Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power


The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an American fantasy television series developed by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay for the streaming service Amazon Prime Video. Based on the novel The Lord of the Rings and its appendices by J. R. R. Tolkien, the series is set thousands of years before Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and depicts the major events of Middle-earth's Second Age. It is produced by Amazon Studios in association with New Line Cinema and in consultation with the Tolkien Estate.

This has been one of Amazon Prime's most anticipated series. With a strong IP and fanbase to cater to, it's an extension to an already beloved franchise in Hollywood. With a strong variety of nationalities represented in various ways, this is one of the most far reaching shows globally. Yet the initial Lord Of The Rings trilogy is a high standard to match as well as the Hobbit prequel trilogy which has its fans despite a more mixed reception. I'm going to review the initial eight episode first season with a retrospective at the end, before covering later seasons when they are released.

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

1x01 - A Shadow Of The Past

INTRO: In the beginning of a series that is richly exploring the second age of Middle Earth and setting the foundation for the beloved films that will follow, what will be its initial impression?

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
The Elf Galadriel grew up in Valinor during a time of peace. When the two trees that lit the world were destroyed by the Dark Lord Morgoth, the Elves sailed across the Sundering Seas to Middle-earth and waged a devastating war against him that lasted for centuries. After Morgoth was defeated, his Orcs continued to spread around the world led by his servant Sauron, a powerful sorcerer. Galadriel's brother Finrod died hunting Sauron, and Galadriel vowed to continue the search.

Thousands of years later, Galadriel and a company of Elves discover an abandoned fortress in the northern wastelands of Forodwaith. They find evidence of black magic and an anvil bearing Sauron's mark. Galadriel believes this is part of a trail left for Orcs to follow. The company are attacked by a snow-troll and sustain injuries before it is killed by Galadriel. She commands that they continue the search north, but the others refuse and she reluctantly returns to the Elven capital of Lindon.

In the wilderlands of Rhovanion in the east of Middle-earth, a community of nomadic Harfoots—small, secretive beings—are surprised to see human hunters passing nearby at an uncommon time of year. Harfoot elder Sadoc Burrows also believes the stars are appearing when they should not. A group of young Harfoots, including Nori Brandyfoot and Poppy Proudfellow, go to a nearby farm to eat berries but they return to camp when they discover wolf footprints.

Galadriel meets with her friend Elrond, the herald and speech-writer for High King Gil-galad, in Lindon. Gil-galad proclaims the war to be over and grants Galadriel's company the great honor of sailing across the sea to Valinor where they can live an eternal life at peace. Galadriel intends to turn down this offer, but Elrond convinces her that it is time to stop fighting. He later talks to Gil-galad, who has foreseen that Galadriel's search for Sauron could help the latter endure. Gil-galad introduces Elrond to a great Elven-smith, Lord Celebrimbor, who is beginning an important new project that Gil-galad wants Elrond to help with.

Word that the war is over reaches a group of Elves in the Southlands of Middle-earth who have been watching over Tirharad, a village of Men descended from allies of Morgoth. One of the Elves, Arondir, has grown close with the human healer Bronwyn and is with her when a villager arrives with a sick cow. It had wandered to the nearby village of Hordern, and when Arondir and Bronwyn investigate that town they find it in flames. Meanwhile, Bronwyn's son Theo finds a broken sword bearing Sauron's mark.

Across the Sundering Seas, Galadriel and her company prepare to enter Valinor which appears as a great light. Galadriel has second thoughts about abandoning her search for Sauron and jumps from the ship. At the same time, a meteor flies across Middle-earth and crashes near the Harfoots' camp. Nori finds a strange man in the crater.

REVIEW: The episode starts with a long prologue narrated by Galadriel, a younger version of the character prior to Cate Blanchett’s take on the role. The prologue starts with her as a child, showcasing a strong bond with her older brother. We see her origins in Valinor, crossing over to Middle Earth and her telling of Morgoth’s destruction, the initial dark lord of the known world. With his downfall comes the rise of Sauron. Following his brother’s death, Galadriel sees Sauron out, hunting him down throughout the lands of Middle Earth for many years. But after a battle with the ice troll, his party mutiny and Galadriel is forced to return home.

