This post contains minor spoilers for the conclusion of episode 2 of Rings of Power.
Our glimpses of orcs in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are very limited in the first two episodes. However, theyre quite different from what weve seen on the screen before. Though they are still a threat, they are no longer a swarm. Instead, the Amazon show is demonstrating how terrifying one can be.
The Lord of the Rings has previously taken a risk as a horror film, but Rings of Power has carved out its own niche. When Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) goes to warn the townpeople that a neighboring town fell to who knows what, it feels more classically drawn from a horror movie, as her neighbors wave away her worries as flyaway acts of desire. But it also demonstrates the different kinds of attachment to the orcs: Theyre more concerned about a returning
In these early episodes of Rings of Power, the orcs are treated with distinction: they're no longer the horde introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring, who are tumbling off the cliff in their drive to rescue their foe, but a singular, terrifying monster that's quietly climbing into Bronwyn's house. We can see its skull mask in a fuzzy profile, but we only see its whole size once Bronwyn discovers its hiding.
The orc here is still a spooky beast, looking like a flayed person, and a foe whose fighting ability is still bested by a mother and her son. However, it feels real in a way that most of the rest of the Lord of the Rings trilogy cant quite grasp. It's the difference between Alienand Aliens, illustrating the vulnerability that comes with each variation of the monster.
The power of a prequel allows Bronwyn and her friends to go to the elves at their first light in order to deepen their understanding. It also illuminates the terrifying prospect of facing down an army of orcs in the near future.