YouTuber Nerd Cookies recently provided a thorough analysis on how The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has bastardized Galadriel.
Before diving into the analysis, Nerd Cookies points out that the Warrior Galadriel story “sadly follows the trend of needlessly deconstructing yet another beloved legacy character, sacrificing one of Tolkien’s beloved creations at the altar of lazy and contrived storytelling.”
Beginning her analysis, Nerd Cookies points to the first two episodes of the series that depicts Warrior Galadriel as the Commander of the Northern Armies traveling to remote locations of Middle-earth in order to hunt down Sauron and the orcs.
After recounting how Galadriel’s soldiers mutiny against her after defeating a snow troll and even discovering Sauron’s sigil, Nerd Cookies notes, “I have so many issues with this depiction of Galadriel. The showrunners, JD Payne and Patrick McKay took one line from a novel they don’t have the rights to describing Galadriel as having an eye of a commander.”
She continues, “Because of this they chose to make her commander of the Northern Armies in their story, but even in the context of the show she doesn’t feel like a commander at all. She may possess this title but she doesn’t act like a leader nor does she appear to garner any respect from her troops as her gaze is filled with nothing but disdain bordering on contempt for anyone who would dare question her mission or her methods.”
Nerd Cookies then states, “This begs the question: If her troops her insufferable and unable to continue under her charge how is the audience supposed to respect her? They chose to depict her in this way just so they can include the cliché of her being the only one who knows of the danger Sauron poses, to be the only one hunting for him.”
After pointing out this trait is outright stated in the fourth episode in a conversation to Míriel, Nerd Cookies explains why it is such a major problem, “It sacrifices the intelligence of other legacy characters she comes across. Just from the context of the show itself it makes no sense for Galadriel to be aware the threat of Sauron.”
She elaborates, “Notably, this directly impact High King Gil-galad as he is made out to be willfully ignorant with a gaze suggesting an almost malicious intent. His reaction to Galadriel’s ambitions is to essentially retire her from service, sending her back to Valinor. A move, which he foolishly claims would somehow lessen the likelihood of Sauron’s return.”
Moving her focus to the third and fourth episodes when Galadriel arrives at Númenór, Nerd Cookies asserts, “she appears to be regressing as a character” and points to how she is “stupidly impulsive.”
“She is all too happy to draw her dagger at the slightest provocation, sometimes with no provocation at all, and without asking questions or considering the consequences of her actions,” she explains.
Nerd Cookies goes on to question why this depiction of the character was done in the first place and specifically addresses a theory that it’s done to give her a character arc and “that experiences add wisdom.”
However, she rejects this theory noting, “The show itself establishes that Galadriel is at this point several thousands of years old, having been alive before the First Age during the years of the trees. Add to this the fact she is depicted in a position of leadership over others, it seems so unrealistic for a being who has already lived through and experienced so much to not know the simple less to choose her battles wisely.”
Nerd Cookies goes on to point out why this character flaw is so detrimental, “Her foolishness repeatedly puts her in deadly situations or in prison. Simple chance and her warrior prowess conveniently and most convolutedly get her back out of trouble. So there are never any lessons or real consequences for her acts of brazen stupidity which would contribute to any real growth or character development if she is supposed to learn and become wise from those experiences.”
“Almost every interaction with a stranger starts with Galadriel making demands and getting into a verbal confrontation,” she goes on. “The audience is well aware that she’s brash and impulsive, but by forcing her to be so single-minded in her approach, they are making her naïve, so blinded by her mission to hunt Sauron that she comes off as willfully ignorant and oblivious to her surroundings.”
To emphasize this point, Nerd Cookies points to the fact that all Galadriel had to do to figure out the sigil of Sauron was a map of the Southlands was to slightly turn it. “In the show, Galadriel herself said that must be blind for not having discovered this sooner.”
