Hey, fans of evil power couples and foot fetishism, these are the episodes you’re waiting for!
Welcome back to Rings of the Dragon, a Wonder series where we recap new episodes of House of the Dragon (HOTD) and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (TROP), and then determine which show wins the week. Because the Dark Lord commands it.
Previously on Rings of the Dragon, Elendil ugly cried, Mordor got its name in the cheesiest way possible, Vaemond Velaryon’s head got sliced like a fruit and King Viserys expired. Let’s check in on the latest episodes!
SPOILERS AHEAD, as usual.
The Rings of Power Episode 8: Alloyed
We begin the final episode of the season with the White Robe Weirdos catching up with Meteor Man. They declare their willingness to serve him, their “Lord Sauron.” One of the biggest questions since the beginning of the series, resolved in the first few minutes of the finale? Nice try, but yeah, no. +1 point for the half-decent attempt at misdirection.
Galadriel arrives at Eregion with a wounded Off-brand Aragorn/Halbrand in tow. They are met by Elrond and Benedict Celebrimbor. Elrond, seeing his friend who is supposed to be in Magic Elf Afterlife Land, is understandably confused.
Off-brand Aragorn is then miraculously healed and moving about, walking randomly into Benedict Celebrimbor’s workshop. He gives the supposed master smith a suggestion on how to use their tiny piece of Mithril to save the Elves. He calls it “a gift.” This is a weird thing to hear if you’re a casual viewer, but Tolkien nerds are probably doing their best Leonardo DiCaprio impression.
Earien, Elendil’s daughter and Entitled Millennial Isildur’s sister, sketches King Tar-Palantir’s visage because he’s dying, I guess. The king mistakes her for his daughter Miriel, and urges her to go up the tower and see a thing. Earien does exactly that, for some reason. The thing turns out to be a Palantir, a seeing stone. We cut away as she was uncovering it. We never see her again for the rest of the episode. I guess we’ll find out what this is all about in the next season, scheduled to be released two years from now. -1 for making us wait that long.
Elrond, Benedict Celebrimbor and Galadriel try to convince High King Gil-galad to go with their plan to save Middle-earth, which is to turn their tiny piece of Mithril into a crown that the High King will wear. He doesn’t go for it. Benedict Celebrimbor tries to convince him that it’s a sound plan, using Sauron-y words. Galadriel’s Elven ears perk up.
Galadriel asks an intern Elf to do some research on Off-brand Aragorn’s bloodline. She then has a short conversation with Off-brand Aragorn about his newfound bro-ship with Benedict Celebrimbor. He’s being a little creep, furthering Galadriel’s suspicion.
The White Robe Weirdos, which I guess are called The Nomad, The Ascetic and The Dweller, try to awaken “Lord Sauron.” Nori and her Fellowship of the Harfoots try to save Meteor Man, but they’re tiny, cuddly teddy bears, so they’re no match for the three creeps with magical powers. The Harfoots are about to get magically destroyed, but Meteor Man starts to fight back. After a surprisingly exciting battle between three magic cultists, four little prairie people and a freakin’ wizard, we get confirmation that Meteor Man is not Sauron. He is [checks notes] good. Congratulations, Meteor Man!
Miriel and Elendil have a moment on their boat. They talk about the cost of being faithful and making the end worth the price, come what may. They arrive at Numenor to find black flags draped all over the city. The black flags are there because the people are mourning the death of Tar-Palantir, but they also align with the dead king’s prophecy of Numenor’s red banners being replaced by black flags that support EEEVIL. In yet another unintentionally funny moment, a blind Miriel asks what’s wrong and Elendil, seeing the black flags, slowly turns to innocent Miriel and gives a hilarious “fuuuuu” face. +1 point for Elendil being the King of Unintentionally Funny Reactions.
Supposed Master Smith Benedict Celebrimbor blows up his workshop because he has no clue how to handle Mithril, but Off-brand Aragorn gives him another nudge in the right direction. Intern Elf gives Galadriel the results of his research. It confirms her suspicions—she’s been flirting with the Dark Lord himself.
Galadriel confronts Off-brand Aragorn/Halbrand/Sauron/Man With Many Names. The Dark Lord doesn’t even deny it. The ultimate manipulator explains how throughout their whole time together, he didn’t lie to Galadriel. He was hiding in plain sight, minding his own business. It was Galadriel who made all the bad decisions along the way. She played herself.
Galadriel wants vengeance more than ever before. Sauron just wants the two of them to be Middle-earth’s power couple. He seduces her with the promise of submission to Light and Power. They will save/rule Middle-earth together. It’s all sunshine and rainbows—if sunshine and rainbows were fire and shadows. However, no matter how smooth and sweet all this Sauron-talk is, Galadriel refuses. +3 points for one of the best shouting matches in TV/streaming history, the kind where you don’t know whether they’re about to smite each other or fuck like animals.
Elrond, Benedict Celebrimbor and Galadriel decide to proceed with the creation of the Rings of Power, which the three of them alone will wield. This sounds like yet another brilliant Galadriel idea.
