‘The Rings Of Power’ Season 1, Episode 7 Review: Volcano Proof

I can understand how an immortal elven badass like Galadriel might survive the pyroclastic flow of a Mount Doom explosion. I’m a little more hard-pressed to understand how everyone else survived last week’s volcanic blast. Spoilers obviously.

Most of the Southlanders survived. So did virtually every Númenorean other than Isildur’s affable friend, Smiley. Scowly, unfortunately, survived. So did Berek, Isildur’s willful horse, and Elendil, Isildur’s horse-whispering dad.

Isildur was left for dead after the explosion, and two groups set out from Tir-Harad—or, rather, its smoking ruins—to find safety in the Númenorean camp that they never bothered to show us last week. It appears that Númenor has a skill that Amazon is most adept at: Packaging a lot of stuff into a little space—riders, horses, tents, furniture, healing supplies, food, servants, very small rocks, barrels of oil.

In any case, let’s start here, in the Southlands (or whatever Adar will end up naming this blighted place, gee what could it be?) with Galadriel and Theo, now fast friends in a perilous apocalypse of ash and fire.

Here’s my video review of this episode:

The Survivors

Only Isildur’s affable friend was killed in the Rube Goldberg machine Mount Doom blast. Somehow, everyone else survived virtually unscathed. Some extras were wounded, Miriel was somehow blinded, and Halbrand received such a nasty wound that it requires “elvish healing”—which is more fun if you consider it innuendo.

This makes sense now that we know that Celeborn is dead in this version of The Lord Of The Rings. Galadriel reveals the tragic loss of her husband in the war against Morgoth to Theo as the two scurry across the apocalyptic wasteland together. Galadriel recounts Celeborn finding her dancing—You dancing? Theo scoffs—and how she chided him for his ill-fitting armor before he went to war. “That was the last time I saw him,” she says. With such a crunched up timeline it’s hard to say how long ago that would have been. The end of the First Age. A long time ago.

Either way, Galadriel is a widow in this version despite Celeborn being very much alive in The Lord Of The Rings when Frodo and his companions arrive in Lothlorien. I suspect that Celeborn is not, in fact, dead and that the show will bring him back at some crucial moment. I am concerned that they’re setting up an awkward love triangle between Galadriel, Halbrand and Celeborn (with Halbrand as Sauron, trying to reform, but ultimately turning to the dark side when Galadriel spurns him).

They make it to a camp that the Númenoreans apparently setup offscreen, presumably when they first arrived in the Southlands.

Galadriel and Theo reach the camp, where we find all the servants and cooks and so forth that were missing last week. I’m curious how they fit this many people, tents, tables, chairs, and horses on those three ships they sailed from Númenor. Not to belabor the point, but come on.

Miriel now wears a blindfold. Galadriel greets her and Elendil and acts very sorry for the whole thing. Elendil is angry and bitter and urges Miriel to hurry and leave. Miriel feels Galdriel’s face as though she’s been blind her whole life.

“Do not spare your pity on me, elf,” she says. “Save it for our enemies for they do not know what they’ve begun.”

Miriel vows that Númenor will return to face the enemy again. “Then the elves will be ready,” Galadriel says. Miriel says they sail with the tide, despite having wounded with missing legs who clearly would never make the 1,800 mile voyage alive.

The Númenoreans basically stayed for a single fight and are now sailing all the way back.

Meanwhile, Elendil is a bit of a mess. “Please, Berek, please,” he tells Isildur’s horse, who doesn’t seem happy now that they’ve made it to camp, but the horse won’t listen. He still wants to exact revenge on Isildur for throwing that apple in the sea. So they let him go and he rides back into the woods. Elendil, distraught over his son’s “death” says “I should never have brought the elf onboard. I should have left her in the sea where I found her.”

Galadriel learns that Halbrand is badly wounded and rushes to his side. “I thought you’d died,” she tells him. “Better if I had done,” he replies. Galadriel seems very concerned with Halbrand, almost like she’s been celibate ever since Celeborn died in the First Age.

“I will not condemn these lands to burn,” Halbrand tells her. They walk from the tent, presumably to head back to Lindon for “elvish healing” and the amassed villagers chant “Strength to the king!” despite none of them knowing they even had a king a week ago.

