Sorry it took me so long to get this done.
We're on the Queen Regent’s ship returning home to Númenor. Valandil stands on deck, looking out pensively over the water (as one might expect of a young man who believes he lost his two best friends in the recent battle). Elendil joins the Queen in her cabin. She is reciting numbers, the steps she must take to reach each location, trying to master the space she can no longer see, attempting to assert some independence.
When he offers the Captains offers her advice, she accuses him of patronizing her. He offers her one broad hand instead. “Come then. I have you.”
She softens, perhaps at the thought of Isildur. “Who has you
? Given your loss I would understand it if upon your return, you wish to take a leave of duty.”
He replies that she once wondered why he saved Galadriel from the sea. “I claimed to have had little choice. But the truth is, I could have left her there. Could’ve refused to follow her to Middle-Earth. Or stopped my son from doing so. Yet at every turn I made the choices I did because …”
“Because ‘Elendil’ does not merely mean ‘one who loves the stars.’” (He trusts her enough now to openly admit the other meaning, “elf friend,” and that he—presumably following in the footsteps of the parents who gave it to him—is one who remains faithful to the old ways.
) “I just never imagined it would lead here.”
She steps toward him, on the verge of tears. “My father once told me, that the way of the Faithful is committing to pay the price. Even if the cost cannot be known. And trusting that in the end it will be worth it.”
“Sometimes,” he whispers, no doubt thinking of his son, but also of all
other brave young men and women who died, “the cost is dear.”
“It is,” she says with a sigh.
“We have no choice, then, but to keep serving,” he replies with a look of growing determination. “ And I, for one, will see to it that we make
the end worth the price.”
“Come what may?”
“Come what may.”
She leans her head against his shoulder—not a romantic gesture, but as one seeking to give and receive comfort.
But they are interrupted by an opening door, and Valandil’s voice announcing that Númenor is in sight.
When Elendil leads the Queen on deck, everyone is silent. As he continues to lead her forward, Míriel becomes aware just how subdued everyone is. “Elendil, what is
it? What is wrong? What do you see?”
The ship fully enters the harbor, where we see what she cannot. Every ship ahead hangs long black banners from its masts. The King is dead.
And what will this mean for the Queen Regent, returning blind and with only a fraction of her army? What is her ambitious cousin already planning? We will have to wait until next season to find out, because we won’t see Númenor again this episode.
Back in Eregion, there is an explosion at the top of the forge tower. Galadriel rushes through the thin white smoke that is filling the tower, to see what has happened. She arrives in the workshop to find Celebrimbor, unharmed but frustrated, staring at a scorched piece of machinery.
“The mithril is proud,” he says, holding the ore in a long pair of tongs. “It refuses every effort to bind it with lesser ores.”
Elrond is also there and unhurt. “Tapping into the powers of the Seen and Unseen World seemed to soften the boundaries between the two.”
Galadriel cautiously approaches the ruined machinery, while behind her Celebrimbor laments, “It doesn’t make any sense. We used enough pressure to fuse the very heavens with the earth. It should have held this time!”
“Patience. This is a journey. It may take time.”
? We don’t have time. Time—“
“That is enough for today,” interrupts Galadriel. “Perhaps we’ve been pushing ourselves too hard.”
Halbrand appears out of the smoke. “Pushing ourselves too hard.” He approaches them eagerly. “Supposing that is the trouble? Supposing we’ve been using too much force?”
“Meaning what?” asks Celebrimbor. Then he answers his own question: the metals should not be forced to join. They should be coaxed together. “Now if that is true, we’ve—“ He laughs. “We’ve been doing it all inside out.”
Halbrand laughs, too, but Galadriel looks at him warily.
Celebrimbor commands that the machinery be dismantled. “We start again.”
At this moment, the archivist enters the room with a scroll in his hands. “My lady.” He offers the scroll to Galadriel, who takes the scroll and leaves the room. By the look on Halbrand's face, he seems to sense that something is afoot.
Outside, by a stream in a garden, Galadriel stands with the open scroll unreeled in her hand. She is quiet but plainly distraught. Halbrand discovers her there. He, by contrast, appears jubilant.
“We found it. I don’t know how we missed it before. It’s too much power for one object.”
