Rings of Power Episode 5 Review + Mithril & Stranger Lore Discussion – Why it triggers Books fans

Episode 5 of Rings of Power was called by Harry from Fellowship of Fans: probably the most controversial episode so far – at least book lore wise. And after seeing it, I know exactly what he meant. I’m still not sure what to think of the lore “controversy” if you want to call it that. Beyond that the episode was pretty solid in my opinion, despite being very busy and setup heavy again. To quote myself from last review: “We are 4 episodes into season 1, so half-time, and I think we will still see a bit more setup even

in episode 5.” And I guess that was kind of right, because the episode included again a lot of setup, but it felt a bit different this time and maybe we might be mostly done with all this setup now, so that the actual story can now begin? I hope so. And I think in this episode plot was more often driven by the character’s actions and dialogue, instead the other way around, which was very present in the previous episodes (excluding the Elrond plot line). I’m Chris aka the Philosopher’s Games and this is my review of episode 5

and me trying to explain this “lore controversy”. I try to pronounce names as Tolkien described it, shout-outs to the artists like

Kimberly80, Ted Nasmith, Sara Morello, Jenny Dolfen and all the others for allowing me to use their fantastic artworks and spoiler warning. I at least assume you have seen LotR and all the episodes so far, but I try to avoid spoilers of future events I know from the books. The show was a strange ride so far. Me and others often complain about the writing and I think it stops the show to unfold its full potential.

The actors, sound, music, costumes, visuals are often very good. There was also some love for detail when it comes to writings using Tolkien’s or also for the show invented writing systems. The pronunciation is usually pretty spot on. What is a bit strange is the massive Quenya use (basically Elven Latin in the Second Age and beyond) over Sindarin (which became the actual common Elven language at some point in the very late First Age), but the Quenya is at least very solid when used. You can also find an argument for some other unusual language decisions. Like the

Dwarves using the name Aulë (which is the High Angel of Smithing who crated the bodies of the Dwarves and who is revered by them) in front of an Elf instead of the Dwarvish name Mahal. The Dwarves were very secretive about their own language and always learnt those of the others quite well, which also makes it plausible to give them an accent. As a channel that always looks a bit into language stuff, that part was quite enjoyable. But the writing of the story is often so focused on bringing all its characters (of which there are quite

a few) into a position where they can finally start their actual journey, relevant for the actual story, that it really hurts at times. Somebody described the show as in parts too fast and too slow at the same time. Like the show sometimes rushes through things, skips long journeys, but the main plot moves only forward in baby steps. Galadriel’s convoluted setup to just bring her to Númenor and establish her as child Galadriel in the body of an adult with quite a bit of needed character development is a prime example. For me it took 5 full episode

to make somewhat sense out of this character (and she was the only character in all episodes so far and had a ton of screen time). And that was not on the actress. She is imo amazing, but it’s the way she is written. In contrast with Elrond, Dísa and Durin the writers though demonstrated that they are actually able to write a very decent arc. I would even say the Harfoot arc, which I expected to dislike most, is one of my favourites so far. Further I like how they setup multiple mysterious characters in a way that it

let’s book fans speculate a lot, who might be who, which is a lot of fun. So in short the show has potential, but some decisions make it often feel mediocre. And after spending so much time with analysing almost every frame I have to admit, that after a very hasty episode 4 that had to rush a lot of things, episode 5 I actually liked, besides the book lore fan in me being triggered quite a bit. I feel like I’m hooked, because episode 5 feels like the(!) episode where things actually start. And that over 4 hours into

the show, which is the unfortunate part. The cynic in me maybe would say: bombarding us with mediocrity for 4 hours, makes a somewhat decent episode shine. And there might be some truth behind that. But episode 5 really feels like a potential turning point for Rings of Power, because now the actual story can start and it helps that the pacing is also a bit better. All they need to do now is in my opinion continue from here and keep the current level with slight improvements. Though I have to admit the show struggles a lot with the

lore and the depth of it. Maybe in parts due to missing rights, but definitely also due to strange decisions. In a way it feels like it’s not good at adapting Tolkien a lot of the time. Tolkien was less about building up 20 mysteries and hoping that one reveal might make the audience say “wow”. Think of Lord of the Rings. It was not about realizing that e.g. the Black Rider that appears in the Shire asking for Baggins, was a bad guy. It was also not about discovering that the One Ring is an evil object or what

its purpose was. All of that is explained in detail quite early. Even how the One Ring will be destroyed. What Tolkien did with his setup: he was seeking depth. He showed what it meant to be carrying the One Ring, how hard it was to destroy it out of your own will and what might happen to you, if you keep it and at the end you realize sadly what a lose-lose situation it was for Frodo, but also that there are good forces, greater than oneself, in the world, that will help you. And that is very encouraging.

