character is done for, but there’s one obvious reason you shouldn’t be. And it’s the same reason Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel series hasn’t quite reached the levels of the blockbuster series that inspired Amazon’s big bet on fantasy.

Major spoilers ahead for Rings of Power (and Game of Thrones).

The power of Game of Thrones

Cersei and Jamie Lannister shortly before their demise in Game of Thrones.HBO

In Game of Thrones, nobody was safe. The HBO series made this clear at the end of Season 1 when apparent main character Ned Stark’s head gets permanently separated from his body. This brutal scene put fans on notice. It also broke the rules of TV, where you can usually assume the main character will make it to the end of the story. But in Game of Thrones, anyone from the purest hero to the most hateable villain was always one scene away from taking their final bow.

Of course, if you read the books, the show was slightly less surprising, but the fact remains: Game of Thrones was full of shocks no matter which way you chose to experience the story first. And as the series moved beyond its source material, everyone was on edge to see who would survive — even if some of those final cullings weren’t quite as satisfying.

Rings of Power’s big problem

Elendil is basically bullet-proof in Rings of Power.Amazon

Because Rings of Power is a prequel to one of the most famous stories ever told, it’s tough to build that same sort of suspense. You might think that setting your prequel thousands of years before the Lord of the Rings would fix that problem, but some main characters appear in both — namely the immortal elves Galadriel and Elrond. The fates of some other human characters like Isildur and his father Elendil are also set in stone since we know they’ll play major roles in the Last Alliance of Men and Elves that unite to defeat Sauron (as seen in the prologue of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring).

So when Rings of Power Episode 6 ends with a dramatic cliffhanger, it’s hard to care as much when we know most of the main characters need to survive. Sure, Mount Doom may have just exploded, dropping huge flaming boulders all over our heroes, but there’s no reason to worry about most of them. That undercuts the suspense in a way Game of Thrones never did.

Of course, not everyone in Rings of Power has plot armor. The show is full of completely new characters, many of whom were directly in the line of fire when Mount Doom exploded. We know Galadriel and Isildur will be fine, but what about Halbrand, Bronwyn, and Arondir?

Could Rings of Power still surprise us with a Season 1 twist as big as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones? It’s not impossible, but considering how many characters need to survive for canonical reasons, we wouldn’t count on it either.

Rings of Power airs Fridays at midnight on Amazon Prime Video.

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