Episode 4 of The Rings of Power sees Galadriel trying to marshal support for the folks in the Southlands and Elrond playing Columbo around Khazad-dûm.
If you need a refresher, we've already recapped episode 1, episode 2 and episode 3. Here's our look at the action from the latest installment -- be warned: spoilers ahead.
Who is Adar?
SOUTHLANDS – When we last left Arondir, it was a bad scene. He and his elf buddies had tried to escape. Two ended up dead, and Arondir got dragged off to meet this mysterious Adar character. The big reveal here is that Adar is an elf, too. He's got some scarring on his face and a generally negative aura. He has a weirdly tender moment with a dying orc – there's some forehead stroking, meaningful eye contact, and then he stabs the thing and puts it out of its misery. Despite living in this dark canopied world with the orcs, Adar too, is partaking in the shaved sideburns trend. Fashion is for everyone.
Anyway. Arondir asks him some important questions like "who are you?" and "why do the orcs call you 'father?'"
Adar doesn't really answer but gets into some jazz about how Arondir has been told many lies, and how the lies have run so deep, you'd have to remake the world and start again and only gods can do that -- nervous laughter -- and he is not a god. At least, not yet.
Then Adar tells Arondir to go back to the watchtower and deliver a message. By the way, the tower is apparently named Ostirith.
Speaking of Ostirith, we catch up with Bronwyn, who is helping herd essentially every villager in the Southlands into Ostirith. It's big Helm's Deep vibes, but a much less comforting setup.
There's good news, though. Waldreg, the old guy from the tavern is there, and he's A) wearing a shirt, B) not covered in animal blood and C) brought a whole five potatoes to the party.
See, food is going to be an issue. And Shake Shack doesn't have any locations that far south. Bronwyn and Theo skirmish a bit about strategy for getting food -- he wants to go scavenge. She doesn't want him to, but he recruits a buddy, and they sneak off.
Outside Ostirith, the situation has deteriorated. They run into various dead and rotting livestock. It's not pretty.
Theo goes into the tavern to scavenge, leaving his friend outside with a cart of food. At this point, the whole thing is turning into a horror flick. Theo finds a bag of spilled rice, and as he's trying to scoop some of it back into the bag, the door closes, a giant cloud obscures the sun and his friend runs off like he just got an email about cake in the breakroom.
If all that isn't foreboding enough, an orc pops up and attacks him. Theo pulls out a sword and uses the end of the hilt to stab himself in the arm so that the blood ignites the flames -- what is this sentence I am writing right now -- and the orc yells, "Where'd you get that?"
On sale at Costco!
Not really. The problem with Theo's hilt reveal here is that now the orcs know he's got it. He takes off and hides down a well until further notice. Lassie is nowhere to be found.
That night, he crawls out to escape, still clutching that bag of rice, bless his heart. Long story short, right before an orc is about to turn him into risotto, Arondir shows up and saves him. They exit, pursued by orcs (with apologies to Shakespeare for the paraphrase) into the woods. Bronwyn turns up. There's slow motion running and ethereal music. Arondir, it turns out, can catch incoming arrows with his bare hands, which is a cool party trick.
Finally, back at the tower, Arondir delivers Adar's message: The humans can live if they forsake all claims to the land and swear fealty. If not, Adar is coming for them in Ostirith.
Now here's the twist. Elsewhere, Waldreg confronts Theo. It turns out that it was his barn, from which Theo stole the sword hilt, and Waldreg knows. He's even got scars on his arm.
"It's not a sword, it's a power fashioned for our ancestors," he says. Then he talks about how there was a beautiful servant, who was lost but will return and references the big thing that streaked through the sky. At this point, I make a small wish to the production gods that if any character is going to engage in exposition, they speak up.
"Have you heard of him, lad?" Waldreg asks. "Have you heard of Sauron?"
NÚMENOR -- Queen Regent Míriel is holding some kind of ceremony blessing the babies of Númenor, when the leaves from the white tree start blowing into the court. It's a bad sign. Míriel looks out to see a huge wave crashing through the city, drowning everything in sight.
Don't get too worked up, though. It was a dream. Míriel's a little unnerved, but that's life.
If you're wondering what the heck is up with this tree, it's not just something someone picked up from the Lowe's garden section. Its name is Nimloth and it was a gift from the elves. What's more, it's got lineage going back to Telperion, one of the two trees in Valinor that the first dark lord Morgoth destroyed. So it's special, OK?
Anyhoodle. Elsewhere, those goons who tired to beat up Halbrand last week are stirring up some pretty nationalistic-sounding rhetoric. The elves are coming for our jobs!
Pharazôn turns up to quell the unrest, promising that "elven hands will never take Númenor's helm." These people sure do love a maritime reference, no? Also, he buys everyone drinks.
Eärien is watching the commotion from a distance when a young man turns up and starts flirting with her. I didn't quite catch his name, but it sounded like Kevin, and I refuse to believe it's anything else. Please do not email me about this.
In a world full of Eäriens and Isildurs, be a Kevin.
