Episode 2 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power expands the already wide world of Middle-earth. This time: Elrond will be seeing you in all the old familiar places, as they say, and Galadriel wishes she’d packed a pool noodle. If you missed episode 1’s recap, you can find it here.
Otherwise, let’s dig into a full recap of episode 2.
SUNDERING SEA – When we left off, Galadriel had just jumped off a ship headed for Valinor. In episode 2, she’s still in the Sundering Sea. Personally, I would have drowned, but good for her. She comes upon a makeshift raft with some humans who have clearly been through it. They argue about whether to let her aboard and then subsequently freak out when they see she’s an elf.
Then, they think they see another ship in the distance. Surprise! It’s actually the wreckage of their ship stuck to the giant sea worm thing that smashed it in the first place, and it’s headed straight for them. One nautical tussle later, Galadriel is back in the water, and the only other survivor is a guy who managed to break away from the others on an even smaller, less confidence-inspiring raft. His name is Halbrand and like Arondir, he’s a new character who doesn’t come from Tolkein’s works. It’s fine, OK?
Both are suspicious of each other, but it finally comes out that Halbrand was chased off from his homeland by orcs. Vindicated by Dashboard Confessional blares loudly, but only in my brain. She wants to know everything. She wants to go there and do something about it, heaven forbid, and even this recently un-homed man joins the chorus of, “can you please just let this go?”
That night there’s a bad storm and Galadriel goes back in the water. This time, she’s tied to a plank and some other crap and sinking fast. What’s not OK, is Halbrand sitting on the raft debating whether to help her or not as she plummets down to Davy Jones’ locker. He does save her, though, and the next day back on the raft, Galadriel wakes up momentarily to see the silhouette of a guy on a ship against the sun looking down at them.
Of orcs and men
SOUTHLANDS – Upon further exploration of what used to be Bronwyn’s hometown, she and Arondir discover something disconcerting in the ruins of one of the houses: Orcs have been digging tunnels. She runs back to Tirharad to warn the others and Arondir decides to go underground alone like the stern, long-suffering elf he is.
At the pub, the old guy with the unsanitary philosophy on the craft of butchering wants to downplay what is obviously a bad thing about to get worse.
“I’m not involving the elves on account of sinkhole,” he says.
Back at Bronwyn’s house, her son Theo keeps thinking he’s hearing mice under the floorboards. My sweet summer child. It is not mice. He hacks a hole in the boards and finds a creepy, milky eye staring back at him.
Bronwyn, meanwhile, is racing back to her house. When she arrives, it is trashed and that hole in the floor is even bigger. Theo is hiding in a compartment in the wall, and she dips into a cupboard as an orc surfaces. Inevitably, if finds her. They have a throw down. Bronwyn slams the decapitated head of the orc on the pub counter and is all sinkhole my foot. VINDICATED I AM… sorry. Anyway.
The town plans to leave in the morning for the watch tower. Before departing, Theo handles that sketchy sword with the sigil from the previous episode again. Some blood from a cut on his hand starts traveling toward the sword as if drawn magnetically, and the sword starts smoking and reforging itself, which is not comforting.
Elsewhere underground, Arondir is crawling around the tunnels in a manner that makes my palms clammy. They are narrow, dusty, and my dude is not alone down there. He falls down into some kind of subterranean body of water (why is there so much swimming in this show?) and drags himself onto the bank, where he backs himself against a wall while eyeing the most menacing set of bubbles since that thing with tentacles almost turned Frodo into sushi at Moria.
Turns out the bubbles aren’t the problem. Something grabs him from behind and we don’t see him again the rest of the episode.
Don’t be a stranger
RHOVANION – Meanwhile at the crater, Nori is still puzzling over the old dude when her pal Poppy pops up with some bad vibes. Nori and Poppy start bickering about what to do with him. In doing so, Poppy accidentally knocks Nori down into the crater. Thankfully, Nori doesn’t seem like the type of person to sue a friend, and it turns out the fire isn’t hot. She takes the polite approach and pokes the Stranger in the face.
The Stranger wakes up and starts bellowing. Whatever his powers are, he can stir up a wind storm and levitate rocks. Imagine what this guy could do after a cold brew. The flames go out, he collapses, and they reignite. In his defense, I don’t like to be woken up, either.
Back at camp, Sadoc is walking around, not digging whatever celestial shenanigans might be afoot.
“This does not bode well,” he says, in what is definitely the Star Wars-to-LOTR translation of “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Nori and Poppy load the stranger in a wheelbarrow/cart deal and start talking about what he is. He’s not a man and he’s not an elf. That doesn’t leave many other options.
Personally, I think he’s a wizard. Sure, that ilk wouldn’t have been around in the Second Age, but this is Hollywood, baby.
