This is a spoiler review for Episode 5 of The Rings of Power. Check out our review of Episode 4 here.
Tensions are beginning to flare as the fifth episode of The Rings of Power ups the ante in terms of the looming threat that is Sauron. Introducing viewers to the mysterious Whisperers as well as depicting more bad blood between the Elves and the Dwarves (and the Elves and Men, to be fair) the latest installment brings a lot more heartfelt storytelling and blockbuster-worthy visual effects to expand the lore of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
However, before diving into the plot and recapping the events of “Partings,” not enough can be said by how beautiful the song sung by the Harfoot Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) is. Akin to the performance by Pippin in The Return of the King or by the Company of Thorin Oakenshield in An Unexpected Journey, music in Lord of the Rings lore plays a big part in the magic that comes from Tolkien’s world. Even tying in a lyric from The Riddle of Strider (“Not all those who wonder or wander are lost”), longtime fans of the franchise are sure to feel a tug on their heartstrings. Simply a wonderful addition to the overall and ever-growing Middle-earth soundtrack.
Speaking of the Harfoots, the journey to migrate is perilous, indeed. Made all the more difficult with the company of the mysterious and magical Stranger. However, Nori stands by her decision to befriend the man and bring him into her family. While this unsettles the community’s eldest and wisest, the Stranger’s presence saves Nori, her mother, and Poppy from a pack of hungry wolves. Seeing what the Stranger is able to do and the power he harnesses is only going to continue to ramp up the fan theories and predictions about who he will turn out to be. Everyone online has guessed from Gandalf to Sauron. Whoever he turns out to be, his growth and journey to discovering who he is while reclaiming his ability to speak and think will be an exceptional ride, to say the least. Later in the episode, however, a tense moment comes when he seemingly loses control and visualizes the great eye of Sauron, hinting at perhaps a darker nature for the Stranger. A surprising twist that leaves more questions than answers.
Jumping back and forth between the various regions of the Middle-earth map, we see how Galadriel’s mission to save the Southlands and stop the spread of evil. However, this writer chooses to not trust the would-be-king of the territory Halbrand. His true agenda has yet to be revealed and his true allegiance is likely to be with the darkest power to ever exist. That being said, his smug nature is pulled off fairly well by Charlie Vickers, the actor portraying the character, and his chemistry with Galadriel is off the charts. Morfydd Clark shines in this legendary role. While many actors shy away from filling shoes as large as Cate Blancett’s, Clark delivers every episode with the same level of class, charm, and charisma that her predecessor brings.
Finally, perhaps the most exciting story The Rings of Power is telling, so far, is the relationship and jockeying for position between Durin and Elrond. Two very familiar names with fans of Lord of the Rings, seeing how they were going to expand upon their friendship. The uneasy and unsettling paranoia Durin exhibits to the desperation to forge a bond with Elrond, the loyalty they share is powerful. While all the world looks at the different creatures as their enemy with a sense of tribalism always on display, Elrond and Durin stand as perhaps the greatest example of how the world should truly be. As fans see in the stories told across two separate trilogies, this prejudice and segregation never truly disappear. But seeing them feverishly trying to join together in the face of adversity is honorable and a truly great plot device.
Episode 5 expands the story of Lord of the Rings and explains a lot of the lore for newcomers to the series. It offers spectacular visual effects that only advance the story and keep the audience engaged throughout. While many were worried that the series would stumble while getting off the blocks, it only continues to be a weekly treat and a riveting, relentless adventure. – Christian Hubbard
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episodes 1-5 are now streaming on Amazon Prime. New episodes air every Friday.
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