1.08 The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power—Alloyed (Season Finale)

Teresa Edgerton

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Well, they managed to keep us guessing for quite a while there, but on the other hand, they couldn't both be Sauron.

I'm pleased that we got some answers, not pleased with what some of the answers were, but the big reveal was handled in such a way, it actually sold me on the idea, even if it wasn't what I wanted.

(I hope to start posting a synopsis in a couple of days, but in the meantime, let the discussion begin!)
 
Other comments later.

But what an appalling rendition of Three Rings for the Elven kings at the end.:eek::eek::eek:
 
Yes that was my least favorite part of the episode. And in addition to just not liking that bit in general, it left me wondering how it will come about that the other rings will be made.
 
I will need time to absorb it before commenting. But I fully agree about the appalling bit. People should be warned!
 
Yes. The forging of the three elven rings is closely involved with the Mithril/Fading-Light- of-the-Eldar plot line, which even many of us who followed the series with (some) pleasure didn't like, so yes, anyone who didn't care for what led into it should be warned that they aren't likely to be any more pleased with what comes out of it. But with that warning, which is no doubt going to inspire all sorts of horrid speculation, maybe what actually happens won't be as awful as what you'll be imagining. (Or ... well, it could be worse.)

However, since last night I have done some reading up on what they didn't have rights to (I am surprised at myself that I never considered that they didn't have the rights to Annatar, though I should have realized and not expected Sauron to turn up in that guise), and what the producers decided to do about that, and I've done some thinking, and while I STILL don't like the way it played out in making the rings, I can see it wasn't random willfulness on their part. But I'll share more of those thoughts later. For now, I've been roped by my daughter into doing some work around the house, and I do have that synopsis to write.
 
It seems odd for the Tolkien Estate to sell such a limited set of rights, which can only result in something being made that doesn't really fit with Tolkien's writings and the other adaptations. It can't really help the Tolkien "brand" the estate was presumably partly set up to protect.
 
Yes. It basically forced the programme makers to go against the Tolkien canon. And thereby forced us as lovers of his books to get upset about it.
Did they actually want us to boycott the programme?

If so, it's certainly worked in a lot of cases, as we can see from these threads and elsewhere.
 
I seem to have become even more picky over the years. I tried to watch the first two Peter Jackson LOTR films recently, and didn't get on with them. I loved at least Fellowship when it was released (though it was made for big screen of course, on which it was very impressive). Even if I had Prime I don't think I'd be going near this, but I find the discussions around it (on both sides) interesting.
 
The lack of access to the tell the whole story has hampered the production and this episode highlights it fully.

Their depiction of the forging of the rings is a travesty. We should have had at least 3 episodes of Halbrand insinuating himself in with the Elves. Showing his 'craft'. What we get are a few minutes of Hal 'gifting' basic knowledge to the greatest Elven Smith. And then about 10 minutes of forging something that took about 100 years to make. My guess is that in S2, Sauron will forge all the human rings and that Elrond and Durin will forge the Dwarven rings.

Again cannot argue with the production values. It looks beautiful and epic. However the writing is leaving it down and the showrunners boasts of adding to Tolkien's stories has, to my mind anyway, failed.
 
Their depiction of the forging of the rings is a travesty. We should have had at least 3 episodes of Halbrand insinuating himself in with the Elves. Showing his 'craft'. What we get are a few minutes of Hal 'gifting' basic knowledge to the greatest Elven Smith. And then about 10 minutes of forging something that took about 100 years to make. My guess is that in S2, Sauron will forge all the human rings and that Elrond and Durin will forge the Dwarven rings.
Exactly.

While certainly not the worst the show had to offer - far from it - this final episode confirmed what I hinted at in my last post. Like too many contemporary shows the entire meat of the story was crammed in the last two episodes and everything that came before now feels more or less like a rather bland appetizer that should at best have been confined to a few subplots.

So you get to the last episode and everything is resolved far too quickly. The Stranger goes from mumbling fool to Shakespearean levels of English mastery in five minutes. The Ascetic (at least that's what the subtitles named them) are terrible foes capable of destroying an entire Harfoot village in one "firebreath," or putting an Istar to sleep with a snap of their fingers, yet they're also inept and powerless when it comes to defeating a couple of halflings running about in the woods. And Halbrand's interactions with the elves makes the latter appear not like wise and immortal beings, but rather like children who can be coaxed into giving you their lunch money. And their brand new jacket. And that baseball hat they got for their birthday.

I did enjoy Hal's attempt at manipulating Galadriel into becoming his queen. Actually... A (big) part of me now wishes this was an elseworld tale set in the Tolkien universe and Galadriel had chosen to marry him. I wonder what a Sauron/Galadriel alliance would have done for Middle Earth.

