Blogging A to Z Day 17: One Ring (to rule them all . . .)

image by Deviant Artist lucasmt

Since I began blogging in November of 2013, I’ve written at least 25,000 words about the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Most of those posts have been part of a long series devoted to analyzing the way various characters interact with the One Ring. Over the last year, I’ve looked at Isildur and Gollum, and I am working on Bilbo this year.

My basic reading of the One Ring, for purposes of this series, is that it is more than a mere appendage of Sauron or an intelligent artifact. It’s a character in its own right. I’ve identified passages which clearly demonstrate that:

  1. It has a will of its own. Its primary motivation is to return to its master, but it delights in betrayal and in instigating conflict between other characters – especially murderous conflict.
  2. It seems prescient at times, or at the very least, has a limited ability to see what’s going on in its immediate vicinity.
  3. Although it has no power of locomotion, it is able to manipulate its own weight and size, and to attract the attention of living creatures through a sort of empathic communication.
    Click here for the A to Z list Art by Jeremy of Hollywood Nuts!
    Click here for the A to Z list Art by Jeremy of Hollywood Nuts!

It is not necessary to read the Ring as a fully-formed character, but I think the texts – especially The Lord of the Rings, more than support that reading. The interactions between the Ring and the other characters are the key to understanding how good and evil function in Middle Earth. In fact, I like this reading so much, I might just write about the One Ring for the Great Villain Blogathon next year.

What you think? Is the Ring a character, or am I pushing the interpretation too far for the sake of some nerdy fun?

If you’re on the hunt for great Tolkien-related internet content, you might want to check out Sweating to Mordor, A Tolkienist’s Perspective, The Leather Library, and Middle Earth News. I follow them all and check in with them as often as I can. And do stop back by on April 23 to read what I have to say about the good professor himself.

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 19 – Broken Arrow

BannerAfter the break last week, and the recent trailer for the final five episodes, I was ready for the show to return. I knew it would be explosive, but I didn’t expect two potential deaths! I’m still reeling from that cliff hanger, but we’ll deal with things one step at a time.

The show started with a meta-human, who we later discovered to be a man named Simmons. It was fun to have another meta-human around, and to see how the team dealt with him. The gang got a temporary playmate too, much to his excitement – Ray Palmer. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First let’s deal with Roy’s little stunt and, as we saw last time, he stopped the police transport vehicle claiming to be the Arrow. He was led into custody, though Olly almost threw a spanner in the works by offering a signed confession to Captain Lance. Laurel put a stop to that when she arrived to inform her father the DA had ordered Ollie’s release. Lance’s ‘this isn’t over’ made it pretty clear how complicated Ollie’s life was about to get.

imagesOf course Ollie managed to get a little one on one time with Roy, namely to ask what the hell he was thinking by offering himself up as the sacrificial lamb. It was actually a pretty great scene. I don’t think Ollie would have let it go so easily if Roy hadn’t told him he deserved some form of punishment for taking a life – that for the first time since he remembered killing the police officer, he felt okay.

Still, Ollie had no intention of leaving Roy in prison and actually spent most of the episode wanting to break him out.

team-arrow-s3e19Lance certainly didn’t make it easy for him. He barely gave Ollie breathing room before he marched into Verdant with a search warrant for the basement. I half expected it to be a storage room again, but no, most of the tech was still there. I say most, because Felicity had worked her magic and wiped the place clean (except for Roy’s prints of course).

So, with Ollie in a tight spot, he’s forced to accept outside help – namely Ray (or Atom). Ray’s first scene, when he stumbled upon Felicity in the office, was that awkward ‘I told you I loved you but let’s not make it into a big deal.’ I actually felt sorry for him, because Felicity mostly let him ramble, which added to the whole awkward vibe.

His subsequent scenes were much more fun. In fact, he was like a big kid at the prospect of working with Ollie – his high-five for the team-up was a nice touch. Ollie’s face was priceless!

wheres-the-plasma-arrow-s3e19When they found Simmons at a processing plant, Ray convinced Ollie to let him deal with him. I loved his reaction to Felicity’s anxiety over Ray being in the field. His line, ‘There’s a decent chance you and Palmer are related’ was classic!

