We come to it, at last, the great Episode 8 of our time. The Rings of Power Season 1 comes to an end with this anticipated finale. When I say anticipated, I mean half of the viewers are excited to see how the Amazon show concludes its first round, while the other half seems eager to see if the showrunners fumble the final chapter.
I can’t say that I’m thrilled with how ROP has turned out — its sluggish pace, bland characters, and lack of action have made the viewing experience lackluster at best, despite my initial enjoyment of the first few episodes — but continue to hold onto hope that the powers that be will listen to criticisms and make improvements in future seasons. We’ll see.
We’ve got over an hour of an episode to get through, folks. So, let’s get to The Rings of Power: Episode 8, titled “Alloyed.”
What Happened in The Rings of Power Season 1 Finale
Our final episode opens on the Stranger walking through the Greenwood. He looks as homeless as ever but seems to cherish the apple Nori gave him in the previous episode. He continues to hear her voice, “You’re good,” she says. He tumbles down a hill, loses his apple, and bumps into the three creepy folks led by the Dweller. They think he’s Sauron because why not? Of course, there’s no way he’s Sauron.
Elsewhere, Galadriel transports Halbrand to the Elves (he needs medicine, my Lord), who is about as entertaining a traveler as my dad — the one true King is apparently passed out on his own horse.
Elrond tells Celebrimbor that the Dwarves told him to “f—* off.” Celebrimbor is like, “Maybe there is some small thing we can make out of this piece of mithril that will aid in our quest for immortality.” The 10 or 12 people who haven’t seen The Lord of the Rings lean forward in their seats.
Galadriel appears, stunning everyone. She rode for six days, we’re told, without rest. Halbrand is like, “Kill me now,” but the Elvish doctors do their thing anyway.
Elrond is like, “Sorry, I should’ve gone with you to the Light.” She’s like, “Whatevs. We’re good.”
Later, Halbrand, recovered from his wounds, explores Lindon. He bumps into Celebrimbor, kisses his ass for a few moments, and then gets down to business. “What are you building?”
“I wanted to make a little something,” Celebrimbor says, “but I don’t have enough of anything.”
Halbrand picks up the small shard of mithril and suggests using other ores to amplify this piece. I know what he’s talking about because I’ve played Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War where you find and craft objects all around Middle-earth. So, technically I’m smarter than Celebrimbor, one of the wisest Elves in existence.
Anyways, Celebrimbor is like, “Oh, I never thought of that,” and the scene ends with everyone wondering how the hell this man is so famous if he never thought to combine two ores before.
Meanwhile, back in Númenor — ugh! — Pharazôn orders his batch of apprentices, including Isildur’s sister what’s-her-face, to come up with a way to honor the dying King. They’ll each get an hour with the old man. Isildur’s sister decides to sketch a portrait but is stunned when the King suddenly reaches out and grabs her arm. He stumbles out of bed muttering nonsense, opens a secret door to his Palantír, and tells her to look inside. Not too long, mind you, but long enough to know what the hell is going on.
Back in Lindon, High King Gil-galad listens to Celebrimbor and Elrond’s proposal. Galadriel is here, too, for some reason. “One object for all of Middle-earth,” the King asks suspiciously.
“Yes,” Celebrimbor says, “it could be a sword, a plate, a cup, or a crown —”
“Why a crown, why not a fork or a knife,” the King asks.
“Because it’s circular, you twit, it would power up more!”
“And you would place all of that power on one person?” The King is obviously reluctant to jump into such a dangerous bit of hocus pocus. He tells Celebrimbor to get the flock out of there and head back to Lindon — wait, I thought we were in Lindon. Where the hell are we?
“This could give us power over flesh,” Celebrimbor states.
“Where did you hear that line,” Galadriel asks. “Halbrand?”
“Uh, er, no, I, uh, left the oven on.” Celebrimbor exits.
This scene is rendered pointless as Elrond convinces the High King to let them do the thing they want to do moments later.
Back in the great forge, Halbrand does his thing as Galadriel looks on suspiciously. She starts doing a little digging into Halbrand’s past. The King of the Southlands arrives, looking all chipper. “Working with the Elven-smiths of Eregion is cool,” he says.
