The Rings of Power S1E7, “The Eye”: Wading Through the Fog

Galadriel and Theo walk through a forest covered in ash in an eerie orange light
Photo Courtesy of Amazon Prime

The following contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power S1E7, “The Eye” (written by Jason Cahill and directed by Charlotte Brändström)

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power S1E7 (“The Eye”) is the darkest hour of the series so far, in fact it may be the darkest hour in the long history of Middle Earth. Adar has won, The Southlands are no more, and the creeping evil that has been lying in wait for the entirety of the series—and really the whole second age—is now exploding out onto everyone. The Rings of Power S1E7 is filled with smoky darkness, brooding sadness, and our stunned characters dealing with the aftermaths of not only the eruption of Mt. Doom, but the eruption of the jealousies and in-fighting that will lead to the true completion of Sauron’s goals.

Even in the more dualist world of Tolkein, no one asks to be a villain. People turn to darkness in tiny ways, either because it is easier, or out of anger, or out of some other desires. Even the most entrenched and diabolical of evils is grown, not born. And so it is with our dear friends in this show. Each of them has grown weary and each has a choice in front of them. Where they go from here will determine the shape of their entire world, and it is the desire to push that result one way or another that will come to define all of their lives.

Galadriel, covered in ash, looks to the camera with an organe tint and ash all around her
Photo by Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) knows this most of all. She has been the canary in the cave for hundreds of years, constantly fighting against the darkness that only she can see. But after she was overwhelmed with the ashen destruction coming out of Mr. Doom, after she has to face the failure of her life’s work, she seems changed. She and Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) spend most of “The Eye” alone together in the ruined woodlands, trying to make their way back to the other survivors of the volcanic doom, and their conversation and interaction is central to the understanding of what all of this really means.

Galadriel tells Theo about her husband, Celeborn, and how she has not seen him since the great war. This is the first time he has been mentioned on the show and she talks of him as long lost, perhaps dead (though, unless the show is going to break established canon entirely, we know that is not the case). What is true though is that Galadriel’s great pain and sadness about the world is tied up in this loss as well. Throughout the conversation it seems that Galadriel is pushing through her weariness, trying to get Theo to understand that the only way to combat the evil in the world is not to give in to it. We know that eventually Galadriel will master this, but Theo remains a wildcard—he could either be hero or villain, but hopefully this conversation will be what he holds onto.

Queen Regent Miriel’s (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) blindness is also a metaphor, perhaps one that seems a little too on the nose, but is still somewhat important. Miriel brought the Númenorean army to the Southlands hoping to avoid an apocalyptic fate for her people as well. Now that she has led her army into destruction, it seems that the blindness will remain. She is hardened by this experience and, if her last conversation with Galadriel is any indication, she is ready to make her people engage in more wars in the future. The idea of these people growing weary of her wars and constant battle with the darkness in the world is the same thing we saw in Episode 1 with Galadriel, and that did not end well. It seems unlikely that this will end well either. (Even without getting into the spoilers of what has happened to Númenor by the third age.)

Not too far away it seems—the eruption of the volcano has shot rocks into their path—the Harfoots are also dealing with difficult choices. Nori (Markella Kavenagh) has become convinced that The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) is evil and that she was wrong to help him. The Stranger too seems convinced that he is a danger to the small people and after Sadoc (Lenny Henry, who continues to absolutely steal every scene he is in) confides in him and gives him a star map, he takes off on his own. But The Stranger is shown actually to have a powerful goodness, he is bringing new life to the places they travel. Once he is gone, the barren orchard is filled with apples and the Harfoots, other than Nori, are convinced of his goodness. Unfortunately in this way The Rings of Power S1E7 continues to show an inability to really show depth. The characters keep changing their minds repeatedly, often for no good reason, and it reads as wheel spinning rather than development.

The three evil searchers dressed in armor standing in front of the black night sky
Photo: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

While the Harfoots are conflicted on whether the Stranger is good or evil, there is no doubt that the creepy cult-like people hunting him are up to no good. They arrive at the area of the Harfoot camp and seem to be tracking the Stranger due to the new life he is able to create. Nori decides to make her stand, the inherent goodness of her character overwhelming the instilled fear she has of interacting with strangers once again. Unfortunately, this causes the trio of evil sorcerers to turn their eyes on the Harfoots. They unleash a magic fire which destroys the entire Harfoot caravan. It seems as though the Harfoots escape the fire, but everything else is lost. Which also puts them at a crossroads.

This entire group of people has existed in a loop, staying safe by being small and quiet and not interacting with the greater world, and by constantly moving on from danger and obstacles. (To the point of condemning their own people to death by exile if they cannot keep up.) But now, with an even greater evil on the prowl, Nori and Poppy decide they have to leave the group to warn the Stranger and the others, through Malva’s (Thusitha Jayasundera) insistence, are forced to stop for once. We get another classic Tolkein grouping, four “hobbits” on a quest, as Marygold (Sara Zwangobani) and Sadoc join them on their quest. The Harfoots have made their choice, and they are going to work for good.

The choice facing our dear Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) is much more complicated. Durin’s father the King (also named Durin of course) forbids the mining of Mithril despite the offers and pleas of Elrond (Robert Aramayo). This effectively means a death sentence for the elves—at least that’s how Durn takes it, the actual stakes seem a little murky—and the friendship between Durin and Elrond makes that very personal to our Dwarf prince. Disa (Sophia Nomvete), in addition to continuing to absolutely sparkle in every scene and have an incredible relationship with her husband, seems very willing to push Durin further and further in the hope of gaining more Mithril.

The three characters are involved in a very personal, very tragic, story that feels refreshing amidst the greater saga of good and evil. Durin loves both Disa and Elrond and they both love him. Their dynamic is complicated and their motives are murky, but we care about them and their choices. Disa at times late in The Rings of Power S1E7 comes across as particularly destructive, a Lady Macbeth to her own Scottish King.

Disa and Durin holding hands and looking into each other's eyes
Photo Courtesy of Amazon Prime

In the end, Durin disobeys his father, digs deeply into the mountain to find Mithril—all out of a real desire to help his “brother” Elrond—and it all goes instantaneously pear-shaped. The king discovers Durin and, in a great scene between the two, disowns his son. Durin goes back to Disa and they seem ready to actively plot against Durin’s father. While, in much more troubling news, the Balrog is awakened (much earlier in the timeline than I expected) and the entirety of Khazad-dûm is likely to suffer for it.

We do not get to see Celebrimbor or Gil-Galad sitting back in their gilded palace as all of this is happening, but one is forced to wonder how much of this darkness they already knew was certain to come. The world of Middle Earth is coming apart at every seam, and entire continents will soon cease to exist. The Rings of Power S1E7 is desolate and the people are desperate. Things are at a pivotal point and the stage is set not only for the finale, but also for the incredible evils still to come.

Written by Clay Dockery

Clay Dockery is an actor, author, and impresario extraordinaire. They are the co-editor of Why I Geek: An Anthology of Fandom Origin Stories and was the co-head organizer and creative director of MISTI-Con, Coal Hill Con, and The West Wing Weekend fandom conventions. They live in New York City with their girlfriend and their two chonky cats.

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