’The Rings of Power’ Episodes 5-6 Spoiler Discussion
Whether you are a fan of The Rings of Power or not, it’s hard to deny that episodes 5 and 6 have pushed the narrative further quite a bit and presented a lot of interesting discussion points.
At this point, while Galadriel has been at the forefront of the series so far, it’s hard to deny the true heroes of the first season have been Arondir and Bronwyn. And I say that as someone who wasn’t particularly impressed with their storyline, but after all, it’s absolutely worthy of the name Lord of the Rings. They begin this two-episode arc with a big letdown, as a good chunk of their line of defense is joining the enemy, something that will come back to haunt them in the following episode more than once.
Overall, episode 5 felt like another season premiere, as it was mostly setup for what was (and is) to come later. It’s all about placing all the pieces on the table the right way so that we are ready for the end of the season. Part of it was already paid off in the new second episode of the season, a.k.a. episode 6, and the rest I’m sure will be paid off in the next two episodes. For instance, episode 6 needed to finally close the arc on Theo’s hilt, and for that, Arondir needed to be in the know, and Waldreg also needed to join Adar’s ranks. In that scene, we also learned Adar doesn’t like to be confused with Sauron, something that episode 6 revisited.
Up until this point, I wasn’t sure whether Adar would be a Sauron follower or someone who wanted nothing to do with the Dark Lord. In episode 6, the writers did a great job yet again when they solved that mystery, but did it by adding another one on top of it — Adar is clearly not fond of Sauron (in a neat move, they also clarified that he loves his orcs and does not consider them cannon fodder, but his children), but it’s obvious he didn’t kill him either, so what’s going on here? What did really happen? And, already jumping ahead for a moment, why was Adar looking for Theo’s sword and trying to create Mount Doom? I guess that he is trying to conquer the lands that will one day become Mordor for himself and his orcs, only to be later conquered by Sauron and his legions instead. But why the Fire Mountain? I’m really curious about this. This is also something that completely threw me off guard — I expected that mountain in the back to be Mount Doom, but I did not expect the volcano to erupt so early in the series. In hindsight, though, this was a great move by the writers of already establishing the Middle-earth that we know from the Third Age stone by stone. They are not sinking Númenor, creating the Shire, or even forging the rings just yet, but we already know things are coming, slowly and surely.
Episode 6 finally gave us the encounter that for some reason I wasn’t expecting, and I’m so happy I didn’t — Galadriel and Adar. The chase sequence was one of my favorite moments of that very intense episode, and it was just the beginning, because the interrogation scene was just as good for me. And in these scenes, the writers also wrapped up another big question mark of the first season — who is really Halbrand? The “Halbrand is Sauron” storyline has been one of the most popular theories online about the series, but I honestly was never on board. (I think we’ll meet Sauron in the season finale, possibly in Lindon or Eregion, and it will not be anyone we’ve met before.) For me, the most attractive Halbrand theory is that he will later become the Witch King. But for now, he’s one of the good guys, and the writers let the audience know right away when he went for Adar’s horse instead of Galadriel’s.
All of that being said, who knows? Sauron is also known as The Deceiver, and he might just as well be deceiving me now. I hope the next couple of episodes will bring a conclusion to this question, though I think there is another hint that we’ve yet to meet Sauron — the cultists from episode 5. We met these three in one of the trailers, and (speaking of which) they deceived most people into thinking that their leader was actually Sauron. This is not the case, as The Rings of Power executive producer Lindsey Weber revealed to TIME Magazine this summer that is not Sauron, though the cultists do come from the lands of Rhûn. They are most likely Sauron worshippers who are looking for The Stranger, thinking that, as Waldreg did, he is a force of evil or even the Dark Lord himself.
This leads us directly into The Stranger, and one of my favorite fan theories I’ve read online. The theory reads as follows: as I’ve alluded to earlier, the show has connected three of the four main storylines, as Galadriel’s adventures set a concurrent timeline for Elrond’s shenanigans, the Númenor stuff, and the Southlanders. So far, the harfoots are completely disconnected (as they canonically should be) from everything else — and maybe even as far as the timeline goes. There was a connective thread that linked all storylines in the first episode, the landfall of the meteor that contained The Stranger. But what if they were, all of them, deceived, for another meteor made landfall?
If we look at the Middle-earth map, it is actually quite clear that no standard meteor would cross through all of those lands at once. The theory says there are two meteors, containing two Meteor Men. The first one landed earlier than the second one, and the person inside it, of evil nature, set up a cult and sent them to look for the other Meteor Man. (The cultists are carrying a sign with the same constellation that The Stranger is obsessed with, so they must have some answers for us.) That would mean there are actually two timelines — Galadriel lives in the past, and the harfoots a certain amount of time in the future. And whoever is able to lean The Stranger one way or the other (be it the harfoots or the cultists) will change the course of Middle-earth. These two Meteor Men could be the blue wizards, two characters that we don’t know a lot about from Tolkien’s writings, something that works to the benefit of the showrunners. It is just a theory, of course, and nothing to get attached to.