Galadriel quickly rolls up the scroll, concealing its contents. Halbrand continues triumphantly, “We need two. We’re making two.”
“Two crowns?” she asks, colorlessly.
“Not exactly. It’ll need to be something …smaller.” (Gosh, what could it be?)
“Come, see for yourself.”
Galadriel stays where she is. “Not until you tell me who you are.”
“You know who I am.”
“Who you really
He laughs, all good-natured confusion. “Galadriel, I’m afraid I don’t …”
She tosses the scroll to the flagstone walkway. “There is
no King of the Southlands. The line was broken. The last man to bear your crest died over a thousand years ago. He had no heir.”
Hal pauses a moment, then smiles mischievously. “I told
you I found it on a dead man.”
“No,” she says, taking a step backward. (No obviously means “I don’t believe this is happening.”)
“On the raft you saved me …”
He walks toward her. “On the raft, you saved me
“You convinced Mîriel to save the Men of Middle-Earth.”
He continues to advance, still smiling. “You convinced her. I wanted to remain in Númenor.”
“You fought beside me.”
“Against your enemy … and mine.”
Galadriel shudders. “Tell me your name.”
His expression changes; he abandons his loose, casual stance and stands taller. “I have been awake since before the breaking of the first silence.”
I find that line chilling, and to Galadriel it must be horrifying. Because now she knows for certain not only who he is, but what is worse she also knows—she who has become long accustomed to being the oldest and most experienced person in almost every room—that she faces a being so ancient that all her years and all her experiences are as nothing
“And in that time,” he says, “I have had many names.”
She draws her dagger, and makes to strike him, but he is by far swifter and catches her by the arm.
And suddenly, Galadriel is elsewhere
, kneeling on a grassy slope in the Blessed Realm, not as a child but as the young maiden of Valinor she must once have been. She gazes around her in wonder, at the flowers, the flowing waters.
A beloved voice speaks. “Lose your footing again, sister?” Finrod laughs. He comes to stand beside her and offers a hand up.
But Galadriel is not fooled—though it is strain to speak her answer. “Get out of my mind!”
“Please, sister,” he says, kneeling beside her. “Look at me.”
She turns her head. He certainly has the appearance of Finrod. She smiles tremulously, and allows him to lift her to her feet.
They sit together under a tree. “My old dagger,” he says, holding it in one hand. “You kept it safe all this time.”
She smiles happily, confidingly.
"You have been very
brave,” he says, with elaborate sympathy, as though speaking to a child. “You have fought so hard. For so
many years. To complete the task that I could not.”
Galadriel has lost her smile. “Your task was hunting Sauron.”
“My task … was to ensure peace
.” He smiles at her kindly. “But I
learned that was Sauron’s task as well.”
“No.” She closes her eyes a moment, gasps. “No, you died, along with countless others, because of him.”
“No Galadriel. He was seeking a power not to destroy Middle-Earth, but to heal it. Just as your fellow elves are seeking to do at this very moment. You needn’t lie to them.” He is still over-doing the older brother speaking to a very
young sister. “Simply let the work proceed.” His smile widens. “Do you remember what I whispered to you under this very tree?” He leans forward and whispers, “Touch the darkness once more.”
She looks at him with tears in her eyes. “My brother is dead. Because of you.”
“Galadriel!” he says, as if shocked. “Why would you say
that? Why would you say such a thing?”
Her tears are falling now, as she stands and turns away. “Galadriel,” he calls. “Come back to me.” She continues to walk away. “Galadriel. LOOK AT ME!”
And now she is on the raft again, soaking wet. Hal … that is, Sauron … is there with her, sitting on a box, looking battered and ragged just as he did when they first met. “Galadriel, look at me. You know who I am.” Adding softly, “I am your friend.”
“You are a friend of Morgoth’s!”
He stands, shakes his head. “When Morgoth was defeated, it was as if a great, clenched fist had released its grasp from my neck. And in the stillness of that first sunrise, I felt the light of The One again. I knew, if ever I was to be forgiven, that I had to heal everything that I had helped ruin.”
“No penance” she whispers, “could ever
erase the evil you have done.”
“That is not what you believe.”
