‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ finale recap: Sauron’s back, baby!

**Spoilers for 'Alloyed' below**

Who is The Stranger? Could Halbrand be Sauron? When will the Balrog awaken? The Rings Of Power kept us hooked through its first season with several slowly unfolding mysteries – mysteries that could have huge consequences for the wider lore. So in this week’s dramatic finale, it’s a relief when we finally get some answers.

The episode kicks off with a bang. Harfoots Nori (Markella Kavenagh), Poppy (Megan Richards) and Sadoc (Lenny Henry) quickly track down The Stranger in a woods near to camp – but they’re not the first to arrive. In a bombshell moment, The Dweller and her two witchy mates reveal themselves as servants of Sauron (remember him?) – and in an even bigger bombshell, they confess their belief that Daniel Weyman’s lanky old lad is, in fact, the dark lord reborn. He isn’t of course, and in-between some fire-breathing and rock-throwing the witches realise their mistake. Sadly, Sadoc gets caught in the crossfire. The other Harfoots sit and drink in their tribal elder’s last ever sunrise together. You’ll be weeping into your bag of snails.

Back in Númenor, it’s all gone to shit too. Elendil (Lloyd Owen), Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and what remains of the battered Númenórean fleet roll into harbour to find it covered in black drapes. The king, Míriel’s dad, is dead – and while she’s been gone Chancellor Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle) has been stirring up resentment against her leadership. Míriel’s future looks dark – and not just because she’s now blind.

The Rings Of Power
The Dweller and her cronies attack The Stranger. CREDIT: Amazon Studios

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Elsewhere, Elendil’s son Isildur (Maxim Baldry) is still missing somewhere in Mordor, having disappeared amid the ash of Mount Doom’s eruption. The Lord Of The Rings tells us that he survives – and will be nicely placed to spy on any evil-doings that Adar and his cronies get up to.

And that’s that for the men this season. We had a taster of the kind of political drama Númenor might throw up in future, but recent episodes focused more on epic battles and shiny armour. Given Pharazôn’s desire for power, expect fewer Hollywood set-pieces and more Succession-style backstabbing next time out.

In Eregion, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) return from the wars overseas – Halbrand magically healed of all wounds after a quick lie down – and look to finding a cure for whatever disease is killing their pointy-eared pals. Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) can’t work out how to use the Dwarvish mithril Elrond procured, but Halbrand, peculiarly, helps un-stump him. Why not melt down Galadriel’s dagger and use the precious metal from Valinor (plus the mithril) to make three powerful rings (“…for the Elven-kings under the sky…”)? It’s slightly weird that two-thousand-year-old genius Celebrimbor hasn’t thought of this before, but that doesn’t stop his eyes lighting up like dragonfire at the idea. He gets to it.

The Rings Of Power
The Brandyfoots say a sad farewell. CREDIT: Amazon Studios

Meanwhile, Galadriel confronts Halbrand down by the river. “Tell me who you are?” she snarls, clutching a scroll in her shaking hand. What Halbrand isn’t, it turns out, is the King of the Southlands. That royal line was broken eons ago, or so the scroll says. What Halbrand is – and anyone with a bet on, cross your fingers now – is Sauron. Ding ding!

We’ve waited eight long episodes for confirmation – and thanks to a good bit of misdirection via teaser trailers and the finale’s opening scenes, Halbrand’s unmasking almost comes as a surprise. Those lingering sideways stares at Galadriel now make a lot of sense.

Following a struggle, in which Sauron/Halbrand fails to break Galadriel’s mind with some surrealist dream sequences, Elrond (Robert Aramayo) pulls her from the river. The heartbroken elf keeps schtum about accidentally helping the show’s main villain back to power, but does say they won’t be seeing him again. Elrond looks suspicious, in that slightly far-off way only Elrond can – and they turn their attention to the now-finished super-jewellery. Who will claim them? You’ll have to wait and see.

For the last proper scene of the finale, The Rings Of Power heads back to Harfoot HQ. Nori’s family convince her to go off adventuring with The Stranger, leaving them and her BFF Poppy behind. They all cry for a good five minutes, and we cry with them. It’s by far the most moving scene of the series, feeling very like the tone of Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Fittingly, The Stranger outs himself as a fan favourite character from those films with the season’s closing line to Nori: “Always follow your nose”. Gandalf, is that you?!

More power

  • If you watch carefully, you’ll notice the outline of a moth burst from The Stranger’s body as he battles The Dweller. Fans of Jackson’s movies will know the significance of moths to a certain powerful wizard. Yet more proof that Gandalf has arrived?
  • So, we’ve finally got the three elven rings on the table. And yet we don’t see who picks them up off it. In Tolkien’s writings, Galadriel keeps one – and High King Gil-galad later awards the other two to Elrond and Círdan respectively. Círdan isn’t in the show yet, but has been announced for season two. He’s an ancient and wise elf, known as the most skilled shipwright and mariner in the land
  • No dwarves this week, which means we leave them with that final Balrog shot from episode seven. Could season two open with the long-expected downfall of Moria? At least we’ve got something to look forward to…
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‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ is streaming now on Prime Video

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