Full spoilers follow for The Rings of Power episode 3.
Amazon’s live-action Lord of the Rings adaptation spent a lot of its opening two episodes read our spoiler-free review in the event that you haven’t yet fleshing out its expansive fantasy world, multiple storylines, and 22-strong cast of characters. However, while that extensive set-up was created out necessarily for an epic, big-budget Prime Video series like this, some narratives felt sluggish and there is a distinct insufficient compelling action.
Thankfully, The Rings of Power episode 3 titled “Adar” largely rectifies those niggling issues. The show’s latest entry still feel methodical and cautious in a few areas, nonetheless it achieves an improved balance between its various plot threads, ups the stakes in each corner of Middle-earth through surprise revelations, and supplies entertaining action sequences that jack up the strain.
On an island in sunlight
The Rings of Power episode 3 spends a lot of its runtime with Galadriel and Halbrand, who become physical conduits for the show’s audience because they explore a brand-new location not merely in the show, however in a live-action Lord of the Rings capacity: Nmenor.
The castaways are rescued by Elendil, a Nmenorean seaguard captain, and his crew, and so are taken up to the island kingdom of men that Elendil comes from.
As location introductions go, you can find few as visually arresting as Nmenor’s is here now. The scale, scope, and degree of detail of the reclusive isle is spectacular; an eye-popping CGI, Venice-style marvel that does full justice to the splendor and pageantry of this iconic Middle-earth realm. You truly obtain the sense that is another lived-in location in this fictional world, and both subtle and evident references to kingdoms of men we’ve observed in previous Lord of the Rings productions Gondor being decreasing are obvious to see.
But we don’t possess a lot of time to be awestruck by Nmenor’s architecture and idyllic setting. No sooner have Galadriel and Halbrand (and us by proxy) stepped foot on dry land, we’re back history lessons and gripping conversation territory.
Pleasingly, The Rings of Power episode 3 doesn’t overbear viewers with exposition dumps. An instant but necessary walkthrough of Nmenor’s founding establishes the realm’s history, before a suspense-filled introduction to other key Nmenoreans, including Queen Regent Mriel and her confidante Phazaron, lay the foundations for the tense relationship that exists between your kingdom’s proud sub-race of men and their elven counterparts. Galadriel’s verbal dance with Mriel is wonderfully fraught with suspense, also it requires a charm-filled offensive from the engaging Halbrand to diffuse an escalating situation. Long story short? Halbrand compromises with Mriel, meaning he and Galadriel are stuck on Nmenor for the near future. That’s much to Galadriel’s chagrin, too, who’s itching to go to the Southlands and discover whether Sauron has returned to Middle-earth (more with this later).
It is a narrative decision that forces viewers to hang in there on Nmenor just as much as Galadriel and Halbrand. But, instead of being truly a plot device that stalls the pair’s progress to the Southlands, it’s one which allows audiences to acclimate themselves to Nmenor, its people, the tension-fuelled relationships between its major characters, and deliver on a story-based surprise or two.
For Galadriel, which means getting ultimately more intel on Sauron’s potential return. Initially, she’s stopped from stealing a boat from the harbor by Elendil, that leads to a riveting and somewhat playful backwards and forwards between your duo. However, once the latter reveals himself to be among the Faithful a minority faction of Nmenoreans that are still loyal to the elves following Morgoth’s defeat in the initial Age the frosty nature of these relationship thaws, leading to the duo teaming up and going to Nmenor’s Hall of Law.
Once there, Galadriel makes a startling discovery because of documents archived by Elros, aka Elrond’s brother. The mark of Sauron, which she’s regularly found during her lengthy seek out the Dark Lord, isn’t only a sigil. It is a sign for Sauron’s scattered forces to check out; the one that leads them to the Southlands, where Sauron’s orcs have dug a number of tunnels and kidnap the Southlands inhabitants silvan elf warrior Arondir included to utilize as slave labor. Not just that, however the Southlands are seemingly ground zero for Mordor, the eventual evil-filled domain where Sauron resides and draws his power from. Shocking or what, eh?