I don't think it's a terrible show. To me it's an average or slightly below average show. Its concept is rather fantastic, but the execution is poor. The showrunners' decision to give us nearly three whole episodes of absolutely nothing interesting happening in Numenor, to expedite what should have been the throughline of the season (The Ascetic trying to and failing at awakening Sauron within the Istar, Halbrand sneaking his way into Eregion and the making of the three rings) in under 40 minutes in the finale is somewhat infuriating.

"Oh, what could have been..."
 
100% agree. The scenes between Galadriel and Halbrand were actually good. However those scenes were a culmination of nothing. You would think the Elven Lords would know of the extinction of the line of Southland king's. Halbrand does make a good Sauron. The transformation was done well, but still rather rushed.

I have noticed this odd thing with Amazon series. They run for 8 episodes instead of 10. I think a 10 episode run for Rings of Power would have made more sense.

For example the Numenor storyline is all over the place. For all the time we spent there nothing of substance was explored. Will we see a return of Halbrand to Numenor in S2.

An extra two episodes could have being used to to explore Hal's and Galadriel's relationship given a greater punch to the revelation.
 
One thing I can say, it was entertaining. I have read quite a lot of Tolkien, but I didn't mind that they wandered from what I read. If you go down that route you wouldn't watch any adaption of any book. 8/10 for the whole season.
 
For example the Numenor storyline is all over the place. For all the time we spent there nothing of substance was explored. Will we see a return of Halbrand to Numenor in S2.
That the Numenor story is all over the place, I completely agree with. But they don't need Halbrand to go back. They, at least Pharazon and the vast majority of the general populace, seem already to be anti-Elf, and nearly ready to invade Valinor, without any prompting from Sauron. So he can concentrate on Middle-Earth.
That Elendil is still faithful to the Elves and presumably also the Valar, was thrown in by his saying to the Queen that Elendil also meant Elf friend halfway through this episode despite denying it earlier. (Which came first, the name or the Elf-friendship? :giggle: )
I can see that it may have taken too long to explain it all to folks who haven't got the background, but nevertheless it's pretty shoddy.
As for the ring making in 3 days or whatever, it was ridiculous; but I suppose it was made necessary by the idea that the power in the rings came from nowhere but the Mithril in them and by the story of the fading Elves. ((n)(n)(n)(n)).
As for the 5 and the 9, I think Svalbard is probably right. The 5 never really get mentioned even in LOTR, except some comment about each of the great Dwarf treasures being associated with a ring.

Incidentally, off topic slightly, do we ever hear anything about the other 6 Dwarf clans (Aule made 7 Dwarf fathers) other than Durin's in the Tolkien's books? I think there were 2 clans involved in the creation of the Nauglamir but I'm not sure, which still leaves 4 or 5.
 
Seven. Seven rings for the dwarf lords.

As for how long it took them to make the rings, I don't think they give any indication, except that it was within the three weeks that Gil-Gilad, so grudgingly, gave them.

Maybe Sauron will go back to Númenor; he seemed reluctant enough to leave. Maybe he had his plans against them already, but decided it would be more fun to try to corrupt the elves first, through Galadriel.

But you are quite right, @farnfar, that the ambitious Pharazôn is quite capable of forming his own ruinous plans. We can already see which way his thoughts are turning as the King is dying.
 
Synopsis 1.08 — Alloyed

Part I (a)

We find ourselves in a place we’ve never visited before, in Eryn Galen, the Greenwood. The Stranger is making his way through the forest, still alone, but thinking of Nori and no doubt missing the company of all the harfoots. He’s so deep in thought that it’s a while before he even notices he is being followed and spied on by a small figure in a grey hooded cloak. He turns to pursue, and to follow in increasing desperation, but at first it eludes him. When he finally does catch up, he spies a familiar face within the hood … Nori’s face.

But there is something odd here. The expression is blanker and less vivid than any we have ever seen in the young harfoot, and there is something off about the eyes, which are blue, but turn the wrong shade of blue. The figure falls, and rises again … as one of the three evil women in white cloaks. I’ve most often seen the three collectively called the Mystics, and elsewhere the three individuals within the trio as: the Dweller—the spooky-looking blonde with the crewcut; the Nomad—the big-eyed one in the helmet; and The Ascetic—the one wearing a wimple-like headdress distinctly reminiscent of horns. These last two names, at least, are supported by the dialogue captions I have turned on as I write this, so I assume that all three are correct. The one he faces now, staring speechless but intensely out of her odd blue eyes, is the Dweller—and is thus revealed to be a shapeshifter.

