Episode 4 of The Rings of Power invokes a surprising form of Lord of the Rings villainy

Episode 4 of The Rings of Power invokes a surprising form of Lord of the Rings villainy ...

With episode 4, The Great Wave, showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay lean into this truism, putting several new and previously established antagonists in the spotlight as the Prime Video series nears its halfway point. They also further distinguish the show from the J.R.R. Tolkien works.

Adar, a newbie to episode 4, embodies the essence of episode 4's antagonist-centric approach at its finest. He is arguably unlike any Middle-earth evildoer weve ever seen in Tolkiens' Oscar-winning big-screen adaptations. Yet Payne and McKay, together with director Wayne Che Yip and writer Stephany Folsom, manage to conceive an astonishingly nuanced character.

Adar isnt some mysterious being ruined by his desire for power, like Morgoth, Sauron, or Saruman, nor is he driven by a vengeful desire to dwell in a Scrooge McDuckian gold vault like Smaug. His actions, particularly his cryptic remarks to Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) about the history of Middle Earths being erased, hint at a more personal agenda.

Even as they prepare to significantly reduce the Southlands' human population, the rank-and-file orcs under Adars' command continue to reveal unexpected depths. Both episodes touched on their capacity for religious devotion, and both elements are still at play in episode 4. But The Great Wave adds something more, something even more terrifying.

Watch as Adar, whose name, fittingly, translates to father, comforts and then kills one of his troops who had been badly wounded during the previous episode. This guy has a steadfast, almost childlike admiration for his master throughout the remainder of The Rings of Power episode 4.

This will be interesting to see if this window into orc culture turns out to be a one-off transaction, or if Payne and McKay intend to develop this concept further in future episodes? Could it be that orcs were just the first of many communities to fall under his spell during The Rings of Powers Second Age setting?

Pharazon (Trystan Gravelle) appears to be on the side of the angels in Numenor, although those familiar with the Silmarillion will notice the obvious signs of his inevitable heel turn. On the surface, this is great, as the queen regents advisor deters a potential conflict, yet Miriel's (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) strikingly outwits the crowd.

Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) and his creepy Sauron sympathizer Waldreg (Geoff Morrell) complete the tale of Tolkien's would-be conqueror.

In The Great Wave, the forces of good emerge as their own greatest foes, something that feels very true to Tolkiens' work. Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is an example of this best, continuing to display a so poor diplomacy that hers far from the only one of our heroes who is making life hard for themselves and those around them. From the sneaky behavior of Durin IV (Owain Arthur) to the shortsighted self-sabotage of Isildur

Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) and Miriel fall under this category, for his part. Celebrimbor: Stay away from the person who will one day decide your fate.) Miriel isnt much better, treating her subjective interpretation of the palantirs apocalyptic imagery as an objective fact that justifies her xenophobia for much of episode 4s run time.

Both these themes are compatible with Tolkiens' canon, with the exception of the recurring plot device of having characters misinterpret prophecies and deities as their foes close in on them. Yet the episode closes on the kind of optimistic note that Tolkien was fond of implying that even with evil on the rise, all is not lost for the peoples of Middle-earth.