‘The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power’ 1×08 review: Season 1, Episode 8 “Alloyed” Aired October 14, 2022
A Stranger named Sauron?
When the episode opens, it’s with the three cultists finally catching up to the Stranger. Except they know him by another name: Sauron. They bow to him, proceeding to “help” him reclaim his memory with a heavy dose of dark magic.
This was a beautifully rendered scene, and I loved seeing more of their powers–especially since we’ve never gotten to see much in the way of women wielding magic in Lord of the Rings. Only the fact that all this takes place so, so early in the episode really undercuts the tension.
Because the mystery at the heart of this season has always been Sauron’s identity. That the Stranger is identified as Sauron this early on is one big giveaway that nothing is what it seems.
Nori and her friends catch up with the Stranger as he’s being cared(?) for by the cultists. Now this scene had me on the edge of my seat. Unlike many of the primary characters on the show, Nori and her crew aren’t in the cannon. They have no plot armor. And the Harfoots are no match for the cultists.
Faced with opposition far outside the Harfoots ability, the only way Nori is going to get out of this alive is if she can convince the Stranger to come back to himself. To remember that he isn’t the peril that the cultists believe him to be. He’s a friend. Her friend.
And he comes through in a big way. Using his magic, he banishes the cultists and lifts the cloud on his mind enough to recall the power of speech. He may not know exactly who he is, or even know the full extent of his power. But he knows where he must go next: Rhûn.
Life in Numenor didn’t stop simply because the main cast left. The king lays on his deathbed, and the city is preparing his tomb. Preparation that includes Elendil’s daughter, Eärien, sketching the king. Naturally, the moment they are alone, the king gasps into semi-consciousness. Mistaking Eärien for Miriel, he whispers a warning that sends her to the hidden room above his bedchamber. Exactly where the palantir is waiting.
This is all set up for next season, mind you, but remember Eärien was staunchly against the war. And with her father sailing home with news of her brother’s (supposed) demise, I can only assume that Eärien is going to play a bigger role in Numenorian politics next season. Same goes with Pharazôn who was so conveniently left in charge when the king died. That can’t be good news for Miriel, but again, we’ll have to wait to learn more.
And Sauron is…
Galadriel gets Halbrand to elven territory just in time to save his life… and more importantly, in time for Celebrimbor to take one last crack at crafting a crown to save the elves’ immortal lives. I’ll admit, I was thrown when he first asked for a crown, but the challenges of working with Mithril quickly changed the mark from crown to ring. Or rings.
And none of it would have been possible without Halbrand. Our runaway king-turned blacksmith provides key insight at just the right time. A gift that had all of my mental alarm bells blaring. The moment he did this any possibility that he wasn’t Sauron evaporated. But will Galadriel realize it in time?
Dramatic tension can come from many places. In this season, the showrunners decided to go with the mystery of Sauron as the driving force, but I wonder if it wouldn’t have been more tense, had they shown the audience this earlier?
Because the slow unraveling of the mystery was wonderfully tense. Galadriel was nearly frantic trying to solve the riddle, even knowing in her heart what the answer would be. And when she finally confronts Sauron? Perfection.
Sauron takes her on a mental journey through her darkest desires, trying to woo her to the proverbial dark side. But when that doesn’t work. He leaves. But why? Why not kill her? It’s as incomprehensible to me as why he saved her in the first place. And it’s a mystery I dearly hope is solved in season two. Because now that Sauron is unmasked, what will his next move be?
The wait begins…
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The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power 1×08 Highlights
- I am going to be sad to see the last of the Harfoots. Sadoc came through for Nori in a powerful way in this episode, and his quiet, dignified death brought tears to my eyes.
- Speaking of crying, Poppy!!! I was really praying that Nori would ask her to come on the trek to the east, but no joy there. I hope that the showrunners find a way to bring back the Harfoots. They (and their Hafling descendents) provide a poignant anchor to the world of Lord of the Rings– a familiarity that lets the magic (and the darkness) of the world feel that much more visceral.
- The Gandalf easter-eggs seeded into this episode were *chef’s kiss* It was the perfect touch of heartfelt nostalgia that fantasy fans love.
- There was a definite moment between Elendil and Miriel on the ship…. And yes, I am trolling for more romance on this show, lol.
Why didn’t Galadriel tell Elrond the truth? Elrond is her oldest friend, I can’t see any reason that she should hide it, and friends not talking to each other for reasons, is not my favorite storytelling crutch.