In the climactic moments of the first episode of “The Rings of Power,” Galadriel must choose between joining the other elves in Valinor, her beloved former home, or pursue Sauron in Middle-earth. In a heroic and lengthy sequence during the second episode, Galadriel turns back to complete her mission.
One of the biggest departures from Tolkien’s writing is that Galadriel is not banned from Valinor by the Valar. Instead, the High King of the elves Gil-galad allows Galadriel and her fellow warriors to travel to the Undying Lands. He doles out Valinor like a prize, not a deeply personal decision and something each elf can choose for themselves. The show treats Valinor like something that can be handed out by a ruler based on his own whims, completely erasing the will of the supreme Valar.
This completely changes the structure of leadership in Tolkien’s world, but perhaps “The Rings of Power” thought it was easier to depict it this way rather than delve even more into the dense mythology. By removing the Valar’s ban, Galadriel is torn between two separate worlds that she cares about deeply due to her need to avenge her brother Finrod. This makes for higher stakes, more dramatic tension, and an exciting narrative.
What “The Rings of Power” does get across, like Peter Jackson’s films, is that Valinor is a special, even holy place that promises comfort for characters, but only when they are truly ready to go there.