I’ve got one more storyline to go, and it’s a juicy one! Episode 5 saw a lot of development on the elves’ storyline and finally sold me on the character of Elrond. I’ve been a bit apprehensive about the way the writers were using the character (while loving Robert Aramayo’s performance), but in episode 5, they finally gave the character some decision-making power, which allowed him to shine. Durin and Elrond’s friendship is the absolute heart of the show, and Aramayo did such an outstanding job when weighing the decision of what to do about his oath. I expected this moment to come in the series, obviously, but I must admit that it happened much earlier than I’d anticipated.
However, there is a mountain worth of lore here to explore. The showrunners took a lot of liberty when giving mithril an origin story, something that Tolkien never did, but it worked for me. (It also doesn’t necessarily break canon, as it is treated as a legend, an apocryphal tale.) But I’m even more interested in the powers at play here. Gil-galad and Celebrimbor were clearly playing with Elrond, as we’d predicted, but the real question is, are they being played with? Is the Lindon tree really poisoned, and if so, who did it? I find this part really exciting — we know Sauron will infiltrate the elves’ ranks, but what if he already did? What if it was Sauron who poisoned the tree? And, regardless of whether that’s the case, what if it was Sauron who convinced Celebrimbor that it is mithril what can save them?
I find that the most exciting scenario possible for a variety of reasons. First, it won’t even matter if the “apocryphal tale” is canonically true or not, because the elves will not use mithril to save themselves. It also makes a lot of sense for Sauron’s plan to make elves and dwarves go to war against each other over a lie (something worthy of the name Sauron The Deceiver), and secondly, because there would be nothing more worthy of the name Lord of the Rings for me than an unlikely friendship being what caused Middle-earth to fall. There would have been no way for Sauron to know about Elrond and Durin’s past, and therefore, he couldn’t predict that the dwarves would voluntarily give the elves their alleged salvation.
Going into this second half of the season, I was admittedly more curious to see how the Númenor/Galadriel storyline progressed, and while still very invested in that, I am more interested than ever in the Elrond and Durin subplot. I also cannot fail to mention that Durin plainly stealing a table from Lindon is, by far, one of the best jokes in all the Lord of the Rings live-action content.
Some additional notes:
- Episode 6 didn’t show us any Pharazôn, but episode 5 already teased a lot of what’s to come in the next few seasons from this character. He will be a key player, and his power hunger will come back to haunt everyone on the island. I was giddy.
- I was also sad we didn’t get any Eärien, but it seems like she will be the one holding down the fort while his family, and the Queen, are away — she has the ear of Pharazôn’s son, and that could turn out to be very useful.
- The training sequence in episode 5, with Galadriel and the young Númenor soldiers was a great idea on paper, but it lacked a bit of execution. Director Wayne Che Yip has been behind some of my favorite sequences in The Rings of Power, but he’s also been behind some of the weakest moments, particularly when it comes to the use of slow motion, and that happened here a bit too. Had Bayona directed this scene, I think it would have been one of the highlights of the season.
- In episode 6, we got to see Galadriel’s absolute mastery in battle, but with a less opulent scene where she just dodged several orc weapons. I nearly fell from my seat when I saw that.
- One of my favorite moments in episode 6 was when Arondir recognized Galadriel. “Commander of the Northern Armies!” That filled my heart with joy.
- I would like, however, to point out my least favorite aspect of episode 6 (one that, otherwise, I thought was an absolute knockout). I’ve mentioned before how in episode three, the filmmakers went rogue for a moment and embraced the Game of Thrones style of gratuitous violence. Episode 6 of The Rings of Power felt a lot like that at times, with a lot more blood spilling than I’ve ever needed in Lord of the Rings, and some very gory eye violence. It is of course the moment when Arondir was facing off against the giant orc right before they called a premature victory. Bronwyn comes from behind to save the day, but there is no way that, when she pushed the orc to stab him, the orc wouldn’t in turn accidentally stab Arondir. That was a bit much for me.
- To throw it back to the fun stuff for a moment, I appreciated how much episode 6 paid homage to the movies. Galadriel chasing Adar felt a lot like the Ring Wraiths going after Arwen in Fellowship of the Ring; Númenor’s arrival was totally inspired by the Rohirrim; and the battle in the village felt a mix between the fall of the Westfold and the battle against the wargs in The Two Towers.
The Rings of Power will be back this week with its seventh episode, the last to go before the season finale airs on October 14. Prime Video revealed a new poster to promote the final stretch over the weekend. Check it out below:
Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as authors like Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.