From there, the episode introduces several stories. The first is that of the harfoot community, with specific focus on characters Nori & Poppy, female versions of Frodo & Sam, both with the same heart and character that Frodo & Sam possess. They are nice enough characters and I really identify with Nori’s sense and longing for adventure. The community also has a sinister wolf lurking nearby.

Galadriel & Elrond is the next story. They quickly establish a conflict over the existence of Sauron. For her heroism, she is awarded passageway to the Gray Havens, which leads a real inner conflict of whether to go or not. She initially does, but moments before crossing over, she changes her mind and dives into the water.

The third story revolves around a village of men with the centre being an elf named Arondir, who has a forbidden romance with a woman named Bronwyn. She has a son named Theo who bears a striking resemblance to Arondir. Theo himself holds a secret in possessing secret dark blades which hold fierce fire powers. During an investigation, Arondir & Bronwyn encounter a burning village.

The episode ends with a meteor crashing in which all character’s bear witness to it. The meteor is found by Nori and within it is a mysterious man, setting the stage for the mystery and story to come.

It's a good opening episode. The high budget is clear and in your face, gorgeous visuals bristling all over the screen and visually inviting. Its pacing is slow, taking its time and not rushing forward. The mythology also is strong, keeping you hooked and curious, and that bubbling eagerness for more going forward.

RATING: 89% - A-

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

1x02 - Adrift

INTRO: Continuing from the mystery set up in the first episode, Who is this stranger and what are his intentions?

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
Nori Brandyfoot and Poppy Proudfellow investigate the strange man inside the meteor crater and are surprised to find him alive, surrounded by cold fire. They struggle to move him away from the crater and into a makeshift shelter. The next day, Nori gives him food and realizes that he does not speak their language as he attempts to communicate something to them. Nori and Poppy later find the Stranger looking at the stars. He uses magic to break open Poppy's lantern of fireflies and arrange them into a constellation that Nori does not recognize. She believes that they can help him by finding that constellation. When the Stranger stops using the magic, the fireflies all die.

In the ruins of Hordern, Arondir and Bronwyn find no survivors or bodies. They discover a tunnel below one of the houses and Arondir enters to discover where it came from. Bronwyn returns to Tirharad to warn the other villagers, but they dismiss her. In the tunnel, Arondir is captured by unknown creatures. Bronwyn returns home and finds Theo hiding from an Orc that has burst from beneath their floor-boards. Bronwyn and Theo kill the orc and use its head to convince the other villagers to flee the town for the near-by tower of the Elven watchers. Theo brings the broken sword, which appears to draw power from a bleeding wound on Theo's wrist.

Elrond and Celebrimbor discuss the latter's new project in Eregion, the realm of the Elven-smiths. Celebrimbor is planning to build a forge capable of creating powerful objects, and requires a workforce that High King Gil-galad is unable to provide. Elrond suggests they look to the Dwarves for help, and they travel to Khazad-dûm to meet with his old friend Prince Durin IV. Elrond is surprised to find that he is not welcome there, and invokes the rite of sigin-tarâg, a rock-breaking contest between himself and Durin.

Elrond loses the contest, which means he is to be banished from all Dwarven lands. As Durin escorts him out, Elrond learns that he is not welcome because he has not visited in 20 years. Durin is offended that Elrond missed his wedding and the birth of his children. Elrond apologizes to Durin and his wife Disa, who encourages the pair to make up. Durin agrees to hear Elrond's proposal, which he later relays to King Durin III. The latter is concerned that Elrond's arrival relates to a new discovery that the Dwarves have made.

Swimming back to Middle-earth, Galadriel encounters a raft of stranded humans escaping from a sea creature that destroyed their ship. The creature attacks the raft, leaving only Galadriel and one of the Men alive. He introduces himself as Halbrand of the Southlands, and explains that he is escaping from Orcs who have attacked his homeland. They are caught in a storm and Halbrand saves Galadriel from drowning. The next morning, the pair are found by an unknown ship.

