Beware – this piece contains spoilers
The third episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is titled “Adar”, and you probably shouldn’t read this piece until you’ve seen it. There are some major revelations about where this story’s heading in this episode, so spoilers beware. There is one thing we don’t learn: just who on Middle-earth this “Adar” is. That name isn’t mentioned until the very last moment, when poor old Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) is dragged back into the pit where he’s been enslaved by Orcs.
As he bounces off pitifully, he hears them cry out: “Bring him to Adar!” Who could this monster of depravity be? As we’ll see, the true identity of Adar is just one of the intriguing mysteries thrown up by this latest instalment of Amazon’s JRR Tolkien-inspired fantasy epic. Here are the four biggest questions we need answers to after watching the episode...
What do the humans of Númenor have against elves?
One of the most spectacular sequences in this week’s episode was the arrival of shipwreck survivors Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) to the island of Númenor, sailing through a narrow inlet past towering rock carvings. A quick refresher: Númenor is an island of humans in the far west of the Great Sea. They are the descendants of the humans who sided with the elves in their battle against the dastardly Morgoth, unlike the humans we’ve met in previous episodes in the Southlands, whose ancestors collaborated with Morgoth and his orcs.
Despite this, by the time Galadriel turns up the islanders have cut all ties with the elves. In fact, with the exception of the kind-hearted ship’s captain Elendil (Lloyd Owen) who first plucked Galdriel and Halbrand from the water, everyone seems to be pretty much racist towards them. (In a bit of nominative determinism, we learn that Elendil translates as “The Elf-friend” in Quenya, the ancient elven language Tolkien created). What happened to the rest of the Númenóreans to make them turn so sharply against the elves?
And why are they so concerned about Galadriel turning up?
While the Númenóreans have turned against the elves in general, it seems the arrival of Galadriel in particular is cause for concern. Towards the end of the episode, Númenor’s Queen Regent Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) goes to visit her dad and stutters: “It is here, father. The moment we feared… the elf has arrived.” Has the arrival of Galadriel fulfilled some long-foretold prophecy? And if so, couldn’t they all have acted a bit less surprised to see her?
Can Halbrand reclaim his throne in the Southlands?
Galadriel makes a number of significant discoveries when kindly Captain Elendil takes her to Númenor’s Hall of Laws. Significantly, this ancient library was first assembled by Elros, brother of Galadriel’s old mate Elrond (Robert Aramayo). The first major discovery is that the mark of Sauron she’s been seeing everywhere isn’t just a sigil but is in fact a map of the Southlands. Sauron, she realises, is planning to create a realm there where evil can thrive.
That’s not her only shocking revelation about the region: She also learns that the rightful king of the Southlands is none other than Halbrand, the total stranger she met in the middle of the ocean and was until recently stranded on a raft with. Galadriel finds it hard to chalk that up to chance (she’s not the only one). Visiting Halbrand in jail, she tries to convince him that their meeting was more than fate – it was a sign the pair should travel together to Middle-earth to fight Sauron together. Halbrand isn’t so sure, reminding the eager elf that he’s still a little ashamed of the fact it was his own family who once swore a blood oath to Morgoth. How can she convince him to restore honour to his name and fight alongside her? Tell him it’ll be good for his Elf.
And who the hell is Adar?
We’re three episodes in now, and big baddie Sauron is still nowhere to be seen. Emerging in his place as antagonist is Adar (Joseph Mawle), an evil character we’ve so far only glimpsed. He’s there in the Southlands at the end of this episode, when the orcs drag Arondir in chains to see him. He’s also been teased in promotional material, with images of a spiked gauntlet grasping a terrifying black blade. The biggest clue to his identity, however, came in a brief shot from a recent Rings of Power trailer which showed a figure with long dark hair looking down over a pack of torch-wielding orcs. The strangest thing about this image? The figure has the unmistakably pointy ears of an elf! Could Adar be a fallen elf, somehow turned by Sauron into leading the orcs while he’s in hiding? And could the identity of this mystery elf have some significance to our hero Galadriel? The next chapter can’t come soon enough.
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