The following article contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Don’t read until you’ve seen episodes one through six…
An elf who kills them all…
Well well well. Have you caught your breath yet?
We started this amazing episode with Adar (Joseph Mawle) bursting into the watchtower with the help of the defector Waldreg (Geoff Morrell) only to find it was a trap and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) was waiting for them.
When Game of Thrones was in its prime, there was a long-running internet gag about how Ramsay Bolton only needed 20 good men and not an army to win every battle. Over in Middle-earth all you need is a good elf. He has a certain talent, and yes, many things went comfortably right, but luckily it stopped when Legolas surfed down the levels of oliphant stupidity.
Of course, defeating Adar was never easy, and the rest of the attack happened in two waves – but not before the elf and Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) had shared a quick kiss. First came the humans dressed as orcs, no match for their old neighbors, although this sequence contained one of the episode’s best moments. Arondir’s fight with this huge orc was riveting, and for the first time in this series I began to believe that one of the main characters wasn’t going to make it. But Bronwyn came to save their love.
The Southrons’ celebrations were short-lived, with a double whammy when they realized they had mostly killed their former kin and then a volley of orc arrows. Bronwyn caught one in the shoulder, and again I wasn’t entirely sure she could pull it off.
Up to the stop
The resistance didn’t last long and soon Adar was killing people at random in his quest for the sword hilt. Unfortunately, Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) knew where it was and folded. Talk about the timing, though – it was just as the Númenóreans arrived on horseback. A gripping sequence with brilliant choreography and camera work puts us right in the middle of the action.
The episode’s best scene was yet to come, however, and featured a now-captive Adar being questioned by Galadriel (Morfydd Clark). The Dutch angles here conjure up just the right amount of unease as Adar explained his motives and Galadriel revealed to be just as twisted.
As the episode ended, we saw Waldreg – we forgot about him, didn’t we? – Grab the handle and return to the watchtower to turn the key. And just like that – with the most stunning CGI I’ve ever seen – Mount Doom erupted and Mordor was created before our eyes. Life in Middle-earth will never be the same again.
half rim watch
All in all, the Sauron case file isn’t the most compelling episode to add to my semi-rim. But it’s far from devastating. Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) rode Adar off his horse in style and nearly killed him (two hero points), but I think his question about whether the fallen elf remembers him can be answered in two ways. Yes, Adar could have wronged him before, but…since Sauron may already be at large here, hiding in another body, I believe he checked to see if his old lieutenant recognized him.
I’m not convinced Halbrand stopped Galadriel from killing Adar to save she, either, and the way he walked away when asked who he was might give it away. But now he’s the king of the Southlands, accepted all too easily by the people he left all those years ago. This week’s stinkiest dialogue goes to Bronwyn, who asked, “Is it true? Are you the king that was promised to us?” when confronted by the returning half-rim. Nobody talks like that, do they?
After a promising start, this series has left its big hairy feet behind. World building takes time, but even so it took far too long for not very little to happen. All that changed here, as the storylines tumbled into each other in a really nerve-wracking way.
I loved the arrival of the Númenóreans on horseback – director Charlotte Brändström said it was inspired by the battle tactics of mounted Ukrainian Cossacks – and it was hard not to think of the Rohirrim riding out of The Two Towers into Helm’s Deep to make the day to rescue . Galadriel and Halbrand’s hunt for Adar was also exciting.
Tonally, the series has been hard to pin down so far – it can feel like one minute the Harfoots are wandering whimsically and the next someone’s throat is being cut – but this has been more balanced in that regard (though I’m afraid I’ve closed Bronwyn’s wound , might have been too much for some).
Ultimately, I think this was a reward for those who stayed true to the faith – this was the level I expected the series to reach as the story took off. For those with a more negative opinion than my own, it should be enough to convince them to come back.
Notes and Observations
Arondir’s explanation of planting seeds before the battle was a nice reminder of the beginning of the episode where Adar planted a handful of seeds in the ground before the orcs attacked the watchtower. I also had to think of this woman in Ukraine earlier this year who presented a packet of sunflower seeds to a Russian soldier.
When Theo asked Bronwyn to recite the comforting words she used when he was scared as a child, I expected something more scathing than, “In the end, the shadow is just a small and ephemeral thing. There is light and high beauty forever beyond his reach. Find the light and the shadow will not find you.” What’s wrong with “There, there”?
Speaking of Isildur’s mother, who was mentioned several times in this episode… Elendil was married to a Númenórean, but Tolkien never mentioned her name.
We can certainly forgive Theo for showing Adar where the sword hilt was, but that was a horrible hiding from Arondir.
What is the loss Theo was talking about? We still don’t have an answer as to the identity of his father, which I think will be important in the coming seasons. There’s more to this guy than a bad haircut and a scar on his arm, mark my words.
At a Q&A in London earlier this week, showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay revealed that they got the idea for creating Mount Doom from the geological father of one of the show’s writers. He told them it was possible to erupt a volcano if there was enough steam pressure. Never let The Rings of Power not be realistic.
At the same Q&A, they revealed that Brändström, who directed this episode and the seventh next week, will return for season two to direct four episodes.
What did you think? Was the fight everything you hoped it would be? Give your opinion below…
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