REVIEW: Nori encounters a stranger within a meteor, who himself possesses magical yet scary powers. Nori & Poppy decide to keep him secret, whilst also trying to decipher his meaning of his messages. There’s lots of mysteries to unravel with this character and equipped with the adorable and lovely friendship between Nori & Poppy makes this a compelling and curious story to follow.

Arondir & Bronwyn investigate the mystery of Hordern and its burning wreckage. They encounter a mysterious tunnel where following a chase, Arondir gets mysteriously snatched. Back in their own village, Bronwyn & Theo encounter an orc in what is a real and scary scene. Alerted by this, the rest of the villagers make the decision to flee after seeing the crucial evidence. Theo & Bronwyn also leave, with Theo still possessing the dark blade.

Elrond meets Celebrinbor and discussing a project, make an adventure to Khaza-Dum, a dwarf city within the mountains. Elrond is reunited with Durin although their relationship is frosty. Following an intense yet fun contest, Elrond meets Durin’s family and the project regarding building a tower is discussed further.

Galadriel swims all the way back to Middle Earth, determined to encounter and find Sauron. Swimming along, she encounters a worm beneath the sea, as well as paranoid survivors on a wrecked ship. One mysterious survivor takes curiosity in her and helps her to resist the worm and survive a restless storm. When sunlight emerges, both Galadriel and this stranger are found by a boat though its inhabitants are unknown.

It's another solid episode with the cinematography and visual effects again still stunning and crisp. There’s more tension in this episode and the world building is becoming much clearer. The scenes with the orcs were scary, refreshing from previous LOTR content where they never came off as sinister. The narrative is also starting to form, though still very vague to a degree.

RATING: 88% - A-

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

1x03 - Adar

INTRO: Plots continue to develop and new worlds in Middle Earth debut as The Rings Of Power continues to mix and mould with different interlocking stories.

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
The captured Arondir is taken to an Orc construction camp where other captives are digging trenches somewhere in the Southlands. These allow the Orcs, who are sensitive to sunlight, to move during the day. Arondir finds his fellow Elves Médhor and Revion have also been brought there, and they begin planning their escape. When Revion refuses to cut down a tree in their path, the Orcs kill Médhor. Arondir agrees to cut down the tree. He sees that the surrounding area has become poisoned and desolate.

Galadriel and Halbrand are picked up by a ship captained by Elendil who takes them to Númenor, an island kingdom ruled by Men. Relations between the island and the Elves have grown strained, and Queen Regent Míriel denies Galadriel's request for a ship back to Middle-earth. Elendil is assigned to watch over Galadriel and he takes her to the kingdom's Hall of Lore. They discover that the mark of Sauron is actually a map of the Southlands, where a new realm for evil forces is planned.

Halbrand gets into a fight with some Númenóreans and is imprisoned. Galadriel finds him and reveals that she knows he is the true king of the Southlands, descended from the Man who united the tribes of the Southland and was loyal to Morgoth. She asks him to return to Middle-earth with her to redeem both of their bloodlines. Meanwhile, Elendil's son Isildur nears the end of his training as a naval cadet, but has been encouraged by his brother Anárion to postpone his graduation against Elendil's wishes.

The evening before the Harfoots' next migration, the Stranger accidentally reveals himself to the rest of the Harfoots while trying to read some star maps. The shocked Harfoots consider exiling Nori Brandyfoot for helping the Stranger, but she is forgiven because of her young age. The next day, the Harfoots start migrating and the Brandyfoots struggle to keep up due to Largo, Nori's father, who has an injured ankle. The Stranger follows them, and helps them with their cart.

Arondir, Revion, and some other captives attempt to escape from the Orcs when the sun is highest. The Orcs send a warg to attack them, which Arondir kills. Revion makes it out of the trench but is killed by archers. Arondir is unable to get free and is brought before the mysterious leader of the Orcs, Adar.