Her voice rises in distress. “Do not tell
me what I believe!”
told me. After our victory, you said that whatever I’d done before I could be free of it now.”
“You deceived me!”
“I told you the truth. I told you that I had done evil, and you did not care. Because you knew that our past meant nothing, weighed against our future.”
She leans back, as if to put distance between them in the crowded confines of the raft. “There is
no such future.”
“Isn’t there?” His smile is sly.
Following his sideways glance, she looks down at their reflections in the water. But there is something different about these images. He briefly appears as if wearing his horned helmet ... then with the motion of the little waves his figure becomes a crowned king, and beside him stands a woman like to Galadriel herself, with long hair flowing in the wind.
“All others look on you with doubt.” (This must surely hit a nerve! For me, the significance of much earlier scenes fell into place.)
alone can see your greatness.” He reaches out and gently cradles her chin in his hand. “I alone can see your light.”
“You would make me a tyrant.”
“I would make you a queen,” he says, tenderly. “Fair as the sea and the Sun. Stronger than the foundations of the earth.” Yes, this sounds like something that would appeal to Galadriel … or will, at some future date.
“And you,” she whispers, “my king. The Dark Lord.”
“No. Not dark.” He shakes his head. “Not with you at my side. You told me once, that we were brought together for a purpose. This is it.” He backs away, and we can see that their hands are now joined together around her dagger. “You bind me to the light, and I bind you to power. Together we can save this Middle-Earth.”
“Save?” she says, almost … but not quite … like one entranced. “Or rule?”
He smiles. “I see no difference.”
Now the blade is in her hand, the edge held against his throat. “And that is why … I will NEVER be at your side.”
Thunder rumbles,. The wind and the sea are rising. His smile is gone. “You have no choice. Without me, your people will fade. And the shadow will spread and darken all the world. You need me.”
“I should have left you on the sea,” she hisses.
“A sea you were on because the Elves cast you out.
” He is shouting now. “They cast you out for deigning to beg them for a few petty soldiers.”
Tears slide, one after another, down her face. (He certainly knows where to apply the pressure to cause the most pain.) “What will they do when you tell them that you were my ally? WHEN YOU TELL THEM THAT SAURON LIVES BECAUSE OF YOU? “
Now she is shouting back. “AND YOU WILL DIE
BECAUSE OF ME.”
Both scream. Thunder roars, lightning flashes.
And she is suddenly off the raft and underwater, at the end of the rope that almost drowned her before. But this time she is
drowning, her breath escaping as she calls for help, but there is no help as she sinks lower and lower …
And just when it seems there is no hope
either, a voice calls “Galadriel” …
And someone pulls her up out of the stream in the garden and back into the air.
“Deceiver!” she cries, pointing her blade at his throat.
“Elrond, it’s Elrond!” He tries to hold her back.
“Prove it!” she demands, through clenched teeth. She has seen enough illusions now, she can no longer be sure what is real. “Where did we first meet?”
“Seaside. Where I was first orphaned,” he gasps out, reaches to stop the dagger. “I was alone, without friend or kin. You gave me water.”
She bows her head in relief. “Elrond.” They lean their foreheads together. He speaks to her in Quenya.
“Celebrimbor!” she says, suddenly remembering. “Where is he?”
“Workshop. He’ll almost be finished by now.”
“No!” She tears herself away and dashes toward the tower.
Elrond follows, calling her name, asking what has happened. But she gives no reply and continues to run.
She finds Celebrimbor setting up some machinery in his workshop.
“Is it done?” she asks,
Instead of answering, Celebrimbor seems more interested in why she’s soaking wet.
“Because I pulled her from the waters of the Glanduin,” says Elrond, striding in behind her.
She doesn’t answer, so Celebrimbor repeats the question. Still no answer. “Galadriel?” Elrond prompts her.
Galadriel glances back over her shoulder, as if to remind Elrond that he promised to trust her.
So he asks a different question. “Where is Halbrand?”
“He is gone. And I doubt that he will return,” says Galadriel. “And should he ever, none of us are to treat with him again.”
(He’s a shapechanger. He could reappear with a completely different face and form. Why, if she fears to tell the truth—and Sauron had a point there … what would
they do to her?—does she not at least warn them to beware of strangers that act too interested in Celebrimbor’s projects?)
