The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunner Patrick McKay recently responded to a criticism that the Prime Video show is only “vaguely connected” to J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a reporter described the series as “vaguely connected” while attending the series Television Critic Association’s press tour panel on Friday.
McKay took issue with this description addressing those in attendance saying, “I just want to sort of quibble with the ‘vaguely connected.'”
He then explained why, “We don’t feel that way. We feel like deep roots of this show are in the books and in Tolkien. And if we didn’t feel that way, we’d all be terrified to sit up here.”
Instead of pointing to parts of Tolkien’s works that are in the show, McKay continued to claim it’s just his and Prime Video’s feelings that make them believe the show is connected to Tolkien.
“We feel that this story isn’t ours. It’s a story we’re stewarding that was here before us and was waiting in those books to be on Earth,” he said.
“We don’t feel ‘vaguely connected.’ We feel deeply, deeply connected to those folks and work every day to even be closer connected,” McKay concluded. “That’s really how we think about it.”
YouTuber Disparu succinctly eviscerated McKay’s comments saying, “Your feelings are entirely irrelevant and when the current speech about your feelings directly contradicts things that you’ve already said in the past the only conclusion that’s safe to come up with is that you’re just lying to the audience or the journalists in this instance ,and just hoping they’re going to swallow it and not confront you about it.”
He later adds, “The thing is the fact that you’re just changing the base text. It’s not even controversial.”
McKay’s fellow showrunner made it abundantly clear they are changing Tolkien’s texts when they decided to include Hobbits in The Rings of Power.
Tolkien made it abundantly clear in The Lord of the Rings and in a number of his letters that Hobbits do not do anything significant until the Third Age, when The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings takes place.
As an example, he wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring, “The beginning of Hobbits lies far back in the Elder Days that are now lost and forgotten. Only the Elves still preserve any records of that vanished time, and their traditions are concerned almost entirely with their own history, in which Men seldom appear and Hobbits are not mentioned at all.”
While they are including Hobbits in the Second Age, McKay and Payne attempted to explain that they actually weren’t. Payne told Hall H attendees at San Diego Comic-Con, “Well, it’s actually technically not a Hobbit story, it’s a Harfoot story. And so Tolkien doesn’t say anything about Harfoots not having done anything amazing in the Second Age. He sees it as Hobbits before the Third Age didn’t do anything impressive. So we felt we had license there to tell a good Harfoot story.”
Again, this contradicts Tolkien’s works. In The Fellowship of the Ring he wrote, “Before the crossing of the mountains the Hobbits had already become divided into three somewhat different breeds: Harfoots, Stoors, and Fallohides. The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble; and they preferred highlands and hillsides.”
Not only are they including Hobbits, but they are also changing the backstory of significant characters like Galadriel and Tar-Míriel. In numerous promotional images, trailers, and videos Galadriel is depicted as a warrior leading men into battle. Tolkien never described her as such.
Instead, the Elves who lead the Last Alliance of Elves and Men against Sauron are Gil-galad and Elrond. Tolkien wrote, “Now Elendil and Gil-galad took counsel together, for they perceived that Sauron would grow too strong and would overcome all his enemies one by one, if they did not unite against him. Therefore they made that League which is called the Last Alliance, and they marched east into Middle-earth gathering a great host of Elves and Men; and they halted for a while at Imladris.”
Imaldris is what Men called Rivendell and was the stronghold and refuge founded by Elrond Half-elven. And Elrond was clearly present in the siege of Mordor with Tolkien writing, “The Ruling Ring passed out of the knowledge even of the Wise in that age; yet it was not unmade. For Isildur would not surrender it to Elrond and Círdan who stood by. They counselled him to cast it into the fire of Orodruin nigh at hand, in which it had been forged, so that it should perish, and the power of Sauron be for ever diminished, and he should remain only as a shadow of malice in the wilderness.”
If Galadriel was such a warrior wouldn’t she have been on the frontlines in the battle against Sauron at the end of the Second Age?
As for Tar-Míriel, she is not the Queen-Regent of Númenor as Rings of Power depicts her.
Tolkien writes in The Silmarillion, “And it came to pass that Tar-Palantir grew weary of grief and died. He had no son, but a daughter only, whom he named Míriel in the Elven-tongue; and to her now by right and the laws of the Númenóreans came the sceptre. But Pharazôn took her to wife against her will, doing evil in this and evil also in that the laws of Númenor did not permit the marriage, even in the royal house, of those more nearly akin than cousins in the second degree. And when they were wedded, he seized the sceptre into his own hand, taking the title of Ar-Pharazôn (Tar-Calion in the Elven-tongue); and the name of his queen he changed to Ar-Zimraphel.”
After Ar-Pharazôn challenged the Valar and landed on their shores, Ilúvatar reshaped the world, sinking Númenór, and creating a massive tidal wave that took the life of Tar-Míriel.
Tolkien wrote, “And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Míriel the Queen, fairer than silver or ivory or pearls. Too late she strove to ascend the steep ways of the Meneltarma to the holy place; for the waters overtook her, and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind.”
Describing The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power as “vaguely connected” to Tolkien’s writing is giving the show more credit than it deserves because it’s clearly undermining Tolkien’s work, including characters that don’t belong, and radically altering characters in order to “reflect what the world actually looks like.”
The show seemingly has nothing to do with Tolkien’s actual writings other than the fact they co-opted the name of Tolkien’s books.