“I thought we were an autonomous collective,” one filth-digger says.

“Strength to the Southlands!” Theo chants, waving the elvish blade that Galadriel gives him, clearly not recalling how badly things went the last time the kid had a sword.

The Harfoot Blues

Not too far off we come find the Harfoots, dismayed when they reach their bountiful promised land only to discover that a lava rock has burned it all up. The elder Sadoc Burrows says he’s heard stories of mountains exploding when “a great evil” returns. I guess this works as a Harfoot superstition but it’s just another chunk of fantasy gobbledygook that makes this episode feel more like melodrama than anything (more on that when we visit Durin).

Burrows asks the Stranger to heal the burned area and the wizard gives it a shot but hasn’t learned how to do magic without it seeming really scary. A branch on one of the burned trees breaks and almost lands on a Harfoot child. Between that and his scary incantation, the Harfoots reach their limit. No matter that he saved them from wolves recently. “Nobody walks alone” unless you do anything even remotely offensive and then you’re out for good. They kick the Stranger out, sending him off to fend for himself in this strange and perilous land.

The next morning, the burnt landscape has been replaced with growing things, lush vegetation and fruit-filled trees. Everyone is very happy and excited but amidst this excitement nobody thinks to go after the Stranger and welcome him back and beg for forgiveness. The Harfoots are selfish and cruel, it would seem.

Then these three witches show up:

It’s weird. Looking at this picture I realize how little I noticed the other two witches while watching these scenes. Only the middle witch is at all distinct or frightening. The others are bland enough to just recede into the background.

The witches arrive and Nori tries to throw them off the Stranger’s scent. When they teleport behind her, Nori’s father Largo rushes up, waving his torch in defiance. The head witch reaches down and extinguishes his torch with her bare hand. She clutches the sparks in her fist and then blows them out into the night, erupting the Harfoot caravan in flame.

The Harfoots are on a bit of a rollercoaster here, finding their destination burnt to the ground, having it miraculously restored, only to have everything up in flame again.

The next morning, Largo makes a speech about the values of the Harfoots. “We don’t slay dragons. Not much for digging jewels. But there’s one thing we can do better than any creature in Middle-earth. We stay true to each other no matter how the path winds or how steep it gets. We face it with our hearts even bigger than our feet. And we just keep walking.”

As admonishment of the bad Harfoot custom of leaving people behind, this is very good. If it’s a description of how the Harfoots are, however, it’s a downright lie. No other culture in Middle-earth, including the orcs, is as harsh to their own as these little people.

Nori, motivated by her father’s speech, says she’s going to find her friend, to warn him what’s coming. “We’ve left enough folk behind, we aren’t leaving him,” Poppy says, joining the expedition. Marigold joins the group as well and Malva convinces Burrows to lead them. Perhaps we’ll finally get a proper adventure in this show, though I’m not holding my breath.

The Sins Of The Father

I’ve really grown to dislike what was, at one point, my favorite of this show’s storylines. I’m convinced that the showrunners changed Durin (who was always the same Durin reincarnated for each of his separate stints as king) into two characters just so they could create more baffling conflict. This show’s writers love to make characters argue all the time. There were almost no scenes between Elendil and Isildur this season that didn’t amount to squabbling. So it is with Durin Jr. and Durin Sr.

Durin IV, the king, is a really terrible dwarf. Because of the enormity of the changes to mithril, which is now proven to actually save elven things from whatever rot has infected them as evidenced by the leaf in this episode, the entire elven people will either die or have to flee to Valinor in order to survive if they don’t get their hands on mithril by the coming spring. Note that none of this is even remotely true to the source material, but the show’s creators have invented it in order to create tension and urgency. It doesn’t work in the slightest, but that’s clearly the intent.

Durin IV doesn’t care about the plight of the elves. Not even a little. He tells Elrond to go pound dirt and, when Durin pushes back and ultimately tries to dig for the ore behind his father’s back, essentially disinherits his son. Argue and bicker, argue and bicker. When characters in this show aren’t regaling one another with stilted exposition, we get arguing and bickering.