The other two converge on the Stranger. “We come to serve you,” says the Ascetic, speaking in Quenya. “Lord Sauron.” She and her companions all sink to their knees, and bow their heads.

Oh dear. Yet I, for one, was not convinced. The Stranger never projected a Sauron-like personality to me, and we’ve been seeing a lot of him since he first appeared in Middle-Earth. I like him a lot, and admittedly don’t want him to turn out to be Sauron. These women, on the other hand, whatever powers they may possess, have just met him, and of course they do want him to be Sauron. I thought—well, at least I hoped—that they were simply mistaken, that they had been following the wrong man.



The next scene switches to Galadriel and Halbrand, riding the two horses we have seen before, galloping across an open plain, toward what appears to be either Eregion or Lindon. Galadriel is urging her horse on, but Halbrand is slumped over the saddle, looking almost more dead than alive.

Then we get a closer look at the city, and hear a voice-over from Elrond. “Gil-galad arrives tomorrow, expecting to be presented with a means of saving all Elvendom.” Then a shot of Elrond and Celebrimbor together, as Elrond continues sadly, “And we have none.”

So it is Eregion.

“If only there were some way of doing more with less,” says Celebrimbor, fingering the piece of mithril that Durin gave to Elrond. “The Sun itself began as something no bigger than the palm of my hand.”

Lore alert: the sun and moon were originally fruits from the trees that once lit Valinor.

“And how could we possibly match the powers that wrought the Sun?” replies Elrond, placing a comforting hand on the older elf’s shoulder. “We’re out of time. We must inform the High King of our failure. Then the elves must prepare to leave these shores. Forever.”

It is then that Galadriel and Hilbrand arrive at the gate. Elrond, who expected Galadriel to be in Valinor these many months past, is naturally surprised.

But Halbrand groans, interrupting the reunion of the two friends, and distracting Elrond from any questions he might otherwise have asked. “What happened?

“An enemy lance. Six days ago,” Galadriel answers briskly. “We rode without rest.” She turns to Celebrimbor as two armored elves come out the gate and carry Halbrand inside. “Can you help him?”

The next scene is an inside room, where healers are hovering over a bed where Halbrand lies, still unconscious. Elrond and Galadriel are observing from a distance.

“King of the Southlands? How is it your path crossed with his?” asks Elrond, understandably confused “How is it that you are here?”

“How is it you are here?” challenges Galadriel. Of course she knows nothing of what he has been doing or what has been happening here in the north, since the last she saw of Elrond he was seemingly settled in Lindon.

“Come,” says Elrond, leading the way to another room. “We have much to discuss.”

Fortunately, we are spared most of that discussion—since we already know both their stories. We come in on Elrond saying, “I should never have set you on that ship. I should have trusted you. It is a mistake I will not make again.”

Galadriel sighs, as if she knows that soon his trust will be put to a much harder test. “I leapt from that ship, because I believed in my heart that somehow my task here was not yet complete. And when I surfaced, all I could do was swim. I did not cross that bitter ocean, only to drown now. And nor will I let you.”

“What are we to do?”

“The only thing we can do. Swim.”



Elsewhere (and presumably some days later) Celebrimbor is rolling up a scroll he’s been studying in an inner room of his workshop. He hears a rustling of cloth. “Who’s there?” He strides toward the source of the noise. “Reveal yourself.”

Halbrand, still looking a bit pale and perhaps a touch wobbly in a long blue tunic, peeks around a corner. “Is Galadriel here?”

“No. Shouldn’t you be resting?”

“What is this place?” Hal seems to gain in strength as he walks into the room.

“This …” Celebrimbor hesitates. “This was the workshop of Celebrimbor.”

The Celebrimbor? He’s not here, is he?”

Celebrimbor chuckles. “Well … as a matter of fact he is.” He reaches up and pulls a chain, which causes a large flower-like sky-light to open and flood the room with light, revealing the wonders of his laboratory. (I will note here that the workshop is filled with interesting-looking geared machines, and intricate devices for opening and closing things, which are not only meant to do things but which are aesthetically pleasing in themselves. We are in a realm of the elves, after all.)

“Celebrimbor,” says Hal breathlessly, coming yet further into the room, though he hasn’t been invited. “The master I apprenticed to used to speak of the wonders of your craft.” ( I noticed here that Halbrand had abandoned the aristocratic accent that I noticed for the first time when he was in a jail cell on Númenor, and now sounds more provincial—like the Hal that drank with and fought the apprentices in Numenor.) “I never dreamed that I’d ever get to see them in person.”

Celebrimbor smiles modestly. “Are you a smith?’

