‘The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power’ 1×06 review: Season 1, Episode 6 “Udûn” Aired September 30, 2022
One storyline to rule them all– that is one episode to bring together a few disparate threads. While Galadriel, Halbrand and the Numenorians race to the Southlands, it’s up to Bronwyn and Arondir to survive long enough to receive that aid.
This episode took a slightly more gruesome turn than we usually expect from a Lord of the Rings property, but it worked. At least for me, long battle sequences can get boring after a while. But this episode broke up the battle into several stages and even locations, which served to keep the pace tight. And the idea of destroying the tower to trap the (and kill) the orc army was a clever one.
Last town standing
Unfortunately the result of destroying the tower means that the Southlanders’ fall back point is a very indefensible-looking town. Yikes. The Southlanders make a good run of it, managing to survive the second battle. And there was an especially impressive and gnarly-looking battle between Arondir and a huge orc. The big twist of the show was when they Southalnder’s figured out that the orcs they were fighting was actually their own traitorous neighbors.
The actual orcs slaughter the villagers (as real armies would do to a gaggle of farm folk). Bronwyn even took a few arrows, getting me REAL worried for her. Arondir and Theo manage to save her– or at least stabilize her, before Adar makes his grand entrance.
Surprise, surprise he wants the evil sword, and of course Theo gives it to him. (The fact that he was just trying to save his mom, makes it the best reason to doom his people, but still…) Of course that’s the exact moment that Galadriel’s army rides in to save the day, and Adar and his orcs are captured. Why exactly Adar didn’t kill the captured Southlanders first was a questionable choice, but hey. No armor is thicker than plot armor.
It’s not long before the orcs are rounded up, and though Adar himself is captured, Waldreg is sent off on a mission with the sword. Now this is where the episode kinda falls apart for me, because it all hinges on the idea that NO ONE LOOKED AT THE FAKE SWORD. It’s the kind of storytelling shortcut that I hate because it completely goes against human (and elven) nature for no one to make sure that the thing they think is the big bad key of Adar’s power is actually the key.
And on top of this, Adar takes a sharp left turn from serious baddie, to emo sad-boy circa 2006. I had much higher hopes for the Adar-Galadriel showdown than actually panned out. Although Adar got a pretty good hit in on Galadriel, telling her that her search for darkness should have ended in her own reflection (nice!). But then he goes on to say that he killed Sauron. Sure, dude. Sure.
Now I suppose we could spin it that Adar was just buying time for Waldreg to do his thing. But I’m not sure that his character will even be able to regain any menace now that we’ve seen him exposed as the inspiration behind an Avril Lavinge album.
The episode ends with Waldreg completing his mission: inserting the sword into ye olde terraforming lock. Okay, I’m making it sound silly, but it was actually a pretty cool piece of visual storytelling. And it explained why the orcs were digging those (very not subterranean) ditches. Not for them to use as travel, but as a way to funnel water into a suspiciously peaceful-looking mountain.
But you know the Southlands can’t have nice things. That idyllic mountain is really a sleeping volcano. Mount Doom explodes engulfing the land in darkness.
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The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power 1×06 Highlights
- Who is Isildur’s mother? The show really wants us to wonder…. Eh.
- The “is Halbrand Sauron” question is alive and well! Halbrand is really angry with Adar, who has no idea you are bro! Sauron is a shapechanger, and Maiar are hard to kill, so?? (insert shrug emoji here.)
- I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that none of the named characters died in this episode. Not to sound bloodthirsty, but actions (and battles) have consequences, death being one of them. Without consequences, it’s hard to feel that there is any real danger in this show.