1.05: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power - Partings

Elckerlyc

"Philosophy will clip an angel's wings."
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Nori questions her instincts; Elrond struggles to stay true to his oath; Halbrand weighs his destiny; The Southlanders brace for attack.
 
Wasn't a huge fan of this episode. I liked the Harfoot scene, wizard man being dangerous makes things interesting. Also I remember enjoying Poppy's song, thought it was fitting. Wished they spent more time on them and less on Numenor/Galadriel. Also enjoyed Durin stealing the table, and the way his and Elronds relationship is portrayed. To me its the strongest part of the show.

The Numenor and Arondir storylines, I didn't like. A lot of dialogue is coming across as pretentious and cringey and devoid of character. It's tiring to listen to. I really liked Arondir and Brownwyn after ep1, there was tension in their relationship, but i'm not getting anything from them now. Their characters aren't growing or becoming interesting, it's like they are just trying to coast on the character building from ep1.
I feel the same with pretty much everyone in the Numenor storyline besides Halbrand. I'm not invested or hooked into any character. Feels like there's potentially something interesting with Isuldir, but it's spread too thin with all the others and isn't working for me. I wished that a bunch of them died in that boat explosion just for something interesting to happen.
Speaking of death, I liked the scene where the old butcher bent his knee to the orcs and was told to kill that boy. But then it just cut away without giving us a payoff, which I thought was a bizarre choice.
 
Episode 5 – Partings (written by Justin Doble)

Part I of my synopsis.

Nori is trying to teach the Stranger some words and their meaning. Like ‘migrating’ and ‘peril’, things that can ‘kill’ you, that make you ‘dead’. The Stranger thinks back about the fireflies that died. And concludes, “I am peril.”
Nori contradicts this adamently, telling him he is ‘good’, because he’s here to 'help'. He repeats to himself that he is ‘good’, doing his best to convince himself. (At this point he seems to have no clue as to who or what he is. Which, in fact, makes him ‘peril’. He doesn’t know his powers or how to control them. I mean, ask the fireflies.)
The Brandyfoot family and Poppy are still traveling on their own. There is no sign of the other Harfoot.
Their trek is long (really long, for halflings), through hills and marshes (which seems like challenging 'peril'), over mountains and floodplains. But they are making progress, in good spirits, making fun, and have Poppy sing while they are on the move. The Stranger seems to have been fully accepted. To some extant though, he remains an outsider, a stranger in his ways and actions.
This is made more evident as one night Nori sees him standing upon a rock in the dark, staring up at the full moon. (Which looks fake – it is not a shot from ‘our’ moon.) This image is underlined by Poppy’s song and especially by the very last word; ‘Lost‘.

The image of the moon changes into a shot of the crater, the way Nori discovered it first, with the Stranger curled up in the middle amidst fiery rocks. Immediately it changes again into the same crater but much later, likely present day, with cold ashes and obviously empty. On a rock above three figures appear, women all. They are clad in white robes; one wears a harness and helmet, another carries a shield-like object or plate about 40cm across and the third holds a staff with a cross-like section and a round shield cradled between two arms. This third person ‘teleports’ down to the crater and studies the ground beyond it. Now, close-up, her robe seems more light blue than white and when she turns her head we see that this person is no human. She has cold eyes with small, dark pupils, short blond hair that is darker on top of her head and heavy, slightly askew eyebrows that tilt upwards at the end. It seems they are looking for the Stranger and aren't very pleased.
(But that can be deliberately deceiving. Perhaps this person always looks angry. Is she Maia? And are they looking for ‘our’ Stranger, because the landscape around this crater looks different from the image I got from the Harfoot’s camping place. (which means absolutely nothing).)
Maia.png


The attention switches to Adar, who is also looking up. In his case it’s at slanting sunbeams through the branches of a tree. Nice, but it is unclear what he is seeing or being absorbed by. He just stands still in the sunlight.
An Orc approaches him, Grugzûk, breathing heavily and head covered by a hood against the clear sunshine.
“The tunnel is complete, my Lord.”
Adar takes his time to disentangle himself from whatever he was experiencing.
“Your arm. Show it to me.”
Reluctantly, the Orc uncovers its arm. It looks nasty, the flesh is smoking, burning slowly. Is this the Orc who got cut by Theo wielding the ‘sword’? (Nope, checked and that was Vrath. Or did I miss something?)
“I wish you could feel it as I do.” Adar puts his hand on the Orc’s arm. “For soon it will be gone. And with it, the part of it that knew its warmth as well.” He does not seem aware or caring about the Orc’s discomfort.
“I shall miss it.” He lets go of the arm and covers it again. (This scene does seem to connect the ‘sword’ with Adar.) Most of the time he has not turned his eyes away from the sunbeams, perhaps simply basking in its warmth. (Which possibly does imply something.)
“Summon the legions. It is time.”
The Orc hurries off.
No further mention of the tunnel or whereto it leads.

At the watchtower Bronwyn and Arondir calmly climb some stairs and then turn to overlook the crowd gathered in the central yard of the keep.
“Our enemy vows to attack.” Bronwyn is not an experienced speaker and probably thoroughly scared herself. “In exchange for mercy, we’ve been ordered to abandon this tower and swear fealty to their commander.”
The crowd erupts in exclaims and discussions between themselves.
“I know I am not the king you have awaited,” Bronwyn continues, “But if you choose to stand with me and fight, this tower will no longer be a reminder of our frailty but a symbol of our strength.”
Arondir stands a step behind her, supporting her. But will it do any good?
“Who among you will stand and fight?”
The crowd murmurs, not really overwhelmed by Bronwyn’s speech. But do they have any option but fighting? Hands start rising, even more follow. Until someone mentions the unthinkable other option and thereby making it an option to consider.
It is Waldreg. “Stand and fight?” he queries, as if he can’t believe his ears. “Stand and fight, and you will die! I say it’d be better to take our chances bowing to those supposed enemy.” He knows a lot better than Bronwyn how to intone and shape his words to influence the crowd.
Arondir heard enough and interferes, speaking fairly vehemently. “I have looked that enemy in the eye. He is not your deliverance.”
“You think you are? Elf? I’ll say this for our ancestors. They lived!”
The crowd erupts once more in discussions, many in favor of Waldreg’s choice.
Bronwyn tries one more time. “Together, we can survive this.” Nobody listens or can even hear her above the clamour.
“Come on! Follow me!” Waldreg moves towards the gate and people follow, Rowan in front.
Theo is watching all this, unsure. Waldreg sees him watching and beckons him. “Theo! It’s our chance! It’s our time. Come on, lad.”
But Theo just looks at him and then at his mother, on the stairs, looking defeated. He does not move.
About half the crowd follows Waldreg out of the gate. (which seems to support Revion’s idea that their blood is still darkened because of their ancestors’ connection with Morgoth.)
The much diminished numbers at the watchtower makes their chance of succesfully resisting the enemy very slim.

