Episode 6 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finally delivers a much-needed dose of action. Waldreg continues to be the worst as fighting breaks out in the Southlands. If you need to catch up on episode 5, you can find it here. Otherwise, be warned: Spoilers ahead.
Let’s dig in.
Númenor on deck
SUNDERING SEA — The Númenoreans have set sail and Isildur can’t sleep. So he shares a few bites of an apple with this horse (unsanitary!) and heads up on deck, where he runs into Galadriel. They’re getting close to Middle-earth, she says, and they have a little chat about humility, which is a little rich coming from her, but it’s important to mentor the youth. The children are our future. Then Elendil shows up and Isildur scurries away like my parents’ cat when the doorbell rings. Galadriel asks about Isildur’s mom and Elendil goes “she drowned,” in a manner that does not invite follow up questions. Don’t bottle up your feelings, bro! This is a safe space.
The Southland strategy
SOUTHLANDS — When we last left the Southlanders, they were at Ostirith waiting for the orcs to attack and probably feeling like they’d eaten some bad sushi. When we rejoin the party, Adar is delivering his best Ted Lasso pep talk to the crowd of orcs clutching their tiki torches. And who do we see in the middle of it all, standing there like he’d gotten more than he’d bargained for? Friggin Waldreg. The absolute bane of my existence.
The orcs cross the bridge to Ostirith — if you’re bracing for some Helm’s Deep action, it doesn’t quite play out that way. They walk straight in, only to find the place deserted. The vibes are that GIF from Pulp Fiction of John Travolta looking around confused. Long story short, Arondir pops up, fires some arrows and manages to collapse the whole tower on top of Adar, Waldreg and the orcs.
Work smarter, not harder, folks.
Adar giving a locker room pep talk.
The Southlanders aren’t off the hook, though. The next day back at the village everyone is preparing for another attack that night. Arondir tries to destroy the sword hilt, to no avail. Bronwyn has a nice little mother/son moment with Theo, reminding him of something she used to tell him as a child — a bit about “in the end this shadow is a small and passing thing… find the light and the shadow will not find you,” which is a subtle little reference to phrasing Sam uses in The Return of the King at one point.
Bronwyn and Arondir also share some time together back at the well, whispering to each other, for some reason. He starts going on about how they’re going to have a garden one day. My guy, real estate values in the Southlands are about to tank for the next few thousand years. Just FYI. Have you considered crypto?
That night, everyone is breathless waiting for the attack to start. The doom, as they say, is impending. Little torch lights begin popping up over the horizon and it’s just… like… too many, you know? BUT those clever Southlanders have another strategy. They wait for the orcs to cross the bridge and get into the middle of the town, where they use two large flaming carts to trap them into one spot. There’s some other action that happens here like a faulty flint lighter. (I assume it’s flint. As previously stated: I am not a geologist.)
The orcs manage to plow through their fiery confines, though, and start heading for the tavern where the children and anyone else who’s not up to the fight are holed up. Hand-to-hand combat breaks out. It’s like 6 a.m. at Walmart on Black Friday.
Arondir gets into a particularly nasty throw down with an orc who answers the question posed to the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “What are you going to do, bleed on me?” Yes. Yes he is. And it’s horrific. This orc has Arondir pinned down and just bleeds into his mouth. And for some reason Arondir doesn’t close it – he just keeps gritting his teeth while that dark, thick orc blood drips in. ANYWAY. I’m fine. FINE I SAY. *Reaches for the Listerine.*
Finally, it seems as if all the orcs are dead, but just as the Southlanders are breathing a sigh of relief, Arondir makes the grim discovery that under the helmets and masks are their former neighbors – the ones who marched off with Waldreg. The bad news doesn’t stop there. The actual orcs start attacking them, and the Southlanders are out of strategies. In the midst of the chaos, Bronwyn gets shot through the shoulder with an arrow.
The Southlanders try to barricade themselves in the tavern, but Adar (who is still alive despite the mess at Ostirith) and the orcs get in pretty easily. They start killing people until Theo reveals where they hid the sword hilt in order to save Bronwyn, who was next up to be sliced and diced.
That rumbling in the distance? Is it a monster truck rally? A local giant with digestive issues? No! It’s Galadriel and the Númenoreans (new band name, called it!) on horseback, just as the sun is coming up. Arondir quickly tells Galadriel that Adar is escaping with something that shouldn’t be escaped with. She and Halbrand go after him. Just as Halbrand is about to turn Adar into a kabob, Galadriel is all “We need him alive! I need him alive!” (More Hamilton lyrics, heh? heh?)
Back at the village, Galadriel interrogates Adar. Here, we get some exposition on what Adar’s deal is. Galadriel talks about how he’s basically an OG orc. The first Lord Morgoth took elves and tortured and twisted them. In the lore, there ends up being some waffling about orcs’ origin, but if you stick with the Silmarillion, the story is that through cruelty and corruption, Morgoth bred this race in mockery of the elves. Anyway. Adar claims to have killed Sauron and says some other dark angsty crap, and Galadriel makes some pretty specific and grisly threats — to which Adar tells her apparently he’s not the only one who’s been transformed by darkness. If you know what I mean.
Later, Halbrand and Galadriel have a chat by a babbling brook and sort of kind of basically tell each other they like each other? But before I can yell KISS ALREADY at the screen, Halbrand gets summoned by Queen Regent Míriel so she can introduce him to the Southlanders as their new king. Huzzah.
Did you hear that?
Galadriel, meanwhile, gives the sword hilt, wrapped in burlap back to Arondir, who goes over to talk to Theo. Theo’s been sitting with his feelings about the sword. Arondir advises him to give it to the Númenoreans to toss into the Sundering Sea on their way back and then just leaves with it because Theo has made so many SOLID decisions with the sword and can definitely be trusted. Theo unwraps the hilt and OH CRAP it’s actually a small axe.
So where is the real hilt? Friggin Waldreg strikes again. Don’t ask me how he got it or how he survived the collapse at Ostirith. But he uses it to turn the stone lock. Immediately, it’s not good. Stones start rearranging, water is rushing through from every angle.
Outside the village, Elendil is trying to have a father/son bonding moment with Isildur when they hear rumbling. In the village, water starts shooting up from the ground like exploding manhole covers. And remember all the trenches Adar was digging? Those get flooded too. They lead all the way up to that big volcano in the distance (it’s Mount Doom, ok?) and the effect of all that water pouring into the volcano is an explosion worse than the time I poured some pasta water in a pan of olive oil that was still too hot. Bad.
A massive cloud of unwelcome volcano stuff comes rolling down the mountain straight for the village. In a quick shot, we see Adar has escaped the barn where he’s been chained. Galadriel plants herself and faces down the cloud as it swallows up everything in sight.