– Episode 7 (of 8), ‘The Eye’
– Written by Jason Cahill
– Directed by Charlotte Brändström
Full spoilers follow for The Rings of Power episode 7.
Fire will reign. It’s a small but significant piece of promotional material that’s been used for HBO’s House of the Dragon. But, with The Rings of Power episode 7 – titled “The Eye” – dealing with the fiery fallout from the Prime Video show‘s sixth installment, it feels apt to borrow it. For one week, anyway.
Understandably, the latest episode in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings isn’t as high octane or shockingly climactic as its predecessor. However, The Eye is as dramatically tense, if not more so, than episode 6 – aka Udûn – was. It’s a captivating entry that sows the seeds to set up a potentially grand season 1 finale, with events in the show’s three main narratives seemingly coming to a head.
Although, with the Khazad-dûm and Harfoot storylines reintroduced after a week off, episode 7 finds the high fantasy series falling back into old, superfluous habits. That being that some plots are just simply less thrilling or currently important than others.
Expectedly, episode 7 begins in the immediate aftermath of episode 6’s explosive ending.
It’s an eerie and dread-induced opening, with a dazed and traumatized Galadriel taking in the horrors around her following Mount Doom’s eruption. The charred remains of Númenorean warriors and Southlands citizens, destroyed buildings, and ash litter the landscape. For someone who played some part in how this cataclysmic event unfolded – it’s Galadriel’s unwavering determination and stubbornness to track down Sauron that part fuelled it – the scene of devastation is sure to have a major impact on the elven warrior.
But there’s no time to mourn the dead or deal with the repercussions of her actions now. Running into a stunned Theo, Galadriel leads him through the chaos swirling around them. A deliberately slow moving camera shot – director Charlotte Brändström’s expert cinematic eye is on full show in this opening sequence – conveys the level of catastrophe in excruciating detail.
Amid the destruction, there’s also a sense of deep, personal loss, too. A reunion between Isildur and Queen Regent Míriel, who work together to rescue Valandil from under a collapsed wall, is quickly punctuated by the revelation that Ontamo – Isildur and Valandil’s friend – has perished. It’s a devastating moment, with Maxim Baldry’s dejection delivering a powerful summation of what we’re witnessing in real time.
Like Galadriel, though, there’s no time to grieve. Civilians are trapped in a nearby burning building, so the trio work together to rescue them – but at a great cost. Míriel’s face is burned by embers, while Isildur is seemingly crushed when the building collapses around him.
Like episode 6’s death fake out with Bronwyn, though, Isildur’s apparent killing isn’t as impactful as it should be, given the role he plays in Middle-earth’s future down the line. Still, it’s heartbreaking to see Míriel and Valandil deliver the news to Elendil later on, even if we don’t actually see the pair utter the words of Isildur’s alleged death.
And still the misfortune continues. As we soon learn, the embers that burned Míriel’s face have actually blinded her; a moment that makes Míriel’s “I see” comment hit particularly hard when the discovery is made.
Meanwhile, Galadriel and Theo’s rendezvous allows The Rings of Power to show how much the hot-headed elf has grown in her season 1 journey. She convinces a furious and spontaneous-thinking Theo not to engage in a suicidal mission to try and save his homeland. It’s a scene that allows Theo to act as a mirror to the naive Galadriel we met in the series’ premiere, a moment that puts her character development on full display.
Subsequent scenes between the pair perform a similarly admirable job, with the duo engaging in a heartening conversation later that night as they hide from an orc scouting party. The latter part of this sequence also feels heavily inspired by The Fellowship of the Ring movie scene where the Hobbits hide from the Ringwraiths.
It’s the satisfyingly intimate chat between Galadriel and Theo, though, that takes center stage here. Well, until Galadriel drops a huge bombshell where casual Lord of the Rings fans are concerned. She didn’t just lose Finrod to the orcs – she also lost her husband Celeborn. That’s what she thinks anyway *hint hint*.
The pair make it to the Númenorean camp where, movingly, Theo reunites with Bronwyn and Arondir. A guilt-riddled Galadriel reconnects with a faith-stricken Elendil and blindfolded Míriel, the latter of whom defiantly vows Númenor will return to fight Sauron’s forces once they’ve rested up at home. Her decision is like a dagger to Elendil’s heart who, wracked by grief over Isildur’s death – his horse Berick is surely going to find and rescue Isildur following his release – feels betrayed by his queen and Galadriel.
As the Númenoreans set sail for home, Bronwyn makes another fascinating revelation. The Southlanders plan to resettle in an old Númenorean colony on the great river Anduin called Pelargir. Interestingly, Pelargir becomes Gondor’s main harbor after its founding in 2350 of the Second Age; a city built as a haven of the Faithful – i.e. those Númenoreans who remain loyal to the Valar and, by extension, the elves. Not a bad bit of Middle-earth lore tie-in, eh?
The Eye’s final reveal comes in the form of Halbrand, who survived Mount Doom’s eruption. However, as Galadriel (and we) soon find out, he’s been severely injured and only elvish medicine can cure his wounds. Despite being in no condition to go anywhere, Galadriel elects to bring him with her to Lindon, where he can treated – and where she’ll likely incur the wrath of High King Gil-galad. Prepare for some intense elven scenes in episode 8, then.
Going on another adventure
Away from the Southlands, it seems that the Harfoots’ storyline will bring so much needed levity to the show’s seventh episode.
Except it doesn’t. Cresting a hill as they reach the Harfoots’ favorite grove, a shocked Nori and Poppy look down upon a torched landscape. Volcanic rocks from Mount Doom’s eruption have rained down and destroyed the trees they rely on, meaning the harvest won’t be so great this time around.