to be continued...
 
I got the sense that, with the shot of the stranger lying in the fiery crater, it suggested the Eye of Sauron. What that means, I am not sure, but that's what I got from that bit...
 
I'm not at home and therefore I'm unable to check the book, but after the stranger scares off the wolves, he puts his damaged arm in a pool and speaks what may be elvish. Ice crawls up his hand (and Nori's, who has grabbed it.) but the last words he speaks seems to be "Invinyatar, Invinyatar!"
If I remember correctly this was one of the names that Aragorn claimed when he was speaking to one of the hobbits just before or after his corononation. "Truly I am xxxxx the something, and Invinyatar the restorer, but I am also still Strider. In the old tongue it will not sound so bad and TEL xxxxxx will be the name of my house." Something like that.

So the stranger seems to be invoking the restoration of his arm.

I also noticed a distinct similarity between his damaged arm and that of the orc, from the sunlight. ???????
 
I am still of the opinion that The Stranger is Gandalf and that the showrunners deliberately sowed a bit of doubt.

It was an ok episode. I am still waiting for it to take off. That said it is gorgeous to look at.

Agree on previous poster that Elrond's and Durin's friendship is the most dynamic in the show.

Was that a glimpse of Glordindel fighting the Balrog.

I still believe that Halbrand will become one of the Ringwraiths.

Anyone notice Adar's reaction to Sauron's name.
 
Part II

In Nûmenor preparations for the expeditionary force to the Southlands are well underway. The harbour is abuzz with activities. Apparently Post-Captain Elendil has been tasked with overseeing the operations. He is also mad with his son, Isuldur. Who wouldn’t be.
Isuldur wishes to join the force but has not been selected. His father doesn’t want him. “What are your qualifications?” Ouch.
The problem with Isuldur seems to be that he doesn’t know what he wants, nor finishes what he started, to the point even of deliberately sabotaging without overseeing the consequences. (I fear the writers are creating an Isuldur with a weak character, to lay the foundation for that moment when the One Ring falls into his hands.)
His pleading with his father to be enlisted ends in a blunt refusal.

There is a crowd awaiting Pharazôn as he enters some public building. He is verbally being assaulted from all sides.
Guildsman #1, “Risk Nûmenorean lives for some grimy Southlander and a warmongering Elf?”
Guildsman #2, “Why are you sending our kinsmen off to die?”
(Understandable questions, perhaps, though misplaced. The force consists entirely of volunteers and the ’why’ has been explained. I suppose this ‘opposition’ is included to give Kemen and Eärien some back-up for their story-arc, where ever that is leading to.)
The chancellor doesn’t pay them any attention.
Eärien had in vain been trying to get Pharazôn’s attention too (although on what grounds she thinks her voice could make any difference escapes me.) Kemen pulls Eärien out of the crowd. They seem to have become closer (how convenient.) And they both share the same opinions about current events (although it is not clear what actually their objections are.) Eärien tells Kemen that only he can sway his father to stop the madness, if he can be more loud or insistent. (Kemen looks as doubtful as I am about this part.)

Halbrand, who is wearing a guild’s crest, is busy at the forge, proving his competence as a smith. The master-smith seems impressed by the sword he produces, but Halbrand (and we) are called away before he can pass judgment. He was called to a meeting with Queen Míriel, Pharazôn and Galadriel. They need his advice about the most likely place their enemy would head. Wisdom or something else, he points them at the watchtower at Ostirith. This is where the Sea Guard will be headed.
It now becomes clear Queen Míriel expects Halbrand to join the forces, based on how Galadriel had informed her. But Galadriel ha been insincere here, playing games and trying to cajole him into going with them to the Southlands. Míriel glares at Galadriel, she isn’t pleased to find out that she has basically been misled in letting her believe that Halbrand would take his part in this operation. He has no intentions to do so.
At this point Míriel is called away, (very conveniently, once again) so that Halbrand and Galadriel, left to themselves, can now settle this matter between them. They use the time to accuse each other of having been used. Once again it is clear that Galadriel has not been listening. She only hears herself or simply doesn’t accept no for an answer.
Halbrand, “After I all but begged you to let me be.” Whatever one might think of his unwillingness, considering the dire need his realm is in, the cause of this unwillingness should at least have been heard and properly addressed. But no.
Galadriel, “I have just convinced Nûmenor to send five ships and 500 men to aid your people and place a crown upon your head.”
Halbrand snaps the chord around his neck that holds his mark as royal heir. He slaps it on the table, “Find another head to crown.”
He walks off, while Galadriel looks as if she is already brooding on a new plan to force him into her desired direction. (And she is rapidly, rapidly losing the sympathy for her character. Sure, she has to oppose the world to have them be aware of the evil that exists and that action is required, but the way she is handling this is... I don't know. You fill in the appropriate word for yourself.)

