Morfydd Clark stands solemnly by a gorgeous river, glaring at an open scroll. Her character, Galadriel, has just realized she’s made a horrible mistake. Always so surefooted, the Elven warrior exudes a guttural disbelief. It’s something so shocking that the audience feels it too, their insides twisting with hers as the literal face of evil steps from around the corner. There begins a sequence with enough impact, it may stand as one of the best scenes television has offered this year. In Alloyed, its season finale, The Rings of Power comes full circle and demands to be lauded. It’s a cerebral thrill ride from beginning to end, one designed for faithful fans of the franchise and newcomers alike.
Alloyed plays like an emotional game of 3D chess. There are quite a few players on the board, and each one of them is wildly clever. Every time one thinks they might know what’s going to happen next, a different character unveils their hidden scheme and throws the rest of it out of whack. It makes for an insanely entertaining hour, especially for those watching without the aid of knowing extensive lore. Even if one does view the finale with years of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s works under their belt, however, they’ll likely be surprised and delighted by what the finale does with established moments in Lord of the Rings history. Alloyed takes a myriad of concepts and plotlines and spins them together until they’re fit for live-action storytelling. It’s impressively cinematic, and in the end, pretty gosh darn satisfying.
The performances in the episode are what really bring it all to the next level. As mentioned, Clark has been a revelation all season. The nuance she brings to Galadriel has elevated the character far beyond what fans saw in Peter Jackson‘s film trilogy, and every ounce of energy she’s put into her role is on full display here. Lloyd Owen and Cynthia Addai-Robinson, too, put their best foot forward in a memorable scene as Elendil and the Queen Regent Míriel. Standing together in the belly of their ship, the two actors share a moment so genuine it threatens to become more powerful than all of Middle-earth’s mithril combined. Something similar could be said about Markella Kavenagh‘s little Harfoot, Nori, and Daniel Weyman‘s giant Stranger, who finally get some answers and set the show on a path toward its second season.
Really, the finale’s greatest achievement is the way it’s able to move The Rings of Power forward. As wonderful of a season as it’s been, the many mysteries surrounding it’s characters and locations often left episodes running in circles and biding their time for eventual payoff. Alloyed is that payoff, and it’s executed beautifully. Now, with true allegiances revealed and a world beginning to take shape, there’s a clear map drawn for what comes next. With everything going on the past few weeks, pacing hasn’t been as much of an issue as it once was, but the seeming promise of Alloyed is that it’s all full steam ahead from this point on. Hopefully, that means the second season will be even more anticipated than the first. Either way, it has one heck of an episode to jump off from.