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The Rings of Power clears up the mystery of Adar, but confuses The Lord of the Rings

“udun” is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of PowerThe first full-fledged battle episode, and fans of the Prime Video series are certainly getting their money’s worth in terms of a blockbuster show. Yet for all the toppling towers and climactic cavalry charges, the episode’s most memorable scene is also one of its least bombastic: the quiet conversation between Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Adar (Joseph Mawle). More than anything else that happens in “Udûn,” this largely action-free encounter dramatically alters the status quo of the rings of power in the future, although it is difficult to know if it is for the better or for the worse.

The decorations in the rings of power episode 6 are suitably impressive. We’re treated to everything from twisted melee to an apocalyptic volcanic eruption, with various characters other than Galadriel getting a chance to shine. And if the odd imperfection (like lame CGI and pedestrian staging and choreography) occasionally exposes the limits of the show’s infamously large budget, most viewers will be too caught up in the epic scope of it all to notice, and much less worry.

But honestly, the most amazing popcorn moments in “Udûn”—yes, even that unexpected (and from where I’m sitting, unnecessary) revised origin story for Mount Doom—have nothing to do with the metaphorical fireworks of Galadriel and the little one from Adar. tête-à-tête. Not only does this scene finally confirm once and for all that Adar is not Sauron, it also establishes that he is a proto-orc who turned on his former master. Heck, Adar even claims that he’s the guy responsible for Sauron’s current MIA status, after the dark lord performed one too many experiments on his orc minions.

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Galadriel riding with the Numenorian forces through a scenic countryside, with mountains and a river in the background behind them.

Image: Prime Video

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We also get more of the Adar worldview, which takes the rings of powerOngoing efforts to present the orcs as more three-dimensional villains than in the original JRR Tolkien novels to a whole new level, further showing their softer side. Adar makes a compelling case that the orcs (or “uruks,” to use his preferred name) deserve the same basic rights as any of the other sentient races of Middle-earth, and insists that their dubious origins do not make them any less the children of God. the god of his world. By the time it’s over, you’ll understand why Adar is so devoted to his fellow orcs, and when he brands Galadriel as the next Sauron for wanting to finish them off, you’ll have a hard time disagreeing with him.

It’s a powerful thing, but how well does it serve the overall goal. power rings The narrative is a sticking point, at least for now. On the plus side, an orcish agenda rooted in equality, not conquest, builds on the Prime Video series’ largely successful recent efforts to expand Tolkien’s established canon in fascinating ways. Also, by contrasting this agenda with Galadriel’s cruelty, director Charlotte Brändström and writers Nicholas Adams, Justin Doble, JD Payne and Patrick McKay double down on the show’s commitment with a morally ambiguous tone.

In doing so, they apparently laid the groundwork for the nuanced character arcs that Tolkien’s novels (the silmarillion aside) weren’t equipped to deliver, and that not even Peter Jackson’s film adaptations could have attempted in a feature-length window. Here, concepts like “good” and “bad” are not so clear. Are we about to see Galadriel do the unthinkable and join forces with the orcs against the greater mutual threat that Sauron represents? Is this how he finally learns to let go of his inner turmoil? And assuming Adar survives the rings of power The cataclysmic ending of episode 6, what will you do when your old boss inevitably returns, unrepentant for spilling orc blood and eager for revenge? Is there a redemption arch in sight? Taken on their own terms, these are fun hobbit speculative holes to go.

But there is a downside to the way “Udûn” recasts his villains, not the least of which is that it makes Adar’s game plan in this episode and the ones that preceded it difficult to follow. Not even a sensational level of disaster movie was enough to keep me wondering why the supposedly anti-Sauron Adar has spent the last six episodes rolling out the red-hot carpet for the return of the dark lord. Presumably, Payne and McKay (as showrunners) will clear up this apparent inconsistency before the rings of power Season 1 ends, but for now, it’s a real head scratcher.

Ultimately though, the biggest potential red flag that the Galadriel/Adar scene raises is that it signals that the rings of powerOrc opinion is starting to skew also sympathetic. It’s great that, as of “Udûn,” Galadriel has a well-defined arc for her, on the path from the warhead to the more even-tempered statesman that appears in The Lord of the Rings proper. The only problem is that paying for said bow will presumably require Galadriel to gain at least some appreciation for orc life, and we already know that’s not how the story goes, not for Galadriel, not for Middle-earth.

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Bronwyn standing and looking at Arondir, who is holding Sauron's broken sword and examining it.

Image: Prime Video

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A snarling orc in The Lord of the Rings: Amazon's Rings of Power

Image: Prime Video

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It’s great that Payne and McKay are willing to rethink orcs, especially since that species that essentially has evil DNA has always been a hard part to crack, even for Tolkien himself. But in the end, the inherent and irreversible evil of orcs, and more importantly, the moral absolution this grants to anyone in the business of killing orcs, is as fundamental a component of this world as its more intellectual philosophical underpinnings. . Like hope in the face of certain death. Orcs are for Lord of the Rings what are stormtroopers for star wars, or Nazis are for Indiana Jones: cartoonish representations of pure evil whose deaths should keep no one (least of all fans) up at night.

Deviating any further from this description of orcs not only sets an unstable precedent for the rings of power going forward, adding an unpleasant subtext to every orc-centric action scene. It has some pretty big implications for The Lord of the Rings. same too. Episodes like “Udûn” do more than reconfigure the orcs’ role in this story; they also recontextualize our understanding of their role in other stories. Some fans may appreciate the opportunity to re-litigate the ethics of the War of the Ring, but for others, the idea that the rings of power It could re-introduce hitherto unblemished figures like Samwise and Aragorn as morally gray protagonists.

Of course, Payne and McKay may well have a plan to reconcile their more sympathetic orcs with the soulless killing machines introduced by both Tolkien and Jackson. The imminent arrival of Sauron, and with it the likelihood that he will be playing with orc genetics again soon, certainly presents ample narrative possibilities in this regard. Similarly, Adar and Galadriel are now perfectly positioned to offer contrasting views of orc evolution, if Payne and McKay are interested in showing this. It’s too early to say for sure that they are, but either way, the power rings The most important scene of episode 6 has changed the way we see Middle-earth forever.

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