REVIEW: Arondir begins the episode held captive in an orc camp. His fellow elf soldiers have also been held prisoner and are digging within the lands of the southlands, which we later find out is the future location of Mordor. An escape plan quickly comes into motion, and for one moment it seems that they are going to escape, but the plan sadly fails, with Arondir watching his elf mentor shot down by arrows. The episode ends with Arondir taken to the high orc Adar, though his face remains a mystery as the episode fades to black.

The Nori & Poppy story continues to bubble, as both characters continue to keep this mysterious man hidden from a community, with Nori believing the clues to his past lie within the stars. The Halfoots are also preparing to migrate across the lands, however the mysterious man is finally discovered. As a result, Nori’s family is punished with them going to the back of the line for the migration. Yet, the mysterious man proves useful by helping to carry the home of Nori’s family due to the injured father of Nori.

Galadriel and Halbrand arrive at Numenor, a beautiful realm away from Middle Earth. The greeting is a frosty one by locals and the higher ups. We’re introduced to new characters, Elendil, the captain of the guard and the father in particular of a young Isildir. We’re also introduced to Isildir’s sister and mentions of a brother also feature. Galadriel and Elendil discover the true meaning of Sauron’s mark, which I mentioned earlier is a map where Sauron intends to build his land, putting the southlands in great danger.

This is a good solid episode. It’s sad that the dwarf story is not featured here, but still its entertaining enough. Each story moves along well, yet Galadriel feels the most interesting for me and is potentially leading to more interesting stories.

RATING: 93% - A

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

1x04 - The Great Wave

INTRO: Things intensify on all corners of Middle Earth as The Rings Of Power continues in it epic first season.

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
Míriel has a vision of Númenor being destroyed by a giant tsunami. Galadriel and Elendil present Míriel with proof that the forces of Sauron are attacking the Southlands in Middle-earth and Galadriel asks her to intervene. Míriel refuses and Galadriel asks to speak with her father, King Tar-Palantir, who hasn't been seen in years. Míriel has Galadriel imprisoned. Isildur and his friends Valandil and Ontamo are dismissed from their cadet training after Isildur makes a mistake while distracted.

Arondir meets Adar, the leader and "father" of the Orcs who is an Elf. He lets Arondir leave with a message for the Southlanders who are taking refuge in the Elven watchtower of Ostirith: forsake their claims to the Southlands and swear fealty to Adar, or they will be destroyed. Meanwhile, Theo wants to be helpful but is ignored by Bronwyn. He and Rowan return to Tirharad to recover food from the tavern and are attacked by Orcs. Rowan escapes back to the tower while Theo is forced to hide in a well.

In Eregion, the Elves and Dwarves are working together to build Celebrimbor's powerful new forge. Celebrimbor believes Durin IV is hiding something, and Elrond goes to investigate. He learns that Durin IV has been mining a new ore that is very light and very strong below Khazad-dûm. Elrond promises to keep this secret and gives it the name "mithril". When the mine collapses, King Durin III shuts down further mithril mining. Durin IV is furious at his father, but Elrond calms him with a story of his own father, Eärendil, who became a star. Durin IV reconciles with his father, who sends him to Lindon to find out what the Elves' intentions are.

Halbrand helps Galadriel realize that she should go around Míriel and speak to Tar-Palantir directly. Guards arrive to release Galadriel and escort her to Middle-earth, but Galadriel escapes and climbs up the king's tower. She finds the king in ill health, protected by Míriel. The latter explains that there was a rebellion because the king wanted to renew relations with the Elves, and Míriel was placed on the throne in his stead. After becoming ruler, Míriel was given access to a palantír (crystal ball) that first showed her the vision of Númenor's downfall. She shows this vision to Galadriel and explains her belief that helping Galadriel will bring upon this cataclysmic future.

Arondir rescues Theo from the Orcs and they return to the tower. Tavern owner Waldreg reveals to Theo that he is a follower of Sauron and explains that the broken sword was a gift for the followers of the Dark Lord. The Orcs who attacked Theo know he has the sword and report back to Adar that it is in the tower.