“What happened by that stream?” Elrond insists.
This time, instead of trying to quell him with a look, she is a little more direct. “You spoke of a mistake, one you said you would not make again.”
“You are making that promise difficult to keep!”
“Were it easy,” she answers, “it would not require trust.”
Elrond decides not to press the point—for now.
Celebrimbor, of course, has not followed their conversation at all. “So do we proceed?” he asks, with a puzzled look.
“No.” And as Celebrimbor stands aghast, Galadriel explains, “We must make three.”
“Three? Why three?” Elrond asks suspiciously.
“One will always corrupt. Two will divide.”
“But with three there is balance,” Celebrimbor finishes for her.
“The powers we forge today,” Galadriel proclaims proudly, “must be for the Elves alone
. Untouched by other hands.”
Isn’t a little late for that? On the other hand, it’s probably too late to start from scratch. Quite a dilemma, but I think her solution is much too perilous … though, to be fair, we know what she does not.
“I have determined,” says Celebrimbor, “that the purity of the lesser ores in the alloy is crucial. I need gold and silver of the most exquisite
quality. I need gold and silver from Valinor.” And as Galadriel clutches her dagger, inherited from her brother, brought by him from the Blessed Realm, the smith reminds her, “True creation requires … sacrifice.”
The scene shifts to Nori and the Wizard sitting together on a hillside overlooking a road. “Did you remember anything more yet?” she asks.
“Fragments. Impressions. More has come, but to discover the rest, I know I must go to Rhûn.”
“They were wrong about your name. What if they’re wrong about that, too?” she protests. “Or lying, or …”
“What they said, I knew to be true with a … a certainty that I can’t explain.”
She looks like she might cry, already missing him, but only bites her lip and says,”They called you something else: ‘Istar.’ Is that your kind?”
“In your tongue, that means ‘wise one.’ Or … ‘wizard.’”
She swallows hard. “You’re really not coming with us, are you?
He starts to speak several times, stops, and then tries again. “Betimes, our paths are laid before us by powers greater than our own. In those moments, it’s our task to make our feet go where are hearts wish not to tread,” he says softly. “No matter the perils awaiting us along the way.”
She smiles a wobbly smile. “It sounds a bit like an adventure.”
“Alone, it’s just a journey. Now, adventures … they must be shared.” He gives her an arch look.
Nori blows out her cheeks, looks away, looks back, and then says, “Think I’ve had about as much adventure as any harfoot could ever hope for.”
He smiles sadly.
Down below them, the other harfoots are packing up their remaining possessions to be carried with them as they continue on foot, now that they no longer have wagons. Malva has the map, and seems to think she is in charge of such things henceforth. But Poppy points out that she is holding the map upside down.
“Well, if you’re so quick and wise, why don’t you do the trail-finding?” Malva huffs.
Poppy answers with a slow grin.
Maybe if we see this harfoot tribe again in a season or two, Poppy will be the new seer and trail-finder. She’d be good choice, I think.
“Watch out for little ones and stragglers,” Malva calls out in a sing-song voice to the assembled harfoots. “Nobody goes off-trail.”
Somehow she lacks the same authority that Sadoc always had.
“And nobody walks alone,” the others recite together.
Meanwhile, Nori walks up to join her family—though not without a backward glance at the Wizard, standing alone up on the hill.
Largo hands her an already prepared backpack. “Go on, then. You’re a part of something bigger now.”
“He needs you,” adds Marigold. “And you belong out there.”
Nori may look a bit taken aback for a moment, but her family is right. The Wizard, with his fragmentary memory, is still dangerously innocent, and he could use a more practical companion. Say what you will about Nori, harfoots know how to live off the land—and he has no money to buy food or other supplies for the long, long trip to Rhûn—and she’ll have much knowledge and ordinary skills that at this point he lacks. You can’t solve everything with brute physical strength or magic.
And though she may be feeling a bit chastened by recent events, and believes she’s had her fill of adventures, they know—as we know—if she remained with the other harfoots, in another month or so she’d be wishing to see more of the world, regretting she passed up her chance. She’ll always take risks, and having a friend with magical powers to look out for her—at the same time she’s looking out for him—sounds like the perfect solution for both of them.
