Episode 5 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings Of Power finally takes advantage of its rich worldbuilding and poetic storytelling with the show’s best episode to date.
It’s no secret that The Lord of the Rings:The Rings of Power has been stalling pretty painfully for the past few weeks, consistently unable to reach the memorable highs of that first episode. The storylines have been messy and unengaging, the characters haven’t had enough time to shine, and the overall narrative has been sidelined for a series of unimportant sidequests that weren’t developed enough to justify their own existence. Last week’s episode offered a glimpse at redemption as it put all the pieces in place for a seamless transition into the second half of the series, and Lord of the Rings fans will be glad to know that Episode 5 fully takes advantage of the show’s massive potential and completely outshines every other episode up to this point. Alongside the grand-scale storytelling that fans have been waiting for, Episode 5 also boasts a plethora of unforgettable set pieces and truly engaging character interactions that almost justify the painfully slow pacing up to this point.
Last week’s episode, whilst undeniably messy and lacking structure, ensured that all the pieces were in place for Episode 5 to throw the audience straight into the action without wasting a single second of time. The mysterious Adar’s (Joseph Mawle) dark influence is spreading throughout Middle-Earth, and as Numenor prepares for the greatest conflict in its rich history, the orcs ready themselves for a brutal conquest into the Southlands. This week’s episode, ‘Partings,’ ditches the slow pace of the season’s first half and replaces it with a thrilling intensity that immediately raises the stakes and sets the scene for what’s bound to be an explosive few episodes, with the tides of war encroaching and the personal conflicts of many central characters reaching a boiling point.
And it’s not just the storylines that are infinitely more engaging this week, but the entire range of characters too. The growing conflict between Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) drives much of this episode’s narrative, and they’re both so much more interesting to watch than they have been previously – their contrasting beliefs are expertly written so that audiences can understand and empathize with both of them equally, unafraid to expose their moral flaws and blemishes. Elrond also returns to the forefront of the story after taking a brief hiatus from the spotlight, reminding audiences that Robert Aramayo is one of the series’ boldest talents, as his character battles with a dark conflict that reframes everything we thought we knew about his story up to this point.
But the real star of ‘Partings’ is one of the show’s newest additions, Joseph Mawle as the dark and cryptic warmonger Adar. He perfectly fills the position as the show’s main villain (so far), bringing a real sense of danger and urgency that the first half of the series was severely missing. This week’s episode sees all of these distinct storylines begin to merge as the show’s heroes are all united in their quest to extinguish the dark forces that threaten Middle-Earth – even if they don’t know it yet.
But that doesn’t mean that ‘Partings’ is completely without weaknesses – it still suffers from way too many characters and subplots, and the transitions between these can often kill the momentum that the show works so hard to build. For example, episode 5 spends a fair amount of time with the Harfoots – but nothing actually happens to push the story forward, and their position has barely changed by the end of the episode. The mystery surrounding the true identity of The Stranger is enough to keep their journey interesting for now, but it could quickly grow tiring if the pace doesn’t pick up.
But ultimately, Episode 5 of The Rings of Power is a huge improvement over the previous few. It returns to the dark intensity and majestic grandeur that Lord of the Rings is known for, without sacrificing any of the rich character work that the previous episodes have worked so tirelessly to build. It marks a fantastic transition into the second half of the series, and if the remaining three episodes manage to maintain the excitement and intrigue that ‘Partings’ displayed, The Rings of Power could easily redeem itself from the rough patch that it started out in.
Episode 5 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is now available to watch on Prime Video.