As Galadriel departs for Middle-earth, the petals of Númenor's White Tree begin to fall. Míriel says this signifies the tears of the Valar and changes her mind. She announces that she will personally escort Galadriel to Middle-earth and assist the Men of the Southlands. Isildur, Valandil, and Ontamo volunteer to join the expeditionary force.

REVIEW: The episode begins with a vision from Muriel of waves crashing and destroying the city of Numeonor. A harmless dream or a sinister warning from the future? Either way, recent events have led to discontent within the city regarding the prescence of Galadriel. We are introduced to new characters Farazen and his son Kimmen. Farazen is the chancellor of numeonor whose role is to maintain the peace on the streets following this stir of discontent. They also tease a potential romance between Kimmen and Isildir’s sister Earien with one or two small scenes between the two. Galadriel & Miriel clash over recent conflicts and events and how it could affect Middle Earth and ultimately Numeonor. Isildir is also kicked off the sea guard and his friends are pissed off with him as a result. However, Galadriel discovers the truth in that the king of Numeonor is dying and Muriel is Queen Regent with more power than believed. Sea stones are then introduced and may play a big part in future seasons. After discussing, Muriel eventually comes to Galadriel’s side and decides to venture out into Middle Earth to face off the threat in the south. Isildir and other soldiers volunteer for the fight.

In the southlands, Arondir remains captured and we are revealed a new antagonist in the form of Adar, a corrupted elf who quickly poses a warning onto the other humans to surrender to him or die as the orcs begin their invasion upon the south. Allowing to leave, Arondir passes this warning onto the citizens and suggests seeking refuge into the watch tower. A side mission is established as Rowan & Theo embark back down to the villages to retrieve food. However, orcs attack, and Rowan gets captured by the invading orcs, leading to certain doom. Theo is saved by Arondir and manage to make it back to safety as the orcs are still hostile towards sunlight as it burns their skin. They are warned of Sauron’s oncoming power.

The elf/dwarf storyline continues as Elrond’s project with Celebrimbor to build the tower is assisted with minerals from the dwarf mines. Within the mines of Kazadum, Mithril is discovered by Durin IV and a debate over what to do with it is had. Following a cave in, Durin III is not eager to dig out further. The Dwarves are saved and Durin discusses with his father about the mine as well as the future line of succession.

It's another strong episode with multiple threads finding their way to link up together. Characters are definitely building up a sense of personality and major role in a bigger tale, as well as being aided by impressive visuals. At the halfway point things are promising and I’m enjoying the buildup.

RATING: 87% - A-

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

1x05 - Partings

INTRO: The calm before the storm begins to bubble as events begin to shape for a classic clash that will re-shape Middle Earth forever.

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
The Harfoots continue their migration to the Grove for the winter. While looking for food in a forest, Nori Brandyfoot, Poppy Proudfellow, and Malva Meadowgrass are attacked by a pack of wolves. The Stranger accompanying them intervenes and uses magic to scare off the wolves, but his use of magic injures his own arm. He uses more magic to heal himself and nearly hurts Nori, frightening her. Meanwhile, a trio of mysterious women find the location where the Stranger fell from the sky.

At the tower of Ostirith in the Southlands, Bronwyn attempts to prepare the other human refugees to defend themselves from the army of Orcs that are coming to claim their lands. Tavern owner Waldreg thinks they will be better off joining the Orcs and convinces around half of the refugees to leave with him. Waldreg is disappointed to learn that the leader of the Orcs, Adar, is not Sauron, but still chooses to serve him. To confirm his loyalty, Adar orders Waldreg to kill one of the other humans, Rowan. At the tower, Theo shows Arondir the broken sword the Orcs are hunting for and Arondir realizes that it is some sort of key designed to enslave the Southlanders.

