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what is a palantír, and why Amazon has made such a mess of it

Iconic object of the Lord of the Rings, Rings of Power a palantír comes out to us. A good idea, but which Amazon has done anything.

Present in the three films of Peter Jackson where he plays a decisive role on several occasions, the iconic palantír made its return in episode 4 of the The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – episode that moderately convinced us.

A tool that can prove to be as useful and valuable as it is dangerous, which makes it an interesting narrative element in more ways than one – in addition to having a really classy design. A good idea then from Patrick McKay and JD Payne… except that they betrayed the properties and did almost anything in their scene with Morfydd Clark and Cynthia Addai-Robinson. Explanations.

Are you looking at me?

WHAT IS A PALANTIR

Let’s start from the beginning: the palantíri – because yes there are several – are stones of vision. It is not known exactly when and who created them, but Christopher Tolkien explains in an index to the Silmarillion that they were probably made in Aman (the western continent) even before the First Age by Fëanor, the greatest craftsman Elf of all time and also creator of the three Silmarils.

It is unclear exactly how many palantíri were forged or for what purpose exactly, as Tolkien never elucidated this point. All that is known is that there are only seven when the Third Age begins, but in the Second Age their exact number is unknown. On the other hand, their properties have always been very clear: the palantíri serve to see and to communicate. Purists forgive us, but basically it’s a bit like a mystical Skype: the stones must be connected to each other and allow to see the thoughts of the person who uses it (or to enter it if one is malicious), as well as the geographical surroundings around the stone with which one communicates.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Photo Palantír on my finger

However, each stone does not have the same power, and there are master stones which allow for example to spy on or to intervene in the communication between two lower stones. The strength of the user’s will also influences the possibilities offered by the use of the stone. Some can see through matter, and an extremely powerful user could direct their gaze anywhere without having a connection to another stone, and why not, see some glimpses of the past or the future at the cost of a very big effort of concentration.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: PhotoHim for example, he couldn’t see the future

WHY THIS BETRAYAL IS NOT HELPFUL

If you’ve seen today’s episode, you may have an idea of ​​where we’re coming from: a palantír, even powerful, does not serve as such to show the future, even less a “possible” future. , and that possibility would only be open to a being far more powerful than Galadriel (and Míriel let’s not even talk about that). There were many other options, each more interesting than the other for this object (“a palantír is a dangerous tool Saruman, we don’t know who others might be looking at“, we want our secret talk damn medieval), but Amazon has chosen the least faithful… and above all the most lazy.

Because, let’s admit, let’s get caught up in the game. It’s an adaptation after all, so why not: what is Galadriel’s vision for? Just to up the stakes through two extremely flat dream sequences and loudly warning the viewer of a potential threat, while keeping it in a safe zone. And if ever the disaster of the vision does occur, all its impact will be defused in advance since we have already seen it.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: PictureYes it’s nice, but what’s the point?

It was worth it to divert the use of the palantír which, we remind you one last time, is not used to see in time, but in a geographical space. Original use that Galadriel does not even do, when she could, since she is so strong, take a look to the South to confirm that Sauron is indeed establishing his kingdom there and having the evidence he lacks to convince Númenor and Lindon of the corrupt Maia’s return, instead of bellowing at a female leader and ending up in jail over a silly diplomatic incident. In any case, we have proof that the rewriting of this element of the scenario is not very rigorous.

Moreover, this is the problem with flashforwards: these are artificial anticipation effects that often reduce the dangerousness of a threat and the dramatic power of an event. If she is warned, then all of this never happened. If it is executed, we have already experienced the shock in advance. We don’t say that you should never make them, and there are some wonderful ones (The Impasse), but it is a dangerous tool that can backfire on its user (like a palantír for that matter). But in this specific case… be careful one MAJOR SPOILERS in the next paragraph.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: PhotoWatch out for SPOILERS if you look in there

SPOILERS, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNINGED

In this precise case, Amazon has simply spoiled itself for its viewers who are less familiar with Tolkien’s universe, who will find themselves deprived of the emotional blow because of the studio’s rush. Studio which, on the other hand, plays a ridiculous game of cat and mouse with Tolkien readers, even moderately assiduous, for the benefit of a particularly artificial suspense.

These indeed know very well that Númenor will be swallowed up, and that it is such a central piece of the general mythos that it is impossible to change it. Not to mention the fact that now that this element is in place, one suspects that Amazon will feel compelled to constantly remind it.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: PhotoStill so classy

Admittedly, the sinking of Númenor is one of the most anticipated events by fans, and it is above all the causes of this sinking that is a source of tragedy. But Amazon has just knocked down this card much too soon, or at least, much too obviously, as if to give a guarantee of spectacle to spectators who are not Tolkien readers.

It’s almost an admission of failure to write: “Yes it’s a bit boring at the moment, but stay, in three seasons there will be a cataclysm”, as if the writers had found nothing interesting to tell in the meantime. We almost forget that it’s the story and the characters that make an audience passionate about a series, not the pyrotechnics.

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