Warning: spoilers ahead for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Episode 5! Come back now if you haven’t seen the last episode!
A minor moment in The Rings of Power episode 5 sets up an important future event for Isildur. Númenor is preparing to fight in the Southlands and Isildur is desperate to join the forces that set out for Middle-earth. But his friend Valandil isn’t so convinced that Isildur is really staying for the long haul, and he questions why he should risk his reputation to bring Isildur on the expedition when he could quit anyway.
“One day, I hope you find something you’re willing to sacrifice anything for,” Valandil tells him. Like the theorists on Reddit (opens in a new tab) Point out, this is a heavy omen for the moment Isildur is remembered: refusing to cast off the One Ring. Some book spoilers follow… but if you’ve seen the Peter Jackson movies, it’s nothing you don’t know.
Isildur will eventually defeat Sauron by cutting the Ring from his hand. But instead of destroying it, Isildur will keep the Ring, as Elrond tells in JRR Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. In the first film, when Elrond urges Isildur to throw the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom, Isildur simply replies, “No.”
That makes Valandil’s words especially ironic: though Isildur is willing to sacrifice everything to fight Sauron, he still can’t bring himself to defeat his foe once and for all by destroying the One Ring.
The Rings of Power releases a new episode every Friday, and you can check our The Rings of Power release schedule to find out when the next installment drops in your time zone. In the meantime, check out our guide to who the Stranger could be and our breakdown of everything you need to know about the mysterious metal Mithril.