Elendil denies his son Isildur's request to join Númenor's expedition to the Southlands, saying Isildur lost his chance to serve previously. Discussing the expedition with Queen Regent Míriel, Galadriel says the human Halbrand will be accompanying them to claim the throne of Southlands. He accuses Galadriel of using him and says he wants to remain in Númenor instead. Meanwhile, Chancellor Pharazôn's son Kemen attempts to convince his father to cancel the expedition to Middle-earth, but Pharazôn sees potential in turning the Southlands into a tributary state after its liberation. Míriel's father, King Tar-Palantir, warns her not to go to Middle-earth.

High-King Gil-galad reveals to Elrond that he knows of the existence of mithril, an ore that contains the light from a lost Silmaril that he believes can counteract the fading power of the Elves in Middle-earth. Elrond refuses to confirm that the Dwarves have discovered the ore, out of loyalty to Prince Durin IV, and Gil-galad accuses him of putting the Dwarves before his own race. Elrond later discusses the issue with Durin IV and the latter agrees to help. The pair return to Khazad-dûm to try convince King Durin III.

Kemen attempts to destroy the expedition ships and discovers Isildur stowing away. Isildur prevents the destruction of three of the five ships and saves Kemen's life. When questioned by Elendil, Isildur lies about Kemen's sabotage. He subsequently receives a spot on the expedition crew, as a stable sweep. Galadriel apologizes for using Halbrand and opens up to him. He eventually decides to go with the expeditionary force, and the remaining ships depart for Middle-earth.

REVIEW: Nori continues to bond with The Stranger, watching as his powers continue to develop and form as he travels with The Harfoots. One incident where his powers come into effect is when he saves his friends from a pack of wolves which leads to the Harfoots to trust him more. However that is then put into question when The Stranger’s powers cause Nori to be freaked out following a magic spell involving turning water to ice which goes slightly wrong. Either way it leads to bigger questions as The Harfoots continue their expedition.

In the Southlands, the orc army continues to build and build with a treacherous Waldreg manipulating and scaremongering the humans into submission. Half of them do indeed surrender thinking it’s a safer card, but the orcs brutally betray them with characters like Rowan meeting a terrible end. Back at the watch tower, Theo finally shows the broken sword to Arondir who believes it may be a key to defending the south, though he remains in dilemma on what to do with such power.

Meanwhile, Elrond reveals to the elves Mithril found in the mountain of Kaza-dum. Gil-galad believes that the substance can help cure their land, yet they must negotiate with Durin III to obtain some. Negotiations are hard and stale and a warning lingers of a potential danger within the bowels of the mountain.

The Numenor story continues with the locals very wary of venturing into Middle Earth. The King Tar-Palantir warns of evil in Middle Earth towards Muriel. Galadriel tries to convince Halbrand to join them to returning to Middle Earth, though he is reluctant to do so. Isildir attempts to sneak onboard, but ends up colliding with a potential plot to blow one of the ships up. Following some clever blackmail and coercion, Isildir successfully gains his way on board, and he and a battalion of soldiers set sail to Middle Earth, with Halbrand eventually joining them, as they set sail for war.

I thought this was a great episode. Plots unfolding, developing and reaching significant points within the wider story. Each story is starting to feel distinct and engaging, with intriguing twists and turns that keep me hooked. We now enter the third act of Season one and I’m anticipating a major pay off of this first season.

RATING: 94% - A

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

1x06 - Udin

INTRO: Battles and armies and all out warfare as this prequel series has an episode that cements the origins of a famous geographic settlement within Middle Earth.

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
An army of Orcs led by Adar find the tower of Ostirith abandoned. While they search for refugees from the Southlands town of Tirharad, the Elf Arondir triggers a booby-trap that collapses the tower on the army. The townspeople, who had moved down the valley to the village, cheer as the tower falls. Meanwhile, Galadriel, Queen Regent Míriel, and soldiers from Númenór make their way towards the Southlands by ship. Galadriel meets Isildur, and learns from his father Elendil that Isildur's mother drowned.

