I feel like I'm in the minority based upon online conversations regarding The Rings of Power. But my close friends who watched it with me had as much fun with it by the end as I did. There was some small validation in knowing that we were right about Halbrand being Sauron, although the mystery of who that "other wizard" is, and for that matter who those three white-robed ascetics were who came for him thinking he was Sauron, is another matter. I had previously thought that the kind of power they wielded was reserved for other Istari or "Maia." They most certainly were not at that level, and I got the impression that they'd fought with Gandalf's kind before.
As for the one they referred to as an "Istar," most people think that the "follow your nose" comment means it was Gandalf. If so, I'm okay with that. But other online people who don't outright hate the show think he may be one of the blue wizards whom we know nothing of other than their names in notes from Tolkien: Alatar and Pallando. I think it unlikely that we would get any kind of story about those two, because their names don't appear in The Lord of the Rings or in The Hobbit to my knowledge. And since Amazon has the rights to the footnotes and endnotes of The Return of the King and the names aren't there, it may be that we can't get stories of them for that simple reason. It's also why Gandalf in the movies says of the two blue wizards, "I've quite forgotten their names." They didn't have the rights to them, so they can't say them on screen. It seems like a slight "missed opportunity" when it comes to storytelling. However, I can forgive them given that Sauron makes me thirsty. I think they were like, "Yeah...Sauron needs to be prettier than Aragorn was in those Jackson films." Mission accomplished. Hot Sauron it is.
One thing I learned about yesterday that I thought was impressive is that this show can't get canceled. Apparently, the Tolkien estate insisted as a part of the rights being turned over to Amazon that the show have a run of five seasons consisting of eight episodes each. That makes me happy, because I know I will get an end to this story, or at least one that meshes with the stuff of which I'm way more familiar. As for Galadriel and (almost-certainly-Gandalf), there will be a lack of tension in those two stories. They will spend the next four seasons walking around with invincible plot armor. And unfortunately, almost-certainly-Gandalf will have every nanosecond of his performance compared to Ian McKellan's.
I do have questions though, and they may go unanswered. One big one is: what the hell was Sauron doing in the ocean with those people, in the very first episode? There's no way he could have actually been looking for Galadriel, could he have? It seems like such a huge event to occur out of complete happenstance. I mean...a massive ocean and the one wayward Maia is able to find the one elf who decides at the last minute that she doesn't want to go to Valinor? Right place, right time? Those are some astronomical odds, and "Fate" just isn't enough to explain it. So, I'm thinking, maybe the others on the boat were more of the devoted "Ascetics" and they were trying to help Sauron sneak into Valinor and subvert the Ban of the Valar somehow? Or maybe Sauron was on his way to repent before the Valar, but Galadriel came along and changed his mind and plans?
Another question I have is that almost-certainly-Gandalf uses a lot of power without the need of a staff. And once he gets a staff from one of the Ascetics, he then becomes unbeatable. I'm just wondering why he was able to use the powers that he did before he got his staff, because I remember something about wizards being quite diminished without their staves.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to season two. Anyone else in that boat?