The Harfoot entered a spooky forest, bare trees in a dusky world. While the Brandyfoot and Poppy are still on their own, they are apparently following the trail of the others. That trail has deviated from their customary route and led them to this place. With some unease they watch this world while they keep going. Even the Stranger eyes his surroundings with some suspicion, while he repeats the words he hears for himself.
Finding wolf tracks isn’t very helpful to set their minds at ease.
Some distance ahead of them the other Harfoot are also still trekking through these woods. Malva has no doubts whatsoever about the cause of the unusual state of this forest. She points back, “He is responsible, isn’t he? The big fella.” (So, they are aware he is with the Brandyfoot, who they had left behind, and are following them?)
Sadoc doesn’t deny or defuse these unfounded accusations. “What precisely do you expect me to do about it?”
Malva knows exactly what that action should be; “Take their wheels and leave them.” (A Harfoot form of execution? Murder? It is clear that Malva’s tongue is by far the biggest threat to the group.)
Sadoc is once again too slow or uncertain to shut her up. He should have rebuked her for it.
Now it is suddenly made clear that both groups are close indeed. When a little later Malva is gathering food in the forest, Nori and Poppy ran to her to warn her that there are wolf tracks nearby. (No surprise seeing each other or greeting) Promptly the wolves themselves let it be known by some chilling screeching that they are in the not too far distance.
Panic all round. They flee in search of a big enough tree to climb. Too late, one of the wolves, who look decidedly nasty, jumps at Nori… but is grabbed by the suddenly appeared Stranger, who throws the wolf to one side with ease.
The wolf scrambles up and is joined by two others, showing lots of menacing teeth. The Strangers behind him at Nori, Poppy and Malva, and realises more is necessary to protect the Harfoot. Panting, yelling, he slams one hand on the ground, calling upon some powers to create a stormwind, which slams into the wolves and throws them aside. But in doing so, the Stranger has wounded himself. It looks like a burn.
The wolves have enough and flee while the Stranger looks at his wound, in pain and confused.

And back again to Nûmenor, but to a scene that had better been emitted. It adds nothing and only depicts Galadriel even more as an arrogant Elf. So, I’ll skip this training session for sword-fighting.
Well, OK, except for two remarks.
Looking at the showed skills by these men, I must say I despair about the outcome once they confront Adar’s army.
Halbrand shows that he cannot only forge sword but also knows how to handle one. (Perhaps he shouldn’t have.)

“It’s not too late to stop this,“ Kemen tells his father, the chancellor. “Your cousin may hold the scepter, but it’s you the people follow.” (His cousin being Míriel.)
Kemen want his father, with the help of the people, to assert his influence and have the queen change her mind. Does the boy realise what he is saying? Does he not realise his father is following his own agenda, only with far more thought, insight and higher goals?
In other words; “Sometimes the folly of youth is enough to make an old man weep.”
But youth was not yet finished, “My father would sooner die than take orders from an Elf.”
“Orders from an Elf?” Here the staff hurries away.
“When all this has ended, Elves will take orders from us. Now, Míriel can go to war for Galadriel if she wishes, I go to war for Nûmenor.”
“How can this be good for Nûmenor?”
“Have you learned nothing? Soon we will save the low man of Middle-Earth, lift them up and give them the king they’ve long awaited. A king who will be forever in our debt. Now, contemplate if you can, how that might benefit us. Ores, forests, trades, tribute… I wouldn’t dare stop that. Not for all the salt in the sea. And neither should you.” Lesson ended.
A proper, down-to-earth motivation, for a statesman. It doesn’t exactly convince Kemen and he sure will have a hard time explaining that to Eärien.

Surprisingly, king Tar-Palantir doesn’t want Mïriel to go either. It would include restoring their connections with the Elves. Isn’t that what he wanted? But he sees darkness awaiting her, if she goes.

The Stranger is whispering in a strange tongue. It is the first sign that he is, albeit partly, recovering from his Fall to Middle-Earth.
Nori finds him sitting alone somewhere in the forest. She is excited, “Everyone’s talking about what you did. Never seen ‘em take a shine to an outsider like this before.”
He doesn’t respond or react in any way. He just sits there, holding his hurt arm in a pool of water gathered in a basin, formed by some old ruins, whispering foreign words. It slowly dawns on Nori that things are not OK.
Strangers wound.png

As she watches, ice is forming in the pool and crawling up his bare arm. Cooling the burning of the wound?
As has been remarked elsewhere, it looks a bit like the wound Grugzûg the Orc was showing to Adar. Was that a burn, caused by the sun? If so, than it makes Adar’s action to have the Orc deliberately expose his arm all the more disgusting.)
It frightens Nori, who tries to free his arm from the ice-forming, but get frozen and stuck to it herself. A voice can be heard, in between the Stranger’s increasingly louder incantation(?). He seems wholly absorbed by it. Until he either is released or breaks himself free of it, with great force and flashes of the fiery crater he came from. Nori gets freed by it, but is forcefully thrown aside.
Slowly the Stranger comes to himself, returns to the here and now. And only now becomes aware that Nori is here. He walks to her, reaches for her. Nori however, has got a scare. She finally realises how strange the Stranger really is, that he has powers that are inexplicable and not wholly under his control.
She flees from him.
The Stranger looks back at his arm, but we don’t get to see what he is seeing. Perhaps he only now notices he is healed. Only, at what costs?

To be continued...
 
Did anyone notice how when Elrond is explaining and coming clean to Durin, he says something to the effect of 'I lied to you, I came for the mithril.' Why would he phrase it like that? Elrond didn't come for the mithril. And is very careful with his words. What can be gained by implicating himself like this?
 
So the stranger seems to be invoking the restoration of his arm.

I also noticed a distinct similarity between his damaged arm and that of the orc, from the sunlight. ???????
I gave this some thought, but I think the similarities in the wounds are accidental. The Stranger got his wounds from his action which, I suspect, involved drawing power from the earth. He got burn wounds from that. And yes, he invokes some healing, more instinctively than deliberate.

The scene with Adar and the Orc is about the sun. Adar is interested in the sun and its warmth. And what he is saying, as he has the Orc expose his flesh to the sun, seems to suggest that the sun while be dimmed or blocked or whatever. Not sure if that goes for him alone or also the Southlands, creating Mordor. Adar was, in effect, saying goodbye to the sun.
Anyway, the Orc's wound is being caused by the sunlight.