Ah, so Eregion.
“Thanks, Galadriel,” he says. “You believed in me. I had all but given up, but you pushed me and made me believe again. I’ll never forget that.” He takes a step closer and the music gets all eerie. “And I’ll see to it no one else does either.”
She looks uncomfortable, a huge “I’ve made a huge mistake” frown splashed over her face.
Elsewhere, the Stranger converses with the three wise women. He’s still not sure who the hell they are, but they recognize his stars, which they state are located in the land of Rhûn. “There, you can kick ass, Sauron.”
He gets all dramatic and does some tricks with the wind. The Dweller knocks him out before he gets too out of control.
Nearby, our Harfoots hide in the brush. The three wise women sense their presence, tie the Stranger up to a tree and leave. Nori tries to untie her pal, but her mum stumbles upon the real Stranger lying in the forest. But that means —
Nori trembles as the Stranger tied to the tree attacks. The other two baddies show up and toss a knife at Sadoc. All hope is lost, but then the Stranger reemerges and presses X on his control pad to summon the wind. There’s some cool wizard-type action, the Harfoots toss rocks, and the Dweller tries to bring the whole forest down with fire. All hope is lost, but then Nori hands the Dweller’s staff to the Stranger and tells him to choose who he wants to be. He stands and uses the staff to vanquish the three wise women, who proclaim: “He’s not Sauron! He’s the other — Istar!”
(I don’t know what that means, but a quick Google search reveals that Istar means wizard. Ah.)
“No,” he replies. “I’m good.”
The three Harfoots tend to Sadoc. His wound is too great and he dies watching the sunrise.
That was actually a pretty great scene full of action, emotion, and spectacle. More of this, please.
Back on the Númenor ships, Elendil speaks with the blind Queen about his loss. It’s pretty dramatic and filled with the type of clunky dialogue that has marred this show from the beginning. Less of this, please.
They arrive at Númenor. Everyone heads to the top of the ship and pauses. “What,” the Queen asks. “What is it? What do you see? What doth your eyes tell you? What do your Elf eyes see? What is the matter? Why won’t anyone answer me? Is this a cruel joke? Goddammit, answer my questions —”
We finally see black flags draped all over the locale. The King is dead. Long live the King.
In Eregion, the forging isn’t going so well. The mithril is too strong. Celebrimbor is ready to murder everyone, but Galadriel and Elrond calm her the hell down. Halbrand suggests they’re using too much force. “The ores need to be coaxed together.”
Galadriel looks on suspiciously. A document arrives just in the nick of time, one that shows the true lineage of the Southlands. Halbrand looks suspiciously at Galadriel. Everyone is suspicious.
Later, Galadriel looks positively dejected after reading the document. Dammit, I really wanted her to be Sauron. Instead, we’re being told what we’ve known all along. Halbrand arrives all giddy … “We’re gonna make two things smaller than a crown,” he says like a schoolboy who desperately wants to make love to a forge.
“Who are you really,” she asks, tossing the document down. “There is no King of the Southlands. The line was broken over a thousand years ago.”
“I told you I found the necklace on a dead man,” he says.
Her brain short circuits. “You saved me on the raft.”
“You saved me,” Halbrand retorts.
“You convinced the Queen to attack —”
“No, you did.”
Galadriel takes a step back. “You fought beside me.”
“I fought with you against our common enemy.”
The music swells.
“Who are you, what is your name,” she asks.
“I have many names,” he says as a title card on the screen changes from Halbrand to Sauron. I joke, but I’m also shocked it didn’t happen. She lunges at him with a blade and Halbrand easily grabs her arm and thrusts her into the past.
She’s now in the first scene of the series with her bro, Finrod. He reveals that Sauron was seeking a power not to destroy Middle-earth, but to heal it.
“My brother is dead because of you,” she snaps.
We’re thrust onto another memory – the raft from Episode 2. “You are Morgoth’s buddy,” she tells Halbrand-on-raft.
He’s like, “You said my past didn’t matter! That we could have a future.”
