Ricky Church reviews the sixth episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power…
That was quite an eventful episode of The Rings of Power, one that marked a significant change for Middle-earth as the final moments of ‘Udûn’ saw the creation of a well-known landmark in The Lord of the Rings mythology. There was much to like and be entertained by in this action-heavy episode that sets up the final two episodes of the season fairly well.
‘Udûn’s pacing was among the best of the season simply because, despite the high stakes of Bronwyn and Arondir’s fate, it was very small scale in that it dealt almost entirely with Bronwyn, Arondir and the villagers throughout the episode. Keeping the focus on them helped the tension remain high and the battle feel significant. The only time the battle was cut away at all was closer to the beginning aboard Númenor’s ships with the brief conversations between Galadriel, Isildur and Elendil. Even when Númenor’s forces arrived the narrative still felt tight as it kept its focus on Galadriel, Arondir, Bronwyn, Theo and Halbrand with only minimal time on Isildur and his friends or other characters.
The battle was fairly exciting with most of it shot well. There was some cool choreography with Arondir and the fighting varied in style from the villagers using swords or bows and arrows to Arondir fighting hand-to-hand with a giant orc. Their fight in particular is noteworthy for the gruesome way it ended, showing Rings of Power is not above getting bloody and graphic – yet still within that PG-13 range – when it wants to.
The fake-out of the villagers actually fighting villagers who joined up with the orcs worked well too as it made sense why they were able to handle themselves so well against the well-trained and battle-hardened enemy. Once it was the actual orcs who began attacking, they basically stood no chance. The orcs themselves were fearsome too, from Arondir’s foe to the few in the village’s makeshift keep who began slaughtering villagers to force Arondir and Theo’s cooperation.
The battle’s editing was good for the most part with the fighting flowing smoothly onscreen and the characters being easy to tell apart. A rather awkward point though is the transition between night and day as when Adar and his orcs are in the village it is nighttime, yet barely a scene later it is full daylight when Galadriel and Númenor arrive without any clear indication they were that close to sunrise. Aside from that, the editing was well done especially when the battlefield became more crowded with Númenor on the field and displayed again how much of a skilled warrior Galadriel was at this point in time with even Arondir being in awe of her.
As far as character development goes, ‘Udûn’ was pretty light on that front. With so much time devoted to several fight sequences there wasn’t much time for lengthy character introspection, but the few moments we did get were good. It was nice seeing Galadriel and Isildur get a scene together, especially since Galadriel sensed something different about him that likely foreshadows Isildur’s fateful decision with the Ring.
Of course, the big character moment belonged to Galadriel and Adar as his backstory and motivations were somewhat explored as one of the first Elves to be tortured into orcs. Joseph Mawle gave a good performance as Adar as he explained why he felt the orcs were his “children” and taunted Galadriel with her own darkness. Nazanin Boniadi did nice work as Bronwyn with both the villagers and her own scenes where she was gravely injured. Tyroe Muhafidin’s Theo received some development as he reflected on being lured by Sauron’s sword and Charlie Vickers’ Halbrand has become even more of a question mark with his actions to Adar. Is he really a king running from his past or a certain dark lord hiding in plain sight?
‘Udûn’ was a well-paced episode with very entertaining action sequences that felt tense and had high-stakes. Much of The Rings of Power’s plot has come together now and the creation of Mount Doom and what will become Mordor is a pivotal moment of Middle-earth history to witness.
The set-up for the final two episodes is very exciting since the Harfoots are slowly on their way by the Southlands and Galadriel will now doubt put some blame on herself for the Southlands’ transformation into Mordor.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.