Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Episode 5
Amazon Prime, 2022
Reviewed by Steven Poore
Okay, so we’re halfway through this first season now – Amazon seems to enjoy 8-episode seasons, and that length worked well for The Wheel of Time, too – so what better way to start the next episode than with a song? No, seriously: a song and a travel/map montage. And it works. The song is both uplifting and foreshadowing, as well as beautifully sung, and the map dares to tie the proto-Hobbits to locations that will become all the more significant as the Third Age dawns. The map geek in me revelled over this opening sequence.
I’ve seen some criticism levelled at the series, pointing out that nothing is really happening yet, and I have to disagree. So far, this series has avoided all the mistakes that Peter Jackson made with the Hobbit movies, especially The Battle of The Five Armies, which for me, had massive pacing issues and somehow made battles look tedious. The Rings of Power is holding all that back to make way for individual drama and development, to make the audience invest in the characters before they are plunged into mass conflict. I believe it is the right path to take. Elrond’s divided loyalties are wearing away gradually at his bonhomie, for example, and the conflict and mistrust between Elves and Dwarves is being laid with the precision of an engineer.
Likewise, Galadriel’s character (Morfydd Clark) makes her revel in action, in conflict, in any movement that advances her need to fight Sauron. When she is still, when she is forced to open up to Halbrand about her motivations, she has to confess that it is an inner darkness that keeps her moving, a darkness that her fellow Elves plainly fear. That’s the basis of the Dark Queen we will eventually see in Lord of the Rings. It’s excellently done.
Of course, the production team haven’t given away all of their secrets yet. We still don’t know much of Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) himself or of the Stranger (Daniel Weyman) who accompanies the Harfoots on their migration across Middle-Earth, although most of the smart money seems to be on Weyman being an early representation of a certain Hobbit-loving wizard. But the character work here is enough to disprove the claims that there is nothing much happening even without the individual plots beginning to mesh. And rather than extend a whole battle across three plus hours, The Rings of Power is moving all its pieces into position for one almighty end-of-season crunch – and its money well spent.