But Sadoc Burrows has a plan. He asks the Stranger to use his powers to revive one of the apple trees so the Harfoots have something to store away for the winter. The Stranger obliges but, when his trance-like abilities almost get Nori and her younger sister killed by a falling tree branch, the Harfoots quickly round on him.
It’s a frustrating move from a narrative perspective. Sure, we need reminding of the threat the Stranger poses to the Harfoots, but it’s one we’ve seen a few times now. Equally, it was Sadoc’s request that persuaded the naive Stranger to help them – a move that almost gets Nori and her sister killed. Shouldn’t the Harfoots be taking their anger out on Sadoc instead?
Anyway, a decision to part ways with the Stranger is made. It’s a wrench to watch, particularly after Sadoc and Nori gift him the star map and an apple for the journey.
But hope springs eternal. Waking the next morning, Nori sees the Stranger’s spell has worked, with the Harfoots harvesting apples, and other fruit and vegetables, for their next migration.
Or so it seems. Fetching some water from a nearby stream, Poppy spots a giant footprint in the riverbank: the Mystics, the three-strong party comprising The Dweller, The Nomad, and The The Ascetic, have caught up with the Harfoots and, as night falls, they search for the Stranger’s whereabouts.
Nori tries to throw them off the trail but, as the Mystics demonstrate, their unholy supernatural abilities – they torch the Harfoots’ caravans, after all – show how menacing they are. As long as the Stranger doesn’t defeat them in the season 1 finale, the Mystics are primed to be major antagonists in season 2.
Despondent over how her actions continue to put the Harfoots in harm’s way, Nori sulks while the others pick up the pieces. Largo, though, snaps her and the Harfoots out of their self-pitying stupor with an optimism-laden speech; a small but significant address that results in Nori vowing to search for the Stranger and warn him about the Mystics. But she won’t be alone – Poppy and, in a really touching move, Nori’s mom Goldie decide to join her. Oh, and Sadoc, whose arm is twisted into leading them as he’s the only one with the off-trail knowledge to do so. It’s a rare but no less pleasing bit of hope after what amounts to a pretty misery-laden episode overall.
Over in Khazad-dûm, things are looking just as bleak for the elves and dwarves.
Elrond and Durin unsuccessfully convince Durin’s father (and Khazad-dûm’s king) to reopen the mithril mines to excavate the shiny ore in order to save the elves. A tense back and forth between the two Durins follows, with King Durin even going so far as to provide some telling foreshadowing to Khazad-dûm’s eventual downfall. It’s a nice, lore-specific reference that signals where the kingdom’s future lies post-Second Age.
A downcast Durin delivers the bad news to Elrond, leading into a deeply poignant scene where the pair’s faces say more than most words could. Robert Aramayo and Owain Arthur have brought plenty of sentimental gravitas to The Rings of Power throughout its first season, but this scenario dials that up to 11. Arthur, in particular, is an emotional powerhouse here – and in a later scene – with a performance that truly tugs at the heartstrings.
Inconsolable, Durin throws the piece of mithril, which he gifted to Elrond and is returned by the elf before his departure, towards the dying Lindon leaf that the duo tried to convince King Durin with. Instantaneously, the mithril cures the leaf of its ailment. Stunned, Durin and Disa determine to aid Elrond – even if it’s against King Durin’s wishes. Uh oh.
Elrond and Durin conspire to dig for more mithril, engaging in a delightfully humorous chat that, like Galadriel’s talk with Theo earlier, reveals a bit more about Durin’s backstory. It turns out dwarves have secret names, though we don’t actually learn what it is.
As the duo happen upon vast, awe-inspiring (or should that be ore-inspiring?) quantities of the mineral, though, King Durin arrives with armed guards, who arrest Elrond and cast him out.
An insightful expository piece concerning Prince Durin’s birth – a story that also speaks to dwarven rituals and traditions – from King Durin follows. But it’s a stirring misdirect as the Durins’ father-son chat quickly erupts into an intense slanging match. It starts when Prince Durin suggests his mother (and King Durin’s wife) would be proud to have Elrond as a son. Quietly seething, King Durin strips his son of his ceremonial collar, casting it to the ground before walking away. An emotional Prince Durin retrieves it, but his father tells him to “leave it”, adding “it’s not yours anymore”. It’s a cruel verbal blow that acts a metaphorical driving of a seemingly permanent wedge between the pair; one that might prove to be irreparable.
Crestfallen, Prince Durin laments to Disa, who reminds him that, one day, they will rule Khazad-dûm. In the mithril mines, King Durin tells his soldiers to seal the hole his son created, but not before he casts the Lindon leaf into the chasm below. Little does he know, though, that such an act seemingly wakes the Balrog, known as Durin’s Bane from its slumber. Double uh-oh.
What we think
The Rings of Power episode 7 is an entry filled with its characters either pitying themselves (and one another) or wanting to tear each other’s throats out. Given what occurred in episode 6, and what plays out in episode 7, it’s arguably the most bleak installment in the series yet and, to some viewers, will feel like a return to the sluggish narratives that negatively impacted the show’s flow in earlier episodes.
While it can’t compete with Udûn as a visual spectacle, The Eye makes up for that with potent drama, deftly intimate moments, and genuine optimism for the future of each race, elves aside. Its season 1 finale set up is well executed, meaning we’re in for a potentially engrossing episode 8 in a week’s time.
Plot direction niggles aside, then, The Rings of Power’s seventh episode makes for another largely riveting watch. Let’s just hope that season 1’s last installment lives up to expectations and leaves us with plenty to look forward to in its second season.
The Rings of Power episodes 1 through 7 are available now on Prime Video.