Episode 6 of Rings of Power starts with Adar running his hand through the dirt as his army of orcs watch on. He tells them they’re casting off their shackles and will be facing one more trial – and that comes from taking out the small force inside the guardhouse. Only, when they arrive the place is abandoned… or is it? It turns out Arondir and a couple of others are lying in wait for an ambush.
On his own, Arondir takes out the tower by… cutting a single rope which was holding all the rocks in place? Okay then. Anyway, he locks all the orcs in and runs away, managing to take out a fair few in the process from the falling febris.
Meanwhile, we cut to the three little ships out at sea sailing for Middle Earth. It’s worth remembering how small these boats actually are as that will be important later on. Up on deck, Isildur meets Galadriel, amazed that she can see landfall already and he can’t. And then, when the camera zooms out, we can actually see, quite clearly, landmass on the horizon.
Elendil feeds back to Miriel that it’ll be several days before they make landmass and can then ride to the East.
Speaking of the East, Arondir returns to the group and tells them all that their little village gives them an advantage. They set up numerous traps and give a rallying speech, preparing for the night to close in before the orcs attack. And then it arrives. The bootleg Battle of Helms Deep. Or, The Battle of Helm’s Cheap you could say? Sorry, I’ll see myself out!
The orcs continue on despite the fire nd little traps the villagers have put in place. Arondir is ambushed from behind, despite the fact he should have excellent hearing and vision. Arondir spins and flips around, kicking a large orc he ends up going one on one with. Eventually it holds Arondir up and chokes him out, until our elf is saved by Bronwyn.
The villagers manage to best all the orcs and they save the day… or do they? It turns out the orcs are actually quite smart and the villagers realize, with horror, that they’ve been killing their own men and women this whole time. No wonder they were so easy to beat!
The orcs chuckle evilly from above and begin firing arrows, taking out several villagers and striking Bronwyn too. Everyone flees inside the tavern as all the orcs come out of hiding and rush on their position. After taking out the arrow from Bronwyn’s chest, which is absolutely pissing with blood, they cauterize the wound which seems to do the trick as she regains consciousness and seems to be on the mend.
Adar appears though and begins killing villagers left and right. Before Bronwyn can be killed, Theo suddenly speaks up and tells them where the sword hilt is. The hilt that Arondir was going to hide so no one can find it. And it’s… under their feet below a stone. He hands it over to the orcs, much to the horror of Arondir.
Galadriel suddenly marches on their position with an impressive army and a litany of soldiers, all of which somehow held up on 3 ships? They ride into the small village where Adar hurries away with the sword hilt under his arm. Galadriel gives chase.
Halbrand strategically flies in from the front with his own horse though and manages to stop Adar from getting away. Just before killing him, Galadriel stops Halbrand and demands he be kept alive, telling him “one cannot satisfy their thirst by drinking seawater.”
Galadriel contemplates bringing the orcs she’s kept captive into the sunlight in order to torture them. The threat of this sees Adar speak up and admit that he killed Sauron himself. Galadriel doesn’t believe him though and instead decides to wipe out every single orc but keep Adar alive in the process so he can see his own children die before his eyes.
Adar turns and questions Galadriel’s evil nature, and she almost slits his throat until she’s stopped by Halbrand. This evil little madam soon leaves but Adar knows what we’ve known since episode 2 – Halbrand is probably Sauron.
Before everyone, Bronwyn asks if Halbrand is the king. He looks around. “…yes.” He says softly. Great, that solves that then!
As the episode closes out, Theo realizes that the sword hilt isn’t actually in their possession, it’s been switched! Waldreg, that old man, is actually the one with it and he drops the sword and causes chaos to ensue.
A rumbling on the horizon sees all the orcs begin chanting Udun. All those tunnels being built now serve a purpose, which happens to be funnelling all the water into the bowels of a volcano. As a result, it erupts and a pyroclastic cloud blasts out. The villagers all begin panicking and scrambling around… except Galadriel, who just steps up and confronts the fiery cloud. As it closes in on Galadriel and the villagers, prepared to destroy absolutely everything, the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
So Rings of Power returns this week with an episode big on action… but low on logic. I know a lot of people are going to enjoy this chapter, and to be fair there are some visually stunning scenes in here. The final 5 minutes, with that big volcanic pyroclastic cloud closing in on the villagers, was absolutely spectacular and worth the $50 million budget this week. But then we come to the writing and everything falls apart.
At the start of the episode, Elendil told Miriel on the ship that making landfall would take “a full day’s sail into the mountains, and from there another day’s ride east into the vale.” So 2 days after the opening scene of Arondir destroying an entire tower with one rope and besting the little legion of orcs.
But then Galadriel and the others arrive the next night, with no word on exactly how they mustered up all those horses, got everyone onto land and began riding across the vale. And no word on exactly how long it would take to get there once they started riding.
It’s poor writing on the level of Game of Thrones season 8, with teleporting armies and logistics that don’t add up. You’re telling me all those soldiers and horses, not to mention full lots of armour were on three boats? Even Troy, back in 2004, managed to get the logistics right with the sheer number of ships going into battle and that film has a litany of problems.
But then we come to other parts of this episode too. Arondir taking everyone out the well fortified guard tower to go and fight in a wooden tavern in a village where he can easily be stopped is just… idiotic? I mean, in Two Towers Edoras was up on a hill and Theoden and the others realized it wasn’t a defendable position against the orcs and left. Here though, there’s no tactics or thought put into this at all.
Speaking of The Two Towers, the number of repurposed scenes from that movie is insane. From Bootleg Helm’s Deep, complete with torches on the horizon, to these Eastlands being similar to Rohan in that villagers are tasked with fighting, all the way over to the little shots of the tavern’s interior, everything here is designed to be a call-back to The Two Towers; I half expected some Ents to show up and save the day.
On a more positive note though, Adar’s character is easily one of the best in this show and the idea of adding orc morality into the fold is a fascinating one. At the same time, it also makes Galadrel look even more evil than she already is and it’s amusing to think she almost killed Adar herself after telling Halbrand that he can’t do it as it won’t satisfy his revenge. But I guess Halbrand is king because he said so?
Despite that though, the final scene at the end is absolutely stunning but as I’ve said in episodes past, visuals mean diddlysquat when you have bad writing. Will the next 2 episodes improve? We’ll have to wait and see.