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LOTR: The Rings Of Power Episode 6 Recap - Mount Doom Unleashed

The bulk of the first season of "The Rings of Power" has spent each episode bouncing between a plethora of different places around Middle-earth. The first two episodes alone (which dropped simultaneously) introduced no less than seven distinctly different locations. In Episode 6, the geographic shuffle finally stops for a bit, and we spend the entire hour in one place: the Southlands (which we were totally right about).

That said, just because the story stays south of the border doesn't indicate that things slow down. On the contrary, we see a ton of different austral locations, from the Ostirith watchtower to the nearby town of men, Orc tunnels, the shores of the continent, and yes, even Mount Doom itself — more on that in a bit.

The sixth installment of the show features a ton of horrifying action and is appropriately titled "Udûn," a threatening Orcish word that basically means Hell and is used throughout Tolkien's legendarium in a variety of unsavory ways. With so many storylines colliding in the Southlands, we've gone through and brought some order to the proceedings — Sauron style. Here's a quick and organized recap of Episode 6 that would make even the Dark Lord himself proud.

The Southlanders are put through the wringer

Let's start with the titular inhabitants of the Southlands themselves. Last we saw them, this group of pitiable Humans was struggling with their dark past, their semi-redeemed future, and, of course, the distressing present, which included an impending attack from Adar and his Orc army. The pressure led the group to split in half, with one portion joining Adar and the other continuing to resist him.

In Episode 6, we see the results of these choices play out in dramatic fashion. First, Adar's forces capture the watchtower only to find it empty. Arondir topples the structure on a portion of the occupiers before dashing off to the Southlander's village, where he joins the rest of the good group, and they prepare to resist a depleted but infuriated enemy. This leads to an initial battle, in which the good guys are victorious, but quickly discover that they've triumphed over their own brothers and sisters who joined Adar.

After the initial assault, Adar attacks again, this time with his Orcs. Bronwyn is severely wounded, and everything looks pretty bleak until Theo breaks down and gives Adar the sword hilt as a way to avoid everyone he loves being killed. We're willing to guess that the twisted Elf isn't really going to spare everyone, even when he gets what he wants, but the desperate scene is cut short when the Númenóreans arrive and attack, Riders of Rohan style.

While we'll get to the Southlanders' saviors in a second, it's worth pointing out that a lot of details are revealed during all of this action. Of particular note is Theo's willingness to betray Arondir in exchange for saving his mother — and his later confession that he felt a connection to the hilt, much like the One Ring.

Númenóreans save the day in the Southlands

The show has marketed scenes of a destroyed southern town, Orc battles, and Númenóreans riding into battle for months now. Within the story itself, the slow burn of a Númenórean mission to mainland Middle-earth has been brewing since Galadriel arrived on the island nation way back in episode three. Now, three episodes later, we finally see that rescue mission play out in epic fashion.

Just as the Southlanders are on the verge of defeat, the cavalry of Númenor come riding to their aid in a eucatastrophic moment that is a familiar site to anyone with experience in Tolkien's world. Adar passes off the hilt he's finally procured to his Human helper Waldreg, before fleeing the scene, but the rest of his dark soldiery is either killed or captured (with the exception of a few survivors that apparently flee into the mountains based on the fact that Galadriel starts planning a mission to hunt them down).

The glorious victory leads to an impromptu feast in the middle of the grieving town, which serves as an in-story vehicle for several different Númenórean stories. Valandil shows his mettle in battle and is the first to jump at a chance to fight again, this time proactively including Isildur as his companion. In the meantime, their friend, Ontamo, shares that a taste of blood and guts on the battlefield has shown him that he's done fighting for life. We also see Elendil and Isildur bond a bit as they process some grief connected with their drowned wife and mother, respectively.

Halbrand hesitantly accepts his kingship

Halbrand's story also gets a lot of attention in this episode. We see the lost heir to the Southland throne return home, where he helps deliver some of his people and ultimately is crowned king for his deeds. And yet, throughout all of his heroics, the specter of his mysterious past continues to dog him. It isn't until he draws swords with others (especially Galadriel) in the fight for good, that he can finally defeat some of his inner demons.

The events that play out regarding Halbrand leave us with some interesting questions. First off, what on earth did he do to condemn himself so harshly about his past? Is it possible that Adar forced him to kill a fellow Southlander, in much the same way that the villain had Waldreg murder someone as part of his oath of loyalty? We still don't know the answer when the credits roll, but it seems pretty clear that the issue isn't fully resolved.