“Well … nothing like your artistry.” Halbrand stops by a table, where three jewels are displayed, along with the piece of mithril. “These gemstones. I’ve never seen anything like them. What are you planning to use them for?”

“Fëanor’s jewel craft managed to capture the essence of Valinor,” Celebrimbor replies with a wry smile. “I had hoped to do the same for Middle-Earth.”

“This is a peculiar ore,” says Hal, picking up the mithril. (Making himself quite at home, isn’t he?) “What is it?”

“Not enough,” replies the elf.

“Not enough for what?”

Celebrimbor holds out his hand as if asking for the mithril back. “Please.”

But Hal keeps it, and holds it up to the light. “Have you tried combining it with other ores. To better stretch it out?”

“That wouldn’t be suitable for this ore.”

“Why not?”

“Because in the amounts we need, it would too greatly dilute its unique qualities.”

“Forgive me, “ says Hal, “but, uh, at the risk of sounding a fool, couldn’t the right alloy also amplify those qualities?

“Amplify?” Celebrimbor looks half-incredulous and half-interested.

“Where I come from, precious metals were as scarce as hen’s teeth.” Hal chuckles. “So we learnt to combine them, to harness strengths and hide flaws. I’ve seen a trace of nickel added to iron to make a blade lighter and stronger. Might there not be some alloy to amplify the qualities of your ore?”

“Well, that is … an intriguing suggestion,” says Celebrimbor, as Hal finally yields the mithril back.

“Call it …” Significant pause here. “A gift.”

So yes, yes, Hal is acting suspiciously interested, and suspiciously inclined to advise Celebrimbor—the Celebrimbor—on his own craft. Not to mention that the last line, even without the pause, will be heavy with meaning to anyone familiar with the lore that the scriptwriters can’t mention directly in this series.

This is where I said to my husband. “But they can’t both be Sauron.” Although I still held on to a tiny bit of hope that the writers were playing mind games with us, that neither the Stranger nor Halbrand would be the villain that Galadriel has been pursuing—I was still hoping for a redemption story line for Hal, though the odds of that were looking slim indeed, and that a character hitherto unseen by the viewing audience would turn up and prove to be Sauron.




However, instead of going back to the Greenwood to answer our questions about the Stranger, we find ourselves whisked to Númenor, and the bed where lies the old king, Tar Palantir, unconscious and, as we learn from Pharazôn in a bombastic speech, dying. Soon, says the Chancellor, “Black Flags will fill our harbor.”

Pharazôn has gathered artists and architects there in the king’s bedchamber, to discuss the design of a tomb, “Granting him the immortality in stone that no man, not even a king, can attain in life.”

As well as artists from across Númenor, a handful of apprentices have been given a chance to capture the king’s likeness so that they can propose a design. Each will be granted one hour to study the King and create their drawing.

Eärien is one of the lucky contenders, and that looks like Kemen standing behind her. Does this mean that the Chancellor’s son pulled some strings to get her chosen, or that after hearing that she is one of those in contention he has instead pulled strings just to be there on the occasion where she learns of her good fortune? Whichever it is, it appears that the two of them have become closer while her father and brother are out of the country.


When Eärien’s turn comes up, we see her sitting alone with the King, while she finishes up her portrait. (It’s quite good, so it appears she was chosen at least partly on merit.) The old man begins to stir and groan, and Eärien drops her sketching tools and goes to wipe his face. He mistakes her for his daughter and captures her hand. “I know what you have been doing in the dark of night, when you thought all eyes were asleep. There is still time to warn you young Míriel.”

“You are mistaken. I am not—“

“—Queen yet? But you will be. So know this, if the old ways of our people are not soon restored our island will fall.” He begins to cough so hard that he frightens her into pulling away, leaving the room, and calling for help. When no help comes, she returns to his bedside, only to find him … gone.

A secret door clanks opens and the King staggers into view. “Come, your must go up,” he says, collapsing into a throne-like chair. “But don’t do as I did. I looked for too long. And now I cannot separate what is from what was, what was from what will be.”

The girl is too curious not to obey him. She enters the room at the top of the tower—where Míriel led Galadriel in an earlier episode—and there she spots the palantír where it sits, covered, on it’s stand. She reaches up and pulls, and the cloth falls away… but what she sees in the globe we are not to know.



Because we are back in Eregion, this time with Gil-gilad, Elrond, Galadriel, and Celebrimbor. The High King is speaking. “One object. For all Middle-Earth.” He sounds incredulous.

“I know it sounds strange,” says Elrond. “But surely we should exhaust every possible solution.”

“Precisely what sort of object?”

