The Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power: Four biggest talking points from episode 4

·4-min read

Beware – this piece contains spoilers

We’ve reached the mid-point of our journey through Middle-earth. The conclusion of this week’s instalment of The Rings of Power means we’re exactly halfway through this eight-episode season. That should mean things are starting to heat up, yet after a promising start to the series the story development seems to have dropped to the pace of a horse in inexplicable slow-motion. For those of us still persevering, here are the biggest questions thrown up by episode four...

Will Halbrand join Galadriel’s voyage to the Southlands?

Much of this episode focuses on Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and her attempts to summon an army of Númenóreans to sail with her to the Southlands and fight the orcs gathering there. Her pleas to Númenor’s Queen Regent Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to support her war on Sauron and his followers repeatedly fall on deaf ears, with the monarch determined to ship her back to Middle-earth alone. That is until the very end of the episode, when Miriel sees the leaves falling from the white tree. This, she tells her people, is a symbol of the “tears of the Valar themselves”, the gods who gave them Númenor in the first place.

Realising it was a mistake not to back Galadriel’s plan, in the final moments of the episode Miriel changes tack and announces that she will “personally escort the elf back to Middle-earth to aid our mortal brethren who are now besieged in the Southlands”. Before long, the people of Númenor are clamouring to go and fight alongside them, and Galadriel finally has her army. What’s not clear is whether Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) will be going with them. He’s out of jail, and (as we learned last episode) Galadriel believes he’s the “lost heir in exile to the throne of the Southlands”, but up until now he’s firmly rejected her entreaties to return to his homeland. Will the sight of a battle-ready Númenórean fleet be enough to convince him to change his mind?

Tyroe Muhafidin as Theo and Nazanin Boniadi as Bronwyn in ‘The Rings of Power' (Amazon Prime Video)
Tyroe Muhafidin as Theo and Nazanin Boniadi as Bronwyn in ‘The Rings of Power' (Amazon Prime Video)

Can Theo resist the temptation of Sauron?

It was a big week for Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), the truculent teenage son of Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi). After whole villages of the Southlands fled the encroaching orcs and evacuated to the safety of the elves’ watchtower, they soon realised they’d made a rookie mistake: leaving all their food behind. Theo decides to go scavenging, despite his mum specifically telling him not to, and ends up back in a village surrounded by orcs. He eventually escapes with a little help from Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), but in the process the orcs learn that Theo has come into the possession of a mysterious black hilt. Troublingly, whenever Theo’s blood comes into contact with the broken blade it reforms in a cloud of black smoke. The orcs are desperate to get the weapon back in their possession, while back at the watchtower Theo learns more about the mysterious object. “It is no sword,” the old pub landlord tells him. “It is a power, fashioned for our ancestors by his master’s own hand… have you heard of him, lad? Have you heard of Sauron?” Given what we know about the corrupting power of magical objects in Tolkien-land, one fears for the future of young Theo.

All that glitters is not Mithril

Meanwhile in Lindon, home of the elves in Middle-earth, work is well underway on the powerful new forge that the dwarves are helping build for Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards). Strangely, however, dwarf prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) is nowhere to be seen. Celebrimbor dispatches Elrond (Robert Aramayo) to find him, and the elf is given the runaround by Durin’s wife Disa (Sophia Nomvete) before eventually tracking his friend to an old mine beneath the Mirrormere lake. There, Durin swears him to secrecy before revealing that the dwarves have been mining Mithril, an intriguing new ore that is, as the dwarf explains: “lighter than silk, harder than iron. As weaponry it would best our proudest blades.” (You may recall that in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins come into possession of a chainmail vest made of Mithril which Gandalf describes as being of value “greater than the value of the whole Shire and everything in it”.) While Durin and Elrond speak, disaster strikes and the mine below them collapses. This leads Durin’s father, King Durin III (Peter Mullan) to close down the whole operation – but surely this isn’t the last we’ve seen of that glittering Mithril?

Where are the Harfoots?

Sadly with all the back-and-forth in Númenor and violence in the Southlands this week, there is no sign at all of the lovable Harfoots. Some critics of the show have suggested that The Rings of Power takes place in a fantasy world that’s too generic, and that’s particularly noticeable when the hobbit-like creatures aren’t present. Come back Nori and Poppy, all is forgiven!

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