The second-to-last episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power confronts the aftermath of the Mount Doom eruption and takes us even deeper into the emotions of Durin, the tender-hearted Dwarf. If you need to catch up on last week’s episode, you can.
Otherwise, spoilers lie ahead. You’ve been warned.
Let’s dig in! (But not too deep. There are… bad things down there.)
More like Khazad DOOM, amma right?
KHAZAD-DÛM — When we last left off, Elrond had gone to Durin with a bonkers story about how the Elves need exposure to mithril in order not to die (I know, I don’t love the backstory either) and Durin agreed to talk to his father, the king. Welp, in episode 7, negotiations don’t go well. Despite Elrond promising everything short of his silver sideburn clippers, King Durin still feels mining for mithril is too dangerous, even if it means all the Elves are going to shrivel up or whatever.
TOUGH NOOGIES, ELVES.
Back at home, Prince Durin is distracted about the decision. Disa is pissed too and actively takes it out on a small ax she’s blacksmithing. Forget meditation. I want a blacksmithing forge for the sole purpose of stress relief. Then Elrond turns up looking like he just stumbled onto a particularly nasty subreddit about the show. They exchange one of those looks that just says it all and Durin starts crying. Mercy, these two must have a special bond if there aren’t any hard feelings when one’s dad is cool with the other’s whole race dying.
Elrond gives back the small piece of mithril and leaves. BUT WAIT. At the corner of the table where Durin is sitting, there’s that diseased leaf from Lindon from a few episodes back. Durin tosses the mithril across the table, and when it lands next to the leaf, all the black gunk just disappears. Durin and Disa are like, SWEET.
Next thing you know, Durin and Elrond are in the depths of Khazad-Dûm, digging in a shaft. They have another emotional bonding moment, some more misty eyes, and then Durin knocks through stone to discover a giant freaking cavern of mithril. Like huge. Could easily fit a Dave & Buster’s in there. King Durin kills the mood pretty quick, though. (The vibe is: Your dad just caught you and a friend smoking behind the house.) King Durin has Elrond thrown out of Khazad-Dûm. After going on an extended, guilt-ridden riff about Prince Durin’s health problems as a baby, and some general two-way parent-child airing of grievances, he strips him of his title.
Afterward, Disa gives Durin a pep talk about how they’re going to run the joint one day and dig, dig, dig. Meanwhile, the king is down in the shaft. He tosses the leaf into the newly discovered cavern, where it floats down and burns up because there’s a flipping Balrog down there.
Paradise lost. And found. And lost again.
THE GROVE — After an arduous journey, Nori and all the other Harfoots arrive at their destination. Instead of finding their happy little grove with the apple trees and whatnot, they discover that the explosion from Mount Doom burned down a bunch of it. Sadoc asks the Stranger to just, you know, fix everything.
The Stranger places his hands on one of the trees and starts muttering and making strained expressions. Just as Nori’s younger sibling ventures forward to get a better look, a branch falls, and if not for Nori’s last-minute tackle, it might have squished the kid. This is basically the last straw for the Stranger after the whole episode where he nearly turned Nori into an ice cube.
Sadoc tells the Stranger he should go over the ridge to the big folks’ settlements and get help finding those stars he’s been after. These Harfoots are some fickle people. The mood is a variation on that scene in Air Bud where the kid is trying to set the dog free in the woods ostensibly for his own good.
I will never forgive that kid.
Anyway, big surprise when the next morning they all wake up to find the grove is verdant again.
Remember those creeps in the white robes who were hanging around the crater? They’ve tracked the Stranger to the grove. That night, Nori sees them skulking around, tuning in to the fact that the Stranger has headed Yonder that way. She pops up to try and redirect them. And then all the Harfoots pop up. And when Nori’s dad Largo waves a torch around at them, the one that looks like Eminem basically grabs the flame and magically sets all their carts on fire, which I think we can all agree is extremely rude.
