By Janie Walenda
As “Rings of Power” continues to tell its sprawling story, complete with an ensemble cast and multiple locations, its third episode “Adar” begins to bring the plot into focus.
Perhaps the most exciting development in this episode, at least from a plot perspective, is the introduction of Númenor, and with that, Isildur. This city and its people were central to some of the stories in the “Silmarillion,” and will be central going forward in the “Rings of Power.”
Elros, Elrond’s brother, founded Númenor. Since they are both Half-Elves, the brothers are given a choice: to become Elves or Men. Elrond chooses to be an Elf, while Elros chooses Man-kind. He, along with the faithful men who fought alongside the Elves, are granted long lives and find the city of Númenor. Elros began a great line of kings, including Aragorn from “Lord of the Rings.” While none of this is referenced in the show (yet), a statue of Elros’s and Elrond’s father, Eärendil, is seen as Galadriel and Halbrand enter the great city.
While I didn’t care for either Galadriel or Halbrand after the first two episodes, both of them grew on me in this episode. Galadriel feels closer to her “Lord of the Rings” characterization as she displays some of the wisdom that she is best known for. We also learn a lot more about Halbrand in this episode. We learn that he’s a blacksmith, he has a violent side and past that he’s trying to run from, and he is a King of the Southlands, the humans who fought with Morgoth. While the episode ends with Galadriel hoping to redeem past conflicts, there are many hints in this episode that Halbrand will eventually fight against Galadriel.
One popular theory is that he’s Sauron in disguise. During this age, Sauron can change form and often used that to manipulate others. Without going into possible spoilers for future episodes, a disguised Sauron plays a massive part in two of the storylines “Rings of Power” has set up, one of them being in Númenor. Another possible option is that Halbrand will become the Witch King, the leader of the Nazgûl. This iconic “Lord of the Rings” villain was once a king of man who Sauron corrupts. Some lines of Halbrand’s dialogue hint at how likely this corruption may be.
While the Númenor storyline may be the most exciting plot-wise, my favorite storyline from episode three was Arondir and the Orcs. Everything about the Orcs is done perfectly. From the practical effects and makeup to the viciousness and terror they evoke, they are incredibly strong secondary villains. The fight scene between the Elves and Men against the Orcs is thrilling and extremely inventive, making it the most enjoyable scene of the episode, with some high stakes. While I wasn’t sold on Ismael Cruz Córdova’s acting last week, he was fantastic this week and brings a lot of gravitas to some heavy scenes. With the cliffhanger reveal of Adar, this storyline is the one I am most excited to check back in with next week.
The third storyline in this episode is a return to Nori and the Harfoots. While this is arguably the least interesting part of the episode, I still find the exploration into the Harfoot tradition and culture intriguing. It’s very far removed from what we know the Hobbits to be, but we can see some common threads, like the aversion to danger.
“Rings of Power” is somewhat at risk when it comes to the Hobbits, because the more we have Hobbit protagonists, the less extraordinary Bilbo’s and Frodo’s journeys are. However, I think that “Rings of Power” has done a good job with Nori, especially considering the possibility that the Stranger is Gandalf. The idea that the reason Gandalf believes in the Hobbit’s adventuring abilities stems from his relationship with Nori is a very sweet idea, albeit a bit lore-breaking.
One of my favorite small moments of the episode was the reveal of what happened to Poppy’s family. It is a great example of “Show don’t tell,” and it adds some depth to the character and her interactions with Nori.
As far as the technical elements go, the show remains strong, as the visuals and aesthetics of “Adar” remain as jaw-dropping as the first two. Episode three carries over everything that makes the first two episodes enjoyable while focusing the plot and providing a clear path forward. The show seems to have found its destination, and I cannot wait to get there.
“Rings of Power” is now streaming weekly on Amazon Prime.
Janie Walenda is a sophomore Global Business major and the A&E editor for Cedars. She is passionate about musicals, animation, and cold brew.