“Maybe it’s a lack of Sauron. But with the finale approaching, the climax of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has to be great for this first season to triumph,” says Annlyel James
The Rings of Power has been quite the journey so far. Last week’s episode was electrifying, to say the least, with its intensity raised to an all-time high. It also was the first episode to invoke genuine stakes, allowing us to care deeply for the characters for the first time. This week’s episode builds upon the emotion, delving into the tragedy from which the cliffhanger left us. If you didn’t cry last week when Bronwyn almost died this week was the show’s best chance at producing some tears.
The episode begins hauntingly with Galadriel waking under inches of soot. The world around her has been cast into darkness and the scene is bathed in burnished red. Horses run through the ominous setting on fire, screams fill the air, and it’s utter chaos. She calls for Halbrand twice but there is no response. She does, however, find Theo who is traipsing through the leveled town stunned. Together, they make their way out of the town with little to no hope that the people they care about (Halband, Bronwyn, and Arondir) are even still alive.
That’s how the episode begins. For a little over an hour, the show foregoes action scenes to instead delve into the characters and the relationships that have been forged so far. One of the biggest criticisms about this show is that its characters aren’t that interesting. The two characters that audiences have latched onto and felt invested in since the beginning have been Elrond and Durin. Besides that, the interest in the other characters has been somewhat lackluster.
Arondir has risen in popularity. Especially after last week’s episode which highlighted him as the awesome elf warrior that he is. Joining him are Elendil and Isildur who have risen among the characters people have become invested in. And Adar is a standout favorite for his scene-stealing performance. That being said, there are a lot of other characters that the audience does not care for as much. And this episode’s choice of storytelling was undoubtedly a risky one considering its enjoyment hinges on the audience’s love for the characters.
Throughout the episode I found myself enjoying some storylines more than others. For me, the Harfoots/Stranger storyline is undoubtedly the weakest of the season so far. It’s the penultimate episode of the season and this episode didn’t bring us any closer to knowing who The Stranger is, or what his purpose is, and now we have three creepy ladies chasing after him for another unknown reason. The mystery surrounding him, which used to be one of the most intriguing elements of the show, has now become exhausting.
Elrond and Durin’s enduring friendship is undoubtedly one of the best things about this series and this episode pulls at the heartstrings involving their relationship. Despite that, the mithril storyline is controversial for a reason. It’s yet another complex plot that has been added to a full show of complex storylines, resulting in a heap of drama that’s borderline exasperating.
WAR IN THE SOUTH
Undoubtedly the best portion of the episode belonged to the Numenoreans and Southlanders. And both have benefitted from being the primary focus of the first season. The way the story is built around these characters is truly fascinating. And it feels like it will evolve into something quite epic, intense, and rewarding down the line. I found myself hanging onto every word among these characters. All of who I have grown to care for more and more as the series has transpired.
We’re also getting to see Galadriel become the Lady of Light that we know in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies right before our very eyes. I can’t wait to see how the creation of Mordor and the loss of so many Numenoreans for the cause of her unwavering mission to defeat Sauron will affect her moving forward.
All in all, while the story definitely dialed up the emotion, delving into how each storyline’s problems are affecting the characters, there is undoubtedly something mildly uninteresting about the story as a whole.
Maybe it’s a lack of Sauron. Or maybe it’s because so much of the story feels like it’s being extended longer than it should. But with the finale approaching, I feel like the climax has to be great for this first season to feel triumphant. The Rings Of Power is undoubtedly beautiful. And every cast member, in front or behind the screen, has poured their soul into this passion project. But if this was the first film in a five-movie saga, that grand conclusion that makes a film worth watching is still missing.
Will the finale up the stakes like the sixth episode and conclude in a way that feels powerful and will have audiences desperately awaiting the second season? Or will there be another heap of quiet conversations that ultimately lead to us, the audience, having more questions?
It’s yet to be seen. But a lot needs to happen in next week’s finale. I just hope the episode isn’t rushed to answer all of our burning questions.
“The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power” is now streaming on Prime Video.
Annlyel James is a Senior Correspondent of The Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter where she channels the Force frequently!