“You profane the crown you wear,” During yells at his father, who takes it badly, and tears his son’s crest from his neck, casting it to the ground. When During goes to pick it up, his father says “Leave it. It’s not yours anymore.” None of this feels much like Lord of the Rings to me, but I suppose we’ve already jumped the shark so what does it matter?

Disa tells her husband that his dad is a royal prick and that someday, all of this will be theirs to rule. “That mithril belongs to us,” she says, “And one day we are going to dig.

The odd thing about all of this is it appears Durin simply had to dig through one last stone wall in order to reveal the mithril. He’s able to do this all by himself. It’s kind of silly when you think about it. We know, of course, that a balrog is down there—they reveal it when Durin IV throws the leaf through the hole and tells his people to seal it up—but they don’t. There’s no real reason given for Durin IV’s reluctance and refusal to mine the ore, especially when it’s right there.

Elrond is thrown out of Khazad-dûm but has the small piece of mithril with him still. I suppose we’ll see it used to forge the rings—if The Rings Of Power ever gets to the ring business.

The Mithril plot is so bad in part because it makes the dwarves cruel. It also just feels deeply melodramatic to the point of being downright maudlin. I like Durin, and the scene about Elrond only being winded during their rock-breaking contest was great, but the amount of crying and blubbering he does in this episode is absurd, especially since we know the elves are going to be just fine (for now) and that all of this is just contrived to add conflict and a false sense of tension.

Where The Shadows Lie

Still in the red mist of the volcano, Adar walks amongst his men and orcs. “Hail Adar, lord of the Southlands!” Waldreg hollers, having globbed onto the dark elf and become his #1 lackey. The orcs chant along with him. Lots of chanting this episode.

“No, that is a name of a place that no longer exists,” Adar says. “What shall we call it instead, m’lord?”

Adar stares off at the fiery volcano in the distance, spewing smoke, but doesn’t answer.

Oh my gosh, what will they call it? Hodor? Dumbledore? Butterbur? We’ll have to wait to find out!

All told, another pretty terrible episode of The Rings Of Power. Killing off Celeborn—especially since it has to be a head-fake—is so utterly ridiculous I’m not sure I can fit my disdain for this “creative decision” into this post. I may have to write a second one just so I can give it room to breathe.

The Melodrama In The Mines storyline is really, really stupid also and continues to create unpleasant conflict between characters that simply has no place in this story. Mithril was traded from dwarves to elves for centuries. It was also found elsewhere, including the Southlands and Númenor.

I’m confused that the Númenoreans already have Pelargir founded in Middle-earth. The crunching down of the timelines means we have no bearing on when anything really is, but the impression I got was that the island realm hadn’t really done much in Middle-earth yet, but they actually have a major port city already set up, which is where Queen Bronwyn The Brave is headed next. Perhaps they’re going to drop off the sick and wounded there instead of consigning them to an 1,800 mile sea voyage.

This all speaks to the shoddy worldbuilding in this series, that’s partly so bad because of the timeline issues and partly because we never really get a sense of scale or distance.

Of the storylines, only the Harfoots was tolerable this week, but I’ve soured so much on the little folk and their cruel customs that I find myself not really caring about their fate, which is a real shame. The Stranger is a really fascinating character, but the show seems determined to keep him in a sort of stasis and drag out his mystery as long as possible.

All told, another example of just how badly Amazon has spent its money, taking a huge gamble on untested showrunners who had literally no IMDB credits before making this show. What a disaster.

Let me know what you think Twitter or Facebook or in the comments of my YouTube review. Thanks for reading!


I just saw that they had The Southlands change to Mordor in that final scene—the actual words, on the screen, spelling it out for us like we’re idiot children. I think I missed this originally because I thought it was just credits and was quickly turning it off to save what little sanity I had left.

Wow. I have no words. Who thought this was a good idea? How do they have a job?

Are you friggin kidding me???

Previous Reviews And Commentary:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2022/10/07/the-rings-of-power-season-1-episode-7-review-volcano-proof/ ‘The Rings Of Power’ Season 1, Episode 7 Review: Volcano Proof

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