The other question is if we will get yet another Human/Elf romance between Halbrand and Galadriel. These are supposed to be rare events in Tolkien's world, and yet, the way the two characters talk after the battle (specifically sharing mutual thoughts about fighting side by side), there could be a bit of romantic tension there. Then again, maybe they're just relishing the platonic ability to serve together in the fight for good — after all, in the source material, Galadriel should already be married to Celeborn at this point, a fact that has remained inexplicably unaddressed in "The Rings of Power" story thus far.

Adar and the Orcs make their move

Of course, the most interesting character and story developments in Episode 6 come from the extended conversation that Galadriel has with Adar after she and Halbrand capture him as he flees from the battle. Through this interrogation scene, we find out more about Adar and the Orcs than we do in the entire rest of the season up to this point. The leader (whose name means "father") explains at various points — both earlier in the episode and during Galadriel's line of questioning — that his Orcs aren't just nameless slaves. They're brothers and sisters, complete with cognomens and peer status — even if, when push comes to shove... well, they kinda still operate like slaves. Still, their leader is hellbent on winning a new land for them to live in (there are some references to a less free life they've lived in the past in other areas of the continent), and he's settled on the Southlands as the place to set up shop.

As far as things go with Adar himself, we find out that the guy, who clearly isn't an Orc, is one of the first Elves who is captured by Morgoth and tortured ("The Silmarillion" explains this as one of the possible origins for Orcs). Adar also shares a moving backstory about how his Orcs have been abused by Sauron's ambitions in the past, and he even makes the outlandish statement that he killed Sauron himself, something Galadriel immediately rejects as impossible.

Throughout all of the conversation with the Commander of the Northern Armies, Adar sounds confident in victory despite the apparent failure of his attack — and the reason for his confidence quickly becomes apparent when the earth begins to shake.

Mount Doom blows its top

As the Númenóreans arrive in the Southlands, everything appears to fall apart for Adar. However, at the last second, the antagonist gives the overpowered sword hilt that he's finally tracked down to his new lackey, the human Waldreg, ordering him to take it to the ruins of the Ostirith watchtower. There, the Southlander uses the magical device to unleash ...a waterfall. Okay, no big deal, right?

As the water cascades through the land, though, it becomes apparent that it's following the channel created by the Orcs as they've burrowed from village to village across the countryside. This leads the cool liquid straight into the heart of the nearby mountain, a precipice already referred to in the show as "Orodruin." For those of you who aren't sure, yes, that's another name for Mount Doom. The mingling of cold into the hot atmosphere upsets the mountain's equilibrium, leading it to unleash its volcanic potential on the nearby landscape.

This eruption is clearly the cataclysmic event that the first half of the season has worked toward. It's why Adar wanted the sword hilt. It's why the Orcs were digging their trench. It's fulfilling Sauron's mysterious sigil-driven plan for the forces of evil to reunite in the Southlands. Heck, it even falls in line with what Adar was saying about the sun going away (Mount Doom is infamous in "The Lord of the Rings" for blotting out the sun across a huge swath of Middle-earth right before the attack on Minas Tirith.) And now, after all of that build-up, the quiet, towering antagonist in the distance has officially detonated with horrific effect.

When does The Rings of Power Season 1 Episode 7 air?

"The Rings of Power" has followed a weekly release schedule since its first two episodes dropped on September 1st and 2nd around the globe. That means the seventh episode will go live on Friday, October 7 at 12 a.m. Eastern. The next episode will be the penultimate installment of the inaugural season of the show, which begs the question, where else is this story going to go, considering that there's a whole quarter of the season left?

Up until now, everything in the Southlands has been focused on revealing and then stopping Adar and his minions. Now that the fallen Elf has succeeded in his mission to terraform the Southlands into Mordor, what happens next? Do the good guys high-tail it out of there? Will more Orcs flock to the region now? What about Sauron? We know Adar can't have killed him, but we still don't know if and when he will appear this season.

Perhaps the last quarter of the season will shift attention back to other regions of Middle-earth. Pharazôn is presumably ruling (and plotting) in Queen Regent Míriel's stead back on Númenor. The Elves in Lindon and Eregion are also trying to do some interesting things with mithril away in the north of Middle-earth. And then there's the Harfoots. Last we saw them, the Stranger was simultaneously saving and threatening them with his unwieldy magic. Wherever the rest of Season 1 goes, there's no doubt that Episode 6 officially took a slow-burning story and cranked things up to 11. If Mount Doom erupting is just a mid-season finale event, what kind of official series climax does the creative team have in store for a couple of weeks from now?