Partings, a film about the Lord of the Rings of Power, largely deals with this in-between area, returning to where episode 4 left off, with our heroes continuing to serve as their own worst enemies. The result of this is an additional layer of moral ambiguity to proceedings, which is welcome not just to The Rings of Power episode 5, but to the show's wider vision of Middle-earth itself.
If this sounds a bit too abstract for a show that draws from the J.R.R. Tolkien playbook, rest assured that episode 5's murkiness manifests in other, more subtle ways, even embedding into the narrative. We learn how to interpret and interpret the story.
J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who both worked for J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot, know that guessing games are a surefire way to keep us on the hook. What's really interesting about episode 5 of The Rings of Power, and what makes it so enjoyable, is the hitherto-unseen uncertainty surrounding its characters.
The Silmarillion is nudged closer to The Silmarillion in terms of its overall characterization and tone. Whether its Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) weighing up the merits of a bloody war on foreign soil, Bronwyns (Nazanin Boniadi) reaffirming his loyalty to his people, or Peter Jackson's big-screen adaptations, it's difficult to say who'll be on the right side of history once
In this episode, tensions in the parts of the world are higher than they were previously expected in stately Middle-earth. Forget about the raised voices during the Fellowship of the Rings Council of Elrond scene or even the tense exchanges between Gandalf and Denethor in The Return of the King, people are straight-up pissed. From the passive aggression between Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) and Durin IV (Geoff Morrell) among the Southlands
In a good way, it all feels very messy, although Partings differs from the established canon of Tolkiens. In episode 5, Yip, Doble, and (presumably) McKay conjure a wild origin story for Mithril, then reveal the legendary metals' apparent ability to restore the elves' immortality. Yet by using this plot point as a way of investigating (and testing) the bond between Elrond and Durin IV, Yip and Doble touch
Partings expands on existing lore, with some of the episode's themes being very different from those down south who have inherent evil desires.
Instead, The Rings of Power episode 5 offers a more difficult explanation for why Waldreg and his followers choose to join Sauron: social mobility. They truly believe that their quality of life will improve under the Dark Lords rule, and that is precisely what Yip and Doble are striving to achieve.
Then there's the Numenorean aspect of things, which again reflects the tense morality at play in episode 5. Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) are compelled to manipulate each other for much of the run time, even if it's not exactly what Tolkien described in The Silmarillion.
The best part about the moral ambiguity in Partings isnt that it leads to richer characters or even that it expands on Middle-earth legends. Its the way the few glimmers of hope present in the episode shine all the brighter. With each new episode, The Rings of Power makes it increasingly clear that this world still has a chance, regardless of how murky things get.