“It would be smaller than previously imagined,” Celebrimbor explains eagerly. “Something that could be carried. A scepter, a sword, or … perhaps a crown.”

“Why a crown?” asks Gil-Gilad, narrowing his eyes.

“A circular form would be ideal,” says Celebrimbor. “Allowing the light to arc back upon itself in one unbroken round, building to a power that is all but unbounded.”

“And you would place all that power upon the brow of one being?”

“Not just any one being, High King.” Elrond takes a step forward. “You.”

Gil-gilad views him askance over his shoulder, before turning toward Celebrimbor and Galadriel. “Perilous are these whisperings.”

“Sometimes the perilous path is the only path,” says Galadriel. “I wouldn’t be standing here otherwise.”

You should not be standing here at all.”

“We ask only for the time needed,”softly says Elrond, the diplomat, “to gather the Elven-smiths and test Celebrimbor’s theory—“

“Our time runs short,” the High King snaps.

“Yes that is why—“ Celebrimbor begins.

Shorter than you know. Since the mountain of fire’s eruption, the Great Tree is all but bleeding leaves. Soon the last will fall. And unless our people leave these shores, so shall we.”

I would like to point out here that had Gil-galad’s watchers in the south been kept on their toes—had they observed what was really happening, instead of apparently confining their efforts to a monthly visit to Tir-harad and apparently ignoring the other villages, and then, of course, received his own command to come north, because peace had been restored and all was safe, when he knew that evil was actually on the rise—maybe, just maybe, Adar and his orcs might have been stopped before Mount Doom was reactivated. Galadriel might have arrived in plenty of time with an elven army behind her, instead of at the last possible moment with Númenórean cavalry. But perhaps his angry manner, the way he keeps raising his voice, is meant to hide his guilty recognition of his own part in how things actually happened.

“There is no elf in Middle-Earth,” he continues, “who wanted a solution more than I. But if this was to be our salvation, I’m afraid we needed it sooner.”

“I almost had it sooner!” Now Celebrimbor is the one who is almost shouting. “It was only in speaking with the Southlander that I realized—”

“The low man? This was his suggestion?”

Ah, a racial epithet. Good going, Gil-gilad! Once again proving why I'm not a fan of yours.


“His suggestions were but the key that unlocked the dam,” says Celebrimbor. (Oh gosh. Galadriel looks uncomfortable with this talk of keys and dams—as well she might.) “We are on the cusp of crafting a new kind of power. Not of strength, but of spirit. Not of the flesh, but over flesh.” (Galadriel’s face tells us that she doesn’t like this at all. Her suspicions are definitely being aroused now.) “This is … this is a power of the Unseen World.”

“I am sorry, Lord Celebrimbor,” replies Gil-gilad. “You are hereby commanded to disband the city, and return to Lindon immediately. All of you.” He sweeps out of the room, but Elrond follows him.

Galadriel and Celebrimbor remain behind. “Those words, ‘a power over flesh,’ where did you hear them?”

Celebrimbor appears uncertain. He stammers. “I was conferring with my smiths. I think I … I believe those were my words.”

“Was Halbrand with you?”

“What does it matter? It’s over.” He strides from the room.



Before Gil-gilad reaches the outer gate, Elrond catches up with him. “High King, wait!”

Gil-gilad stops and turns to face him. “I am sorry.”

“Grant me three months. I am owed that much,” insists Elrond.

"You are owed nothing,” says Gil-gilad, again with the side-eye.

Yes, let’s conveniently forget the manipulations in the matter of the dwarves, setting him up to spy unwittingly on his friend, and the fact that Elrond did deliver the only piece of mithril that they have.

“Then do it not in recompense. Do it because I asked you.”

To be fair to Gil-gilad, this does give him pause, before he says, “It is a fool’s hope, Elrond. Merely that. Nothing more.”

“Hope is never mere. Not even when it is meager. Or have you forgotten your own counsel?

The High King continues to look at him askance.
 
Part I (b) Apparently my post was too long for the software to permit, so I've divided it.


But in the next scene we discover what his answer must have been when we see the smiths (including Halbrand) cranking up their machinery, preparing their tools and materials. Celebrimbor taps a smaller portion of ore off from the original piece. An assistant lights the forge. Halbrand and Celebrimbor put their heads together over the table with the jewels.

Galadriel watches all of this with a solemn face. Then she seeks out one of the archivists. “I need royal lineages, bloodlines. Anything you can find on the Southlands.”

“Our records are limited concerning the mortal kingdoms. I shall have to scour the catacombs for that information.”

Celebrimbor walks past with his assistants and Elrond trailing after him. “Three weeks. Three weeks for a labor that could take three centuries.”