Meanwhile, Galadriel is still having issues with her soft skills. She tries to persuade Míriel to help the people of the Southlands and back Halbrand and whatnot to defeat Sauron, and Míriel looks like there is not enough aspirin in this world to deal with the headache that is Galadriel.
Míriel rejects Galadriel's proposal, and Galadriel pulls the old "I'd like to speak to the manager" bit, which in this case is Míriel's father -- the king who's been stashed away in a tower and who no one has seen in ages. For this, Galadriel ends up locked up next to Halbrand.
Halbrand talks to her about being more strategic or something. Pharazôn then shows up to say that Miriel has decided to ship Galadriel back to the elves with an armed guard. When they tell her to step out of her cell, she does some of her signature elf moves and manages to lock all four guards in her cell.
Later, Galadriel busts into the old King's tower, where Míriel is waiting for her. It's awkward.
Finally, though, they start to talk things out. Galadriel asks Míriel what the heck happened -- why is she not loyal to the elves. Crucially, she says tell me, please and Míriel relents. In short, the King got more diehard in his pro-elf beliefs and wanted to renew relations with the elves, but the people rebelled, and she was chosen to rule instead. Míriel reveals there's a Palantir (a seeing stone) in the tower -- it's one of seven. The others are lost or hidden. She tells Galadriel to touch it. It shows her that big destructive wave -- it's Númenor's future. The problem is the whole mess supposedly begins with Galadriel's arrival, so that's why Míriel is keen to get rid of her. Galadriel suggests that maybe not going after Sauron is what actually seals Númenor's doom, but Míriel still does not want to get involved with the Southlands.
So, everyone's ready to see off Galadriel. She gives a meaningful look back at Míriel. And apparently, she's going to stand up in the boat on this journey too. Pharazôn is like people will be stoked to hear the elf is gone. But in walking to the court or whatever, Míriel sees a whole bunch of those leaves from Nimloth blowing in. It's like the cherry blossom festival in Animal Crossing but inauspicious. Míriel and Elendil look at each other like rut roh.
In what's a bit of a confusing cut, Míriel is addressing the court about how she's going to escort Galadriel back to Middle Earth and how their brethren are besieged in the Southlands. So they're going to Middle Earth! Ships are leaving in 10 days! Even Pharazôn is down with it?
And if you're wondering where Isildur has been in all of this, he got himself and his friends kicked out of the the Sea Guard for being a silly, silly boy. His friends are pissed. They end up volunteering to sail to Middle-earth.
Kevin continues to flirt with Eärien.
KHAZAD-DÛM -- Work on Celebrimbor's forge is coming along, but Elrond thinks Durin's been a little sus lately. Namely, in that the dwarf prince has been avoiding him. So Elrond goes to talk to Disa, who makes up a bunch of excuses. Elrond tells her, "you know Disa, there is no secret worth concealing with deception," which is kind of a bold move to go into someone's home and accuse them of lying, and she tells him as much, calling him "dearie."
In the next scene, Disa and Durin take a stroll and discuss Elrond's visit, as well as the mining progress Durin's involved in. Elrond, like a creep, is off in the distance using his elf eyes to presumably read lips and figure out what's actually going on. He heads for the old mine to have a nose around and uncovers a hidden entrance, and behind a curtain is some very glittery veining in the rock.
Just then, Durin busts in sounding very angry and very Scottish. He's paranoid, saying things like "you want it for yourself!" And Elrond is just like… what are you even talking about bro?
Durin makes Elrond pinky promise not to tell anyone what he's about to show him. Remember that mysterious glowing chest from episode 2? Durin reveals the contents: Mithril. An ore that's light and strong and is also the material Frodo's chainmail vest thing is made out of in the original trilogy.
"This could be the beginning of a new era for our people," Durin says. Well. He's not wrong. Durin says it's perilous to mine and his father has restricted their efforts in the name of caution. Then he gives a piece to Elrond as a token of friendship, which makes no sense. How is Elrond supposed to explain that if someone sees it and he's been sworn to secrecy? I don't know. They should have just braided friendship bracelets for each other.
This moment of friendship gets interrupted, however, by an explosion in the mines.
In a super cool scene, we see Disa singing, offering up a prayer, essentially that the trapped miners are found alive. Later, she tells Elrond she's sorry they lied to him. Durin comes back with good and bad news. The good: the miners all survived. The bad: his father, the king, is shutting down the whole mithril operation. Durin does not love the idea. In fact, he gets pretty heated. But Elrond tells him about his own dad and how he sailed off to Valinor never to be seen again. (There's a lot of backstory here from The Silmarillion. It was a whole thing. He was trying to get the Valar to help fight against Morgoth and was the first mortal in Valinor.) Moreover, Elrond wishes he could talk to his dad and can't But Durin can!
Look, the point here, kids, is call your parents. Ok? Your mom told me to say that.
Later, Durin goes to see his dad and apologizes for being too spunky about the whole mithril business. His dad responds so kindly and lovingly, Durin looks like his eyes are about to pop out of his head. That settled, they decide that the prince will go with Elrond to Lindon and figure out what else the elves are up to.