I am still of the opinion that The Stranger is Gandalf and that the showrunners deliberately sowed a bit of doubt.

Anyone notice Adar's reaction to Sauron's name.
The Stranger could be Gandalf. But it remains hidden. And I fear that this will last till some point in the next season.
I did notice, but it went no where. The writers could go anywhere with that. And as they seem enthralled by false flags I decided to ignore it. Adar looks like an corrupted Elf, whose wounds can't heal. It could be a deception, though.

Did anyone notice how when Elrond is explaining and coming clean to Durin, he says something to the effect of 'I lied to you, I came for the mithril.' Why would he phrase it like that? Elrond didn't come for the mithril. And is very careful with his words. What can be gained by implicating himself like this?
I noticed and wondered why. I'll have to rewatch it. Which I do anyway when writing the synopsis and give the scenes some more thought.
 
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Elrond finished that sentence about the mithril with and paraphrasing 'even though I didn't know at the time' or something to that effect.
 
Surely he was saying that he came for his own reasons, his friendship with Durin. But Elrond now realised that he had also been manipulated to do so by Gil-Galad, who thought that Durin was more likely to open up about Mithril to his friend than following a direct confrontation from the Elven hierarchy.
Gil-Galad is still using Elrond's friendship to promote the idea of Mithril being the saviour the Elves. And Durin is swayed by Elrond's arguments in a way that he would not have been if they had come directly from Gil-Galad.
 
Part III

Dinnertime in Lindon. Prince Durin is a guest at King Gil-Galad’s table, together with Elrond, Celebrimbor and a few, not introduced, Elf women. (Except for Galadriel, no female Elf has played a noticeable part, so far.)
Elrond proposes a toast to an enduring union between Khazad and Noldor. Before the wine can 'ascend' (Gil-Galad’s choice of word), the king has an inquiry for Durin, which apparently can’t wait or need a clear head to be answered. He is curious about the, in his eyes, sudden intensification of the Dwarfs mining-activities. “To what do you credit this new invigoration?”
Elrond, knowing the why, looks somewhat apprehensive at the Dwarf. He also knows that the High King is unlikely to bring this up now merely out of curiosity. The king knows, at least partially.
Perhaps the king should have waited with his question, because a clear-headed Durin is more cunning than all attendant Elves combined. (And a great actor besides.) He expertly steers the conversation in an entirely different direction and simultaneously changes the mood by asking about the table they’re sitting at. He delicately informs the king that the stone of this table is precious rare and only used by the Dwarfs for sacred purposes. King Gil-Galad doesn’t know what to say. Has he insulted his guest by his use of this stone for mundane purposes or does he consider the possibility that they are being fooled by Durin? He can’t exactly call his royal guest a liar. So, he apologizes for the sacrilege, of course the table shall be send with Durin to his home to correct this unfortunate matter.
(There may be, in the way the king stresses the phrase “with proper respect”, the message that he full well knows that Durin is making this up. But then, the king is constantly speaking with that soft moderate voice while at the same time putting some weight on every other word. It begins to irritate.)
After dinner the king questions Elrond about his loyalty to the Dwarf. Loyalty is one thing, it does not justify lying to the king.
“I wonder, High King, if it is in fact you who has been lying to me.” Elrond is not amused. The king does not deny this accusation. “I went to Khazad-Dûm with a proposal of friendship, but in truth you sought something far more tangible, didn’t you?”
As an answer the High King asks Elrond if he knows the Song of the Roots of Hithaeglir and to recount it. Though obscure and apocryphal, Elrond knows it. The song tells about a battle high in the Misty Mountains over a tree, within which, according to some, was hidden the last of the lost Simarils.
At this point of the story, the king lifts his wineglass, one with an overly elaborate holder, with a hand of which several fingers are almost hidden by overly elaborate rings, and takes a deliberate sip. It signals something to Elrond, that this apocryphal tale apparently is true. (That is to say, only within this adaptation.)
Battle of the tree.png

On one side in this battle fought an Elven warrior, who poured all of his light into the tree to protect it. On the other side fought a balrog of Morgoth, who channeled all his hatred into the tree to destroy it. During this battle lighting struck and ensnared the tree. "Forged from that conflict was power. A power as pure and light as good. As strong and unyielding as evil." That power seeped down the roots into the depths of the mountain and created a new metal; Mithril, the ore with an inner light. A light that comes from a lost Silmaril.
Elrond basically betrays his oath by remarking that Durin was right. But on the High King’s demand to admit the Dwarfs did find mithril, he refuses to break his promise.
Keeping that secret, so reveals the king next, “means ensuring the doom of your own people.” (What now?)
The king leads Elrond to their spiritual place with the Tree and explains (while our view slowly rises upwards along the stem of the tree, stained with a black blight):
“We first took notice of it just prior to Galadriel’s return.” (How much prior would that be?) “We hoped that by sending her away, and so bringing an end to the last vestiges of war, we might arrest the decay.” (That seems a far-reaching conclusion and decision to make, just prior to Galadriel’s return. How and on what grounds was the connection ‘war and decay’ (or should I say ‘Galadriel and decay’) made?)
“But despite our every effort our decline has only quickened. The blight upon this tree is but an outer manifestation of an inner reality. That the light of the Eldar, our light, is fading.”

(By the time Galadriel set sail towards the West, on that same day [before any recovery could seriously be expected], Elrond was assigned to a project that, as we now learned, was to find out whether the Dwarfs had found mithril. So, at that point the king already knew 1. the cause isn’t Galadriel, 2. the blight means the lights of the Eldar are fading, 3. to cure themselves they need mithril, an ore no one has every heard of, 4. the Dwarfs have just discovered it, but nobody knows yet (except for the king somehow).)

