I worked out the central premise of Amazon’s Rings of Power: Galadriel’s Study in Psychopathy.
I resisted talking about this because it’s become mired in gender politics almost as toxic as Republicans versus Democrats. Let’s ignore the politics and call it what it is: bad writing.
The show-runners took a beloved character from Tolkien and through inexperience or incompetence, produced something that belongs in a Scandi-noir Serial Killer drama.
In short, there is no heroine’s journey, because there is no progress. The character arc is FLAT. Galadriel’s character flaws are never addressed.
We’re supposed to sympathise with Galadriel’s PTSD (I think). Instead, we have is a psychopath as demented as any of Thomas Harris‘ serial killers.
The character lacks any identifiable traits of a sympathetic protagonist:
- No vulnerability
- No personal connections
- No friendships
- No empathy
- No fear
- No regard for the opinions of others
- Never doubts or gives up
- Never acknowledges weakness
- Never humbled and never takes the opportunity to reflect
- Learns nothing from her try-fail cycles
- Does not grow or change over eight episodes
These are the hallmarks of a psychopath as well as a poor protagonist. The only time she shows any emotion other than homicidal rage, is over her brother’s body. And that probably wasn’t a healthy relationship to begin with.
Tell Me About Your Childhood
In episode one, Galadriel is a solitary child with no friends, bullied by the other elf kids. Obsessed with origami, she’s wants to beat the living daylights out of the boy who sinks her paper boat. It’s meant to show she’s a strong female badass; it actually shows she’s got serious anger-management issues. Her brother intervenes but she suffers no consequences. There’s no corrective behaviour modification.
Her parents are absent (red flag!), and we see her mind-warped by her brother’s philosophical twaddle about stones and ships. He plants the seed of a bad idea about sinking into darkness. Thanks, bro.
You Weren’t there, Man
After the war with Morgoth, she’s completely obsessed and pursues Sauron for two hundred years. While determined to exterminate the entire race of orcs. Normally we call that genocide. From an Aryan elf? Remind you of anybody from history?
Here is an adult sociopath unable to form any normal relationships. But it gets worse.
She’s a bad commander; by the end of her campaign, she’s bullying her surviving soldiers, all six of them, through a blizzard. She displays complete contempt and disregard for her troops, treating them as expendable tools.
Galadriel marches into a fortress with no backup. She kills the cave troll for no other reason than to demonstrate she’s a bad ass, dispatching it with a cold-blooded head-shot. Result? We feel sorry for the troll.
Her troops mutiny and refuse to follow this Captain Ahab with pointy ears.
Chain of Command
But she found ‘evidence’ of Sauron’s escape. She goes home to tell everyone she was right, she is right and everyone else is wrong. No doubt in her mind.
She humiliates and denigrates her ‘friend’ Elrond (let’s leave aside how annoying and drippy he is). Galadriel then demands to see the king. She has no respect for the chain of command. Any chain of command. After her insubordination toward the Elf King, she insults the Regent and the Chancellor of Numenor, demanding to see their king. Way to go, Karen.
Army of One
She not only ignores all advice from Elrond, but all advice from everybody; Elrond, the King, the Regent, Elendil, Halbrand, the list goes on.
Galadriel rejects the song and light of Valinor and jumps off the ship. In the middle of three thousand miles of ocean. She would rather drown than go to Elf Heaven. She argues with Halbrand, surrounded by three thousand miles of ocean. In Numenor, she threatens to shiv Elendil (‘Elf Friend’) after he rescued her from said three thousand miles of ocean.
She bullies the Regent in her own palace. Repeatedly.
She later threatens to butcher Adar, a prisoner in chains. Admittedly he deserves it, but somehow he is far more heroic as a resistance fighter than she is.
This version of Galadriel is already a thousand years old, but has all the wisdom of a seventeen year-old gang-member from a Compton housing project.
This is an obsessive-complusive ego with ‘small man syndrome’ stamping her little feet demanding to get what she wants.
Her reaction to Sauron in the climactic reveal and seduction scene makes no sense whatsoever. Sauron recognises a kindred spirit, his prospective Queen of Evil. Galadriel has no idea, no self-awareness, no recognition. At all.
Care in the Community
Galadriel’s constant doubling-down on rage and rejection is a text-book study in psychopathy, yet the writers clearly failed to see what they produced. Unless they intended this as a fantasy version of Hannibal or American Psycho? It’s what Neil Gaiman would do. These guys aren’t that good.
At best, she’s mentally ill and needs therapy. At worst, she’s a psychopath who should be locked up for the good of society.
Are we looking forward to Season Two yet?