Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has found its footing in the last four episodes. By bringing everything closer together, expanding the lore and relationships between different races, and ultimately giving each episode just enough action to capture, The Rings of Power is right past the middle point, and it feels like it.
The Rings of Power Episode 5, like all the others before, splits the story into multiple areas to follow the wide extended cast. It focuses on the Hobbits as the tall stranger begins to show scary powers and the relationship between the dwarves and elves when King Durin(Peter Mullan) visits High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) and confronts him about his want for his ore. It also highlights Numénor’s preparation for battle with Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), causing more strife than unification for the cause, and how Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) handle Adar’s ultimatum.
There is a lot going on in this episode; some of it matters more than others. While the hobbits give us a song (and wonderfully so), their presence in this episode is to build up the mystery around the man who has made a home with their people. Still silent, the manifestation of dangerous powers becomes difficult for Nori (Markella Kavanaugh) to handle. Her once-clear support of the man begins to turn to fear. Numénor also gets some of the spotlights in this episode, but it’s mainly done to build the tension between humans and the decision to fight on an elf’s request.
But the strength of The Rings of Power Episode 5 is how it develops the relationship between the elves and the dwarves, and the elves and nature when their people are in danger. From what we’ve seen, the elves value nature. The antagonism with the orcs comes from the latter being corruptions of elves, but also because of what they do to the land around them. However, the fear of land destruction seems to mean nothing to Gil-galad when it should mean everything when mithril is involved. In their exchange, we get to see boundaries set and clear conflict handled between two Kings with starkly different wants and needs.
However, as the tension between dwarves and elves is highlighted, so is Elrond’s (Robert Aramayo) friendship with Durin. Unaware of why he was sent to confirm the existence of mithril, it becomes wildly apparent that his loyalty to Durin is going to take even more of a front seat in the back half of the season as he finds himself in the center of the push and pull over respect for the dwarves and the preservation of his people. What is quickly becoming my favorite tension in the series and my favorite relationship, Durin and Elrond are who I care about most in this episode.
Elrond isn’t the only elf in focus in this episode. Galadriel also gets the chance to more than just stand around Numénor by besting sailors who are offered a promotion if they can make her bleed. It’s a great sequence that allows Galadriel to show her strength, but at the same time, the fight direction feels like it’s running at half speed. While not an entirely negative point on its own, the fact that we’ve seen other action sequences within the series move much faster makes Clark’s swordwork as Galadriel feel lethargic, and the use of slo-mo is used again in a weird way.
That said, the larger story in Numénor is pushed by politics. While this is being stretched out rather than just explored, the politics of Numénor take on a new element as the violence becomes the answer for some to stop the war they think was started by a war-mongering elf.
The Rings of Power continues to invest in exploring the destruction of the land and the natural world in a way that would make Tolkien smile. Whether Dwarf, Elf, or Orc, each and every one of the races is impacting the world around them. Or, in the case of the humans, sequestered away from the natural world in their stronghold. The natural versus the unnatural is becoming a more prominent theme within the story, which started to turn deeper in the last episode when the Dwarves were trapped thanks to the mithril mine collapsing. This shift is a welcomed change for the series and offers an element so clear in Tolkien’s work that I can’t help but get excited for what’s next.
The Rings of Power Episode 5
The Rings of Power continues to invest in exploring the destruction of the land and the natural world in a way that would make Tolkien smile. Whether Dwarf, Elf, or Orc, each and every one of the races are impacting the world around them or in the case of the humans sequestered away from the natural world in their stronghold.