The next day, the Harfoots are shifting through the wreckage. Largo gives a pep talk about facing tough times with heart, and Nori decides she’s got to go and warns the Stranger he’s being pursued. Only this time, she has support, including from Malva, the Karen Harfoot of the group who wanted to steal their wheels and leave them to die. She EVEN admits to being wrong. You know you’re watching fantasy when someone like Malva apologizes.
Nori, her mom, Poppy and Sadoc take off to find the Stranger.
Galadriel, grief counselor?
THE SOUTHLANDS — At the end of the last episode, Mount Doom erupted and wasn’t polite about it. Galadriel wakes up in a total hellscape. Everything is red and on fire, there are bodies everywhere — this is some Dante-level shit, extra inferno. She finds Theo and they set off together. Elsewhere, it’s a game of who survived — Queen Regent Míriel is OK, Isildur’s friend Valandil is OK, but the other one, Ontamo, is very dead. As the tavern is about to collapse, Míriel sends Isildur and Valandil inside to get people out. Lovely of her to volunteer them. Unfortunately, when the whole fiery mess comes crashing down, it does so right on Isildur.
Back to Galadriel and Theo. I don’t know what got knocked loose in the eruption, but Galadriel is full of sage advice for him. He’s mad, he’s guilty, but she’s got some real gems, like, “What cannot be known hollows the mind. Fill it not with guesswork.” They make their way to the spot where Númenór is likely going to camp out, outside the disaster zone. She also goes into some exposition about how now the lands are dead and the orcs will make it their home.
That night, they hide under the giant roots of a tree and have a heart-to-heart about loss. Galadriel talks about her brother, but also about her husband, Celeborn, whom she hasn’t seen since he took off for war. RIP, dude. But really, this is one of those slightly squishy lore moments. We know some stuff about what Celeborn might have been up to in the Second Age, and in the Third Age he was very much not dead… mostly I speculate the writers are giving Galadriel a hall pass for Halbrand. A Halbrand pass, if you will.
Theo is still feeling like this mess is his fault and she tells him, “Don’t take the burden of this day on your shoulder… you may find it difficult to put it down again.” Crochet that on a pillow.
Just then, a band of Orcs come through the area and the scene is very much like the one with the wraith in the Fellowship of the Ring where the Hobbits are also stashed under a tree.
Meanwhile, the Númenóreans and the Southlanders have been clearing out. Elendil is scanning every face for signs of his son. When Míriel and Valandil show up, it’s bad news all around, including the fact that Míriel has lost her vision.
At camp, Elendil does some more horse whispering, but Isildur’s horse is inconsolable, and Elendil lets him free. I mainly mention this because I think that dang horse is going to pull a Lassie and retrieve Isildur somehow. Much how Nori was regretting getting tangled up with the Stranger, Elendil is regretting rescuing Galadriel.
Speaking of which, she and Theo get back to camp. We get a healthy dose of gore and missing limbs before Theo finds Bronwyn and Arondir unscathed.
Galadriel has a moment with Miriel. She’s filled with remorse but Míriel wants zero pity and all revenge. The Númenóreans might be heading home for now, but they’ll be back with their fighting pants on. Galadriel promises the Elves will be ready.
And finally, if you’ve been sitting here like, Dónde está Halbrand? Well, he’s in a tent bleeding from his side and looking sort of clammy, generally. Galadriel declares he needs Elvish medicine and he hops out of bed and on a horse. I will say, he was a little too old. I needed to see more side-clutching and wincing.
But that’s not it for the episode, folks.
Back at the wreckage of the village, Adar and the Orcs are smug. Waldreg (shake fist vigorously) asks what they should call the Southlands now, because clearly it needs a name change. If you’re expecting Adar to really make a meal of some trilled r’s, you’ll have to settle for the text in the corner or the screen changing from “The Southlands” to “Mordor.”
Come back next week for the season finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, when we’ll find out if we’ll get any answer about Sauron, the Stranger, the fate of the Elves, or that mean old Balrog in Khazad-Dm.