But that isn’t the only real secret that Galadriel unearths from Elros’ library. She returns to Nmenor’s main city to get Halbrand, who has been locked up by Nmenorean guards. In summary: Halbrand charms his way into stealing a blacksmith’s seal, which may allow him to craft weapons at the city’s steel workshop. However, he’s nearly successful and, when he’s set upon by five blacksmiths for robbing them, Halbrand fights back with a fury and fervor that results in him viciously beating all of them up. He’s subsequently arrested and imprisoned by some nearby guards for his misdemeanor.
Anyway, as it happens that Halbrand isn’t only a normal Southlander. Galadriel spent some time working out what the sigil on Halbrand’s pouch-style necklace means: decades ago, a guy bearing that same mark united the scattered tribes of the Southlands under an individual banner, thus becoming the region’s first king. If Halbrand carries that symbol with him, this means that each is his ancestor, making Halbrand the Southlands’ ruler-in-waiting. It is a subplot that largely is practical. Remember, Halbrand stated in episode 2 he hails from a location which has no king but that’s because he is the Southlands’ next monarch. Well, so long as this is not a misdirect on The Rings of Power’s showrunners’ part.
So, what’s the program? Galadriel wants Halbrand to become listed on her in planing a trip to the Southlands where they are able to rid Middle-earth of Sauron’s evil forever, and redeem their bloodlines along the way. All they have to do is acquire an army large enough to place Sauron’s forces to the sword, which Galadriel seems confident of assembling.
Which will be easier in theory, though. Galadriel might try to persuade Elendil to become listed on them, but he’s got a fractious family dynamic to cope with currently. Once we see, Elendil does not have a successful relationship with either of his children, i.e. Isildur and Erien, that are also introduced in episode 3. The heated three-way exchange between these characters midway through the show’s latest entry demonstrates all isn’t well between them, and it will be fascinating to observe how this dynamic continues to play out because the series’ first season progresses.
Meanwhile, Mriel appears to be highly suspicious of Galadriel’s intentions. The ultimate Nmenor-based scene we see is Mriel speaking with her father is he alive or dead? as she states prophesized events are coming true with Galadriel’s arrival on Nmenor. Unless the latter can prove she’s worth trusting, it could take quite a long time on her behalf to win Mriel around and finally stop Sauron once and for all.
Shackled in the Southlands
Talking about the Southlands, things aren’t looking best for Arondir and his fellow captives. Kidnapped by Sauron’s orcs in episode 2, Arondir is forced to keep digging the orcs’ tunnel system because they secretly (roughly they think) make an effort to expand Sauron’s territory.
Arondir, though, isn’t likely to simply take a nap. Banding as well as other prisoners, including fellow silvan elves Mdhor and Watchwarden Revion, he plots their escape. However, the trio interrupted by some orcs, who would like the group to hack down a tree that stands in the form of their tunnel expansion. The elves refuse, leading to the orcs taunting them with water before surprisingly offering them a few of it to drink.
Needless to say, it’s all a ruse. The trio drink from the water jug but, as Mdhor does so, the orcs slit his throat and kills him, much to Arondir’s dismay. Realizing he must keep carefully the orcs onside, Arondir agrees to chop down the tree a poignant moment, given the elves’ affinity for nature and all living things. However, it presents a chance for him to scour the horizon and discover the very best route of escape, so it is a reluctant but necessary decision to take.
Quickly enough, Arondir and company launch their surprise attack. Beneath the full light of the sun which blinds and hurts the orcs the prisoners use their chains to trip up some orcs, steal their weapons, and use their sharp edges to get away from their shackles. A frantic skirmish ensues as their orc captors make an effort to stop them, leading to Arondir leaping towards the wooden structure sheltering the orcs from sunlight, destroying the rope that holds it together, and bringing the roof down in it.
