The following contains spoilers for Episode 5 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Proceed accordingly.
In this week’s episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, we learned that Prince Durin IV is not one to be messed with.
Dining with the High King Gil-galad, Elrond, and Celebrimbor in Lindon, the dwarf was well prepared for Gil-galad’s shady inquiry about why the dwarves were burning so many fires in Khazad-dûm. Durin responded with a question of his own: Why were the elves growing their cities and shipping off their soldiers so rapidly?
And just to make things even more uncomfortable, he then solemnly asked where the High King obtained the table they were currently eating at, which was made of a sacred stone typically used for monuments and tombs to honor the dead. Gil-galad quickly apologized and assured that he would return it to the dwarves.
Durin later confessed to Elrond that he was lying about the table. He knew Disa wanted a new table, and he found a clever way to get her one. Accusing an elven leader of sacrilege in his own house and then getting free furniture out of it? Brilliant.
GIL-GALAD’S TRUE INTENTIONS | In a private conversation with Elrond, Gil-galad pressed the young herald about whether the dwarves found the ore he sought. Elrond refused to answer that, clinging to the oath he swore to Durin — that he would never tell a soul what he saw in the mines.
That didn’t stop Gil-galad from pushing one last time, also revealing why mithril was important to the elves. According to legend, an elven warrior fought a Balrog in front of a tree. Lighting struck the tree, and the power from their conflict seeped from the roots into the mountain and into the ore containing the light of the lost Silmaril.
Why the silmarils matter: The three prized jewels were crafted by the elves and contained some of the essence of their sacred Two Trees of Valinor (the silver and gold trees that provided light for the Valar until it was made into the sun and the moon). One was tossed to the sky, one was tossed into the sea, and the last was lost somewhere on land.
Gil-galad interpreted his rotting tree as a sign that the light of the Eldar, the thing that gives the elves life, was fading. The only way to save their race was to obtain massive amounts of mithril, hoping that the unwavering light from that ore would be their salvation.
This left Elrond with two difficult choices: break his oath to Durin and betray his friend, or save his people from extinction. But the good-hearted elf found another way. He came clean to Durin about why the elves needed mithril, and Durin agreed to try and convince his father to help them.
SOMETHING STRANGE ABOUT THE STRANGER… | With the caravan all packed up, it was time for the Harfoots (and the Stranger) to move on to their next location. Traveling through places like the Grey Marshes and Thistledel, they wound up in eerie woods that were uncharacteristically barren. Meanwhile, a sinister figure in a white robe — one of Sauron’s henchmen? — was suspiciously interested in the crater the Stranger left when he crash-landed in Episode 1. Are they being tracked?
The Stranger still doesn’t remember who he is, but he began displaying more powers. When Poppy and Nori were attacked by wolves, he delivered a strong punch to the ground and the rippling magic sent the beasts skittering away. Later, as he soaked his bruised hand in a pond, he froze the water — along with Nori’s hand — and sent her flying. The outburst terrified Nori, and she ran away.
TROUBLE BREWING IN NÚMENOR | Queen Regent Míriel is sending five ships with 500 soldiers to Middle-earth to help in the fight against Sauron in the Southlands. Kemen tried to talk his father Pharazôn out of it, but Pharazôn had his own reasons for backing the expedition. He believed that the Númenóreans would reap the benefits of helping the men of Middle-earth rise up, including new trade avenues and great real estate prospects. There was no way he was stopping this.
Taking matters into his own hands, Kemen snuck onto a ship and tried to burn it down. He was caught by Isildur, who stowed away after his father Elendil denied his request to join the expedition. The ship exploded anyway, and the unlikely pair covered it up as an accident to avoid getting in trouble. Isildur’s heroic act of saving Kemen from the explosion earned him a coveted spot on one of the ships departing for Middle-earth. His excitement was cut short, however, when he realized Elendil made him a stableboy. This kid can’t win.
Still, the ships carrying Míriel, Galadriel, Halbrand (who changed his mind about going), and the others finally set sail.
WHO IS HALBRAND, REALLY? | Maybe Halbrand isn’t Sauron after all. When Galadriel implored him to join her in the fight against the Dark Lord, he again pushed back. “You don’t know what I did before I ended up on that raft. You don’t know how I survived, how we all survived,” he told her. “And when these people [the Númenóreans] discover it, they will cast me out. So will you.”
We then jumped to what felt like a flashback in which the creepy barkeep Waldrick pledged his loyalty to Adar, whom he believed to be Sauron. Adar didn’t confirm or deny it, and instead challenged the barkeep to prove his fealty by killing Theo’s friend. The scene ended before we could see if he followed through, so the kid’s fate remained unclear.
My theory: Halbrand is either Theo’s buddy, or a grown-up Theo who survived Adar’s impending attack on the watchtower. At the end of the episode, we saw Adar and his forces marching toward the stronghold, ready to follow up on his promise to punish those who refused to align with Sauron.
WHAT’S UP WITH THEO’S SWORD? | Waldrick called the hilt a “power fashioned for our ancestors” by Morgoth, and it looks like there’s more to the story. Theo showed it to Arondir, and the Silvan elf immediately recognized it. It wasn’t a sword, but rather a key. To what, though, remained unclear.