REVIEW: LOTR: Rings of Power Episode 5 Continues Its Slow Burn
The Rings of Power deliberately moves towards its fiery conflict, with its cast keeping the build-up riveting. Here's a review of the fifth episode.

REVIEW: LOTR: Rings of Power Episode 5 Continues Its Slow Burn

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is now officially in the second half of its inaugural season, and all roads are leading to war as the ambitious Prime Video original series continues. Alliances are forged and tested while a growing darkness in Middle-earth's Southlands launches a devastating campaign of fire and blood. Though The Rings of Power's fifth episode, "Partings," feels largely like a setup episode in the grand scheme of the story, it also feels necessary and solidly crafted overall.

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Though the previous episode concluded with Númenor officially pledging its military support in liberating the Southlands from the orcs, there are still several major hurdles to overcome to realize this plan in full. Durin has taken up Elrond on his offer to visit the High Elf capital of Lindon, but this diplomatic opportunity inevitably tests the fragile dynamic between elves and dwarves along with Durin and Elrond's friendship. Over in the Southlands, the orcs continue to amass power under their mysterious leader Adar, with loyalties challenged as the fate of Middle-earth hangs precariously in the region.

"Partings" touches on every plot thread and major character introduced to The Rings of Power so far and deftly balances each of these parallel storylines. Númenor continues to hold its place as the primary narrative focus, but there is the sense that this plot line and its characters are finally poised to converge with Arondir, Bronwyn, and the human refugees in the Southlands. Some of the more tangential storylines feel a bit superfluous to this particular episode but may pay dividends as the first season reaches its conclusion.

There isn't much by way of action just yet, though Morfydd Clark's Galadriel does get the opportunity to remind everyone why she is largely the face of the show, both regarding fighting skills and a more dramatic side to the character, which is always welcome. If the previous episode marshaled its characters to propel themselves into the season's big conflict head-on, "Partings" focuses on the implications of that rallying cry rather than leaping right into the battle for Middle-Earth. Though some in the audience may be itching for the fight to begin already, this level of patient pacing does feel earned and helps to lend to character development before all hell inevitably breaks loose.

The most effectively sentimental storyline in The Rings of Power so far continues to be Elrond and Durin's friendship, and Robert Aramayo and Owain Arthur find new depths and directions to take their respective characters and their dynamic. Megan Richards plays a prominent role as Poppy Proudfellow early in the episode, one of those interludes that could have just as easily teetered into schmaltz for the Harfoots, but she pulls it off expertly in a moment that feels especially true to J.R.R. Tolkien's literary legacy. The Harfoot storyline may not figure quite as centrally into the narrative just yet, but just like the hobbits, it feels like the quiet soul of this high fantasy world.

Five episodes deep, The Rings of Power continues to steel itself for what is presumably its climactic confrontation in Middle-earth's Southlands. Deliberately paced, the season is in the midst of the calm before the storm, with the fires of war raging and armies destined to collide against one another. Fortunately, with its engaging cast and their winning performances, the wait for the big fight isn't quite so bad as the characters continue to grow into themselves and The Rings of Power more confidently finds its own voice.

Developed for television by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power releases new episodes Fridays at 12 am EST on Prime Video.