I feel sadly Rings of Power has not understood this fundamental approach. And I’m not talking about repeating exactly what LotR did, but that a Tolkien-ian story searches depth in a lot of ways. Take Theo’s broken sword. It’s just a plot device – a key as we just learnt. The idea of having it, what it does to you, is extremely underdeveloped and we are 5 hours into the show. All we know is: it’s important to an enemy, who we don’t know much about, and he wants it for some reason and it reacts to blood and might

be connected to Sauron and maybe even Morgoth. I can speculate why Adar wants it. I assume it has to do with Mount Doom, because that is the most important place of Mordor and it’s what makes Mordor “Mordor” (the “black land”), but there is not much depth behind it so far. It might be that at the end it just consumes some blood and is used to activate something. It hints at some of the ideas of Tolkien, but it does not explore them. Further the show also changed a lot of Tolkien’s lore for this, which would be

fine if it felt “Tolkien-ian” and the pay-off was worth it, but so far I’m not seeing this and they have to change my mind in 3 episodes. They often hint at the depth of some ideas of Tolkien, but they never fully explore them. I would not go as far as saying that it’s just a random fantasy show painted Tolkien, but I can see why some might say that and are as fans probably quite disappointed. So when it comes to this I have to accept that it maybe was too big a task, but maybe because I’m

a more positive or at least neutral person, I still see some potential maybe seeing more depth and Tolkien’s ideas explored (at least a bit deeper) in the future. Maybe when the show now has time to focus on characters moving the plot forward, they can finally leave the shallow waters by letting them explore ideas of Tolkien. As said the Elrond arc did this in my opinion quite decently so far. There are some big lore points I would love to discuss as well. We start with the apocryphal mithril origin story (“mithril gate”) and the show’s depiction of

– let’s call it – the decay seen in Lindon. All who have seen LotR know Elves need to sail west. The reason for that is quite complex, but in short: the First Dark Lord Morgoth damaged the world itself, by infusing his evil into it (and sabotaging the original version of the world). His power is not really existent in the oceans and due to the presence of the High Angels and their efforts to “heal” their land it is also far less present on the west continent Aman, but on Middle-earth it’s very strong. I guess when Morgoth

destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor, his power also became again a bit more present on the west continent as well, but no comparison to Middle-earth. However the pure and immortal being of the Elves clashes with this damaged nature of Middle-earth. Morgoth changed the world and Middle-earth is a continent of change, while Aman is not. As a result when the Elves stay too long outside of Aman, they start fading. One might also see it as the world becoming less mythological over time until it becomes like our world. And ofc the Elves as pure mythological beings have

to vanish at some point, but this interpretation also has its limits. Still the idea of this decay exists in Tolkien’s writings but it takes millennia to take effect for the Elves. The Elves also developed means of slowing down this effect and the powerful ones were able to apply these to their fair realms. That is why Lothlórien and Rivendell later feel so “otherworldly”. About fading Tolkien also explains that first the spirit of an Elf consumes its body and his spirit is then part of the Unseen component of the world. Without the spirit an Elf is not

complete, which is a terrible state to be in. Some might speculate they then turn into wraiths or phantoms when their spirit can’t return to the Halls of Mandos on Aman. The idea of this happening next spring though, seems very strange to me. It might be that this is a lie from outside (maybe spread by Sauron), but it would seem still little plausible, because the Elves should understand their own nature and their limits a bit better. E.g. Círdan is one of the oldest Elves and lived until the Fourth Age on Middle-earth and during times were Morgoth

was basically his neighbour for over 600 years trying to kill or enslave every Elf there is. So I assume the show dramatizes this problem greatly here. Further Mithril seems to be the solution to drastically slow the process. The reason in the show is that its light can not be dimmed by any means, because it’s so pure. The story or song (“The Roots of Hithaeglir”) Elrond seems to know, he calls apocryphal (so not canon), which is probably a “meta” wink to the book fans, because it does not exist in the books. Further it allows to be

inaccurate in the show as well. As said maybe a story Sauron spread, to make the Elves do the things he wants. The part I dislike most about this story is that Elrond also expresses, how some claim (again it could be wrong) that that tree the hero and the Balrog fight over had one of the three Silmarilli in it. The Silmarilli have the light of the Two Trees in them, so from the last order of the world. It’s very pure and burns all evil away. Not even Morgoth could hold them in his hands, quote from the

Simarillion: “His hands were burned black by the touch of those hallowed jewels, and black they remained ever after; nor was he ever free from the pain of the burning, and the anger of the pain.” Further we know that good Elves who saw the Light of the Trees and I guess even that of the Silmarilli would be empowered by its light, though we also find hints that it fades in Middle-earth, quote “for the light of Aman was not yet dimmed in their eyes, and they were strong and swift”. The Silmarilli are as you can imagine one

of the most powerful artefacts in Tolkien’s lore. However there were no lost Silmarilli. We always knew exactly where they were and only at the very end of the First Age: they became unreachable. One ended up in the Sky, carried by Elrond’s father Eärendil on his flying ship, which can be seen as a star. We have this beautiful shot in the show, of Elrond looking at the sky, cut to Númenor and we see the statue of his father and the bright star above Númenor. The ancestors of the people of Númenor had to follow that star to

get to the island and Elrond’s brother Elros was their first King. I loved this transition. Another Simaril was thrown into the ocean and the last one into a fiery pit, so it became part of the earth. The idea is that the light of them is now within the three mythological elements of the word: air, water and earth (including fire) and we have to keep in mind that the light burns the evil, so it maybe made the world a bit more fair again. As said this is the short version and it’s a beautiful mythological story. Why

a Silamril would be in a tree on top of the Misty Mountains (the Sindarin name is Hithaeglir) I don’t understand. Ofc Mithril is a material used for the so called ithildin, a substance which included Mithril, which only reflected moon and star light, which we see on The Doors of Durin (the name means something like moon-starlight in Sindarin). Sun and Moon were formed out of the last fruit and flower of the Two Trees. And some of the stars were made out of the dew from the Silver one of them, called Telperion. So one can argue that

