Keep Your Filthy Hands Off Finrod Felagund: An End-of-Year Amazon Leak
Not a nice way to end 2021, my dear reader. Not at all. One can come up with creatively mad rationalisations for characters arriving on meteors, and even enjoy the process in a twisted way. But today’s new Second Age leak out of Amazon? I do not like this one bit. It turns out that even a laid-back Revisionist sort like Yours Truly can sport the black heart of an Angsty Purist in a pinch.
It turns out that the corrupted Elf, Adar, Father of Orcs… is none other than Galadriel’s brother. As per the obligatory Fellowship of Fans:
Where this gets icky is the implication that Finrod Felagund – the nicest, noblest, and most decent chap in the entire Silmarillion – is potentially the forefather of Orcs. Not some random Avarin Elf – which would actually have been a decently interesting plot if they’d gone in that direction – but Finrod-bloody-Felagund. You know, the bloke who sacrifices himself and his throne to save Beren, who engages First Age Sauron in an Epic Rap Battle, and who kills a monstrous werewolf with only his hands and teeth? That Finrod Felagund? The befriender of Men? The prospect of that character being given the Shadow of Mordor/Shadow of War treatment fills my heart with anger and dread.
(Nothing against the delightfully silly Shadow of Mordor/Shadow of War games, of course, but that’s not the purpose of this Second Age show. The Second Age show is about giving us a serious (if inevitably pretty loose) adaptation of that period of Middle-earth’s history, not about giving us the world’s most expensive crack-fanfiction).
Phew. That sounded angry, and to be fair, I am. The Silmarillion is full of darkness, of course… but it’s also full of the bright and the noble. The point of Finrod’s story is about helping others, and self-sacrificing, in order to try to redeem the terrible sins hanging over the entire Noldorin people. He’s the Good One, for goodness sake, the Elf we can appreciate without guilt or caveats or tongue-in-cheek assertions that Feanor Did Nothing Wrong. But let’s try to rationalise our way out of this mess…
Let’s say it’s not Finrod, but another brother. Could it be, say, Angrod instead? Angrod, father of Orodreth, father of Gil-galad, is much more of a blank slate than Finrod, with much less fan-attachment. Maybe have him captured, rather than killed, in the Dagor Bragollach, and have Morgoth’s genetic research department get to work on him.
The upsides? Well, you’re not screwing with a fan-favourite, and in addition to creating family drama with Galadriel (Angrod still being her brother), you also give Gil-galad issues (Angrod is his grandfather). I’d still prefer an Avarin Elf, but I could live with this.
The downsides? Since Finrod was captured by Sauron, whereas Angrod wasn’t, using Angrod over Finrod means you don’t give Galadriel a direct animosity with Sauron. And Sauron is the Big Bad of the Second Age, so it’d mean less plot pay-off.
There’s also an additional problem, whether we’re talking Finrod or Angrod. If Adar is the Father of Orcs, what, exactly, was Morgoth using for his armies prior to getting his hands on Galadriel’s brother? Other Orcs, descended from a different corrupted Elf? That would surely lessen the power that ‘Adar’ has over his descendants. Or maybe Morgoth was utilising something else… and indeed there are actually hints of that in the Fellowship of Fans update.
You see, Fellowship of Fans have gotten their hands on an extensive background battle drawing. They can’t show it to us on the video, but (as per around thirty minutes in), they can describe what it depicts. There seems to be less emphasis on Orcs than you would see in Peter Jackson, and more on Balrogs, Dragons, Wolves, Snakes, and Spiders. There is a reference to ‘Orc-like’ soldiers, but I find it interesting that they are termed ‘Orc-like’, rather than just ‘Orcs.’ Perhaps Morgoth’s modifications were already underway, and Adar was just the cherry on top of the process?
While the question of what the hell Amazon is doing with Finrod hangs over this update, there are also two further leaks of interest…
(1) There will be an Anarion in a “little brother” role. That cheers me up, and also strengthens my suspicions that the leaked Numenorean character list from several weeks ago was a fake. That list noticeably omitted Anarion.
(2) There will be a fair amount of emphasis on Galadriel’s hair in Episode One. This is more interesting than it sounds, since it increases the likelihood that we will see at least a cameo from Mad Uncle Feanor. It’s almost enough to make you overlook the Finrod thing. Almost.
So yeah. Quite the leak today, for good or ill. I am certainly more sceptical of the show than I was yesterday, to the point where my past optimism/attempts at rationalisation feel like what the show might have been, in a better world. But something more concrete (like a trailer) will come along at some point, that allows us to make more informed commentary. Currently, fandom is really like the proverbial blind men trying to describe an elephant. So, as I keep emphasising, all we can do is wait and see, and try to not go too mad from rumours. And hope like hell they haven’t screwed too badly with poor old Felagund.
Addendum: In a good bit of news, Fellowship of Fans can confirm that Adar is not Finrod. So panic among Silmarillion geeks averted:
Addendum II: As per reddit, here’s a section of that background battle mural I mentioned: