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LOTR: The Rings Of Power Episode 7 Recap - A New Evil Rises

Contains spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings" The Rings of Power" Season 1, Episode 7

"The Rings of Power" Season 1, Episode 7 has officially aired, and it's a doozy. The penultimate installment of Season 1 of John D. Payne and Patrick McKay's Middle-earth series primarily deals with the fallout from the eruption of Mount Doom, which took place in the final moments of Episode 6. It also finally moves things forward in the mithril-happy Khazad-dûm storyline, and we see the mystics, the Stranger (Daniel Weyman), and the Harfoots collide somewhere away in the east of Middle-earth.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this episode, right from the start, is its name. It's called "The Eye," and there's no doubt that there's a strong sense of ocular attention throughout the proceedings. The opening scene is an extreme close-up of Galadriel's (Morfydd Clark) eyeball caked in ash and covered in red, postapocalyptic light. We also see Durin (Owain Arthur) and Elrond's (Robert Aramayo) peepers through a hole in their almost-completed mine shaft. Elendil's (Lloyd Owen) baby blues are on full display as he weeps for his lost son. Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) struggles with losing her sight. Everywhere you turn, there's stuff about eyes and vision in this episode.

Of course, the most obvious item the title calls to mind is the all-seeing Eye of Sauron. While we aren't treated to a literal manifestation of that cat-like oculus, it's hard not to admit that the Dark Lord has his fingerprints all over this one. From wastelands to tremors, mystics to Balrogs, anger to grief, Episode 7 plays a huge part in setting the stage for the future Lord of Mordor and his eye-shaped sigil. So without further ado, here is a full recap of everything that took place in Episode 7, "The Eye."

Galadriel and Halbrand reunite and head northwest

When Episode 7 picks up, we follow Galadriel through the early stages of shock as she surveys the aftermath of Mount Doom's earth-changing eruption. The Elf eventually finds Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), and the two characters start to look for safety. They slowly emerge out of the hellscape over the course of a day or two, showcasing some slower, more reasonably paced travel scenes in the process.

Throughout this journey, Galadriel mentors Theo on the struggles that come with fighting others — lessons that she herself is clearly still trying to grasp. Theo processes his own feelings too, as they dodge Orcs and make their way out of the blast zone. Oh yeah, and we finally, kind of unexpectedly, hear that Galadriel is married — or at least was married — to Celeborn. The future Lord of Lórien has been conspicuously absent up to this point, even though he's around in the source material. Galadriel gives us the "Rings of Power" version of events, in which Celeborn apparently went off to war in a clammy suit of armor long before the story, never to return.

Finally, the companions reach the Númenórean camp just outside of the newly minted Mordor, and there they find their family and friends. The commander of the Northern Armies and the king of the Southlands have been attached at the hip ever since they connected out at sea early in the season (Galbrand, Haladriel, call it what you'd like), and late in this episode, they find one another again. Despite Halbrand's (Charlie Vickers) wounded and weak state, they head northwest in a move that sets the stage for what will clearly be an important finale.

The Númenóreans head home

Númenor's arrival in Middle-earth in Episode 6 was epic. And yet it took all of one episode for the heroic island people to tuck tale and run. It's not their fault either. Who could have warned them that their tiny army of a few hundred horsemen would ride straight into an active volcano?

As Episode 7 plays out, we see the surviving Númenóreans extricate themselves and their Southlander allies from the deadly situation unfolding in Mordor. The survivors make their way out of that land, likely through the nearby pass that they used to enter the region — a mountainous gap that will eventually become known as Morgul Vale and do double duty as the home of both the Nazgûl and Shelob. By the end of the episode, this group sets sail for Númenor again with the exception of a single garrison of soldiers who remain behind to continue to look for survivors and help the locals.

Throughout this withdrawal process, we see some crucial developments with a few important characters. Queen Regent Míriel survives the turmoil, but her vision is impaired, and she can only see a gray, hazy smoke. The injury, which leaves her blindfolded, is an interesting juxtaposition when compared to her father, Tar-Palantir (Ken Blackburn), who is known for being farsighted.

In the meantime, Isildur (Maxim Baldry) discovers that his friend, Ontamo (Anthony Crum), has died in the eruption just before he himself is buried by a collapsing burning building and apparently left for dead. By the end of the episode, this leads to an understandably emotional response from his otherwise stoic father, Elendil, who breaks down in tears at the death of another family member.

The state of the Southlands

The Southlands have been put through the wringer over the course of Season 1. When we're introduced to the area in Episode 1, the land is reasonably prosperous, but its people are still under military occupation. Fast-forward six episodes and the bulk of the Southlanders are buried in ash and their homeland has been turned into hell on Earth. Despite being dealt a rough hand, pretty much all of our Southlander heroes manage to survive the harrowing circumstances, and by the time the credits roll, Theo, Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) have all reunited on the other side of the Mountains of Shadow.

From there, the trio joins their fellow Southland survivors and heads to a nearby area called Pelargir. Bronwyn calls it "an old Númenórean colony [with] fresh land and fresh water." This promise of a new life for the Southlanders is alluring, and if it proves to be a good move, it will doubtless be a welcome reprieve from the events that they just lived through. But there are still a lot of questions here. Is this an abandoned colony? Up until now, the show's storyline made it appear as if Númenor weren't actively colonizing Middle-earth in its recent history (even if that does happen in the source material).

It's also worth noting that Pelargir is an important town that plays a key role throughout the next few thousand years. Why? Because it's one of the main population centers and harbors of the future kingdom of Gondor.

