The Lord of the Rings spinoff’s latest episode, “Partings,” has intrigue to spare.
Welcome to your weekly recap of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. This week we’ll be diving into episode 5, “Partings,” which answers a few questions but raises even more. As always, please be aware there will be spoilers. You have been warned.
It’s hard to believe that it’s taken five episodes for someone to break into song, but “Partings” gives us a lovely ballad from Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) as the Harfoots make their way to The Grove. Nori (Markella Kavenagh) tells The Stranger/Not Gandalf (Daniel Weyman) the Grove is a lovely place full of food where they can winter in safety, though there are “many perils” along the way. The Stranger, still learning to communicate, wonders if he is a peril to them, which Nori strongly disputes.
I wouldn’t be so sure of that, sweet Nori, as we cut from the happy Harfoots on their pilgrimage to three mysterious figures dressed in white, staring down the crater made by The Stranger’s dramatic arrival. Tall, fierce-looking, and gorgeously androgynous, the three are not elves but don’t seem entirely human. While we get no indication of who they are and who they work for, my money is on them being Maiar, possibly servants of Morgoth. In any event, these three look plenty capable of wiping out every Harfoot between them and The Stranger without breaking a sweat.
Further complicating matters, Adar (Joseph Mawle) is letting Wargs just run loose in the forest as the Harfoots pass through. The Stranger uses magic to scare the animals away, hurting himself, but saving Nori and Poppy. He puts himself into a magical ice trance to heal his injuries. Too bad that Nori picked that moment to get curious. She touches The Stranger’s arm, and the healing ice hurts and scares her. This upsets him, but maybe not as much as it should. If The Stranger turns out to be anyone other than Gandalf, I will have to find a big fat crow to eat.
While his beasties are running loose, Adar is busy soaking up the sun when one of his hench orcs informs him the tunnel is complete. Adar tells the unfortunate Orc that soon the Sun “will be gone, and with it the part of me that knew its warmth as well.” That sounds like something a Sauron would say! Remember last week when Adar sent Arondir back to the humans with a message? The message was that they either swear to him, leave the Southlands, or die.
Led by Waldreg (Geoff Morrell), the old coot hiding the evil sword hilt in his barn, half of the humans abandon the tower to Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova), deciding the Devil you know is always preferable to the Devil you don’t. Waldreg names Adar as Sauron, which seems to send Adar into a rage. Adar doesn’t confirm or deny it, instead telling Waldreg that loyalty to him can only be paid in blood. He demands Waldreg kill Rowan (Ian Blackburn), Theo’s (Tyroe Muhafidin) best friend and partner in crime.
Meanwhile, on Numenor, Elendil (Lloyd Owen) has nothing but passive-aggressive scorn for Isildur’s (Maxim Baldry) Executive Dysfunction. This is the first time we’ve seen Elendil be anything other than absolutely lovely. If he were being a dick to anyone else, it might bother me. Let’s be real, Isildur is kind of the worst. Isildur is trying to wheedle his way onto the mission to Middle Earth, but neither his friends nor his father wants him there, considering how well things went with his sea trial. Elendil says that someday he hopes Isildur will find something he cares about over everything else while we, the audience, wince in unison. Sly as he is, Isildur does manage to earn himself a place on board, naturally, after rescuing Pharazôn’s (Trystan Gravelle) son Kemen (Leon Wadham) as he tried to sabotage the boats bound for Middle Earth.
After last week’s episode, “Partings” feels overstuffed and sluggish.
Kemen’s misguided attempts to halt the mission seem rooted in the bizarre xenophobic sentiment shared by most of Numenor. For his part, Pharazôn sees the mission as an opportunity. If the Elves and the Men of Middle Earth owe him one after this? So much the better. Oh, buddy, this is not going to end well for you.
Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) spends the entirety of “Partings” either placating Queen Regent Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), castigating Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), or helping Elendil train the recruits at orc slaying. There’s a very excellent swordfight between Gaddy and Isildur’s bros, which earns Valandil (Alex Tarrant) a promotion to Lieutenant. In the end, Galadriel’s cajoling and corralling works. Miriel, Elendil, and Halbrand—looking very fine in some kingly armor—all depart on boats for Middle Earth.
Back in Linden, Durin the younger (Owain Arthur) isn’t too busy pranking High King Gil Galad (Benjamin Walker) to know that something is very much up in the land of the elves. Gil Galad has some words with Elrond (Robert Aramayo) about what Durin and the dwarves are up to in Moria. He knows that the Durins have found some kind of precious ore. It is created by the power of the last silmaril, and thus sacred to all elves.
Elrond refuses to break the vow he gave Durin that he would keep the Mithrail a secret. Instead, he goes to Durin for counsel. Durin, who seemed to know what Gil Galad and Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) have been up to from the jump, agrees to take Elrond’s case to his father. The urgency being, of course, that Linden has begun to show signs of corruption. The power of the elves is starting to fade. Without them, every other creature in middle earth is pretty much boned. Nobody wants that, with the possible exception of Adar.
After last week’s episode, “Partings” feels overstuffed and sluggish. Too much intrigue, too many pieces on the board, and not enough movement. But with the departure of the fleet from Numenor and the arrival of these mysterious new players who seem to be on The Stranger’s trail, it’s more likely that “Partings” was more stage setting than filler. Halbrand is ready to take up his crown, and Galadriel is doubtless about to give Gil Galad and Elrond a genuine elvish heart attack when she arrives with an army from Numenor. And won’t that be worth a watch?