While Poppy and Nori skirmish, the carts rolls downhill in what isn’t the most original gag but is still kind of funny. No one sprains anything, and Nori and Poppy make the Stranger a little fort so he can sleep off whatever he needs to sleep off. Big surprise: They’re still gripping at each other and Nori has to explain that she feels like all this happened for a reason and she needs to make sure this guy is safe. Poppy finally chills. Nori, much like Galadriel, needs to get some more supportive friends.
The next day, the Stranger has crawled out of the fort, likely wondering what type of crappy Airbnb he booked. He screams upon seeing Nori and a windstorm kicks up again, but she calms him down. The vibes are Natasha Romanoff and the Hulk. HEY BIG GUY. THE SUN’S GETTING REAL LOW.
You know what really calms the savage beast, though? Uncomfortably large snails. She’s got tons of them and he’s all yessss, protein as he shoves handfuls in his mouth, shell and all. They also start trying to communicate with each other but don’t have much success.
While Nori’s gone, though, the camp is setting up for a festival and her father snaps his ankle — or something of that nature trying to erect a pole.
That night, Nori and Poppy visit the stranger. Nori tells him the Harfoots are packing up and leaving in a few days. He zeros in on their lanterns, which are powered by fireflies, and in a moment reminiscent of Gandalf whispering to the moth on the Orthanc in Isengard, he gets the little critters to form what looks like a constellation of stars. Nori interprets this to mean he needs help finding those stars. But once again, he collapses. And alarmingly, the fireflies fall to the ground and die. Minus 10 points for killing fireflies, Amazon.
EREGION – Elrond is in the fine and swanky chambers of Celebrimbor the elven smith. He takes a minute to admire Fëanor’s hammer, which is on display. If you don’t know who that is, it’s fine. He’s a lot to explain and you can get full details in the Silmarillion. In short he was an elven king who was a bit of a rebel and a malcontent, but he also made these jewels called the Silmarils which captured the light of those two super important trees in Valinor we saw in the last episode. The Silmarils are certified big deal. The first dark lord Morgoth stole them, which was rude.
Celebrimbor tells a story about how Morgoth stared at the stones and saw his own ugly reflection in them and honestly, I’m going to need a source on that one, bro. Was he there? Vet your sources, my friends.
In any case, Celebrimbor wants to build a huge tower that can house a forge for the purpose of building cool important stuff, that will absolutely and in no way end up being a bad idea. He wants it done by Spring, which is a tight deadline, to say the least, and Elrond suggests outsourcing the work.
So, they mosey on over to Khazad-dûm, the dwarven kingdom we saw in The Fellowship of the Ring. Here, there’s a bit of a callback to the movie. Elrond is talking up Khazad-dûm and how his pal Prince Durin IV is going to do it up when they arrive. Tables filled with salted pork! Elrond says.
Mmm. Salted pork.
Of course, they arrive at the door and the dwarf at the entrance tells them to scram. After some back-and-forth, Elrond invokes the right of Sigin-tarâg which basically means that instead of being direct and talking about their feelings, Durin and Elrond are going to split boulders until one of them cries “uncle.”
Before we get to all that, though. A minute for Khazad-dûm, which is lively as hell, replete with greenery and light and Balrog-free.
Anyway, Elrond eventually forfeits the rock-busting competition and on the way out, finally gets Durin to tell him why he’s pissed. And BOY is he pissed.
“YOU MISSED MY WEDDING! THE BIRTH OF MY CHILDREN!” Trust me, the caps are warranted here. Elrond’s been gone 20 years, and now he’s back with an amazing business opportunity.
Hear me out: Elrond is your friend from high school who messages you out of nowhere and wants you to #GirlBoss your way to an empire selling monogrammed tote bags.
Durin has to explain that 20 years might not be much to an elf, but to a dwarf, it’s a long-ass time to leave your friend on read.
Elrond apologizes, but he’s also crafty and asks to apologize to Durin’s wife, Princess Disa.
The next part here is like a domestic comedy where Disa and Durin argue about whether Elrond is staying for dinner and she chastises them for being petty with each other. We get the delightful exclamation, “Aulë’s beard!” (Aulë is the Vala who created the dwarves so it’s cute.)
Disa is delightful and eventually wears Durin down to hear Elrond’s proposal through sheer sentimentality.
Later, Durin goes to talk to his dad, King Durin III, about why Elrond turned up. Durin’s dad floats the idea of whether Elrond is hip to what they’re hiding down in Khazad-dûm. He opens a box. We don’t see what’s inside – it’s very brief-case-in-Pulp-Fiction vibes – but whatever it is, it’s glowing.