We finally now see a leaf of the tree. Yellow, covered by a black, vein-like substance. Just such a leaf we saw falling on the day the falling star shot through the sky. (Which was on the same day Galadriel sprang overboard. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean this was the first indication something was wrong with the Tree for the king, just for the viewer). Sigh.)
“Who else know about this?” Why is Elrond foremost concerned about this?
“Precious few.” (Eh... nobody ever looks at this Tree?)
“I’ll ask again, and for the last time, did the Dwarfs find the ore or not?”
“I swore an oath to Durin. To some, that may now hold little weight. But in my esteem, it is by such things our very souls are bound. I do not intend to let mine slip away on the basis of mere hope.”
“Hope is never mere, Elrond, even when it is meager. When all other senses sleep, the eye of hope is first to awaken and last to shut. If the Elves abandon Middle-Earth now, the armies of darkness will march over the face of the earth. It will be the end, not just of our people, but all peoples. If the hope of preventing that is not reason enough to make you reconsider your oath, I suggest you find another.”
(Of what armies of darkness is he speaking of? The same darkness Galadriel was fighting? Did he not end the war, send Galadriel away, to safe the tree? But now he acknowledges that dark forces exist and unleashed if the Tree isn't saved. By mithril. Isn’t mithril formed from light and hatred, good and evil? Doesn’t releasing it harbour the risk of having dire, dark consequences?)
Elrond is then left to himself. He takes the small piece of ore from a pocket and stares at it, in the light of yet another full moon.

Back to Nûmenor. Isildur is now asking his friends – you remember? The ones who got expelled from the Sea Guard training thanks to him, only days before the Sea Trial? – to do him a favor and get him enlisted. Valendil, a lieutenant now, can arrange it if he wants, right? But Valendil does not want.
Disillusioned, Isuldur next hears that his horse, Berek, has been recruited, been chosen over him. “The sea is always right,” oracles Ontamo. (Yes, that was a helpful remark.)
On to the next absurd and thoughtless development (either by Isuldur or the writers, take your pick.) If you can’t get enlisted, you hide on the ship as a stowaway. (Now we must wait and see if stowaways are being thrown overboard. After all, the sea is always right. - No, wait, it unfortunately never comes to that.) Another disillusioned young man shows up. If you can’t dissuade your father, the chancellor, to repent and forget about warmongering, you instantly move on to the next stage; sabotage. And of course, you choose the one ship that has a stowaway on board. Before you know it stowaway and the saboteur meet and have a fight of a lantern above some flammable liquid…
In the end it is Isuldur who saves Kemen’s life… and… and… is redeemed by his father!
(Isn’t it wonderful? And you know it, “The writer is always right.”)
The best part of this cringing episode (within this episode) was by far the explosion.
Ship exploding.png


Afterwards Elendil informs Pharazôn that he suspects some brigand, caused the explosion, but has not yet been identified (even though two suspect persons have been fished from the water.) Two ships are lost; they were fortunate that the rest of the ships weren’t lost.
This causes Galadriel to express her expectation this won’t delay the expedition. Whereas Pharazôn surprisingly wants to put the voyage on hold.
“What of Lord Halbrand?” Míriel asks.
“He awaits our departure,” assures Galadriel with a straight face. (But that’s how she looks all the time.)
“I’m sure he does,“ remarks Pharazôn. (If only so he can wish them all a safe passage.)
The final decision is postponed till the next morning. Queen Míriel orders Galadriel, “See to it that Lord Halbrand attends.” Oh dear.

Celebrimbor hands Elrond back the piece of mithril ore.
“What have you been able to ascertain?” Elrond wants to know. (Did giving Celebrimbor his piece of mithril to examine not implicate breaking his oath?)
But all the answer he gets is, “Elrond, forgive me.”
“Forgive you?”
“That I did not tell you sooner.”
It takes a Elrond a moment to digest that and connect some dots. “You knew.”
“I begged him to allow you into our confidence from the start, but the High King forbade it.”
Elrond is a bit confused as to the logic or reason of that decision. (As do we. This decision remains unexplained. I fear is was only because of story-telling reasons, nothing else.)
“And this mithril is our only salvation?”
“Elrond, I have tested it under every duress. Nothing diminishes its light. We believe if we can secure vast quantities of it quickly enough to saturate every last Elf in the light of the Valar once more… Then yes, it very well could be.”
Very well could be… That sounds only marginally more encouraging as the High King’s ‘hope’.
“I am sorry” Celebrimbor adds, without saying about what exactly.
“That the High King deceived me? Or that now our people are doomed unless I break an oath? And betray a friend.”
“Because, like once your father before you, you are the only one who can do it.”

Halbrand, not the Lord but a plain smith-apprentice, sweeps the floor. A door opens and closes. Galadriel is making a last attempt to sway Halbrand to join the forces.
“I was wrong to use you. For that I’m sorry.”
That was a good start, but Halbrand isn’t impressed. He continues tying up the shop, silently waiting what more she has to say.
“Tomorrow, the queen will call you to audience. Your voice at that meeting may well decide whether this mission stands or falls.” Here her voice takes on a slight Gil-Galad-ical note. “Help me.”
“I think I have helped you quite enough.” Halbrand keep busying himself with reordering some knives on a table.
Galadriel, losing some of her patience, slams her hand on the table and knives. “Then help yourself. Stop fighting me, and together, lets us fight them.”
“Not so long ago, men like me were fighting alongside them.”
“Men like you. Not you, yourself.”
This seems to upset Halbrand a little. “You’re wrong.” He turns away and continues talking with his back to Galadriel, addressing the fire, contemplatively. “You don’t know what I did before I ended up on that raft. You don’t know how I survived.”

While he is relating this, we see pictures of the men and women who left the watchtower and walked with Waldreg, holding torches to light the way. (It is night there as well, suggesting that this is happening in that moment.) Adar and the Orcs are waiting for them. The group halts, then kneels.

