LOTR: The Rings of Power continues to astound with its glorious visuals, beautiful score, and thrilling high-fantasy presentations as it concludes its fifth episode. Though the plot has been a bit slow-going so far, this episode sees a couple of huge sea changes as it sets the pieces for the season’s big conflict.
Episode 5: “Partings” is the third episode with Wayne Che Yip at the helm as director, and he won’t be back until the season finale. Justin Doble, who has a co-writing credit on Episode 3 and a career writing and producing shows like Stranger Things, is the lone writer on this piece.
“Partings” finally brings the chaos in Númenor to a crescendo and a fitting end. Galadriel seeks to arm a fleet and sail to Middle-earth to do battle with the rising tide of evil. Halbrand seems to want nothing more than to settle down as a blacksmith’s assistant, but both his new Elven frenemy and his destiny seek to deny him that peace. Pharazon is compelled by the people of the kingdom to stop the army from rising. Many citizens bristle at the idea of working with an Elf, but the voyage is set to begin regardless. Galadriel gets her first action scene in a while, and it works as well as her previous ones. It’s exciting to see the mightiest of the Elves put the armor back on and prepare for battle. This plot line has reached a fitting end and the show is prepared to move into its next phase.
As Númenor prepares to send ships to battle the newly risen evil forces in Middle-earth, Bronwyn and Arondir find themselves struggling to survive them. The humans of the franchise have a long and unpleasant history of siding with villains, and they’re prepared proudly to make that mistake again. As the remaining human settlement struggles to keep morale, a shadow camp emerges insisting that serving Adar is the best path forward. Watching people look at their situation and decide to lay down their weapons and serve the obviously evil overlord when survival seems impossible otherwise is heartbreaking. Bronwyn points out that it’s been the go-to survival strategy for humanity over the years, then mentions that it might even be human nature. This is a fascinating philosophical point about free will, even in the most treacherous situations, that seems like it’ll have more weight as the series goes on.
The Harfoots are back in “Partings”, and they’re in the midst of their yearly migration. Nori and her charming little family are keeping up, thanks to the help of the mysterious man who fell to Middle-earth. Their journey first takes the form of a brief musical montage, zooming out to some classic Indiana Jones-style dotted lines on maps to chart their course. It feels like a throwback to older methods of storytelling, but it fits the simple life of the Harfoots well. The long path eventually brings the little folk into the blighted woods that once held Arondir and his men. It’s interesting to see the two storylines converge, and it reveals new layers to the giant man from the stars. The ongoing race to determine which character is secretly Sauron continues, but another few candidates are eliminated aggressively.
There’s so much going on in Rings of Power, but the final three episodes seem set to finally bring the disparate plot lines together. The stage is set for a series of grim “all is lost” moments, followed by the series’ flagship massive battle. The Dwarves are joining the Elves, Númenor is sending in the marines, and Adar is preparing to destroy humanity and potentially blot out the sun. The stage is set, all that’s left is to see how the series pays off all the fantasy concepts it’s spent around five hours setting up. When people are binge-watching this show in a month or two, the next few episodes are going to be the ones that matter the most. Taking the episodes as they premiere, however, there have been upsides and downsides. This is probably the strongest single episode since the premiere.
“Partings” has everything one could want from an episode of a Lord of the Rings series. Clashes of swords, battles of will, long chats about friendship, the classic duel of good and evil, little dudes running around and having fun. It’s all the essential ingredients with a solid dusting of philosophical intrigue. Rings of Power may have dragged its feet getting to where it’s going, but, when the next episode’s credits conclude, it’ll be there. Everything is coming to a head, and it’s becoming very exciting to see how this adventure could wrap up. Though the show has already been greenlit for a second season, the importance of the next three episodes can’t be overstated. Fans will have to tune in to see how it all pays off, but the rising tide has been powerful.
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