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LOTR: The Rings Of Power Episode 3 Recap - A Stranger Comes To Town

Contains spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Episode 3

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" launched to a barrage of both criticism and fanfare in early September. The first two episodes of the new Tolkien series took viewers on a wild (and at times confusing) ride around Middle-earth. After a rapid-fire start in Valinor, the audience was introduced to an endless procession of people and places that set the stage for "The Rings of Power" story — and left those who could keep up ready to see more.

In episode 3, things came a bit more into focus, and the rhythm started to pick up. Stories coalesced, information was revealed, and key characters were introduced that started to build the suspense ... and the momentum. The shift in pacing was a welcome reprieve after the pure world-building drive of the first two hours. The third episode started to feel like it was setting up a true narrative thread — or more accurately several narrative threads — that are moving toward a known conclusion.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. From the famous island kingdom of Númenor to the troubled Southlands of Middle-earth to the nomadic Harfoots, let's step back and take a look at what new developments took place in — and what we can expect to come after — "The Rings of Power" Episode 3: "Adar."

Raising the stakes

The third episode of "The Rings of Power" is heavy with hints and warnings of evil to come. This starts with Arondir, whose harrowing story picks up when the Elf wakes up to find himself captured in an Orc pit along with his Elven guards. The work site is at the end of a very long trench that is clearly being dug to move the foul creatures toward some goal without the need to go into the sunlight. What that goal is, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Galadriel makes her way to the island of Númenor where she draws on all of her sleuthing powers to uncover the dark, geographic meaning of Sauron's sigil. The sign shows up ad nauseam in the first two episodes and was featured heavily in the marketing of the show, as well. It turns out that it's a map pointing the Dark Lord's servants toward a new realm that is rising in power in the southern regions of Middle-earth, a realm that we're pretty sure fans will recognize.

To top it off, the Elven leader discovers that her chance companion on the road, one Halbrand, isn't just a rando floating around on a life raft. He appears to be a self-exiled king from the Southlands, which immediately raises the stakes surrounding this mysterious new character created for Prime Video's show.

Númenor is incredible ... but in decline

Let's get to the Oliphaunt in the room. One of the biggest elements of episode 3 is the introduction of the island nation of Númenor. Númenor is Tolkien's Atlantis and a central part of the entire history of Middle-earth. Aragorn is even able to claim the throne of Gondor thousands of years later because of his connection to the kings and queens of that land.

In episode 3, we finally get to see Númenor in all of its on-screen splendor. After being picked up by Elendil, who is a ship captain and distant relative of the royal line, Galadriel and Halbrand sail to the glorious island nation, where they meet its Queen Regent Míriel and her chancellor, Pharazôn. Númenor is a great nation, but its splendor is in decline. The island was given as a gift to the Men who resisted Morgoth before "The Rings of Power" story begins, but by their descendants have rejected the Elves.

Of course, not all of the Men of Númenor feel that way. Elendil takes Galadriel to his home on the western portion of the island, where the Elves are still quietly revered, and their language is even taught and used in inscriptions. Elendil's son, Isildur, clearly likes the Elves at this point, too, even if there are some hints of hostility from the lad's sister, Eärien.

The overall takeaway from our first introduction to Númenor is that it's a strong place, but it's clearly in the midst of an identity crisis — one that is reflected in its inhabitants, too. From Elendil right on up to Queen Regent Míriel herself, the leaders of the island are far from certain about how they should decipher right from wrong.

The Harfoots end on the move

The first two episodes of "The Rings of Power" gave us a lot of screen time with the Harfoots and the mysterious Stranger. In the third episode, we saw a lot more of the Harfoot way of life. From festivals to remembering those who were left behind, Harfoot culture is a clever take on what proto-Hobbit history could have looked like.

The real drama, though, comes when the Stranger stumbles into camp and quite literally crashes the party. With the cat out of the bag, Nori owns up to the fact that she's been harboring a man who crash-landed to earth, can barely talk, and wields unhinged magic. And yet, she can feel that there's good in the Stranger — and her trust is rewarded by the end of the episode.

As the Harfoots begin their migration, Nori and the rest of the Brandyfoots are at the back of the line. Daddy Largo has a busted ankle, and the family can't keep up. Things look bleak until, low and behold, mystery man shows up to help them pull the cart. While there's no knowing where this fascinating subplot will end, there's no doubt that the Stranger and Nori are getting along just fine.

Also, before moving on from the Harfoots, we need to give Poppy Proudfellow a shoutout. During the recitation of the deceased, it's revealed that the young Harfoot has lost all of her close kin. And yet, even in her orphaned state, we see her turn back to help the nearly de-caravaned Brandyfoots. This quiet character is quickly starting to take on nothing less than a Sam Gamgee kind of a support role — and we heartily approve.

When does The Rings of Power Season 1, Episode 4 air?

"The Rings of Power" Season 1, Episode 4 drops on Friday, September 16. The next installment will mark the halfway point through the first season, and it promises to be loaded with equal parts drama and action. While the Harfoots, and specifically the Brandyfoots, seem safe for the moment, it's been made clear that many dangers threaten them when their tribe is migrating.

On Númenor, destiny — or as Galadriel would say, whatever word men want to use to speak of the forces they lack the conviction to name — is clearly stirring . Halbrand, who, let's remember, is still behind bars, is grappling with his dark claim to Southern royalty. Galadriel is plotting to find an army and sail back to Middle-earth. Elendil and his family are caught between this Elvish visitor and the wishes of their people. And then there's Queen Regent Míriel. The last scene with the monarch shows her visiting her father (a fellow called Tar-Palantir, who isn't shown on the screen). Míriel sports a worried face as she informs her father that the moment they've feared has come and the Elf has arrived. Foreboding words.

And then, of course, there are all of the other storylines that were left untouched in this episode. What's going on with the brooding High King Gil-galad back in Lindon? Is Celebrimbor making headway on his forge/tower project in Eregion? What about Elrond and the Dwarves in Khazad-dûm? There's still a lot to tell as "The Rings of Power's" first season continues to heat up and move toward its doubtlessly climactic conclusion.