She continues to pick apart this characterization of Galadriel saying, “And speaking of blind naivety, the fact that she almost instantly put her trust in the words of a man she’s just met only after he says orcs chased him from his homeland is indicative of how Warrior Galadriel’s mission clouds her judgment. She only knows what Halbrand has told her of the situation in the Southlands, which has been very little as she herself fills in the gaps and makes assumptions of his ancestry based on his mere possession of a royal token.”
Nerd Cookies then notes how Galadrial attempts to get Míriel to provide her with an army and resources to fight this alleged army in the Southlands. When she is denied she erupts in anger and is subsequently thrown in prison when she demands to see the king.
“It’s clear to see that these story choices are all intentional to highlight Galadriel’s unmatched foolishness,” she asserts.
Next, Nerd Cookies states, “Another significant issue with Warrior Galadriel is the believability factor. From a lore perspective Galadriel should certainly be powerful and formidable; that is not the issue at hand. The writers solely want her strength of character to be in her prowess in combat; it is never tempered with insight.”
“This was deliberate on the part of the showrunners who chose to insert Halbrand’s counsel and a charming comparison of Galadriel charging ahead of every obstacle like a horse, hardly the trait of one who led armies,” she points out.
This prowess, which is never even depicted by Galadriel is also refuted when J.R.R. Tolkien notes her true strength comes from her resistance to the temptation of the ring. He wrote in Letter 320 to Mrs. Ruth Austin in 1971, “I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and imagination about Mary, but actually Galadriel was a penitent: in her youth a leader in the rebellion against the Valar (the angelic guardians).”
“At the end of the First Age she proudly refused forgiveness or permission to return. She was pardoned because of her resistance to the final and overwhelming temptation to take the Ring for herself,” he explained.
In Letter 246 to Mrs. Eileen Elgar in 1963, Tolkien also noted that her ability to resist the ring’s temptation was due to “previous thought and resolve” heavily implying she is not brash or impulsive as The Rings of Power depicts her.
Nerd Cookies also takes issue with the combat prowess shown in The Rings of Power, “But lack of wisdom aside, the displays of her combat skills are hardly consistent as portrayed in the show. In the beginning episodes of season 1 she is shown single handedly taking down a snow troll with peak Legolas-like ability. While I can believe she is capable of such feats in that particular scene it was hard to believe the rest of her troops were so incompetent.”
“Her time as leader seemed only to reinforce that she was better, faster, and stronger than the rest of her company, again diminishing the abilities of others to make Galadriel stand out as superior,” she proclaims.
She also points out how Galadriel easily waylays a number of Númenórean guards in the show’s fourth episode.
“The series itself establishes that Númenóreans are not like other Men, and the lore consistently paints them as the mightiest warriors in all of the Second Age, yet this is contradicted by how ordinary the show makes them,” Nerd Cookies notes.
In The Silmarillion Tolkien makes this abundantly clear when he writes, “And Sauron came. Even from his mighty tower of Baraddûr he came, and made no offer of battle. For he perceived that the power and majesty of the Kings of the Sea surpassed all rumour of them, so that he could not trust even the greatest of his servants to withstand them; and he saw not his time yet to work his will with the Dúnedain.”
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Nerd Cookies then summarizes, “These are all fundamental flaws with Warrior Galadriel. She is entirely one dimensional, all piss and vinegar. No common sense let alone wisdom.”
“While I think this is intentional as the showrunners are seeking to humble her through subsequent episodes and seasons with more predictable revelations in order to expose her blind spots, I also firmly believe that this is no way in keeping with the spirit of the character as written,” she says.
As she closes out her video, Nerd Cookies takes Prime Video and showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay to task, “This mythology does not belong to them to do with as they see fit. They should view themselves as stewards carrying Tolkien’s torch, honoring the world and stories he created.”
“Instead they have shown themselves as nothing but pillagers of his mythos, twisting his words and bastardizing his lore to a degree that it is unrecognizable,” she concludes.
What do you make of Nerd Cookies’ analysis of the bastardization of Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?