Episode 3 of The Rings of Power begins with Arondir being brought before an orc legion. He’s chained up along with a bunch of other prisoners and forced to dig. They also seem to be working on behalf of someone called Adar, which could well be an alias for Sauron.
When the orcs slash Medhor’s neck for questioning their way, arguing against chopping a tree down, Arondir instead steps up and volunteers to do it, not wanting any more bloodshed.
Meanwhile, Galadriel wakes up on a ship alongside Halbrand. She takes a bowl of food from him and hungrily gulps down its contents. She’s distrusting of those who have picked her up, as the ship arrives at The Land of the Star; the Island Kingdom of Numenor.
Thanks to some exposition from Galadriel, we learn more about this island nation. As a reward for Men standing with Elves in the last great war (which happened off-screen during the prologue unfortunately), the Valar granted them this island. It’s changed a lot since then, with Numenor breaking free from its roots and turning away Elven ships.
Halbrand and Galadriel show up at the council, where the latter demands a ship to head over to Middle Earth. The Queen Regent Miriel smirks, as Galadriel promises she’ll pass through no matter what, rudely claiming she has no need for her welcome. Just as things start getting heated, Halbrand suggests they give it a few days. 3 to be precise.
But of course it’s been a hot minute since we got some exposition so here’s some more. We learn the captain who picked up Galadriel is called Elendil. He was originally of a noble line but now he’s a Sea Guardsman with a son, who is set to follow him into service. And that son happens to be Isildur, who we know goes on to take the Ring.
Elendil is an uncommon name but it originates in the west, meaning “one who loves the stars.” It can also colloquially mean Elf-Friend. However, the Queen Regent is not happy about him picking up Galadriel, warning that it could be treason. In order to quell that, he has to do her a service.
Galadriel makes her way down to the dock, seriously contemplating stealing a boat from some innocent fishermen. Elendil shows up and tries to stop her. As a result, she takes out a knife and questions him, arrogantly proclaiming: “Who is the mortal who speaks to me as if he has the slightest idea who I am?” Anyway, when Elendil mentions the Hall of Lore, the pair ride off together, prompting a cheesy scene of Galadriel smiling and riding her horse across the beach.
Back in Numenor, Halbrand speaks in riddles and tricks, before showing how dominating he can be, taking out four men who attempt to attack him in the alleyway. There are blood spatters across the wall, but when the royal guard shows up, he’s stopped in his tracks.
In the Hall of Lore, Galadriel learns that there’s an account of a human spy retrieved from an enemy dungeon and has drawn the mark of Sauron. And of course, it’s also the outline for the map of the Southlands too. This speaks of a plan where a new realm will see evil rise up. “If Sauron has indeed returned, the Southlands are but the beginning.” Galadriel warns.
Meanwhile, we get more drama with the Harfoots. They’re about to migrate but before they do, that strange wizard (Gandalf?) shows up in town and says Nori’s name. Nori wants to break free from the laws of the Harfoots but despite what the laws say (that she be decaravaned), the Brandyfoots are still allowed to continue on, but they need to be at the back of the group instead. Despite struggling to begin with, this wizard shows up and helps push their caravan on.
Over in Numenor, Elendil’s daughter is accepted into the builder’s Guild while Galadriel visits Halbrand while he’s behind bars. Apparently Halbrand is actually a King. As he approaches the bars, he tells Galadriel “I am not the hero you seek, for it was my family who lost the war.” Galadriel is determined though and asks Halbrand to join her in their trip over to Middle Earth so they can redeem both their bloodlines.
As the episode closes out, we cut back to the orc pits one more time as Arondir and the others work together to try and break their chains. A game of tug and war ensues, leading to Arondir jumping high and breaking the flimsy roof.
The orcs bring out a single warg to try and stop them. Arondir defies the laws of gravity and takes it out singlehandedly while also fending off the orcs too. Unfortunately it’s all in vain as the orcs decide to venture out into the sun after all and pull him back down into the pits, right off the back of seeing his elf-friend take several arrows to the chest.
Out from the shadows steps Adar, but the image is blurry so it seems we’ll have to wait until next week to find out who that is.
The Episode Review
Say what you will about the lore changes or the clunky, expository-heavy dialogue, the biggest problem with this episode is that it’s just… boring. There’s absolutely nothing here that pushes the story or characters forward beyond “Galadriel arrives in Numenor” and “Arondir is a prisoner”.
Beyond that, and the mystery-box-that’s-not-really-a-mystery that’s growing around where Sauron may be (it’s Halbrand. The dialogue pretty much spells it out), there’s absolutely nothing going on here. As I said before, the visuals and the wide spanning shots are fantastic but that means nothing when the dialogue and the story are so weak.
Despite not having the rights to Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, there’s a really bizarre creative decision taken here to lean into the beats of the story seen in Fellowship of the Ring. The elf taking arrows at the end is akin to Boromir’s death, minus any emotional connection. The Harfoots’ party feels like a throwback to Bilbo’s birthday, and so on and so forth.
But as I said last week, the biggest problem beyond all of that, excluding how boring this episode actually is, is Galadriel. She’s just really not likable and this episode we see that she’s arrogant, reckless and rude. And this far in, we haven’t seen a single flaw for the “commander of the Northern armies” either.
We’re almost halfway through the most expensive TV show ever created and so far this is failing to hit the mark. It’s not outright terrible but it’s certainly not good either. There are at least a dozen or more shows that are far better than this one. Compared to House of the Dragon as well, which this show is currently competing with, Rings of Power doesn’t match up. At least not right now anyway.