Beware – this piece contains spoilers
This week, the long-brewing battle in the Southlands between man and orc (and a few important elves) finally erupted – literally. There were twists and turns galore as the upper hand was repeatedly won and lost on the battlefield. Sadly, with all that action going on there was no time to check in on either the Harfoots or the ongoing intrigue between the elves and dwarves surrounding the mining of that magical Mithril. With just two episodes of season one of The Rings of Power left to go, here’s where things stand:
Arondir outwits the orcs
We open this week with Adar (Joseph Mawle) leading his army of orcs in an attack on the Ostirith watchtower. When they arrive, however, there’s nobody to be seen. Crafty elf bowman Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) has booby-trapped the structure, and after letting loose a few flaming arrows he brings the tower crumbling down on the orcs trapped inside.
Outside the walls the spared humans celebrate, but this battle is far from over. They reconvene in their village, where Arondir and Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) help them prepare for another attack. The first batch of invaders are seen off, but the second wave of orc archers prove a more formidable adversary. Bronwyn is badly injured, and has to be carried to the tavern where her teenage son Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) helps Arondir perform emergency arrow-removal surgery. Adar arrives at the tavern too, still searching for Sauron’s black hilt. To save Bronwyn’s life, Theo makes the fateful decision to hand over the mysterious weapon.
Here comes the cavalry
Just then, the cavalry arrive. Having set sail from Númenor in the last episode, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Lord Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) ride into the Southlands in the nick of time to turn the tables. The Númenórean army makes short work of the orcs, while Galadriel pulls off some impressive stunt riding on her way to capturing Adar. She interrogates him about the whereabouts of Sauron, and Adar claims to have killed him. She doesn’t believe him, and promises to obliterate every one of his kind before killing him last. “It would seem I’m not the only elf alive who’s been transformed by darkness,” replies Adar mockingly. “Perhaps your search for Morgoth’s successor should have ended in your own mirror”.
In the village, the victorious humans prepare a feast. For the first time, Bronwyn is introduced to Halbrand. “Is it true,” she asks him. “Are you the king we were promised?” “Yes,” he replies, as triumphant cheers hail “the true king of the Southlands!” Meanwhile Arondir returns what he thinks is Sauron’s hilt to Theo, but when the boy unwraps the package he discovers an ordinary axe inside. Adar has tricked them, sending the real hilt off with Sauron loyalist Waldreg (Geoff Morrell). The old landlord takes it to the ruins of the watchtower, where its true purpose is revealed: it’s a key which quite literally opens the floodgates. Water surges forth, filling the tunnels the orcs constructed under the Southlands and eventually setting off a volcanic eruption in Mount Doom. Just as the elves and humans thought they were celebrating a victory, a cloud of fire and ash spreads over the Southlands and darkness falls.
Trailers for this episode had teased the possibility that the identity or whereabouts of big baddie Sauron might finally be revealed this time out, but with only two instalments remaining we’re still none the wiser as to who the sinister sorcerer might be. Adar’s fanciful claim to have killed him can obviously be dismissed, if only because we know Sauron will be around to play the eponymous role in The Lord of the Rings in a thousand years’ time. It’s been rumoured all season that he could be hiding in plain sight as another character, but the potential candidates are thinning fast. Adar seems to have ruled himself out, while Halbrand is fighting alongside Galadriel on the other side. Will the real Dark Lord please stand up?
‘The Rings of Power’ is on Amazon Prime Video. Start your 30-day free trial and watch with Prime today.