While can I say plenty of nice things about Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power episode 6, I'm not exactly as thrilled as I wish I were, either. Far from the full course-correction that Prime Video's big-budget series has so desperately needed, this latest episode helped solve some of the show's biggest issues.
So, for a bit of context before I get to all the plot details that get a bit spoilery: last we left our heroes and villains, Adar's war against the humans (and the Elf Arondir who protects them) was about to go down. Back at his base, the traitorous Waldreg asked the Fallen Elf Adar if he is in fact Sauron — which Adar didn't take kindly to.
Meanwhile, Galadriel and the Numenoreans were on the march to fight the good fight, Nori and the Harfoot were in montage mode when The Stranger (aka Beardy McBearderson) wasn't going through minor crises and Elrond and Durin IV came to a resolution of their drama and confusion about the Mithril ore.
So, beware Rings of Power episode 6 spoilers below, as I tackle the ups and downs of this episode.
How Rings of Power is finding its power
This is not to say that the stuff Rings of Power delivered over the first episodes — Elves debating, Dwarves smashing and monsters snarling — was antithetical to Lord of the Rings. But as the humans and Arondir fought off Adar's waves of soldiers, Rings of Power finally rang truer than before.
Making matters better, the nasty Adar finally feels like an intimidating threat. Not only did he succeed in mind games agains the humans by sending their own in the first wave, but the hostage negotiation scene is an utterly perfect scene — something this show hasn't done much of. When Arondir tried to barter for the lives of the civilians, and Adar has his men just kill them one by one without pause or remorse, I was a bit impressed by the cruelty.
The other big great moment was the arrival of Galadriel and the Numenorean army, here to save the day. The fact that we're out of that cursedly boring city and finally moving these chess pieces into combat is great.
I even liked that moment when Galadriel's excellent form in combat drew questions of "who is she?" Galadriel is still one of the top 5 characters in this show, and it's nice to see that others are noticing.
Finally, with the eruptions across the Southlands, we bear witness to the fiery dawn of Mordor. As the Orcs chanted "Udûn" in unison, those with a little bit of knowledge realized that one of Sauron's valleys is now born.
We even got a tease of which character may actually be Undercover Sauron, as Adar questioned Halbrand's identity — and didn't get a response.
Why Rings of Power is still missing the mark
Some characters still feel under-developed or off the mark, and Arondir and his beloved Bronwyn are still sadly two of them. Outside of war, they're defined by their forbidden love, which we barely saw, which kinda makes you not feel like they're fully-formed characters. And they (and Theo, her son who found the cursed key/blade) took up a lot of time in this episode.
When Theo beat himself up over his decision to give up the artifact to save his mother's life, I wanted to feel for him. But the whole of these scenes and decision felt so obvious and expected that I felt like I could see it all coming a mile ahead.
I was also frustrated by the storytelling surrounding Adar tricking our heroes near the end of the episode — making them think he had the key/blade, which he gave to Waldreg. That decision wasn't shown in its totality, but it was more than obvious. So, to watch Galadriel take the wrapped item she thought was the blade from Adar, and never open it to confirm, had me rolling my eyes.
Nothing about Galadriel's character in this show made me think she wouldn't verify such a thing. And if Rings of Power wants me to take this show seriously, it would be right to make its heroes a little smarter.
Outlook: Can Rings of Power make me care about season 2?
Amazon's already renewed Rings of Power for season 2, and because of Elrond and Durin IV's friendship, I've become stuck to this show no matter how much I don't care about the whole lot of Numenoreans we've met.
But as this slow-starter heats up, I'm getting more curious about if it can nail the landing of the season 1 finale moment. That likely cliff-hanger moment will help push people to be excited for more.
Right now, Rings of Power's most boring characters are the Harfoots, who were thankfully missing in action this week. Much like how the Numenoreans hit the battlefield and got a little more interesting, I bet Nori and her family will have more to add when they meet people who aren't Harfoot. Or at least I hope so.
Next: Here's why Rings of Power episode 7 just ruined the show for my colleague.