The Rings Of Power's Galadriel Is The Kind Of Flawed Female Hero More Fantasy Needs

Warning: slight spoilers follow for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

If there's one thing that connects all the disparate fandoms — at least, the small and annoyingly vocal branches of each of them — it's passionate disdain for any complicated female character. Strategic, overwhelming backlash has become par for the course in science fiction and fantasy, but I don't think it's a coincidence that the girlies have always gotten the brunt of it. More than enough internet ink has been spilled about this topic, especially with the recent (but long overdue) pivot to more inclusive storytelling. Amazon series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" has been a major godsend on the fantasy front, with no shortage of complex women to love. Front and center, though, is Morfydd Clark's dauntless Galadriel.

As most likely know already, Clark is delivering a very different take on the character that Cate Blanchett first made popular in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The Galadriel of "The Rings of Power" is younger, brasher, and driven by "baser" emotions like pride and revenge (which she may or may not try to justify in her own way). She's a warrior who's convinced that her war hasn't ended. Does this make her intense? Yes! Difficult to get along with? Very! But it's also precisely what makes her such a revelation, especially for female fantasy lovers.

There's a tempest in her!

Galadriel's journey so far has been one dizzying, reckless trip from frying pan to fire and back. She may have narrowly escaped certain death in the Sundering Sea, but she's still considered hostile in Númenor, where all but a few hate elves with bigoted (and familiar) fervor. Galadriel has been fighting for so long that "fight" has become her default setting: Her attempts to return to Middle-earth come off as threats, which wouldn't be so bad if she weren't indirectly threatening the Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson).

Even after getting locked up for sedition in the series' fourth episode, Galadriel fails to understand the art of tact. That she lacks so much finesse in the realm of interpersonal skills honestly makes her struggle all the more entertaining — not to mention quietly hilarious. Like, my girl does not make good choices. She may be wise on paper, with a determination and an endurance that makes her a formidable fighter, but her arrogance impedes her skill at every turn. It's her Achilles heel, one of her major flaws — and for the record, none of that makes her a bad character. Nor does it make her a Mary Sue. Quite the opposite, actually.

A little fact check

See, in television, flaws are good things. They add tension and grit in areas where plots would otherwise slide right into place. And it's notably something that the female characters of the Tolkienverse have largely been denied, at least in live action adaptations. Characters like Arwen (Liv Tyler) or even Éowyn (Miranda Otto) are powerful and more or less autonomous, but never more so than their male counterparts. They're unanimously beloved because they don't ruffle feathers, but move the story seamlessly along.

Galadriel too is received with more grace in "The Fellowship of the Ring" than her younger counterpart, if only for her selfless service to the narrative. Even in "Fellowship," we get a taste of the arrogance and powerlust that defines her character. The difference lies in her ability to cater to the characters at the center of the story (who, last I checked, were all dudes). Despite being offered the One Ring — and going berserk at the idea of all that power — Galadriel backs down, and serves as a vacuous, informative guide for the remainder of the story.

Ironically, this idealized version of Galadriel fits more into the parameters of a Mary Sue than Clark's take in "Rings of Power." But it's this image of Galadriel that the fandom holds up as the standard for the character. Funny how that works.

Her story isn't finished

It's important to remember that "The Rings of Power" is a story of seduction, of corruption and even ruin. It's an answer to the redemption that plays out in "The Lord of the Rings," and it's meant to show exactly how things got so bad as they eventually do. That means its characters must be flawed, blinded by their vices — how else could Sauron have risen on their watch? That also makes characters like Galadriel inherently necessary, so there's no use in chafing against her refreshing, nuanced characterization. Especially when there are other, equally foolish characters running around and making a mess of Middle-earth too.

That said — and I hate to console those who actively seek to "humble" women like Galadriel — but she won't be this arrogant forever. According to Clark herself, humility will play a big part in Galadriel's arc. After all, there are but few ways for the character to transition into the mellow, only occasionally volatile lady elf of "Lord of the Rings." But that's another great part about the character as she stands in the prequel: watching her mature, discover her limits and learn to choose her battles wisely is going to be a major treat moving forward. It's the kind of storytelling we desperately need more of, especially in sci-fi and fantasy.

If all goes to plan, "The Rings of Power" will have five seasons to let Galadriel's story play out, so let's just sit back and enjoy the ride.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" streams Fridays on Amazon Prime Video.