Arondir attempts to destroy the broken sword that the Orcs are searching for but is unable to with conventional tools. He tells the human healer Brownyn that he is going to hide it as her son Theo watches on from a distance. Arondir helps the town prepare for the next assault. He professes his love to Bronwyn and promises a life together with her and Theo after the battle is over. That night, the Orc army enters Tirharad. The townspeople trap the Orcs in the center of the village and are victorious, but soon realize that many of the enemies they just killed were their neighbors, who joined Adar and had been disguised as Orcs. The townspeople are horrified with their actions.

Orc archers shoot at the townsfolk, killing and wounding many. Bronwyn is hit in the shoulder. Taking refuge in the tavern, Theo and Arondir cauterize Bronwyn's wound. Adar enters and demands the location of the broken sword. Arondir attempts to negotiate, but the Orcs continue to kill people. When Bronwyn is threatened, Theo reveals the sword and gives it to Adar. Adar orders the rest of the humans to be killed, but the Númenórean army arrives on horseback and kills or captures the remaining Orcs. Adar gives Waldreg a task before attempting to escape, only to be captured by Galadriel and Halbrand.

Galadriel interrogates Adar, discovering that he is an Elf who was corrupted by the first Dark Lord, Morgoth, and turned into one of the first Orcs. He claims to have killed the second Dark Lord, Sauron, and is now focused on creating a home for all Orcs. Halbrand is hailed as the King of the Southlands and the Númenóreans celebrate their victory. Theo realizes that the broken sword is missing as Waldreg uses it to unlock the dam beside Ostirith. Water rushes into tunnels that the Orcs dug to the mountain Orodruin. The water enters a lava chamber beneath the mountain and the resulting pressure causes an eruption that spews lava, ash, and smoke over the Southlands.

REVIEW: This is a significant episode within the season. One that literally changes the landscape of Middle Earth forever onward. The watch tower of Ostirith is attacked by a swarm of orcs, though its revealed to be a trap by Arondir as he sets off explosives to bring the tower down on the orc army. The remaining humans regroup in the village just as a new wave of supposed orcs attack them. Following a swift battle, the villagers get an easy win. But its revealed to be a trap as the dead orcs are actually the humans who deserted them before, used by the orcs as a diversion. The orcs them ambush the remaining humans with ground soldiers and archers from afar. The villagers are surrounded and just before they are slaughtered, numenor soldiers arrive to attack. The battle then resumes with a final supposed swift victory for the heroes. Adar is captured and interrogated by Galadriel in which a cryptic and mysterious conversation occurs between the two. In a twist though, the dark missing sword ends up stolen by Waldreg who initiates a plan by Adar to erupt the nearby mountain, setting off an eruption across the entire land. The episode ends on a cliffhanger ending.

By far and away an excellent, thrilling action packed episode which is by far and away the highlight of the season so far. So much drive and velocity throughout, and serves to set up key plot points for the two more episodes to come.

RATING: 96% - A

Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

1x07 - The Eye

INTRO: Following the final scene of the previous episode, the heroes struggle and adjust to the aftermath of a major defeat.

WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
The Elf Galadriel wakes up covered in ash following the eruption of the mountain Orodruin. The village of Tirharad is covered in ash and fire, with many dead and injured. Galadriel finds the human boy Theo and together they begin making their way out of the Southlands. Númenórean soldiers Isildur and Valandil find their friend Ontamo dead. They help Queen Regent Míriel rescue survivors from a burning building, but it collapses and Míriel loses her eyesight. Isildur is presumed dead in the collapse.

The Harfoots finish their migration to the Grove, an orchard that has been destroyed by the nearby volcano. They ask the magical Stranger who has joined them to help fix the orchard, but his attempts lead to a large tree branch landing on Nori and Dilly Brandyfoot. Scared, the Harfoots decide the Stranger should leave. Harfoot elder Sadoc Burrows gives him directions to a nearby settlement of Men and the Stranger departs. The next day, the Harfoots awake to find the whole orchard regrown. That night, a trio of mysterious women arrive in search of the Stranger. Nori attempts to send them in the wrong direction but the women use magic to burn all of the Harfoot caravans and then continue after the Stranger. Nori decides to go after him to warn him of the danger, and is accompanied by her friend Poppy Proudfellow, her mother Marigold, and Sadoc.