“How we all survived. And when these people discover it, they will cast me out. So will you.”
“Sometimes, to find the light, we must first touch the darkness.”
Halbrand turns around. “What do you know of darkness?” He sounds skeptical.
Is that some emotion on her face? She doesn’t immediately answer.
Halbrand moves towards her, presses her. “Whose dagger was it, Galadriel? Who is it you lost?”
“My brother.”
“What happened to him?”
“He was killed. In a place of darkness and despair. By servants of Sauron. Is that enough for you?”
“So this is about vengeance?” Halbrand sounds indignant.
“One cannot satisfy thirst by drinking seawater.”
“Then what is it? Why do you keep fighting?” Their conversation is getting heated. “You are asking me to go to the one place I swore never to return. The least you can do is telling me why.
Though she doesn’t answer right away, there is something struggling inside her.
“Why do you keep fighting?”
“Because I cannot stop!” Which everybody already knew, and doesn't answer the question. But Halbrand waits to have her continue.
It is now Galadriel’s turn to turn away, breathing heavily. Fighting to reveal some truths?
“The company I led mutinied against me. My closest friend conspired with the king to exile me. And each of them acted as they did because I believe they could no longer distinguish me from the evil I was fighting.” She falls silent. (It still doesn’t answer the ‘why’, only how it has already led to clashes and pains with others.)
Halbrand seemed touched by her disclosure. “I am sorry. For you brother. For all of it. I’m sorry.”
It seems mostly to annoy her. “Your sorrow can not ease my pain.”
She turns back and continues, “Nor will a hammer and tongs ease yours. There is no peace to be found for you here. Nor for me. No lasting peace in any path, but that which lies across the sea. I have fought for centuries, seeking to earn mine. This is how you earn yours.”
She presses the pouch containing his mark into his hands and leaves.
Well, she does have given Halbrand something to seriously consider, in this talk that was long overdue.
 
Mithril keeps the elves alive??! Hmmm!
Euh... "Could very well be" and "hope" it may save Elves.
And than only if, "we can secure vast quantities of it quickly enough to saturate every last Elf."

So you see, they have left ample room to back out of this eh... curious theory.
 
So you see, they have left ample room to back out of this eh... curious theory.
Curious seems like a charitable way to describe it. Wrong-headed (on the part of the characters, on the part of the writers) comes a good deal closer. Manipulation and deceit hardly seems like the right way to battle spreading darkness and evil.

So I would hope they do back out of it and soon, before it becomes "curiouser and curiouser."

Of course I was gratified, in a way, to discover that the people I suspected of being untrustworthy and manipulative, turned out to be untrustworthy and manipulative. (And Celebrimbor had a new Eärendil story—or fib—conveniently on hand to influence Elrond.)

And here is my own new theory: I think Celebrimbor knows it won't work the way they hope, but doesn't care, because he has been wanting the mithril for something else.
 
Curious seems like a charitable way to describe it.
It's not that I felt charitable. Just lost some steam and spit having written Part III.
And here is my own new theory: I think Celebrimbor knows it won't work the way they hope, but doesn't care, because he has been wanting the mithril for something else.
I second that theory. Considering the writers approach so far, it is almost certain. As a smith, wouldn't it be logical if Celebrimbor was the first to learn the Dwarfs made a new discovery?
 
So I got caught up last night and here are my thoughts:

I enjoyed this less than the last episode but there were some good parts.

The Good
  • Adar and the Stranger continue to be interesting characters, their origins and motivations.
  • The sword fighting scene: ok so I have criticised Warrior Princess Galadriel before - but mostly because of the presentation. This would have been perfect if it would have been saved - if we had not seen her prowess, then this would have been a fantastic fist pump moment. However they already gave us her prowess in the awful Snow Troll scene. The choreography was absolutely on point, with Galadriel playing to her advantages (speed and agility). I really enjoyed this scene for the style and form. We didn't need the running dialogue from Galadriel however, but at this point sword training montage come with a cliched voiceover.
  • Durin and Elronds relationship continues to be something I find engaging and realistic.
The Bad
  • Halbrands sword forging scene. That sword was a work of art, there is no way it was made in that forge. I understand that the Numenoreans have amazing workshops - so why show what looks like a rundown forge with only basic equipment. He is forging the sword out and the sword he is hammering is the completely wrong shape for the sword he ends up producing. The sword is way too cold for quenching and only half the sword is hot, so literally only the top 1/3rd of that sword would have had hardened steel. I know this is pedantic, but please just hire a forge expert and make the scene realistic.
  • Ok this is going to sound even more pedantic, why does Bronwynn look like she belongs in a modern day Dulux advert? She is a poster girl for blue dungarees. Honestly - she looks so out of place compared to all of the other people. I don't imagine Blue dye would be cheap and for me it doesn't fit properly into the world.

I give this episode 6.5/10

1664530323304.png
 
The sword fighting scene: ok so I have criticised Warrior Princess Galadriel before - but mostly because of the presentation. This would have been perfect if it would have been saved - if we had not seen her prowess, then this would have been a fantastic fist pump moment. However they already gave us her prowess in the awful Snow Troll scene. The choreography was absolutely on point, with Galadriel playing to her advantages (speed and agility). I really enjoyed this scene for the style and form. We didn't need the running dialogue from Galadriel however, but at this point sword training montage come with a cliched voiceover.

I disagree. It is far from well done. Her first lesson, "stab and twist," as if these warriors didn't know it already. She does it with a steel sword, not a practice one. The first guy sword stance is not defensive, not offensive. Galandriel is open, and yet the geezer doesn't even study her pose, her moves, just slashes out like a monkey. When the second geezer comes into the play, they both act like baboons and both of them forget any stances, or even using the openings that are there, even to the amateur eyes. She twists and spins, leaving her sides open, and the guys are not even trying to hit her. You can see clearly that they avoid striking her.

Then the sword grabbing ... from the palm, when you are supposed to be grasping the hilt to keep the blade secure. Little squeese and the blade won't go anywhere, and nobody comes to grab it from your palm.

cwxicPC.jpg


This lady... if she had wanted the Lieutenant position, she could have just stabbed the elven lady and be done with it. Thing is you can see her consciously avoiding doing that move, even though her reflexes does move towards the strike, but she held off from skewering Galandriel more than once. What she could have done with half a meter of bloodied steel sticking out from her belly?

Not a great fight scene for 1 vs 5. Not even for 1 vs many.
 
