Episode 5 of Rings of Power starts the most expensive TV show ever created with Nori speaking to The Stranger about their migration. Nori points out there’s plenty of dangers along the way and we should remind viewers that if these little halflings get hurt or injured, they’re going to be left behind. So I guess in a way, the Harfoots are the biggest danger of them all?
Anyway, they continue on, singing a little song while they continue to cross the land. As they make it into the woods, the all-loving Harfoot Malva suggests that Sadoc should have taken Nori and the others’ wheels and left them behind.
Malva continues on though and finds mushrooms. As she begins to pick them, guttural screaming from the depths of the woods brings out several creatures that begin hunting them. Thankfully, The Stranger manages to use his power to knock them back and send them sprawling.
Elsewhere, Adar learns that the tunnel has been completed. His subordinate is told to summon the legions. “It is time.” He’s told. They plan to march on the guard tower, which is currently home to Bronwyn and the Southlanders.
Bronwyn speaks to the people and admits that they need to stand and fight to show a symbol of their strength. Hands go up in support…but they’re easily swayed by an old man suggesting they should run and take their chances elsewhere. Unfortunately, it splits their force in half.
The old man and his group run into Adar, who’s forced to kill one of his own to prove his honour and loyalty to Sauron. Anyway, the orcs eventually begin marching on the tower, leaving Bronwyn and the others to face a big challenge ahead.
Over in Numenor, the Numenorian soldiers practice. Galadriel scoffs at their efforts, deciding to personally step up and show them how it’s done. Because of course she does; it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had our episodic “Galadriel is better than everyone” moment.
She doesn’t even break a sweat as she bests them all. And gets applause too! Hey, remember when everyone was worried last episode about the elves taking their jobs? And now we have an elf training their army and taking the job of the commander for this army? Strange that they’re all applauding that isn’t it? Anyway, one could argue (until the end of this episode that is) they’re applauding Valandil, a soldier who manages to get close to besting Galadriel. As per the agreement made with Elendil prior to this, he’s promoted.
“The tide may rise and drown a man, or fall and sweep him out to sea.” Pharazon says to his son just after, “The trick of mastering the current is to know which way it will turn next.” And of course, as we all know, there are only two – high tide and low tide. It’s another example of dialogue that sounds whimsical and flowery when in truth it means nothing. There’s lots of this littered through the episode but actually writing it out like this gives an example of how poor this is. Oh, and this is dialogue from the most expensive show ever created.
Out on the shore, Isildur decides to stow away on a boat but Kemen shows up to sabotage the cargo and burn it. As the pair wrestle, the lantern drops and the load explodes. Thankfully Isildur has enough time to grab Kemen and swing to shore before the entire thing explodes.
High up in the tower, Galadriel and Pharazon disagree over the best course of action going forward. For now, Miriel decides to wait until first light to make a decision as Galadriel frowns and scowls. She approaches Halbrand and apologizes to him… but not really. As we know, Galadriel only ever does anything that benefits herself and here, she’s doing this so she can have Habrand’s voice at the council and swing things in her favour for the expedition.
Galadriel goes on to admit she can’t stop her vengeance-fuelled mission, going on to bemoan how her company mutinied against her (because she led them into a death-trap and was prepared to leave them to die up the mountain) and that her closest friend conspired to exile her.
Halbrand apologizes on behalf of everyone that’s done wrong to Galadriel as Galadriel urges him to return to the Southlands, as that’s how he will honour his people.
Meanwhile, Gil-Galad and Elrond sit with Durin and the dwarves as they toast to the union of their races. After, Elrond keeps his promise to Durin and doesn’t reveal what the dwarves have found deep in the mountains. The light of the Eldar is fading, and Celebrimbor is quick to point out though that the mithril will save their race from diminishing. It would also mean severing the union he’s just made with the dwarves though.
Elrond eventually comes clean to Durin, admitting the entire fate of the elves is in his hands. Honestly, the dwarves are the best part of this show, although the episode is sorely missing some Disa wit and charisma!
As the episode closes out, the council make their decision (off-screen mind you) and everyone prepares to leave for Middle Earth. Everyone stands to attention for Galadriel as she enters the boat wearing her armour, who approaches Halbrand and the pair join hands.
The Episode Review
And so we cross the halfway point of the most expensive TV show ever made with the plot finally starting to move forward. I know I keep mentioning the budget and the money poured into this, which is partly why I’m so critical of how poorly written this is. $1 billion spent and Amazon couldn’t bring excellent writers onboard?
The Harfoot story in particular is really poor, and morally these folk are absolutely barbaric and murderous. Not only are they happy to leave their own behind, they also conspire to sabotage their own too. So much for being a happy-go-lucky bunch of nomadic folk! And worse, their story does nothing but introduce a mystery box in the form of “the stranger” who could well prove to be Gandalf. but despite whoever this guy is, it’s nowhere near interesting enough to sustain the show moving forward.
Mystery Box plot mechanics aren’t necessarily bad but given this is a prequel to a well-known story, these mysteries are pointless and show a distinct lack of writing prowess from those at the helm of this ship. The mystery surrounding who Sauron is, for example, is painfully orchestrated from the beginning and that touching of arms between Galadriel and Halbrand at the end appears to seal the deal. It’s got to be him, surely!
Speaking of Galadriel, what a difference a day makes, eh? Last week we had “elves are taking our jobs” and this week we have everyone applauding and fawning over the little Mary Sue. And as always, Galadriel is as insufferable as she is terribly written. From her constant scowling face and scathing put-downs to everyone around her, all the way across to her non-existent flaws and flatlined character arc, everything about this character is so poorly done.
The best part of Rings of Power though is that of the Elves and Dwarves. In fact, Disa and Durin are probably the best characters in the entire series but they’re sorely lacking here. Their fun banter and charisma is just what this show needs, in what’s otherwise a very dour and mediocre-at-best fantasy fluff piece. Hopefully the upcoming episodes can improve but it seems doubtful at this point.