The seeds of chaos take root in episode six of 'The Rings of Power'
If 'The Rings of Power' is a powder keg, episode six is the explosion.
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If the first five episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power were about building up our expectations for the last third of the series, episode six, "Udûn," is about shattering them. The action-packed episode causes many of our heroes to meet, as Galadriel, Arondir, Halbrand, and Míriel come together to fight Adar and the Orcs in the Southlands.
The episode is full of important moments, but perhaps the most impactful is the first we see—Adar, the leader of the Orcs who can walk in the sun, kneels to plant seeds in the earth. It's a moment echoed by Arondir later, when he takes the alfirin seeds Bronwyn gave him and plants them before battle, in an old Elvish custom. The seeds Adar plants function as seeds of doubt, as the episode unravels and the motivations of the central characters start to unwind under pressure.
Follow along for our recap of "Udûn," and tune in on Friday, October 7 on Prime Video to watch the seventh episode.
What happens in episode six of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
Adar begins "Udun" by scattering seeds over the earth, as he recalls the phrase: "In defiance of death." As he rises, he gives the assembled Orcs a rousing war speech as they chant "Nampat," which means "death" in Black Speech. They begin their march on the Elven tower where Bronwyn and the villagers were hiding at the end of episode five. As they invade alongside Waldreg and the rest of the villagers that turned to Sauron's cause, it becomes clear that the tower has been vacated—save for Arondir, who shoots a balance propping up the tower and causes it to fall, crushing many of the Orcs.
As the tower falls, the sun rises over the sea, and Isildur and Galadriel talk about the coming fight and why Isildur has come. He expresses a desire to leave Númenor behind. As Elendil arrives, he scampers back to his quarters, and Elendil tells Galadriel about his wife's death, revealing that she drowned.
In the Southlands, Arondir tries to destroy the artifact Adar seeks. He fails, and goes off to hide it as the villagers prepare the town for battle. They'll have to live through the night if they want to win, and Theo and Bronwyn discuss their chances of survival before Arondir returns to share a soft, sweet moment with Bronwyn. They plant their own alfirin seeds, in accordance with the Elven battle tradition, and finally kiss.
As night falls, the battle begins. The Orcs sweep into town, and the villagers attempt to corral them between the bridge and the buildings before Bronwyn lights up a wagon and manages to burn several. The villagers emerge from the fields as the Orcs near the tavern where Theo and the rest of the children and older villagers are—Arondir gets in a fight with a massive Orc, who nearly overpowers him before Bronwyn intervenes. Against seemingly terrible odds, the villagers win the fight, but realize that most of the invading force was composed of their own kin and the traitors who fled to Adar.
Archers begin to rain fire on the village, striking down many of the villagers. Bronwyn is hit in the shoulder and falls, forcing Arondir to carry her to safety. The remaining people barricade themselves in the tavern as Arondir and Theo work to remove Bronwyn's arrow and cauterize the wound. For a few moments, her fate hangs in the balance, but before we can get our first pivotal character death, she pulls through.
Adar and the Orcs swarm the village. They come into the tavern, and Adar asks Arondir for the artifact. He refuses, and Adar nearly kills Bronwyn in retaliation, but Theo intervenes—he was watching Arondir earlier, and saw where the artifact was hidden. Adar takes it, but before he can harm the villagers further the cavalry arrives. Galadriel, Míriel, Halbrand, Isildur, Elendil, and the Númenoreans charge into the village on horseback. Theo and Arondir protect the villagers as the Orcs move to fight the invaders.
It's quickly clear that the battle favors the Númenoreans, as the mounted soldiers take out swaths of the Orc army. Galadriel has some incredible fight sequences, as do Isildur and Elendil. Adar realizes the tide has turned as he leaves the tavern, so he swings up onto a horse and escapes. Galadriel gives chase, but just as she's about to overtake him Halbrand appears and topples Adar from his horse.
Halbrand and Adar have history. As soon as Halbrand pins Adar, it's clear he wants to kill him—for what, we don't know. Adar fails to recognize him, mocking him: "Did I cause someone you love pain? A woman? Perhaps a child?" Halbrand doesn't respond, as Galadriel tells him to back down.
In the village, Isildur, Valandil, and Ontamo reunite. Isildur and Valandil agree to join up with Galadriel's new company. Galadriel and Adar finally speak, and she informs him that she knows what he is: Moriondor, Elven children taken by Morgoth, the first Orcs. "Uruk," he corrects her. "We prefer Uruk." She inquires after Sauron, and threatens Adar's children with death to get the information. Adar tells her what she already knows: That Sauron went into the north seeking knowledge. He informs her that Sauron became too ambitious, and that he killed him for the sacrifice of his children. Adar says: "We are creations of the One, Masters of the Secret Fire the same as you. As worthy of the breath of life and just as worthy of a home."
Galadriel's disdain for Orcs has been made clear throughout the show, but the hostility she displays toward Adar and his "children" is telling—it's blind, uncaring hatred, and the ultimately pretty misplaced notion that the Orcs are unthinking and unfeeling drives it. Her goal is no longer benign—and in those moments, it's ugly. It echoes the hatred the Men of the Southlands held for Arondir, and brings into question the nature of the Orcs as the unchallenged villains of the story.
She refuses to believe that Adar killed Sauron, and vows to eradicate all the Orcs. He likens her to himself: "It would seem I am not the only Elf alive who has been transformed by darkness. Perhaps your search for Morgoth's successor should have ended in your own mirror."
This time, it's Halbrand who saves Adar. Later, he and Galadriel share their complex feelings for one another, and the joy of letting go of their burdens and fighting together. Halbrand is summoned to Míriel, who urges him to take up his mantle as king. As the people of the village and Bronwyn accept him, Theo and Arondir discuss the artifact, and Arondir urges him to forget the feeling it gave him and let go. As Theo unwinds the cloth around the artifact, it's revealed that it's been replaced by Adar. And then, it starts.
Waldreg, who was sent away by Adar, has taken the artifact to the Elven tower. The artifact is a key, opening the dam at tower—and flooding the valley and the tunnels the Orcs dug. Water streams through the Southlands, headed for a mountain where a dormant volcano lies sleeping. The Orcs begin to chant: "Udûn." "Hell," in Sindarin, the Elven language. The volcano activates beneath the cold water, and begins to erupt. An ash cloud swarms the valley as the sky fills with smoke and fire, coming closer and closer, before it consumes the village and everyone in it.
Where can you watch The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
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