Part IV (and my apologies for the delay)

Back to the encounter between Adar and the villagers who followed Waldreg (of which we already saw a part during Halbrands reverie of his past.)
Waldreg’s plea to be admitted into Adar’s following has some curious parts.
“Long have I awaited this day. The day your kind would return at last, lift us up from the muck and filth, to take our rightful place at your side. I pledge my undying service to you. (This seems to shock Rowan) I pledge my loyalty to Sauron.” And he kneels deep. Nobody follows his example.
(How come he seems to know so much? Knows Sauron's name? How had he come in the possession of the key in the first place? Makes you wonder if Waldreg is perhaps (far) more than he claims to be.)
Adar, who has been listening to all this with his back turned to Waldreg, now turns and slowly walks towards him. Looks down on him.
Waldreg looks up and asks, “You are Sauron, are you not?”
Adar, for whatever reason, doesn’t like the question. Or any question about Sauron. He doesn’t answer at all, just hits Waldreg hard. And walks off.
Waldreg, lying on the ground, calls after him, “I’ll serve you, then. Whoever you are.”
But Adar wasn’t going away. He grabs one of the villagers, Rowan (watching from the first line, where else), and forces him on his knees in front of himself. One of the Orcs drops a knife on Waldreg’s chest. Had they planned this or is what follows just standard procedure for would-be followers?
“Only blood can bind,” Adar explains.
The villagers gasp and whimper. Rowan keeps repeating “Waldreg, Waldreg, no“ in a disbelieving voice. Waldreg looks uncertain at the knife, at first, but then his eyes narrow and his look gets somewhat calculating.
We are spared watching the spilling of blood. But it doesn’t leave much doubt about Waldreg’s ultimate decision.

Theo is testing his skills as an archer. He could use some advice from Arondir. But as it is being offered, unasked, he resist it.
“Why bother trying to teach me?”
“Because it took me over 200 years to develop the bravery that’s keeping me standing here tonight. You found it in only 14. And we’re going to need it in the fight to come.”
“All my life your kind has watched us, counting every whisper. Every kitchen knife too sharp. We’re all about to be buried in this tower. So why be buried with us?”
“Because in counting the whispers and the knives, I’ve come to know the voices and the hands of those behind them.”
“Half of us just left.”
“But half stayed. Including you.”
Theo seems to surrender his resistance after this. And confesses something else. He shows Arondir the key. The design triggers a memory, “I have seem this before.”
He turns around and looks at the wall behind him, covered with branches. Something has been carved in the wall.
Once the greenery is removed the whole design becomes visible. It is elaborate, difficult to make out what it depicts, except for the design that is seen also in the key.
The key in stone.png

It is a key, according to Arondir, “Conjured by some forgotten craft of the enemy, to enslave your ancestors.”
“A key to what?” Bronwyn wonders.
Arondir sighs. “I do not know. The enemy commander spoke of becoming a god. Of giving the Orcs a home in these lands. But whatever his design, this much is certain. Our enemy knows that your son has what he needs to enact it.”
They stand on the rampart, looking down into the valley. Lights, probably Orcs carrying torches, seem to gather from every direction at the foot of the hills. Hundreds, if not thousands.
“How long?”
“Days,” Arondir guesses, “Maybe hours.”
Bronwyn despairs. Arondir grabs her by the shoulder. “We can survive this. There is a way. There must be.”
“There is one, “ Bronwyn agrees. If you can’t beat them, join them.
She storms down to the center of the keep, probably to tell everyone to give up hope.
“No!” Arondir cries, “Bow to the enemy and you take away everything. From your son, and his sons after him. Your people have worked an entire age to earn back their virtue.” No one around them seems to pay much attention to their discussion. Let alone join in. “Would you undo it all in just one moment of despair? Their must be another way.”
“Name it. I beg you.”
Arondir has no answer.
“See? You were right to watch us. Because we are destined for the darkness.” Bronwyn looks again at the sculpted design on the wall. “It is how we survive. Perhaps it is who we are. Who we will always be.”
But Arondir won’t allow it. “There is far more at stake here than just our lives. When Morgoth was at war, whole continents sank.” He holds up the key and looks at it. “Who is to say what horrors this might unleash, should our enemy obtain it?”
“What power do we have to stop him? Look around. It’s over.“
“Not yet!”
“Soon enough. And when they march upon us, this tower will fall.”
Arondir gasps and then Bronwyn herself. They both look up at the tower behind them. An idea has begun to stir.

Below, in the valley, Adar looks up at the very same tower. Around him the Orcs, excited by the coming battle, are getting in line and on their way up along the access road, chanting “Nampat, nampat!”

In Lindon, Durin is preparing to leave for home. The stone table is being carried by 6 elves. It might not be enough manpower. They struggle and barely prevent it from falling, and no doubt breaking if it did.
Prince Durin starts to chuckle. Then clears his throat. Elrond, standing next to him as they watch the bearers leave, looks at him and looks exasperated as it dawns on him.
“You made it up, didn’t you?”
“Disa’s been wanting a new table for years, so…” he glances up at Elrond. And they both begin chuckling. But Elrond returns to a more serious expression a bit to soon.
“Ah, come on, it’s not that heavy.”
“It is not the weight of the table that burdens me.”
“So why don’t you come out with it?”
“Because a burden shared may either be halved or doubled.”
Durin sighs and is irritated with this cryptic answer. He groans, “Aulë’s beard. Enough with the quail sauce!” He is not angry, though.
He steps on a stone, to get more eye to eye with Elrond. “Give me the meat, and give it to me raw.”
Elrond takes the time to find the right words, to confess duplicity.
“I have not been truthful with you, Durin.” Durin looks back with a face that says, ‘Tell me something new.’
“I did not come to Khazad-Dûm for friendship, but ambition. I did not know it. But I came for mithril.”
Now Durin really sighs, for once lost for words. “Why?
“Without it,” Elrond says, “my kind must either abandon these shores by spring, or perish.”
“Perish,” Durin looks a lot less skeptical now. “Perish, how…?”
“Our immortal souls will... dwindle into nothing. Slowly diminishing until we are but shadows, swept away by the tides of time. Forever.”
Durin sighs again and steps down from his stone. He sits himself heavily on another stone next to is. “So, the fate of the entire Elven race is in my hands?” He sounds as if he has trouble keeping from mirth breaking through about this stupendous joke fate seems to have contrived.
Elrond can’t laugh, “So it would appears.” He sits next to Durin, face downcast.
Durin bounces on his seat. “Say that again.”
And Elrond, still dead serious, looks at him and repeats, “The fate of the entire Elven race is in your hands.”
Struggling to keep his face straight, Durin turns to Elrond. “Whose hands?”
Elrond obliges him again. “Yours.”
Durin sighs deeply. Then returns to seriousness. “Fetch your feathery shirts. Lets start walking.”
“Durin…”
Durin stops him. “Don’t thank me yet. Thank me after we find a way to convince my father. Now can we please get moving? It’s a long journey back.”
Durin keeps babbling while he walks off, preventing Elrond from saying needless things, between friends. “All this sunlight is startin’ to give me a sour stomach.”
“Under one condition,“ Elrond manages to interject, “Tell Disa the table’s from me.”
“Don’t push your luck, Elf.”
The both laugh as they walk off along a tree lined path carpeted in autumnal colors. Spring is not far off.
From high up High King Gil-Galad sees them going, stoical. He might have shown some relief. Why doesn't he?

