Trading in last week’s filler for non-stop action, Episode 6 of Rings of Power offers up a tantalizing question.
Welcome back, men and women of the Southlands, to another recap of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. This week we’ll be covering Episode 6, “Udûn,” and as always, there will be spoilers, so please proceed with caution.
After last week’s overstuffed filler episode, “Udûn” hits like a very large orc with a very big hammer. Moving at a breakneck pace with some genuinely dazzling sequences, we finally see some more significant pieces falling into place. With Adar’s legion closing in on the villagers taking refuge in the watchtower and the army of Númenor sailing for Middle Earth, it’s a literal race against the clock for the people and elves of the Southlands.
Adar (Joseph Mawle) , after rallying his Orcs with cries of “Nampat” (Death in the black speech) find the watchtower seemingly abandoned. The only one remaining is Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova), who knows just where to fire his arrows to bring the tower down on the invading Orcs—fire and all. Knowing it’s just enough to slow them down, the remaining people fall back to the village, where they’ve devised some clever booby traps to trap the orcs, allowing them to pick them off with arrows and rocks from the rooftops. Too bad nobody told them these are Summer Orcs: some are orcs, some are not. Rather, Adar has dressed the humans who defected to him last episode as orcs and set them out to attack the village. So the triumphant battle was less a triumph and more a tragedy, putting up enough of a fight to wear the villagers out so that the Real Orcwives of Middle Earth can swoop in and take the village without breaking a sweat. Pretty mean trick!
Adar wants Arondir to give him “what he came for” – Theo’s spooky sword hilt isn’t just a weapon, it’s also a key. Arondir is ready to let every last villager get stabbed to keep it from Adar. Still, when an injured Bronwyn (Nazanin Bondiadi) is the next in line, Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) spills the beans, handing over the hilt to Adar. Adar doesn’t get a chance to enjoy it, as dawn has brought a new challenge: the army of Númenor led by Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), who came here to kill orcs and chew bubblegum. What follows is some truly spectacular battle scenes, with Galadriel and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) chasing Adar down into the forest. Halbrand is ready to put some holes in Adar’s hide. He asks Adar, “Do you remember me?” Adar does not, but in a bid to get aerated, asks Halbrand if he hurt someone Halbrand loved. A woman, maybe? Or a child?
Here is where I pause the recap to offer wild speculation: the internet seems to think that it’s Halbrand, and not Adar, who is Sauron, a theory that no doubt gains some traction in this episode as Adar, under questioning from Galadriel, admits to cutting up Sauron into bits after he spent too long experimenting with “his children.” Adar, you see, is one of the Morindor, the sons of the dark, Elves tortured and twisted by Morgoth. The first Orcs! “We prefer Uruk,” Adar tells her. While Adar seems mystified and maybe even a little afraid of Halbrand, he tells Galadriel that he is not the only Elf to be twisted by Morgoth, and calls her “Uruk” before Halbrand pulls her away.
The people of Middle Earth and Númenor rejoice in the day’s victory. Arondir introduces Bronwyn to Queen Regent Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), and they congratulate each other somewhat awkwardly. Miriel has Halbrand pulled away from the sexually fraught heart-to-heart he’s having with Galadriel (seriously, how does she have so much chemistry with every person in this cast?) to introduce the King to his people. Cue the short-lived celebration!
While everyone is celebrating, Galadriel returns the sword hilt to Arondir. He unwraps it….and finds a regular old hatchet instead! Where did that sword hilt key thing get off to? Adar passed it off to the old coot Waldreg (Geoff Morrell), who found the spot in the watchtower where it goes. Turns out it opens up the watchtower dam, flooding the tunnel Adar and his Orcs dug. At first, it seems as though the tunnel might head directly for the village, but instead, it opens up inside the mountain, which is (naturally) an active volcano. Mount Doom goes kablooey, and the villagers run for cover while Galadriel waits for the ash and fire to swallow her up. And that’s the end of the episode!
While it’s a pity to see the soft green of the Southlands turned into a smoky cauldron, it’s a thrilling turn of events seeing Mordor at the moment of its creation, not to mention Galadriel’s truly astonishing feats of horseback. Remember that moment from The Two Towers when Legolas swings himself up onto Gimli’s moving horse? Galadriel has about five moments like that, that had me on my feet, fist-pumping, yelling “Get that bread!” to an empty house. Hopefully, next week we see what this means for the people of the Southlands, and Halbrand, whose whole kingdom just became Middle Earth’s biggest ashtray. Until next time, keep to the path, proud Harfoots.