Nori decides to go with Meteor Man/Wizard Guy/Not Sauron as her fellowship members rejoin the rest of the Harfoots. Meteor Man finally confirms to the audience that he is Baby Gandalf with his “Always follow your nose” line. Maybe. I guess we won’t officially establish his identity in-story until the second season. In two years. Probably.
In the most beautiful magic rings-forging montage in history, we see the creation of the titular Rings of Power. Elrond discovers the truth behind the “King of the Southlands,” but he holds off on confronting Galadriel about it because they’re all too busy admiring the rings, I guess? +1 point for the gorgeous shots of the rings, though.
The episode and the season ends with Halbrand/Sauron simply walking into Mordor.
— Rotem Rusak (@Moondancer1626) October 14, 2022
Final Score: 5
House of the Dragon Episode 9: The Green Council
We start the episode with a very somber tour of the Red Keep. It’s the middle of the night, and word slowly gets out that the king is dead. One of the first to know is Talya, Alicent Hightower’s handmaiden and secret spy working under the White Worm, Daemon Targaryen’s ex-girlfriend.
Like we assumed in the last episode, Alicent misunderstands Viserys’ final rambling words. She brings forth to the small council Viserys’ supposed final wish to have his son (Aegon) become his new heir, after many years of insisting that Rhaenyra is next in line. To her surprise, most members of the small council have already been plotting for Aegon to seize the Iron Throne, including Piece of Shit Jason Lannister and the queen’s own piece of shit father, Otto Hightower.
Also not privy to this plot is Master of Coin Lord Lyman Beesbury of Honeyholt, who protests the shady proceedings. For his efforts, he gets his head bashed onto the table by Unhinged Piece of Shit Mega Alicent Simp Ser Criston Cole. If he wasn’t despicable to you before, he should be now. +1 point for GOT/HOTD having the special talent to create truly vile human beings.
While Alicent and Otto agree that Aegon will become king, they disagree on what needs to be done with Rhaenyra, Daemon and the rest of their medieval modern family. Alicent wants to keep her old friend alive, while Otto wants them not alive. They realize that only one of them must have the ear of the would-be new king. A frantic search for Aegon ensues, with separate efforts from the two Hightowers.
Ser Piece of Shit Cole and Aemond seek to bring Aegon back to Alicent, while twin knights Arryk and Erryk Cargyll search for the reluctant heir, so they could take him to Otto. As the two teams participate in The Amazing Race: Westeros, Otto bullies the various lords and ladies of the realm to break their oath to Rhaenyra and swear fealty to Aegon. Not everyone drinks his Kool-Aid. Piece of Shit Hand of the King Otto puts the squeeze on those who do not bend the knee.
Rhaenys Targaryen wakes up to the sound of usurpation. The Queen Who Never Was is not pleased. She scoffs at Alicent when the Green Queen asks for her support. However, she does acknowledge Alicent’s boldness and wisdom—before calling out the queen’s lack of ambition for herself. Rhaenys contemplates on whether she would bend the knee or spit in the face of the usurper side of the Targaryen family.
The Cargylls, Ser Piece of Shit and Aemond find Aegon with a little help from the White Worm. Ser Erryk isn’t fully convinced that what they’re doing is for the greater good, so he lets Aemond and Cole get the upper hand. Aegon is on his way back to his mother to become king, and he fucking hates it.
After having another verbal jousting session with her father, Alicent goes back to her room to find Piece of Shit Larys Strong waiting for her. It turns out he has a foot fetish, so in exchange for his spycraft services, Alicent shows him her naked feet. Things get really weird, really fast.
Good Guy Erryk frees Rhaenys from house arrest, but before they can make their way to freedom, they get swept away into the coronation of King Aegon. It’s here when The Queen Who Never Was decides that she will not bend the knee to the usurper side of the family. She chooses to spit in the face of the Hightowers and the new king, who isn’t quite as reluctant as he was after hearing the crowd cheering for him. Little Piece of Shit kind of likes the idea of him being king now.
Rhaenys makes this fateful decision in the best way possible—by having her dragon, Meleys, burst out of the dragon pit and crush random innocent bystanders. No “dracarys” was uttered, though. Meleys just gives Alicent and the rest of her piece of shit family an earful.
After staying in the background, drinking wine, mourning her dead (and fake dead) children, resisting to murder every dumbass who calls her “The Queen Who Never Was” and taking crap from everyone, Rhaenys finally takes a stand. She then flies off like a dragon boss. +3 points for Targaryens always choosing to make a statement by way of dragons.
Final Score: 4
With the final scores being HOTD: 4, TROP: 5, the season finale of TROP barely wins this week’s Rings of the Dragon. Aside from Rhaenys finally fighting back, this week’s HOTD was pretty somber and a bit slow in pacing. For all its faults, TROP still comes out as the more entertaining (and also more frustrating?) of the two shows the past week.
The first season of TROP is beautiful and sometimes goosebumps-inducing, but for the most part, it’s written for fans of the movies. A lot of these fans like the epic battles and the Balrogs, but a lot of the Tolkien purists and book nerds hate everything. Meanwhile, a lot of us basic casual viewers, more often than not, are just going “OK that’s cool, but WTF?”
We’ll see you again next week for the season finale of HOTD, fantasy fans!
Art Alexandra Lara