“Constraint,” says Elrond, “can be the very progenitor of invention.”

“Go,” Galadriel whispers to the archivist. “Speak of this to no one.”

As she walks away, Halbrand approaches her. “Don’t be afraid. Celebrimbor will find a way. I’m certain of it.”

She can’t bring herself to meet his eyes. “All of a sudden, the two of you seem quite familiar.”

“I’m just offering whatever humble aid I can.” He smiles broadly, chuckles. “To tell you the truth, I can still hardly believe it. Someone like me, here, working with the Elven-Smiths of Eregion.” (But as King of the Southlands, shouldn’t he be concentrating on what he could be doing for all his refugees, rather than playing eager apprentice to Celebrimbor?) “Thank you, Galadriel,” he says, with apparent sincerity.

She finally forces herself to face him. “For bringing you here?”

“For saving my life.”

“As you saved mine. Our scales are balanced.” (A subtle warning?)

“No. No, you’ve done far more than that for me. I’d all but given up. But you, you believed in me. You saw strength in me. You pushed me to heights that no one else could have.” ( All this humility is a bit suspicious in itself.) “I will never forget that.” He bends and whispers in her ear. “And I’ll see to it that no one else does either.” (Ouch. Is this a threat? Did he detect the warning in her words. Does he suspect that she suspects?)



And now we are finally back in the Greenwood, with the creepy Mystics and the Stranger. ( Fortunately, the women don’t know what we now must be pretty sure we know.) It is night and they have lit a campfire, and sit near it on the ground. The Ascetic is speaking. “The more your powers awaken, the more the veil will weaken.”

“Veil?” he asks, with a confused look. The one he always uses when he is trying to understand—and doesn’t.

“The one placed upon your mind by those who cast you down,” says the Nomad.

“But we have come here to welcome you in.” (It may be intended as an accent of some sort, but both of these women sound as though they have too many teeth in their mouths—an unpleasant thought. It gives their voices a peculiar hissing sound.) “To bring you to our lands.”

The Dweller stands silent, yet ominous, letting the other women do the talking.

But what they are saying continues to puzzle our tall friend. “Your lands?”

“You know them already,” the Nomad says eagerly.

He gasps and pulls out the star map, unfolds it, and shows it to them. “The stars.”

The Ascetic shows him a picture—which is etched on something large and flat, I’m not sure what. “A pattern visible in but one place. Far to the east, where the stars are strange. The lands of Rhûn.”

The two women go on alternately speaking, as his gaze travels from one to the other and back again, yet he still shows no signs of understanding or recognition.

“Where you will be known at last, for who you truly are.”

“You fell from the stars, yet you are greater than they.”

“For fire obeys your will.” Sparks fly up from the fire. I don’t know which of them is conjuring this. Is it he? Is it one of them? He is moving about in an agitated manner, so probably he’s the source.

“You fell below the dust, yet dust fears you.”

“For it trembles when you are wroth.”

Much of this sounds like nonsense, which someone made up as they went along. I am not reminded of folk magic, or ceremonial magic, or anything that would add a touch of authenticity. It doesn’t matter, because hissed out in their snakey voices, it is chilling.

“The winds and water, the heat and cold.”

“In Rhûn you shall learn to command them all.”

“And every being that walks or crawls shall be your slave.”

The two now speak together. “For you are Lord Sauron.

The wind is rising. Leaves and other detritus from the forest floor whirl in the air. The Stranger stands now, with his head thrown back. The women bow down before him. Obviously he is the one creating the disturbance, since this is what we have seen before when he is disturbed in his own rattled mind. After a while he spreads his arms wide, and begins to shout. Trees creak and bend in the wind. The chaos around him grows worse, perhaps grows dangerous, for the women rise to their feet in dismay.

The Nomad shouts. “Enough!” And the Dweller grabs her staff in one hand, pulls something out of the air and blows a mist into his face. The Stranger collapses, and passes out.

“In time he will learn to control his power,” the Ascetic tells the Nomad. “For now, bind him.”


There is a rustling in the bushes, and small faces appear among the forest shrubbery. The harfoots have arrived, too late to warn their friend, but not too late to attempt a rescue. “In the grand tradition of bad ideas,” whispers Sadoc, “this may be the worst yet.”

“Well, have you got a better notion?” asks Marigold.

I had worried about that phrase “bind him” thinking that some magical spell was to constrain him, and that might be especially hard to overcome. But now it develops that after some silent communication between them his captors have decided on something else.

The mystics are stringing him up (NOT by the neck, I hasten to add) between two trees and tying his wrists to strong branches on either side, using what look to be long leather straps.

