Warning: the following contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 5. Come back if you haven’t seen the next installment of Amazon’s epic Tolkien adaptation.
Galadriel is an easy character to love, but difficult to love. She is ostensibly the protagonist of The Rings of Power, dominating the opening episode’s runtime. And yet, ever since she plunged into the Parted Seas moments before leaving for Valinor, Galadriel has been on a downward trajectory. She is headstrong and proud, two words used by Tolkien to describe her during this time period, but to the extreme, and that flaw is rarely explored in depth.
As Halbrand points out during ‘Partings,’ Galadriel is out for revenge. The prologue to the series established that she wants to destroy Sauron, having taken on the task after the death of her brother. That’s an entirely reasonable quest, and fantasy shows have been built worse, but Galadriel hasn’t exactly been doing things in the best way. With Halbrand, she can’t understand why he wouldn’t want to be king. He asks her why she keeps fighting. “Because I can’t stop,” she replies. She talks about her friend, Elrond, and how her previous company of soldiers couldn’t “distinguish me from the evil I was fighting.” They were wrong? She pushes Halbrand and then the queen of Númenor to go against her own instincts. We’ll certainly see Galadriel regret some of these decisions – her stubborn approach to politicking seems to backfire, but right now we’re getting a one-note character who needs a little more humanity injected into her.
Contrast Galadriel’s treatment in The Rings of Power with Elrond. He is a cheerful guy who defends his friends, regardless of his race, and gently approaches potentially tense conversations so that the outcome is fair. He has a completely different approach and that makes him more attractive as a character. His interactions with Durin are once again a highlight, and seeing the dwarf in Lindon leads to some brilliant interactions, especially with the return of Gil-galad. There is fun at the dinner table and then a deeper purpose for Elrond’s quest is revealed when the Elf king tells him that his kind is fading and they need mithril to survive.
Also in Middle Earth, Nori and her family are catching up with the other Harfoots. This story of a group of travelers battling the elements – and wolves – while caring for a Stranger who fell from the sky is fun and whimsical. There is now little doubt that Meteor Man is a wizard (and not a dangerous one) and watching Nori teach him to speak is a reminder of the brilliant and intimate storytelling possibilities in this television format that would not have been possible in the movies. . However, adding some new tension to the proceedings is Bridie Sisson’s bleached-blond servant of Sauron (that’s assuming they’re not actually Sauron). It’s a brief moment, but it shows that there are evil forces that are after The Stranger.
Meanwhile, Arondir and Bronwyn lose half their troops after a deceitful old man gathers a crowd and leads them straight to Adar. It turns out that Theo is not a villain after all, but a lost young man. With no negative outside influences, he gives the hilt of the cursed sword to Arondir, and they realize that he once belonged to Sauron. It’s one of the slower ‘Partings’ stories and is balanced by the continued presence of Adar himself. There is something so intriguing about him, this elf-like villain who imagines himself to be a god. We get a few more orc interactions; They are quickly becoming highlights of the show; again, it’s great that The Rings of Power has the runtime to be able to explore these different creatures. If we have a good time with the Ents, I will be very happy.
Back in Numenor. Following Queen Míriel’s change of heart about Galadriel last week, Isildur wants to join the expedition to Middle-earth. His father and his lush mane will not let him go so easily. He tries to hide and discovers that Pharazôn’s son, Kemen, upset that everyone listens to the elf, is trying to blow up the ship he is on. A great deal of world building has taken place in Númenor as tensions between the two factions, divided into those who trust the Elves and those who do not, are beginning to rise, it is unfortunate that Isildur’s sister Eärien and Kemen lack palpable chemistry. . Isildur is finally on a path that makes sense, rather than just wanting to travel west as his brother for some mysterious reason.
Much of Númenor is still seen through the eyes of Galadriel. His presence, after all, is what has shocked this nation, and these events will one day lead to the fall of Númenor. Gil-galad said in the premiere that she had foreseen that Galadriel’s presence in Middle-earth could, unfortunately, bring about the one thing she doesn’t want: Sauron’s return. If that happens, perhaps the Unstoppable Elf will take a moment to reflect and let us look beneath the harsh exterior. As she is, she is someone who will unapologetically do anything to achieve her goal, no matter what. It’s hard to love her, even when her goal is just.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is now available on Amazon Prime Video. After more Rings content? Check out our guide to The Lord of the Rings timeline and our interviews with the cast and showrunners of Rings of Power.