The camera twists and we see a reflection of Galadriel standing next to Sauron in his armor.
“Everyone looks on you and doubts, but I can see your greatness,” he says.
For a moment, we think she might join him, but then we remember Lord of the Rings and realize that’s not gonna happen. He snaps at the news and we kinda see his true personage pop out — and then she’s underwater, stuck on the rope and drowning. Elrond wakes her — she’s like, “Shit, I made a huge mistake.”
Rather than tell him right then and there that Halbrand is Sauron, she runs to stop Celebrimbor to stop his forging. “No one talk to Halbrand. He’s kind of an evil dark Lord.” She convinces them that they need three rings.
“One will always corrupt,” she explains. “Two will divide. But with three, there is balance.”
Celebrimbor needs gold and silver from Valinor, i.e. her blade.
Meanwhile, the Stranger (who finally speaks like a normal ass person) sits with Nori and explains that Istar means wise one, or … (dramatic pause) wizard. He needs to go to Rhûn to figure out the rest of his Jason Bourne-like existence. She’s gonna stay behind until the next scene.
Later, the crazy woman who wanted to kill everyone a few episodes ago is now the de facto leader of the group. “Let’s go,” she says.
Nori’s pop hands her a backpack. “Go with that weird strange dude. I’m sure everything will be okay.” There’s a really long, drawn-out goodbye scene that goes on longer than the ending to Return of the King. Eventually, Nori meets up with the Stranger, who is basically revealed to be Gandalf because he says: “When in doubt, Nori, always follow your nose.”
Galadriel reluctantly hands over her blade, which melts and (when combined with mithril) allows them to forge three rings. There’s a neat shot of the mithril in the middle of the hot ore looking very much like the great Eye. As the work continues, Elrond heads outside to do some investigating. Something’s amiss. By the time he returns with her papers in tow, the three rings are completed. He knows the truth, she knows that he knows … and we cut to …
Sauron standing before Mount Doom, where he will presumably go and make his own Ring.
And the episode ends.
Final Thoughts on The Rings of Power Season 1
Okay, so that was Season 1. I actually thought that the final episode was cool. At least, good enough to keep me watching when Season 2 rolls around. We always knew what was going to happen, the key was keeping us invested until the not-so-big reveals. The showrunners hitched their wagon to the whole Sauron mystery box but didn’t do a good enough job hiding the truth. We’ve basically known Halbrand was Sauron all along, so the big unveiling predictably led me to shrug.
A better way to handle this might have been to knowingly let audiences in on the secret so we could watch as Halbrand manipulated Galadriel throughout the season.
There was the whole thing with the Stranger as well, which likewise resulted in a shrug because we knew he was Gandalf all from the moment he played with fire. So, essentially, we spent eight hours learning what we already knew … and didn’t really learn anything new about anything or anyone. Really, this whole season could have been done in one or two episodes with greater effect.
That said, maybe Season 2 will hit the ground running now that our characters are established. Maybe a humbled Galadriel will be more likable, maybe there will be more peril and action. The second season has already started filming, so it’s doubtful there was time to amend any of the material.
As for Season 1, I liked a lot of it. The Harfoots were mostly fun, even if their storyline didn’t really amount to anything extraordinary and moved at a snail’s pace; Galadriel and Halbrand made a formidable pair when they finally got to do something other than stand around; Elrond and Durin were fun, though their storyline seemed to go in circles. I’m still not sure what the point of Arondir, Bronwyn, and Theo was … in fact, they were absent from this episode and I didn’t even realize it until typing this sentence. Side characters were also a mixed bag. Adar was cool until he wasn’t, Elendil was all over the place, the Queen Regent was pretty bland, and Isildur never made much of an impression aside from being that guy who will one day chop off Sauron’s finger.
The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of action. Battles were teased early on and we got a brief skirmish, but nothing worth writing home about. After eight hours, you’d expect the show to build to something more substantial. Instead, this felt like the prequel to The Rings of Power, filled with unnecessary info that could have been explained in a sentence or two.
In short, there was nothing particularly memorable about this first season. However, these eight episodes set the stage for better adventures in the future.