Review: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ “Adar”

Lord of the Rings of Power Adar

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The two-episode premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video, was such a beautiful and epic return to the land of Middle-Earth. Leading up to the show’s arrival, I had tempered my expectations just in case this new chapter in the rich work of J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t measure up to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit trilogies. But not only did these first two episodes have scenery and visuals that blew my mind they also had a gripping story that captured my attention from the first moments. I was pleasantly surprised and incredibly hooked, impatiently waiting for my next fix of the fantasy series.

J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay built a vast world in  “A Shadow of the Past” which easily continued into “Adrift”. While these two episodes contained a significant amount of setup for not only this first season but for the entire show, the third episode spent significant time expanding on the lore. A mystery is afoot and Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is on the case, to prove to the greater Middle-earth that Sauron isn’t gone, not completely.

Rings of Power episode 3 titled “Adar” is written by Jason Cahill and Justin Doble, with Wayne Che Yip directing this one along with the next three episodes of The Rings of Power. Yip’s directing credits also include The Wheel of Time, Doctor Who, Preacher, and Misfits. So did the third episode keep up the epic tale and incredible pace of the first two episodes, or did it slow down faster than grandpa after Thanksgiving dinner? Let’s explore what The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power “Adar” had in store for audiences.

[Warning: Spoilers from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power “Adar” are below!]

A return of Númenor in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power “Adar”

Galadriel’s story picks back up as she and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) end up on a ship headed toward Númenor, a place Galadriel has heard of before. Captaining the ship is Elendil (Lloyd Owen), father to Isildur (Maxim Baldry), the same Isildur who is destined to remove Sauron’s One Ring from his hand. Elendil is breaking some major laws, bringing elves into Númenor. The capital city of Armenelos is a rich appearing city, where life is grand for everyone who lives there, however, the hatred of elves runs deep.

After seeking an appearance with the Queen Regent Tar-Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), Galadriel is denied passage back to Middle-earth, as no Númenórean is allowed to make that trek. Frustrated, Galadriel seeks a way to make the journey regardless and ends up gaining knowledge she did not know she needed. Taking her to the Hall of Lore, Elendil helps Galadriel to discover that the sigil she believed to belong to Sauron was instead a map of the Southlands of Middle-earth. A place that Sauron intends to turn into his own kingdom, the future home of Mordor.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Adar- Galadriel
Galadriel (Morfydd Clark). The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video).

There are two other side stories set within the grander story of Númenor. The first follows Isildur as he trains as a Númenor naval cadet. This story didn’t have much to it yet, but with time I’m sure we’ll dive much deeper into Isildur’s story considering how important his line is to the later Lord of the Rings story. The other one followed Halbrand as he attempts to get a job and start his new life on Númenor, however, he finds himself in more trouble than where he started. 

Nori and her stranger, and the Harfoots as a civilization

Audiences get a better look at the Harfoots, especially in the aspect of the larger population of them, as the group prepares for a migration. Alluded to in the first two episodes, the Harfoots are a scared and anxious group, worried about survival in a world of man, dwarves, and elves. The migration and the ceremony leading up to it point to that as well. This population can’t stay too long in one area, for fear of being discovered or hurt, which is why Nori’s (Markella Kavenagh) betrayal by keeping The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) close hits them so hard.

During the ceremony the night before the migration, which is a celebration and remembrance of fellow Harfoots who have died, The Stranger accidentally reveals himself to the crowd. This happens when he is examining a chart (which looked like a star chart) and became excited, causing the flames around him to swell impressively. Whomever this stranger is, he’s quite powerful and also not in control of his magic as of yet.

The Stranger’s accidental reveal causes some great issues for her and her family. By hiding and helping The Stranger, Nori broke a significant Harfoot rule which could have resulted in her removal from the tribe. However the leader gives her grace, allowing her and her family to remain with the tribe, however, must remain at the back of the caravan during the great migration. This demotion felt like a death sentence to her family, further cementing the anxious behavior of this group.

Arondir has some trouble with some Orcs in The Rings of Power “Adar”

Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) is enslaved at a work camp in the Southlands, ran by a troop of Orcs. During his time in the camp, he befriends fellow elves Médhor (Augustus Prew) and Revion (Simon Merrells).

There’s also a ton of drama during this storyline about a tree that the Orcs want removed, which felt somewhat silly compared to some of the other storylines in the episode. However, Arondir is still a pleasure to watch and the fight scene towards the end of the episode involving chains was one of my favorite parts.

Adar Orcs Lord of the Rings the rings of power
A still of an Orc from “Adar”. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video).

In the closing moments of the episode, we come to find out why the episode is titled “Adar”, as something by that name is summoned by the Orcs. Cue the slow walk of a large creature as the present Orcs chant his name, which sent chills down my spine.

The good and the bad of The Rings of Power episode 3

One of my favorite parts of this episode was how it expanded the lore even more than the first two. Prior to the announcement of The Rings of Power, I didn’t know much about the earlier ages of Middle-earth, however, research for an article about the Second Age’s rich history gave a great picture of what to expect.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would see Númenor this early in the first season and was pleasantly surprised when it was casually name-dropped. While plotting the full course ahead, it never felt like you needed prior knowledge about the island nation, but the show also didn’t dumb it down or over-explain the previous history of Middle-earth.

Arondir’s story doesn’t quite connect to the bigger picture and yet it’s one of the most exciting storylines in this show. Based on the action alone, the feats that he can pull off are simply extraordinary. I find myself looking forward to the scenes he’s in and hope that he continues to be a big player in the seasons ahead.

As well, the sets and design in this episode were top-notch. As the ship was brought into Númenor early in the episode, I felt like I couldn’t breathe from the sheer brilliance of what was on my screen. The Rings of Power continues to be breathtaking in almost every scene, which seems so different than the vast majority of current television and streaming shows.

A worry I have for the series already is the length of the show and the story they are hoping to tell. Next week we’ll be at the halfway point of season one and it feels like the story has barely begun. Amazon’s Prime Video has made a five-season commitment for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, but I struggle to see how this sprawling tale can reach a natural conclusion in the frame given to it. But perhaps we’ll have a better picture of that by the end of the season.

Final thoughts on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power “Adar”

This episode was just as good if not better than the first two, as the mystery of Middle-earth’s Second Age continues to heat up. My excitement for the show continues to grow with each episode, as those behind The Rings of Power have created something special.

This series seems more casual fan friendly, with the lore it’s exploring laid out differently and is much easier to understand. One of the best parts as well is that I have no idea what to expect next, so every episode is a surprise, every shock is truly shocking. I cannot wait for next Friday to see what The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has in store for us.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power “Adar” is currently on Prime Video, with new episodes dropping every Friday. Have you watched it yet? What are your thoughts on the third episode? Let us know over on social media! And if you haven’t already, check out our review on the first two episodes of this brilliant series.

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