“The Great Wave” pushes the story as the show finds momentum.
Welcome back, proud seafarers of Numenor. It’s time for another recap of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. This time we’ll be going over episode 4, “The Great Wave.” As in previous weeks, there remains a spoiler warning in effect, so proceed with caution.
We catch back with Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) still in the Orc pit after the killing of his entire company. “The Great Wave” finally gives mysterious Adar (Joseph Mawle) some screen time. He’s not an orc but a very pale and scarred elf. He seems content to let the Orcs call him “Father”—Adar in Elvish—rather than reveal his actual name. You could, at this point, begin compiling a list of characters likely to be Sauron. The dark lord is, after all, a shapeshifter. Once you had the list, Adar would have to fall reasonably high on that list. That’s especially the case given he’s tearing up the future Mordor, looking for something.
Adar send Arondir to deliver a “message” to the humans taking refuge at the Elven Watchtower. What the message is we don’t get to hear, as Arondir encounters Bronwyn’s (Nazanin Boniadi) son Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin). Found scavenging for food back in the village, Theo now faces certain death at Orc hands. He wields the blade with Sauron’s mark, stolen back in episode 2, to fend off a few orcs. After drawing blood, it becomes a wicked-looking thing made of fire and smoke. Unfortunately for Theo, this is precisely what the Orcs have been tearing up the Southlands looking for. They carry the news swiftly back to Adar.
Meanwhile in “The Great Wave,” the Dwarves have built Celebrimbor’s (Charles Edwards) forge two-thirds of the way to completion. Celebrimbor isn’t at ease with the progress, however, as Durin (Owain Arthur) has seemed off lately, secretive. Elrond (Robert Aramayo) seems concerned at the news, but there is a tone of sly misdirection to Celebrimbor here. The Dwarves, for their part, are no less suspicious of Celebrimbor and, by extension, King Gil-Galad.
Elrond, who seems more genuinely concerned than suspicious, questions Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete) about what Durin’s been doing. After following a conversation between Disa and Durin from afar, he catches the words, “we’re making good progress in the old mine.” You can practically hear the death knell for Moria ringing in those words, but what they’ve discovered in the old mine is a new ore, lighter and stronger than anything seen before. It’s the famous Mithrail, and Durin is mining so deep it causes a collapse, trapping his crew.
Disa prays to the mountain in song, asking it to release the trapped miners. Her song works, saving all the men, but King Durin (Peter Mullan) decides it’s too risky to continue. However, when Elrond offers to take Durin with him to Linden to see the progress on the forge, King Durin approves. He’s keen for them to report back on what the elves are up to.
Meanwhile, back on Numenor, Queen Regent Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) is having terrible dreams of the sea swallowing up the island. Bear McCreary’s pounding score and Aaron Morton’s cinematography give the dream sequence an urgency you can feel in the back of your throat. It envelopes you in tight anxiety that ends with all of Numenor washed away. The guildsman beaten up by Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) last episode is publicly ranting about how low men and high elves are coming into their kingdom and stealing their jobs. Please, our current political climate does not need any more fantasy allegories. Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle) seems to deflect the rabble, but not by explicitly disagreeing. A true politician, after all, knows how to shift a crowd’s opinion. I’m sure he’s going to have a long and successful career. Don’t google it.
For a show that started at an almost glacial pace, it’s gratifying to see the momentum begin to snowball in “The Great Wave.”
Miriel’s solution to the sudden unease the strangers have brought to Numenor is to put Halbrand on trial for his crimes and send Galadriel (Morfydd Clarke) back to the Elves. However, no one is specific about whether this means packing her off to Valinor or sending her back to Gil-Galad in Middle Earth. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because Galadriel tells Miriel she’d Like to Speak To The
Manager King, which earns her a cell right next to Halbrand’s. Not that she has any problems escaping (again) and barging up the tower into the King’s rooms.
There she finds the King not captive but, rather, confined to his sickbed, unable to speak. Miriel and Galadriel finally speak on equal terms as daughters and sisters who have had to watch their loved ones die. In the end, after their heart-to-heart, Miriel agrees that the current people of Numenor can do more to emulate their great ancestors. She announces they will take their fighters to Middle Earth to aid Galadriel in raising Halbrand’s banner and retaking the Southlands.
Elendil (Lloyd Owen) calls for volunteers to join the fight. Isildur (Maxim Baldry) is one of the first to volunteer, feeling especially low after getting him and his friends kicked out of the sea corps. Isildur’s sister Eärien (Ema Horvath) looks on in disbelief. I’m willing to put odds that Eärien will join her father and brother in Middle Earth, considering she is a builder and the city is so clearly the inspiration for Minas Tirith. Maybe not on this trip, but the next one for sure.
For a show that started at an almost glacial pace, it’s gratifying to see the momentum begin to snowball in “The Great Wave.” The pieces are moving into place. First, we have an army of Orcs led by a strange Elf. Then, there’s a tower full of vulnerable humans between Adar and the strange blade. Then there’s Celebrimbor and King Durin, both being suspicious and putting Prince Durin and Elrond’s friendship on a collision course. And somewhere, Galadriel and her human Himbo prince are ready to ride to the rescue with the descendants of legendary heroes who haven’t seen the shores of Middle Earth in centuries. And somewhere in there is a little Har’foot family and their Large Adult Son who is almost certainly not Gandalf. (It’s totally Gandalf). There are many pieces on the board, and the game is just starting.