So it’s Gandalf, right? Everyone is eager to find out who the weird wizard bloke is who fell out the sky during last week’s episode but that’s really not how The Lord Of The Rings works. Moving far more slowly than modern fantasy wannabes like House Of The Dragon, Tolkien’s stories are told at their own pace – and they usually spend ages talking about irrelevant ancestry and singing songs about blackberries.
This week’s episode spends just as much time marinating in the finer details, gently unfolding its own sense of scale to inch the show’s three different storylines in different directions. First up, there’s Galadriel (Morfydd Clark). Stranded at sea with human exile Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), she’s now picked up by Captain Elendil (Lloyd Owen) and taken to Númenor.
A huge part of Tolkien lore, the ancient island kingdom makes its on-screen debut here looking as awesome as it deserves – the biggest city by far in The Lord Of The Rings and a whopping great bit of CGI that does the name’s legacy proud. This, after all, is the fabled seat of power that Return Of The King keeps namedropping.
Unfortunately, as soon as Galadriel turns up, she pisses everyone off. Most humans don’t trust the elves anymore, so Queen Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) secretly orders Elendil to keep her out of trouble. Luckily, Elendil isn’t great at following orders. Loyal to his old king instead, he takes Galadriel to an Elvish library on the edge of town (cue a slow-motion horse-riding montage) where she discovers that the symbol of Morgoth she’s been tracking her whole life is actually a map outlining the mountain range that will later go on to become the evil kingdom of Mordor.
Elsewhere in Númenor we meet Elendil’s kids Isildur (Maxim Baldry) and Eärien (Ema Horvath), and watch Halbrand get into a fight with the locals so he can try and steal a brooch that lets him join the blacksmith union. There’s clearly more to Halbrand than the show is letting on here, and his John Wick fighting skills don’t make things any clearer – but neither does a conversation with Galadriel that hints at him having royal blood (big echoes of Aragorn here…)
Meanwhile, across the other side of Middle-earth, Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) has been captured by an army of orcs. Forced to dig a mud pit with a load of other slaves, he manages to start a prison riot and ends up getting the episode’s best set-piece fighting a giant warg. Botching his escape, he’s captured again and dragged off to meet “Adar” – the next big shadowy character we’re all going to have to wait a week to unmask.
But what about maybe-Gandalf? Now slightly more awake, The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) spends this week accidentally burning things, falling into other people’s tents and messing up the Harfoot’s leaving party. Now hitched to the Brandyfoot caravan, Nori’s (Markella Kavenagh) family grudgingly accept the giant clumsy man their daughter seems to have adopted, but any more clues about who he might actually be are kept very much under wraps.
The Harfoot tribe are on the move. Galadriel and Halbrand have a plan to steal a ship and get back to Middle-earth. And Arondir is about to be served up to the new big bad of The Lord Of Rings. But wherever next week’s episode is headed, you can bet it’ll take the scenic route. No need to rush anything this impressive.
- The arrival of Elendil, and his son Isildur, is kind of a big deal. Both playing a big part in the wars that shape the rest of the story – Isildur is the future king of Gondor who chops off Sauron’s hand and fails to throw the One Ring into the fire. Watch this space.
- She might have a famous dad and brother, but Eärien is not in the books. Halbrand, too, seems to be an Amazon Original, but a lot of fan theories currently have him pegged as the future Witch-King of Angmar, Sauron’s right hand man, or Sauron himself. This week’s royal bloodline reveal only seems to make things stickier.
- Who is Adar? Likely not Sauron himself, Adar looks to be a corrupted elf warlord who leads the orc army until the real boss shows up. Also he’s actor Joseph Mawle, aka Benjen Stark in Game Of Thrones.
‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ releases a new episode every Friday on Prime Video