“The third one’s gone,” says Poppy, sounding panicked. “Where’d the third one go?”

“Better two than three,” Nori replies. “Now’s our chance.”

As the Ascetic and the Nomad walk away, the latter drawing a knife and looking alertly around her, Nori and Sadoc race to the spot where the Stranger is hanging. He is on his knees, which means that reaching the binding on his wrists is not impossibly over their heads, but it is still a reach for the little harfoots.

Meanwhile, Marigold, crawling through the underbrush, discovers the unconscious body of the genuine Stranger. Nori and Sadoc have just succeeded in freeing the other, who climbs to its feet, and opens wide, wild eyes. Realizing that something is amiss, Sadoc makes a grab to stop the tall figure from advancing, and yells, “Brandyfoot! Run! Run!”

Nori obeys, but as she dashes back toward the bushes, the Nomad appears and hurls her knife. It goes right past Nori and the blade buries itself in Sadoc’s abdomen, high on the left side. As he falls, the Nomad tackles Nori, hurling her to the ground. The fake Stranger turns back into the shapechanging Dweller, and all three women advance on Nori. (So apparently they saw or sensed the presence of the harfoots and set this trap for them.) The Ascetic hands the dark staff (is it iron, maybe?) to the Dweller, and the Nomad draws another knife.

But thunder crashes and the wind begins to whirl around them, drawing the three women away from Nori. The real Stranger is on his feet now, and walking toward them with a determined look on his face.

Master, calm yourself,” says the Ascetic, in the echoing voice that I now realize seems to be some spell at work.

“Nori. Nori, let’s go,” cries Marigold from the bushes.

The disturbance in the air and all around them intensifies, and two of the women are blown to the ground. The Dweller manages to stay up on her knees.

The Stranger calls out and stumbles, and the Dweller runs toward him, staff in hand. She uses the staff and her own magic to twist him in the air, and crash him into trees (much like Saruman did to Gandalf in movie trilogy, hurling him into walls). Meanwhile, the harfoots run, but they are followed by the Nomad. She seems to have a large collection of blades arrayed about her person, because she throws several, which nail Poppy’s sleeves (but not, thankfully, Poppy herself) to a tree. Though she is yet unharmed, she is stuck where she is. Marigold and Nori try to free her, but the Nomad is close behind, and it is clear that the next knife she draws is meant for one of them.

But Sadoc—wounded but not dead yet (let us remember that halflings can be exceedingly tough)—crawls out of the underbrush and stabs the Nomad in the foot with … well, I can’t see what, but it is sharp and she screams in agony.

Meanwhile, the other two women are not through torturing the Stranger. The Dweller flings him against another tree trunk, and he is unable to rise. “Make him see,” says the Ascetic, and the Dweller strides purposefully toward him.

But as she raises her staff, something hits her in the head with a loud clunk, distracting her. Marigold and Poppy have climbed up in the trees and (like true hobbit ancestors, finally) are throwing rocks—and with excellent aim. Though they don’t do her much harm, they do manage to draw her attention in other direction.

She moves toward the campfire (even the way she walks is spooky and unnatural) and fills her hands with flame, which she blows outward like blow-torches, setting trees and bushes on fire. The Stranger, lying semi-conscious watches from the ground. Through a haze, he sees Nori grab the staff (which the Dweller had to lay down when taking up the fire), and carry it to him.

“Take it!” Nori’s voice seems to come from a distance. “We need you. Please. Just take it.”

“Get away from me,” he whispers. “Or I wi— I will hurt you. Again.”

“What? What have they done to you?” cries Nori.

“They showed me what I am.” (He is slowly waking up. And whatever they did do to him, they have at least restored enough of his faculties that he is able to speak in complete sentences now.)

“Only you can show what you are. You choose by what you do.”

In the distance, Poppy screams.

“You’re here to help,” Nori urges him. “I know it.”

Poppy shrieks again. Marigold has picked up one of the knives and is trying to protect Poppy and Sadoc from the advancing Dweller.


As the Stranger reaches tentatively toward the staff, Nori turns and sees the other harfoots’ peril at the hands of the flame-wielding Mystic—who is almost upon them. “Stooooop!” screams Nori.

The flames in the Dweller’s hands wink out at once, leaving her hands blackened with soot, and the woodland fires are dying out, too. Nori turns, and sees the Stranger smiling at her, as all the blazes are reduced to nothing more than bright red embers floating in the air around them. Where the embers land, no new fires begin. He is in complete control of his powers, for the moment at least.

The Mystics approach him, cautiously. “From the Shadow you came,” he tells them, commandingly, “to shadow I bid you return.”