Unfortunately, the captives’ plan is ultimately foiled. The orcs to push out a warg, a huge wolf-like creature, to kill the workforce. Arondir manages to distract and finally kill the warg, despite it killing two prisoners, that allows Revion to flee. Agonizingly, though, Revion doesn’t ensure it is. Arondir climbs the sides of the tunnel pit with time to see Revion shot dead by arrows. Disheartened, Arondir is quickly pulled back to the pit by some orcs, who consent to let Adar their mysterious leader decide Arondir’s fate.
An out-of-focus camera shot lines through to what is apparently a long-haired individual cloaked in armor those gauntlets look very menacing prior to the screen cuts to black. A pleasingly ominous set-up, sure, but one which means we need to wait weekly for Adar’s full reveal. Is this an alias of Sauron’s? Could it be a fresh character specifically made for the show? Can it be someone we know about who’ll shock us with the medial side they’ve chosen? Time will tell.
If nothing else, episode 3’s Southlands-positioned story feels as though a intensify from its predecessors. The Southlands arc in episodes 1 and 2 felt a little slow compared to other narratives, so it is highly satisfying to view it end up being the storyline that basically ramps up the strain, provides some overdue thrilling action, and brings lashings of genuine threat to proceedings. Maintain that balance and the Southlands arc might end up being the most captivating of season 1’s narratives.
A pal in need
It wouldn’t be considered a true Rings of Power installment without checking in with the Harfoots, though, would it not? Thankfully, episode 3 delivers on that front.
Picking right up where episode 2 left off, Nori acquires the star constellation pages from Sadoc’s Harfoot history book. She leaves them out for the Stranger to page through but, when he accidentally sets them alight from the nearby fire, he fearfully stumbles in to the middle of a Harfoot memorial ceremony, where in fact the group are paying tribute to the Harfoots they’ve lost throughout their travels, led by Sadoc.
Scared and confused, the Harfoots berate Nori on her behalf naivety in bringing a huge to their midst. Luckily, Sadoc decides never to throw Nori and her family from the community an answer that could surely bring about their death. However, Sadoc decrees that Nori’s clan must ride behind the Harfoot caravan if they head off to pastures new, which basically amounts to leaving them to fend for themselves.
Another morning, Nori’s family is actually struggling to maintain making use of their fellow Harfoots. Her father Largo is holding them back along with his bad ankle, and all of those other family don’t possess the strength to go their mobile home without him. All hope, then, appears lost.
That’s, until their wagon suddenly progresses its own it is the Stranger! He’s followed Nori’s family far away but, since they want help, he offers them assistance. “Friend”, he says to Nori in possibly the most heart-warming moment of episode 3, before he aids the Brandyfoot clan in briskly moving their house to meet up with another Harfoots. Expect Sadoc to possess something to state concerning the Stranger sticking around the next time out.
The Rings of Power’s third episode is really a a lot more absorbing spectacle compared to the entries preceding it. Its marriage of action, drama, humor, and heart feels more finely poised than previous episodes; a wonderful fusion that owes its success never to having to establish multiple locations and characters Nmenor aside, anyway.
It isn’t without some problems, actually. The evident usage of green screen technology, such as for example Galadriel and Halbrand searching onto the CGI landscape of Nmenor because they enter the realm, continues to be very distracting. Meanwhile, a few niggly plot points are frustratingly unresolved or don’t possess the required emotional impact going to viewers hard. Why doesn’t Elendil realize Halbrand has robbed him of Galadriel’s dagger at any point? And just why kill off Mdhor and Revion so early whenever we haven’t had time and energy to acquaint ourselves using them or understand their deep friendships with Arondir?
Those aside, The Rings of Power episode 3 does a stellar job of creating on which came before. It tease more of what’s ahead without dishing out its secrets all in a single ago, gets the final of its worldbuilding elements taken care of, and furnishes its more dramatic plot elements with smatterings of action and humor to great effect. Keep writing in episode 4 and beyond, also it won’t be a long time before those dissenting voices end up being the minority within Tolkien’s global fanbase.
For more Rings of Power content, learn how and just why Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series breaks with Middle-earth tradition.
The Rings of Power episode 3 can be acquired to stream on Prime Video now.