The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunners promised the second season of their show will be canonical to Tolkien’s work despite nearly a year of promising that for the first season and those promises ultimately being revealed as lies that anyone who watched the creatively bankrupt first season can attest.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the first season’s finale, showrunner Patrick McKay detailed what viewers can expect of the second season.
He said, ” Season two has a canonical story. There may well be viewers who are like, ‘This is the story we were hoping to get in season one!’ In season two, we’re giving it to them.”
It’s a clear admission that season one is not a canonical story despite their repeated claims that they were constantly going back to the book and the source material as they attempted to justify their perversion of Tolkien’s work.
Maybe the biggest lie they told in this vein was during San Diego Comic-Con during the show’s Hall H presentation, showrunner J.D. Payne was asked by host Stephen Colbert, “There are characters played by actors who will be out here in just a moment who are not canonical to Tolkien, that must be one of the greatest challenges, how do you fill out that world with characters that are implied — they are implied cultures that you are drawing from, but they are not necessarily described to the depth that you are going to represent them. What guidance did you take for those characters’ creations?””
As part of his answer, Payne said, “So, one, always back to Tolkien. And two, when Tolkien was silent, we tried to invent as Tolkienian a way as possible.”
Payne’s fellow showrunner Patrick McKay would add, “Go back to the book. Go back to the book. Go back to the book.”
They told a similarly lie in August at the Television Critic Association’s press tour panel. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a member of the media described the series as “vaguely connected.”
In response to this description, McKay said, “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.”
“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 elaborated.
“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.”
In another instance Patrick McKay attempted to address rumor that the show would include modern woke politics. He told Total Film, “This was one of Tolkien’s debate points with C.S. Lewis, his friend and colleague. It was very important that what he was creating was not an allegory. He was not commenting on historical events of his time or another time.”
“He was not trying to transmit a message that spoke to contemporary politics. He wanted to create a mythos that was timeless, and would be applicable – that was his word, ‘applicable’ – the applicability across times,” McKay continued.
Numenorean blacksmith goes on anti-Elf tirade. pic.twitter.com/pEzg6XDn24
— Rosary Warrior John F Trent (@jftrent) September 20, 2022
He elaborated, “Every single choice we’ve made at every turn of making this show has been to be faithful to that aspiration, because that’s what we want as viewers. We don’t want to adapt the material in a way that might feel dated. We aspire to being timeless.”
“That’s why these books still speak to people so much, because so much of what’s in them has not aged a day. And we aspire to do the same thing,” he claimed. “And I think we feel that once people see the show, and see what the stories and characters and worlds are in context, they’ll feel the same way.”
While there were repeated attempts to try and paint their show as following Tolkien’s work in the lead up to its release, there were signs that the series would not be canonical in any way whatsoever including the numerous trailer and promotional materials they released.
However, before they even released the first trailer, the showrunners told Vanity Fair in February that their driving question for the series was, “Can we come up with the novel Tolkien never wrote and do it as the mega-event series that could only happen now?”
The problem is Tolkien did write extensively on the Second Age in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth series.
In that same interview, the show’s executive producer Lindsey Weber stated, “It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like.”
“Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together,” she claimed.
What do you make of this latest promise from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunners? Is it just another lie in order to get people’s hopes up about a course correction?