[Ed. note: This article contains light spoilers for the final episode 2 of Rings of Power.]
Our glimpses of orcs in the first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are fairly limited. However, they are unlike anything weve seen on screen previously. Though they are still a threat, they are no longer a swarm. Instead, the Amazon show is demonstrating just how terrifying one can be.
The Lord of the Rings has taken a risk before, but Rings of Power has carved out its own niche here. When Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) goes to warn the townpeople that a nearby town fell to who knows what, it feels more classically withdrawn from a horror film, as her neighbors wave away her worries as thrills. Yet it also marks the differentiating relationship with the orcs: They are more concerned about a returning occupying force than the whispers
The orcs introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring have all of the characteristics of a slasher villain, but theyre also a singular, terrifying creature that lurks inside Bronwyn's house in these early episodes with distinction.
The orc here remains a malicious creature, able to defend itself against a mother and her son, and a foe whose fighting ability is still compromised by a mother and her son. But the threat of it remains real in a way that a lot of the rest of the Rings of Power cant quite grasp. In one sense, its the difference between Alienand Aliens.
It's certainly enough to encourage Bronwyn and her fellow townspeople to seek help from the elves at the very first light, and this seems to go in the right direction. The most interesting thing you can do with a prequel is to deconstruct what makes a thing tick and then more deeply explore parts of it that already feel familiar. It illuminates the bone-chilling terror of facing down an army of orcs and the consequences of every orc encounter.