She looks up toward the Wizard again—he’s patiently waiting on the hill, as though he knows the conversation going on below. Then she turns back with a bright smile.
There follows a lot of harfooty hugs and good wishes from the crowd, which I shall spare you. It goes on a bit long. Naturally, Nori and Poppy share an especially long hug, but then an emotional Poppy walks away, as if it is too much for her. Nori looks puzzled
And then she is saying good-bye to her family. Largo jams a last handkerchief full of food in his daughter’s pack. “Raw snails. For the big fella. You know how hungry he gets.”
“And another blanket in case you get cold,” says Marigold.
Dilly dances around in excitement. She's too young to understand what is really happening.
“Some father,” says a tearful Largo. “Here you’re heading into the big beyond and I haven’t taught you a bloomin’ thing.”
“Sure you have: Always quench your fire, water and earth. Don’t squat by a river. Never know when you’ll need a drink downstream.” (Lest we forget how rustic the harfoots are.)
“And a harfoot without manners is as like to get far in life as a square wheel.” Her voice drops to an emotional whisper. “I was listening to all of it, Father.”
“And I’ll be careful,” she adds to her step-mother.
“No,” says Marigold, finding it hard to speak, but smiling through her tears. “You’ll be bold
As Nori finally starts out she is stopped by Poppy, hurtling toward her for a final hug. “You’ll come back? Promise?”
“You promise to look after everyone?”
“Course I will, ankle-head.” Shakey laughter from both of the girls, then Poppy takes a deep breath. “You’re my best friend in this whole wide, wild world. I’d do anything for you.”
“The world’s not that wide,” says Nori. “It’s just that we’re
so bleedin’ small.”
And so, at last, Nori goes off to discover just how big the world is—and maybe just how great she might somehow, someday become.
(At least, I hope we’ll be seeing some grand adventures for her and the Wizard in coming seasons.)
“Are you sure?” he asks, when she joins him on the hill.
“More than ever.”
“Then perhaps t’would be best if you lead on.”
“I haven’t an inkling which way to go.”
“Ah. Hmmm. Hmmm,” he says. Then he seems to know. “There it is.”
“Are you sure?”
“Not entirely.” He smiles his gentle smile. “There’s a sweet smell on the air this way. When in doubt, Elanor Brandyfoot … always follow your nose.”
OK, yes. We know someone who said much that same thing before. But maybe "the big fella" learned it from Gandalf.
In Eregion, Galadriel reluctantly gives up her gold and silver dagger to be melted in the furnace. When it comes out, the molten metal is poured into a bowl heating over a fire. Elrond drops the shard of mithril into the bowl, which begins to spin around and around and then catch fire. The patterns formed in red and gold with the darker mithril at the center resemble the fiery eye in the LOTR movie trilogy.
A bad omen. It seems that, after all, Sauron left his mark upon the process before he left. But the Great Eye is for the future, so even Galadriel, knowing what she knows, is unable to recognize what she is looking at.
The metals blend, Celebrimbor’s fantastic (steampunkish, art nouveau)
machinery begins the process by producing three metal bars of different colors. The metals are spun into wire, the wires are woven together, and so the smiths set to work with hammers and other tools to create the rings.
This is all very interesting to watch, but would be dull described in detail, so I won't.
Meanwhile, Elrond paces with a restless step, too much on his mind. At last he gives into his fears and goes out to the garden. There he finds the scroll floating on the surface of the stream. He kneels by the water, takes up the scroll, and walks away studying the genealogy. He frowns. So now he knows that Halbrand was not who everyone thought he was, but how much of the truth does he actually guess?. Enough, at least, that he hurries inside the forge.
But as he climbs the stairs, Celebrimbor is already setting the gems inside their settings. Elrond arrives to find Galadriel and Celebrimbor smiling proudly over the newly created rings.
The scene changes to a place in the mountains surrounding Mordor. Someone is there, and in his eye, we see the rings reflected, as if to reveal that he is thinking about them. The reflection changes to an erupting Mount Doom, and as the camera draws back we see his face. It is, of course, Sauron.
A saturnine, satisfied-looking Sauron, who shows no fear of any coming confrontation with Adar.
(at least for this season)