The three women stand confounded, uncertain. “He is not Sauron." "He is the other. The Istar." "He is—“

“I’m good.” (There is something almost child-like in the way he says this, like a little boy who realizes he is not in trouble after all. After struggling with his powers, his identity, his lost memories, for all this time, he has at least discovered his allegiance. He is NOT a servant of dark powers, that much he knows.) He raises the staff high, so that a blazing light comes from it and hits the three Mystics, turning them first into skeletons, and then into clouds of moths, which dissipate on the air.

I could have done without the skeletons, but the rest of the effect was magical.

The staff also disintegrates. There is nothing left to show that the Mystics were even there, except for the embers, dancing like so many red stars in the forest air. Nori and the Stranger … I’m sorry, Nori and the Wizard … share a smile, then she rushes to embrace Marigold and Poppy. Sadoc collapses wearily to sit, panting, on a tree root.

Marigold examines his wound, as she and the girls kneel around him. “Hold still. We’ll find a way to carry you back.”

“Sorry, good lady,” he says with a grunt. “I’m afraid I’m about to go a’wandering off-trail.”

“Mr. Burrows,” sobs Poppy.

“It’s all right, Proudfellow. “ He chuckles weakly. “The missus will be waiting.” Sadoc smiles conspiratorially at Marigold. As a widow herself, before she met Nori's father, she is the one most likely to understand. “Now, if you don’t mind. I’d just like to sit a while, and watch the sun come up.”

All the harfoots have known so many loses, they seem to take his mortal wound in stride. They are grieving, but blink back the tears and control their grief, to sit comfortingly around their old friend and view his last sunrise with him.

_________


So all this answers some questions, but raises others. Like, how did the creepy Eastern mystics know that there was a wizard, somewhere around?

(More to come.)
 
Sorry it took me so long to get this done.

Part II

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 …”

“Why, Elendil?”

“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.”

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 are.”

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!”

“No, you 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.)I 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.

“What happened?”

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.


THE END
(at least for this season)​
 
Excellent piece, Teresa! Don't worry about the delay, I know how much work it is. Thank you for sharing the 'burden' with me! :)
Now we have earned some rest.
As we have, more or less, grown used to, this episode had it own pros and cons.
I don't much about the lore of ME, so I have no inkling how far stretching Sauron's powers are. But I have some difficulty to see how Sauron/Halbrand could have engineered and steered the whole scenario from raft to Celebrimbor's forge, just so the Elves will forge three rings.
Looking back some scenes make more sense now. Like his confrontation with Adar, who claims to have killed Sauron. Adar doesn't recognise him (obviously, in his current shape), Halbrand specifically asks him, and wonders who or how he had hurt him. Halbrand doesn't answer that question.
here was from the start something off with the missing king story from the Southlands. Little clues we (OK, I) dismissed as poor writing, but later made (some) sense.
The confrontation between Halbrand/Sauron and Galadriel was the best part of this episode. The way Celebrimbor listened to this upstart of a low man's smith was laughable.
Why did the Mystics think the Stranger was Sauron? What clue did they follow? Did they follow the falling star? It seems so, but makes no sense when Sauron is walking ME already for millennia. Besides, they way they treated the Stranger, thinking it was a confused Sauron, didn't show much respect or awe. We could have done without the Maleficent Trio, but apparently they were needed, plot-wise, to lift the veil from his memory and mind.
 
I agree that the meeting of Celbrimbor and Halbrand/Sauron was anti-climactic to the level of inconsequense. The name of this series is The Rings of Power fer gosh sakes. Perhaps they'll have a round two.

Watched through to the end - for now. A comment on release and marketing. In a multi-year series, to make watchers wait a year (the current guesstimate) for season 2 is wrong, however epochal the show might be. The show runner has stated that LOTR ROP will include at least five series/years. Somehow I cannot but think that release was determined by competition with Game of Thrones. However the GOT sequel is not any better. The prediction there is late 2023 or even 2024 for #2. They each brought out series trying to take the high ground of fan interest. So it was about a dead heat. Dollars and not treating fans well was the determinant. As far as the show itself. Finally a few things are happening. And it ended with a double twist. Who was that masked man? The question is answered in more than one way. I give it a mixed but positive review at the start, improving in pace and content as it continued. Lots of nerdy commentators have attacked the show for a variety of reasons, including some here. Although somewhat of a Tolkien nerd myself, I do not agree. Much prefer it to the Jackson movies, where everything was over the top. It's Bumpy, but good. Everyone seems to agree in admiration of the scenery. Language? Tolkien's somewhat stilted dialogue worked. To re-create that here, for a general audience, would have been a mistake.
 

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