In Numûnor, Halbrand, still at the forgery, is looking at his mark, contemplating. It is dawn. Has he been up all night?
A soldier appears. As expected, Queen Regent Míriel has summoned him.
Sighing heavily Halbrand rises. He throws the mark on a worktable and follows the soldier. Seconds later he is back to grab his mark again.

The next scene shows Habrand clad in leather armour and riding a horse. Trumpets blare and drums thump; the Numûnorean force marches off to their ships, cheered by the people. Isuldur is among the soldiers, beaming proud. Eärien is less happy with all this.
They board the ships.
“Look whose father secured him a post. Again.” Valendil remarks.
“I earned mine. Same as you.” Isuldur replies, to be interrupted by his father.
“Report to the horsemaster.”
“Thought I was in cavalry.”
“You are. As stable sweep.”
Behind him his friends laugh and, after a second, so does Isuldur. They embrace.
The soldiers are called to attention. The commander boards. Galadriel wears a metal amour. She walks aft, to where Halbrand – no, Lord Halbrand – is waiting. They clasp hands. (In this moment Halbrand, having bathed and given decent clothing, looks more than ever like Aragon.)
And thus the expeditionary force sails off to Middle-Earth.


Conclusion. The balance after 5 episodes.

A mixed bag. The lack of quality in the writing begins to chafe.
The false flags, unlikely or impossible events, the artifice and deception are methods of story-telling I have never much appreciated, but seem even more out of place, or character, if you will, in Middle-Earth. Evil, corruption by the Ring, yes, false expectation, fine, but wrong-footing viewers, no.
Though the happenings in Nûmenor are probably step-stones to events later (likely in season two), right now they seem artificial and leading nowhere. Annoying, even.

On the other hand, the relation between Durin and Elrond is done well and a relieve to watch. The High King, however, and his dubious machinations are a let down.
The Harfoot may seem annoying too at first, but as a folk with their own quirks and short-comings, it is something I have come to appreciate more, especially the Brandyfoot, Nori and the Stranger, and Poppy, who seem to have been adopted by the family.
Who or what the Stranger exactly is remains unclear, but that’s fine. It’s an honest mystery.
The same goes for Adar. Clearly an Elf, but the answer to what exactly his connection with Sauron is has been dodged constantly. Adar refuses to give any clues.
That makes what Waldreg seem to know, all the more suspect. Also given the fact that it was his barn where the key was originally kept.
There is little personal development for most of the characters. What do we know about Bronwyn? She looks so different from the other villagers, as does Theo. Her ‘leadership’ seems off. Her relation with Arondir has mainly remained superficial, unexplored. And as a result, uninteresting to the viewer.
There remains much to be desired and to improve.
 
I do wonder how Arondir divines that it is a key.

Also, how someone was able to find armor that exactly fits Galadriel. I don't see how it could have been made especially for her in any Númenórean armorer's workshop, since it is not like the armor that the islanders wear themselves. They use scale, and boiled armor on their bodies, and it's hard to see what they wear on arms and legs. Hers is entirely plate, except some bits of chain mail that look more decorative than anything else.

@ctg There is a lot of blue-dyed cloth in this series. It did strike me as unlikely, but I like the effect too much to complain, so I'm supposing that there must be some source, perhaps great beds along the coastlines of some sort of mollusk that has become extinct by the Fourth Age. Bronwyn, of course, is a long way from the sea, and would be unable to afford the imported stuff. But as a healer she works with plants and maybe was able to achieve that color using a combination of vegetable dyes, maybe woad and something else? I don't really know, my knowledge of dyes is rather sketchy, but just like most viewers I am willing to come up with my own explanations or excuses for anything I really like. And the color schemes they use among the Elves and the Númenóreans delight my eye, and give the series a distinctive look.

What do we know about Bronwyn? Her ‘leadership’ seems off.

I wondered how she went from being so sweet and unassuming to being so tough and taking on a leadership role. But eventually (when I was trying to work out something else) it occurred to me that as the village healer she would have to do it all, everything a physician or surgeon might do, as well as concoct the medicines she prescribes as the apothecary. (If they had a blacksmith he might take care of bone-setting and amputations—but I haven't seen a blacksmith, and the apothecary would have to assist anyway.) I've read a lot about early medicine, and it could be pretty harrowing. She has no magical healing powers, so she'd sometimes be up to her elbows in blood, or performing painful procedures without the benefit of our modern anesthetics. I think her "bed-side manner" would have to be quite commanding at times. And though they may not treat her with respect most of the time, when she brings out that voice and manner—as when she plunks the orc's head down on the counter—her neighbors are used to taking notice and obeying her.
 

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