The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Transforms Galadriel In All The Right Ways

Spoilers follow for the first two episodes of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is not afraid to forge its own journey to Middle-earth by departing from the source material, especially when it comes to Galadriel (Morfydd Clark). Unlike Peter Jackson's film franchise, Galadriel is arguably the primary protagonist of the streaming show. A good chunk of the plot not only revolves around her personal journey but the emotional stakes that come with it. Despite having a murky origin, "The Rings of Power" elects to give Galadriel an updated storyline, intrinsically connected to the overarching narrative. Departing from the source material may be initially concerning, but the show makes all the right moves in transforming Galadriel for a new generation of fantasy lovers.

"The Rings of Power" owes much of its visual continuity to Peter Jackson's trilogy, but it also improves upon some key elements. Included is the involvement of Galadriel within the vast story of Middle-earth. Instead of relegating her to a supporting role, the show provides a strong foundation to build from with a revitalized characterization of Galadriel.

A hero emerges

From the opening sequence, "The Rings of Power" sets its sights on Galadriel as a centerpiece to the millennium-spanning conflict between good and evil. We see her at a young age, interacting with her older brother Finrod (Will Fletcher) in the blessed realm, Valinor. The prologue, narrated by Galadriel herself, tells the epic tale of the First Age, which culminated in a battle against Morgoth which sent back evil indefinitely, but lost Finrod in the process. We are then immediately sucked into her relentless search for the Dark Lord Sauron and his army in the Second Age, when peace and tranquility reign. Galadriel is vengeful to the point that it often blinds her, but her suspicions about the return of evil remain warranted. "The Rings of Power" wastes no time in setting the stage for the rest of the series with every intention of giving Galadriel the spotlight she deserves.

Galadriel, still the graceful elf we've known since the movie series, is now at the forefront of the battle that awaits Middle-earth in the Second Age. She sports armor and a sword, but that does not negate the fearless yet wise attitude often attributed to the character. Galadriel refuses to return to Valinor when given the opportunity after several lifetimes' worth of servitude. She does so in honor of her brother's words, which reinvigorates Galadriel's desire to seek out Sauron in Middle-earth. Although a skillful warrior, she is not the very powerful being we meet in "The Lord of the Rings" films, which means we'll get to witness Galadriel develop throughout the series in a proper origin for the character.

A different Galadriel

In Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Galadriel is an important but non-lead role in the events of the three films. Played by Cate Blanchett, Galadriel also narrates the opening prologue to "The Fellowship of the Ring," describing the war that rages and ends in the Second Age. A bearer of one of the Elven Rings of Power, she is blessed with the nearly indefinable power that comes from it. However, when the threat of Sauron's return materializes, she cannot confront the old foe herself. Thus, she is relegated to assisting the Fellowship on their adventure, occasionally appearing to push the plot forward. That said, Blanchett is still magnificent as Galadriel, making her a standout supporting character for fantasy fans to this day.

Her immense yet sidelined power in the film series is traded for vulnerability and a starring role for Clark as Galadriel in "The Rings of Power." Before bearing one of those coveted rings, we see the elf grow into the hero we know her to be through a personal journey that ties into the grandest parts of the canon. Though Galadriel never swings a sword in the film trilogy, nor is there any implication that she did before the Third Age — though "older accounts" from "The Silmarillion" describe her as a power-hungry leader in the rebellion of the Ñoldor who wanted to rule over Middle-earth herself — the streaming series boldly straps a heroic character arc for her that puts her right at the center of an impending war. There is something inherently engrossing about seeing such a powerful character at their most vulnerable, and "The Rings of Power" manages to pull it off without feeling unwarranted.

If the record-setting debut of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is any indication, I think we'll be able to see Galadriel reach her full potential before the credits roll once again on Middle-earth.