‘The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power’ 1×04 review: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Great Wave” Aired September 16, 2022
One thing this episode did very well was show how much Queen Regent Miriel has on her plate. The fiercely nationalistic Numenorians she rules over are all aquiver over the prospect of opening their borders. (Sigh. Even fantasy humans just suck.) The fear is driving them to protest in the streets.
But Miriel’s dislike of elves isn’t simply panic. It’s all to do with a vision of a devastating wave that strikes the island after Galadriel arrives. It’s all the reason Miriel needs to send Galadriel off the island. And really can you blame her?
I’ve been conflicted about Galadriel’s characterization for a while now (especially last episode) and it hasn’t improved much. After demanding that Miriel not only open her borders but send her people to war on the hunch that Sauron is in the Southlands, Galadriel gets put in an iron-barred time-out. It’s a long time coming.
It’s Halbrand of all people who chastises Galadriel for her behavior. The Queen Regent didn’t appreciate it when Galadriel called her foolish and demanded to… see her manager (Galadriel of the Golden House of Karens). Shocker. According to Halbrand, the key to diplomacy is understanding a person’s fear and offering them a way to master it. An astute observation for the beggar king.
Intercessions, Divine and Otherwise
In the end it’s less a matter of Galadriel learning to use her words than the divine intercession of the Valar that gets Miriel on board. When the petals of the white tree begin to fall, it’s a sign to all that the gods want Numenor to join Galadriel. Which, okay. I just think it would have been more satisfying had Galadriel been forced into some character growth before a heavy dose of deus ex machina (or whatever the arboreal equivalent is) fixed everything for her.
Miriel calls up a volunteer army, but I can’t help but wonder about who will be staying behind. Maybe it’s all the Game of Thrones I’ve been watching, but is anyone else nervous about how easy it was for Pharazon to placate that mob? Seems like it would be just as easy for him to whip them up to a frenzy as it was to talk them down.
I was so excited for Arondir to come face-to-face with Adar and this scene didn’t disappoint. Actor Joseph Malwe delivers a command performance of the scarred elf in only a few lines of dialogue. That said, I have no idea why Adar would allow Arondir to leave fully armed.
And it’s that same fully-armed Arondir who goes on to save Theo (urgh) later in the episode. I really don’t know what the showrunners are trying to do with Theo’s character. Illustrate the corruptibility of men? Because if that’s the case they chose someone who seems so ready to be led astray.
Yes, Theo did return to town to find food, that is commendable– or it would have been had he not been such a snot to his mom before sneaking away. But when he gets to town he doesn’t show an ounce of caution. It’s as if the events of the last episode made no impact on him at all. Theo’s choices in this episode are another example of the show not allowing its characters to learn from their mistakes. (At least Theo is still a kid. What’s Galadriel’s excuse?)
The Elrond- Durin IV storyline wound up being my favorite of the episode. I’m really enjoying these peek into Dwarven society at its prime, and Disa is a gem. I’m not really clear about why Durin was so hell-bent on keeping Elrond out of the mine. Mithril is valuable, but why did Elrond specifically need to be kept out?
The shaky reasoning behind many character choices is a problem that the show is currently having, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they are nothing but growing pains. My biggest highlight of the episode was when Elrond’s advice to Durin led him to seeking his father’s forgiveness. It was a beautifully touching moment and goes to show that the heart of this series is as vast as any of Tolekin’s lore.
Now they just have to dig it out.
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The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power 1×04 Highlights
- Halbrand’s whole speech about understanding a person’s fear as a means to control is awful Sauron-y, don’t you think??
- Isildur… Volunteering for a war doesn’t make up for the fact that you destroyed your friends’ careers. Just. Stop, dude.
- And the way the orcs honor their fallen brother was surprising, but I like it. The idea that the orcs might have their own sense of culture and ritual is not something that has been alluded to in other adaptations and I kind of hope they delve into it here.