Simmons wasn’t impressed by Atom at all, if calling him ‘tin can’ is anything to go by, and he hit Ray with a blast of energy. Ray reciprocated, which was not the best idea, considering Simmons absorbs energy. Things got ugly fast and he almost choked Ray. Luckily, he managed to fly out of there and, though his landing wasn’t pretty, at least he escaped with his life.

atom-on-the-streets-arrow-s3e19Olly had plenty to say about the mission, about anticipating your opponent and following your instincts. It was a pretty good speech – the fact his bow and arrow are just tools and that he’s the weapon. All to drive the point home that if Ray doesn’t start relying on himself instead of the suit he won’t make it.

It was tough for Ollie, having to take a step back. He almost lost it when he discovered Roy had been attacked in prison (though Roy totally took care of business!). Diggle tried to talk him down, but the two only ended up butting heads. It was Felicity who got through to him by empathizing with everything he’s going through.

We’ve seen Ollie struggle with his identity for a while now and Felicity understands that more than most. She challenged him, told him she sees who he really is – the man she believes in. The deliberate pause was powerful, but then we all know he’s the man she loves.

Ollie was tested again when Felicity walked into a trap. While attempting to access the grid, she had the misfortune of choosing the power plant Simmons hooked himself up to! Ray convinced Ollie that Atom was the best option since he can fly, and they didn’t have a great deal of time. In a way though they saved the day together, because Ray allowed Ollie control of the suit remotely.

untitledAfter Ray made sure Felicity was out of harm’s way (pretty forcefully too!) Ollie took over the show. That is until the transmitter was severed and then Ray was on his own. It all started to go pear shaped until Ray listened to the voice in his ear, and Ollie’s message that being a hero isn’t about the strength, but about the heart. In the end Ray brought it home! Knocking Simmons unconscious.

But Ollie’s torment didn’t end there. He arrived home to discover that Roy has been stabbed and killed in prison. I actually believed it for a beat or two. When Felicity and Diggle asked for his forgiveness, realization dawned and I was thrilled by their duplicity! They weren’t seeking forgiveness for not allowing him to help Roy, but for leaving him out of the loop. It turned out it had all been a cunning plan, and this time they got to save Ollie.

Though Roy didn’t die, it would appear we won’t be seeing him again for a while. It would be hard to explain his presence after all. His final scene was a touching one, which ended with Roy driving away and Felicity telling Ollie that she loves him – in a roundabout way.

oliver-leads-arrow-s3e19Later, with a brief appearance from Cisco, Ray dropped Simmons off at S.T.A.R Labs and named him Deathbolt (earning Cisco’s respect.) The pair puzzle over the fact Deathbolt wasn’t anywhere near the city when the particle accelerator exploded.

Before we get to the end, let’s deal with the flashbacks. They served two purposes this week, one being to add weight to the point about Ollie’s reticence when it comes to accepting help. Given that the Yamashiro family had reunited, Ollie went in search of Amanda – presumably to bargain for their freedom! Imagine his surprise when he discovered General Shrieve had been holding her for weeks. Worse, that he planned to unleash the virus in Hong Kong.

Since Shrieve made up a vaccine for his team, Ollie, Maseo and Tatsu set out to steal it. Though they are successful, they later decided to stop Shrieve – a team effort, despite the fact Ollie wanted to go it alone.

So that just leaves the final scene – the confrontation between Thea and Ra’s. It culminated in Thea being run through by a sword, so one can only hope that Ollie has some of the penicillin tea handy! But seriously, Ra’s clearly intends to use Thea in his deadly game, which means we might see someone healed in the pool (Lazarus Pit).

Whatever happens it’s going to be a fun ride! What did you think about Broken Arrow? Will Thea become the new Demon Head? Will Ollie? Let me know your thoughts.

NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.