The Forging At Last: More Amazon Updates (+ A Gaiman Puzzle)
One of the oddities of the Second Age Amazon series is the evolution of the fan speculation. When the news broke that we were dealing with the Second Age of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, the initial impression was that we would be seeing the Forging of the Rings of Power. After all, the map promised us Ost-in-Edhil, and the leaks were 3,7,9, and 1 day apart, in homage to the Ring verse. The Rings were clearly the link between the upcoming show, and the more familiar setting of The Lord of the Rings. The question then was the degree to which the Downfall of Númenor would feature in such a show. Perhaps as the mooted spin-off?
How things have changed. Ever since the revelation about Isildur featuring in the first season, the speculation has been that we are are dealing with a Númenor-centred show. What degree would the Forging of the Rings fit into such a narrative? As a mere Prologue? As the mooted spin-off? The perceived foundation of the show has rather been flipped on its head. People (including myself) have even been feeling weirdly disappointed at the prospect. The Downfall is neat and all… but can we have Annatar and Celebrimbor, and a certain battle standard? Pretty please?
Well, as of today, we’re at least getting some conformation (via Fellowship of Fans) that there will be the Forging in season 1:
Rings get forged in a “very cool rocky chamber,” and Celebrimbor’s character will interact with copious props. Yay.
The major problem here is that we still do not know whether this will be a matter for a Prologue, or for a smooshed time-line. The notion that we are seeing the Forging of the Rings (albeit maybe not the One Ring) in the first season potentially hints at a Prologue. To my mind, a smooshed time-line (my own personal preference) would build up to the Forging. Spend a season getting to know Celebrimbor and Eregion, introduce Annatar, upset the apple-cart a bit… and then have the Forging in season two. Or at the earliest, have it as the grand season finale of season one, which in light of this leak is what I am now hoping for.
I am still holding out hope for a smooshed time-line, of course, albeit not in the sense that the Fellowship of Fans commentators envisage it. Rather than Galadriel asking for help during the War of the Elves and Sauron, I had envisaged this first season thing being an invented conflict, with the Forging and the ensuing War coming later. That would allow appropriate build-up, and allow us to get to see the dynamics of the Second Age. There is still scope for that. Perhaps. But now… a more likely scenario is that we’re probably looking at a the Forging in a Prologue, which I am feeling vaguely gloomy about. I’d prefer to properly know the Celebrimbor character before he winds up as Sauron’s battle standard. There is a narrative reason Game of Thrones spent an entire season on building up Ned Stark. Oh well, there is always that mooted spin-off.
The other informational tidbit raised by Fellowship of Fans is that Neil Gaiman apparently visited the production set in June. The commentators dismissed it as a casual visit. Which, to be fair, it probably is.
But if it is a casual visit, I am left scratching my head. You see, what the commentators overlook is that New Zealand’s borders were (and are) closed to non-citizens. Coronavirus, and all that. In order for Gaiman to visit New Zealand in June, he would have needed to get an exemption, and then spend two weeks in Quarantine. What was so pressing for Gaiman that he would be willing to do that? And seeing as spaces in New Zealand Quarantine do not grow on trees (rather infamously so), why would the New Zealand Government grant him an exemption for a casual visit? Sure, Amazon might have requested it… but what purpose does it serve them? Surely there are less time-consuming and more cost-effective means of promotion than to put Neil Gaiman in Quarantine for a fortnight. There is undoubtedly some mundane explanation for this, but I cannot currently think of one.
Addendum: We have the mundane explanation. Gaiman was in New Zealand to start with. Also he did have a lot of hassle with exemption and Quarantine issues – https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/celebrities/300204981/uk-author-neil-gaiman-reunites-with-his-son-and-amanda-palmer-in-havelock-north