The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 5, Partings, largely concerns itself with, picking up where episode 4 left off, with several characters continuing to serve as their own worst enemies. The result of Partings is an additional layer of moral ambiguity to the show's wider vision of Middle-earth.
If this sounds too abstract for a show that isn't drawn from the J.R.R. Tolkien playbook, you can rest assured that episode 5's murkiness manifests in other, more tangible ways, even embedding into the story. Like many of The Rings of Powers major ongoing mysteries, we get partial answers, but we also get left with plenty of questions, too. The addition of some suitably sinister Sauron acolytes midway through the episode further murk
J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who both worked for the J.J. Abrams puzzle company Bad Robot, know that guessing games are a surefire way to keep us on the hook. What's really interesting about The Rings of Power episode 5, and what ultimately makes it so successful, is the hitherto-unseen uncertainty surrounding its characters.
The Silmarillion is a dark comedy based on Tolkiens' novels and Peter Jacksons big-screen adaptations.
In this episode, tensions in the Partings are higher than they were previously expected in stately Middle-earth. Forget about the raised voices during the The Fellowship of the Rings Council of Elrond scene or even the heated exchanges between Gandalf and Denethor in The Return of the King, people are straight-up pissed out. From the passive aggression between Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) and Durin IV (Geoff Morrell) among the Southlands
In a good way, it feels very messy. Even when Partings differs from the established canon of Tolkiens, Yip, Doble, and (presumably) McKay invent a wild origin story for Mithril, then follow it up by revealing the legendary metals' apparent ability to restore the elves' immortality. Yet by using this plot point as a way of exploring (and testing) the bond between Elrond and Durin IV, Yip and Doble
Partings expands on existing lore, and what we learn about the people down south's inherent evil tendencies isn't as clean-cut.
Instead, The Rings of Power episode 5 provides a more difficult explanation for why Waldreg and his followers chose to join Sauron: social mobility. They truly believe that their quality of life will improve under the Dark Lords rule, although he also acknowledged that his novels may be applied to real life, and that is precisely what Yip and Doble are hoping to achieve.
Then there's the Numenorean part of things, which reflects the tense morality at play in The Rings of Power episode 5. We also get Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) manipulating each other for most of the episodes run time, even if their antiwar positions are not exactly supported by what Tolkien described in The Silmarillion.
The best thing about the moral ambiguity in Partings isnt that it leads to more detailed representations or that it expands on Middle-earth mythology. 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 all the more clear that this world remains alive and well.