While I’ve been hard on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power so far, now that the story has found its legs, it’s running. The Rings of Power Episode 4, “The Great Wave” may not be filled to the brim with action, but it is the most beautiful episode yet. It’s also the most in-depth in building the world and expanding the lore and history of the Southlands, Numénor, and finally, Moria.
Last episode left audiences on a cliffhanger as Adar revealed himself. Now in The Rings of Power Episode 4 the plot deepens as nearly every storyline begins to move every character to the Southlands. In this episode, Queen-Regent Míriel’s (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) faith is tested when Numénor’s bigotry towards elves and Galadirel’s (Morfydd Clark) plea for military support causes strife. Isildur (Maxim Baldry) finds himself at a crossroads in his life, unintentionally bringing his friends down with him. Elrond (Robert Aramayo) uncovers a secret in the Mines of Moria and tragedy strikes the Dwarven kingdom. Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) finds himself a target for the orcs still in their town, and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) is given an ultimatum by Adar (Joseph Mawle).
The only thing this episode could have done better was the exploration of hate towards the elves. While it helps to show that Míriel is trying to distance herself from her father’s choices, it’s extremely heavy-handed in how it aims to reflect anti-immigrant sentiment, and of course misogyny. When the two women stand against each other, pushing their power on the other it’s striking. But the strength of their relationship and how it reflects on Numénor’s thoughts and history with elves makes the bad parts feel, well, worse. Galadriel and Míriel’s scenes are so well crafted when it comes to a back-and-forth of arguments that show the series’ allegory for isolationism and everything that comes with it. But sadly, the rest of the attempt falls extremely flat and surprisingly cheesy.
While I have yet an episode of The Rings of Power that is perfect, the way that the story is beginning to build is striking, particularly where the orcs are involved. Adar’s connection to the corrupted elves and the overall set and costuming in the Southlands is absolutely stunning in every way. The conversation between Arondir and Adar is emotional and dark and teases that the history Middle Earth knows may have some fiction involved. Visually striking, the both of them, Arondir and Adar are what I want more of. I want to see them against each other, pushing each other morally.
But the true emotion in The Rings of Power Episode 4 is Princess Disa’s song. While we get to see the love between Disa and Durin, the grandeur of Moria is beautiful—a glory we haven’t seen in full form. However, despite standing above the dwarves, Elrond’s presence is barely felt. Whether that’s the styling decisions making him feel like a modern character injected into high fantasy or the actor himself, I don’t know, but surrounded by the deep-voiced and dynamic Dwarven characters, Elrond is nothing special. This is no more true than when Disa begins to sing after a tragedy in the old mines. Beginning as the background music for Arondir saving Theo from orcs, the episode transitions to Disa singing, her face heavy with fear in a hall surrounded by dwarves. It’s beauty.
A deeply emotional moment, Disa’s voice is crushing. She is fantastic and awe-inspiring and the hall she stands in trumps nearly every setting so far (the practical Southlands taking the cake). But it isn’t only Disa and her song; Durin is also fantastically acted and a character I want to see more from.
I don’t want to find myself being repetitive, but to watch this episode, I rewatched the three before it and the story works better when each small chunk flows into each other instead of waiting for a week in between. Watching the first four episodes back to back helped make it clear that this series is very good, but as a whole, not pulled apart.
Overall, The Lord of the Rings Episode 4 hits resounding highs despite small moments of inconsistency. What I care about with this series is the emotion it can bring. Whether it was giving us hope only to rip away in Episode 3 or singing a prayer for dwarven safety in this one, it’s clear that when the writing is on, it pulls its audience in completely.
The Lord of the Rings Episode 4
The Lord of the Rings Episode 4 hits resounding highs despite small moments of inconsistency. What I care about with this series is the emotion it can bring. Whether it was giving us hope only to rip away in Episode 3 or singing a prayer for dwarven safety in this one, it’s clear that when the writing is on, it pulls its audience in completely.