Warning: This story incorporates the entire particulars of the large twist on the finish of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Energy. Click on away should you do not wish to be spoiled. 

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy has been constructing as much as this second for weeks: the reveal that Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), which the present offered as an Aragorn-like chief of males and the final rightful king of the Southlands, was actually J.R.R. Tolkien’s big bad himself, Sauron. It is a huge game-changing twist that forces viewers to reexamine each episode within the sequence to see the little hints and clues dropped all through. 

Not less than, that is what the showrunners have been hoping for. 

In actuality, when Halbrand confirms his identification to Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), it is doubtless many viewers — notably the astute ones — passively accepted a foregone conclusion. Many individuals found out the twist lengthy earlier than this week’s finale, and even should you did not fairly join the dots, there was sufficient chatter on the web that anybody with a passing curiosity within the present doubtless bumped into the favored fan principle. (For the total recap, learn my colleague Erin Carson’s explanation of the Rings of Power season 1 ending.)

Had this twist performed out within the period of community tv, with out assistance from the web and a group of eagle-eyed viewers to share and unfold their theories on YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and extra, the conclusion of Rings of Energy would’ve been much more impactful. 

Now, it elicits an uninterested shrug. 

Rings of Energy marks simply the most recent reminder that it is getting tougher for tv exhibits to shock anybody — suppose Jon Snow in Sport of Thrones — particularly within the age of streaming and hypercritical audiences. It is also a warning to showrunners of the dangers that come from hanging your present’s season on some large twist. Followers catching on too early deflates any probability you’d have the ability to shock and delight your viewers. 

That is notably the case when a present drops an episode per week, as Rings of Energy did. It is simpler to hide a twist whenever you launch each episode without delay, like Netflix does, because you’re much less prone to decide up on clues and focus on them when binging. Having per week in between episodes permits individuals to decelerate, analyze and share their theories. 

In Rings of Energy’s case, the twist, had it truly stunned anybody, may’ve redeemed what was an uneven season. Whereas solely eight episodes, the present moved at a glacial tempo, dotting between plotlines of various high quality and curiosity. 

At greatest, it was a lesser model of Peter Jackson’s unique Lord of the Rings trilogy, notably the bromance between Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur). At worst, it was flat out sleep-inducing. I could not keep awake for a number of the early episodes, even for those set within the lovely, however oddly soulless Númenor set items. 

The present picked up steam towards the tip and actually peaked with the sixth episode, which had its personal medium-sized twist with the eruption of Mount Doom and the creation of Mordor (which the present needed to actually spell out with a title card that appeared to counsel little religion in its viewers). That twist had additionally been constructing within the background in earlier episodes, however was extra subtly laid out than the hints about Sauron. 

The Sauron speak started with the premiere, when the present introduced The Stranger in a spectacularly fiery approach. Positive, the good hypothesis fell to Gandalf or another wizard. However there was sufficient on-line chatter in regards to the character being Sauron that it served as a purple herring. Not like the Mount Doom twist, Rings of Energy courted the Sauron hypothesis from the get-go. 

The state of affairs jogs my memory quite a lot of Star Trek: Discovery, one other present constructed on a well-established franchise for the needs of driving audiences to a streaming service. STAR TREK SPOILER WARNING: The Paramount Plus present constructed its debut season round a giant twist, that Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), a human Federation officer and love curiosity to foremost character Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Inexperienced), was truly a Klingon double agent. 

This was one other state of affairs the place hard-core followers found out the twist forward of time, dampening any potential impression. Apart from the twists, the season was met with blended reactions. The excellent news: Discovery’s showrunners tailored in later seasons, steadily bettering and shifting away from that ONE. BIG. TWIST. 

Which is the place I hope Rings of Energy goes. The reveal of Vickers’ character as Sauron opens the door to a extra human interpretation of the character, one thing we did not see in Jackson’s six movies. And Galadriel’s shut brush with Sauron ought to present attention-grabbing wrinkles in her arc in season 2.

However the savviness of followers and our skill to broadly and instantaneously join with one another means the showrunners higher be actually, actually intelligent in the case of hiding these twists. It is definitely doable — The Good Place is an ideal instance, though it did not have the scrutiny of a giant franchise property. Higher but, simply forgo the twists altogether. Reasonably than a giant reveal, I might recognize it if they may create a extra constantly compelling present. 

After this uneven first season, that is likely to be the most important shocker of all of them.

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