Galadriel and Theo bond over their shared guilt for the events leading to the eruption, and Galadriel discusses her husband Celeborn whom she believes to be dead. They eventually reach the Númenórean camp outside of the Southlands where Theo is reunited with his mother Bronwyn and her beloved, the Elf Arondir. Isildur's father Elendil learns of his son's loss and despairs, regretting his part in joining Galadriel's quest that led to this moment. When Isildur's horse cannot be calmed, Elendil lets the horse gallop off. Before the Númenóreans depart Middle-earth in their ships, Míriel promises to return and seek revenge against the enemy. Galadriel is reunited with Halbrand, the King of the Southlands, who was gravely injured during the eruption. She helps him ride north to receive Elvish medicine. The other human survivors seek refuge in nearby Pelargir.

In Khazad-dûm, the Elf Elrond and Dwarf Prince Durin IV ask King Durin III for permission to mine the new ore mithril so it can be used to counteract the fading power of the Elves in Middle-earth. Durin III refuses, believing the ore to be too dangerous to mine. As Elrond departs with a tearful farewell for Durin IV and his wife Disa, Durin IV sees proof that mithril can save the Elves and decides to mine it with Elrond in secret. They find a large deposit of the ore, but are caught by Durin III. Elrond is banished, taking a small piece of mithril with him, and Durin IV is stripped of his royal status. Durin III orders the mithril mine to be sealed. Unbeknownst to them all, a Balrog lives deep below that mine.

In the Southlands, the Orcs and their human allies name their leader, Adar, "Lord of the Southlands". He says that place no longer exists: it is now the land of Mordor.

REVIEW: Immediately the episode shows the aftermath of the eruption. The cinematography in these first few minutes is spellbinding. The orange sky, floating ash, the horrific sights of burnt bodies and buildings just make for a beautiful horror unravel before our very eyes. The southlanders escape as the orcs begin to take command. Amid rescuing innocents, Miriel loses her sight and becomes blind in the process. Isildir is also assumed dead, which upon hearing the news devastates his father, but knowing the history of that character, he obviously isn’t as seen when his horse Berek rides off. Galadriel and Theo are paired together as they flee orcs, learning about each other’s species in the process. Soon after, Theo reunites with his mother and Arodir. Also surviving the attack is Halbrand, though he is injured and needs medical attention with Galadriel offering to ride him north for aid.

The Harfoot community arrive at Grove and settle into their new land. Knowing the extent of his powers, they ask The Stranger to help, but his powers become too much for the harfoot community to cope and they ask him to leave and venture out on their own. However, once gone, they see the true extent of his powers and regret kicking him out. As well as that, Three mysterious figures begin causing havoc and trouble with their own magical powers. Nori decides to venture out to find The Stranger, accompanied by Poppy, her mother and Sarloc for help.

In Khazad-dum, Elrond and Durin are denied access to the mines. In this decision, an attempt to defy the king goes ahead as the two go into the mines to prove that mithril is magical and could benefit the entirety of Middle Earth. However, they are caught out by the king and Elrond is banished from the mountain and Durin IV is disgraced by his father. Thus, the mines are sealed by The King, but in turn awakes The Balrog lurking at the depths of the mountain.

The episode closes out with the confirmation of the southlands being ruled by orcs and rechristened to the land of Mordor. A chilling end and the first steps to the Lord Of The Rings middle earth we knew before.

Again, another strong episode following the epic battle from the last. It’s very mythic, very deep, and very melancholy. The aftermath of the battle in the south is very effective and sad to watch, seeing citizens being forced out of their home and land, yet seeing the origins of Mordor was cool to watch and somewhat chilling in its approach. It establishes the new evil that now exists in Middle Earth, and builds up what is to be a strong finale for The Rings Of Power.

RATING: 90% - A-