Khazad-dûm awakens a Balrog

Episode 7 returns to Khazad-dûm as well, where we see Elrond provide a very convincing argument for why his people need access to mithril. King Durin III (Peter Mullan) seems impressed, but when he talks things over with his son, Prince Durin IV, it quickly comes out that the conservative, traditional, and experienced leader isn't ready to risk his people's lives or resources to help the Elves. While the entire "mithril comes from a Silmaril and is needed to saturate the Elves in the Light of Valinor" storyline is made up for the show, it's a fascinating opportunity to highlight the tension between Dwarves and Elves, even when they aren't at each other's throats.

Of course, the artificial pressure created by the need for the Elves to get mithril or fade by spring pushes the Durins in opposite directions as the father digs in his overly protective heels and the son gets reckless trying to help his friend and ally. Eventually, Elrond and Durin secretly discover a huge vein of mithril, but they're caught before they can do anything about it. Elrond is expelled from Khazad-dûm, and the king and prince have a major falling out. A betrayed King Durin strips his son of his position as his heir. Prince Durin IV despairs, only for his wife, Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete), to amp up her husband with visions of their future glorious rule together, the current king's wishes be damned.

All of these destructive and tragic events in the Dwarven kingdom pale in comparison to its final scene. As King Durin orders the new mine to be blocked up, we see a golden leaf float down into the depths of the Earth, where it lands next to a very grumpy Balrog.

The Harfoots stick together

Last we saw them, the Harfoots were having a pleasant time migrating to the Grove. When they arrive there early in Episode 7, though, they find the area was the landing site of a fiery chunk of volcanic rock — likely sent sky-high by Mount Doom's recent eruption. When the Stranger tries to heal the damaged trees, he nearly hurts multiple Harfoots, leading Sadoc (Lenny Henry) to sadly send him off toward a forest called Greenwood the Great (aka future Mirkwood). At this point, the halfling community understands that their mysterious friend isn't malicious, but his uncontrollable power is too dangerous for their quiet way of life.

Of course, the Stranger isn't gone for two seconds before the three cult members who have been following the caravan arrive on the scene. Up until this episode, very little has been revealed about this threatening trio apart from their slow speed and their apparent interest in the Stranger. In this episode, we get quite a bit more information, with them practically teleporting from one place to the next, holding fire without getting burned, and setting the entire Harfoot community ablaze while barely lifting a finger. Also, what's with that piece of Nori's (Markella Kavenagh) hair or headdress that the Dweller (Bridie Sisson) snatches when she sneaks up behind her? There's some dark magic afoot.

As the Harfoots recover from the pyrotechnical attack, Nori, Poppy (Megan Richards), Marigold (Sara Zwangobani), and Sadoc decide to set out after the Stranger to warn him about his superpowered trackers. What this quartet will be able to do to stop them is a mystery in and of itself, but it's fun to see that plucky halfling spirit flaring up once again in a Middle-earth story.

Adar and the Orcs set up shop in Mordor

Last we saw the twisted Uruk Adar (Joseph Mawle), he was chained to a barn pole being interrogated by a tempestuous Galadriel late in Episode 6. As Mount Doom erupted, a brief shot revealed what appeared to be the room where the antagonist had previously been detained, now empty. In the final moments of Episode 7, we catch up with the very-much-alive villain and his Orcs once again as they survey the gloriously ruined condition of the Southlands.

Adar tells his followers that they don't need to worry about wearing coverings since their new homeland is safe from the sun — which, how exactly did they not already figure that out on their own? Anyway, they start hailing him as "Lord of the Southlands." Adar's response is that the Southlands no longer exist. Instead, the land needs a new name, a name that is finally revealed as the location credit transitions from "The Southlands" to "Mordor" (come on, now, we all already knew what it was).

So after prophesying for multiple episodes that his people would get their homeland, Adar has finally come through on that promise. He's turned the Southlands upside down, driven out its peaceful inhabitants, and created a rough-and-tumble home front that his followers and their descendants will continue to inhabit for a long time to come.

When does The Rings of Power Season 1, Episode 8 air?

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Season 1, Episode 8 airs on Friday, October 14, at 12 a.m. EDT. After seven hours of storytelling, Episode 8 promises to bring Season 1 of the show to a dramatic, enlightening, and potentially depressing conclusion.

A lot has gone wrong so far for the good guys, and there's little sign of things getting better anytime soon. The Southlands — er, Mordor — is in flames, Orcs are gathering, and Adar is plotting his next step. On top of that, a Balrog has been awakened under Khazad-dûm, and the Elves are still trying to get their hands on that mithril. Add to that the fact that the mystics seem on the verge of catching the unprepared Stranger, and things look pretty rough. Oh yeah, and no one knows who Sauron is yet or even where he is or what he's doing.

What's the next move for the good guys? Where will everyone leave the story before things wrap up and we are left awaiting Season 2? Galadriel still needs to face the potential wrath of her king. Halbrand needs some Elven medicine too, and the new king of the Southlands' persistent presence around Galadriel continues to be a head-scratcher. Is there more going on there than appears on the surface? All of this doesn't even touch on the loose ends that need attention in imperiled Khazad-dûm, Eregion, and Lindon. The Stranger's story also seems to be nearing some kind of big reveal. Things are brewing in Númenor as well, and Isildur is still lost — even if Berek is galloping off to find him. There's still plenty of ground to cover before this story wraps up for the season.