The Rings of Power has returned, and this time, it’s looking toward the future. Unlike last week’s action-packed entry, this week’s episode – The Great Wave – is focused mainly on setting up arcs that will hopefully pay off later in the season. Galadriel and Elrond anchor two very solid plotlines in wildly differing locations, while Arondir comes face-to-face with a new threat and reconvenes with cohorts in trouble. It’s another wonderous journey into the depths of Middle-earth, supported heavily by more incredible visuals and some truly powerful acting. Like previous installments, the episode leaves the viewer wanting for more, and continues to open doors without closing them on the way out. Luckily for fans, it doesn’t look like The Rings of Power is going to run out of steam anytime soon.
Much of The Great Wave plays out with a sense of foreboding. The episode’s title is literally taken from the visions had by Cynthia Addai-Robinson‘s Queen Regent Míriel, of Númenor’s disastrous fate. The great City of Men, she sees, is destined to be consumed by a great wave and sunk beneath the ocean, if the Queen Regent does not remove Morfydd Clark‘s Galadriel from the island post-haste. This opening scenario sets the tone for the whole shebang, as viewers begin to see similar vibes present in the other two major plotlines happening concurrently. In Khazad-dûm, Robert Aramayo‘s Elrond seeks to continue the bonding process with his old pal, Owain Arthur‘s Dwarven Prince Durin IV, but no matter how chummy they’re able to get, the idea of something more in the works keeps both of them on edge. Rounding out the episode, Ismael Cruz Córdova‘s Arondir is allowed to escape his captivity by Adar himself, but only under the condition he deliver a special message to the human survivors not far from danger.
The titular “Great Wave” quickly becomes a metaphor for the paranoia spreading throughout all corners of Middle-earth. All characters are beginning to find themselves afraid of something. That fear, and the anxiety and greed that come with it, are the fuel that keeps The Rings of Power‘s fourth episode ticking. In a fun change of pace, the Lord of the Rings universe is allowed to feel more like a political thriller than a fantasy epic. Granted, it does still look and sound like a fantasy epic. In fact, this episode contains one of the most bone-chilling sequences of the series thus far, with Sophia Nomvete‘s Disa belting a gorgeously haunting musical number as the Dwarves perform an ancient prayer. It’s the show’s ability to switch so effortlessly between moments of grace and terror that keep it so refreshing week in and week out. On an added note – the grand reveal of Adar, an Elven-looking man portrayed by Joseph Mawle, was also expertly done. The flipping of expectations as to how Adar would appear was a wonderful surprise, and one that instantly makes the villain more intriguing.
If there was to be any concern around The Rings of Power, it would have to be for its pacing. Of course, the Lord of the Rings franchise is not exactly known for its swift storytelling, but one has to wonder how long The Rings of Power will wait before it begins answering any of the multiple questions it’s lobbed into the air. It’s not a problem at the moment, but another episode or two of set up without pay off could lead to some viewers starting to tune out. For now, though, the series remains stellar, and viewers remain excited to see new batches of orcs show up on their screens every week.