Mithril is somehow connected to that light and we also know from LotR that Frodo’s Mithril Coat potentially emitted a bit of light as well, but connecting it to a Silmaril seems strange. E.g. Eärendil’s ship was also made out of it (though Bilbo’s poem is the source of that, which might not be reliable), still one could argue the metal existed even during the First Age and was not exclusive to Moria. Further Númenor had access to Mithril as well. We can read in a note in Unfinished Tales: “For that metal was found in Númenor.” Though canon of

those sources can be debated and Gandalf in LotR says it could only be found in Moria, though that might be related to the time he said that, because from the perspective of the events of LotR other places, where it was potentially found, were not available anymore. But ofc you can make an argument for Mithril being exclusive to the Misty Mountains. But it seems the writers tried to connect several things here: The light of the pure hearted Elven hero, the darkness and hate of a Balrog and the light of a Silmaril plus lightning, which maybe could

be connected to Manwë, the King of the Valar (the High Angels). He had power over air, winds and could send clouds and lightning (- he is also mentioned in this story). We know Mithril has this purity to it and not the “evil trend” of gold (as Tolkien describes it). However I imagine the Balrog seems to indicate an evil trend for it in context of the fate of Moria in the Third Age. If that would be the case, I would argue that not Mithril had this evil trend itself, but the prolonged greed of the Dwarves driven

beyond all measures by the Rings of Power they had, which is imo a huge difference than blaming Mithril itself. As a result this story feels a bit out of place for me. Also when is this supposed to happen? In the First Age the Silmarilli were not lost, nor had Balrogs or powerful Elves time for a hike in the Misty Mountains. From the Silmarillion we know of 2 duels between a Balrog and an Elf, both happened in or around Gondolin in Beleriand. One was the Elf Lord Ecthelion vs Gothmog the leader of the Balrogs, the other

was another Balrog vs Glorfindel (see my Who is Glorfindel video for more information). All died in the process, the Elves and the Balrogs. And there was no tree or Silmaril involved. Geographically the powerful Elves, who have seen the light of the Trees, lived in Beleriand so not even close to the Misty Mountains (ofc Nandor Elves and maybe even Avari lived closer to them in contrast, but they have not seen the light). In the Second Age the Elves moved closer to the Misty Mountains, but the Balrogs had to hide very well, so I don’t see this

fight happening in that form. On top of that the show seems to play around Second Age 1000, so the age is still not that old for such an half forgotten obscure legend. I mentioned the Elves found ways to prevent the “decay” for them in Middle-earth and it seems in the show Mithril is part of the solution. We know the Elves in the books had later at least one artefact made out of Mithril that helped them doing this, so I would say it’s at least somewhat plausible. Ofc the show expands on this. I guess in the

show every Elf needs a bit of the rare metal and that helps them against the fading (at least large quantities are mentioned), though in the books I always got the impression that there are very few things made out Mithril and they are then very powerful. As a result the show’s approach seems off for me (so far). Though as said, maybe it’s not true or a story Sauron spread, so the Elves would look for Mithril. And ofc the light of a Silmaril for sure can reduce the evil, but imo it’s too big a topic in the

lore to make a it major plot point here. I can see how this is a “next level trigger” for some book fans. The next big lore topic of the show would be the Stranger. The show plays a lot with placing “red herrings” for book fans it seems. The show already explained that Sauron has to show up at some point and and some form. As a Maia (an angel or spirit being of lower rank) Olórin took the form of an old Man (same with the other Istari or Wizards) and became Gandalf, Sauron (also a Maia) could

also take different forms. So we might have seen him in the show already, but we don’t know. And here the speculation begins. Ofc it is obviously that Poppy must be Sauron, nobody would suspect her and did you ever see her and Sauron at the same time? Jokes aside ofc the Stranger is a candidate and power wise he seems to be a Maia in a weakened form. So he could be one of the Wizards, Sauron, a Balrog or the Man in the Moon, which is a figure from Hobbit folklore, mentioned in poems, that probably references Tilion

the Maia guiding the Moon and always chasing Arien, the Maia guiding the Sun. And as we know the Sun is a star. Also Moon and stars is a theme for sure as well. So the Stranger searching stars kind of makes sense as well. This could be then the origin of the Man in the Moon legend of the Hobbits, which also mentions him falling down like a meteor. So far this is my favourite theory. Him also saying “mana ùrë”, Quenya for “what is heat” or “blessed heat”, might reference the Sun he always chases. In episode 5

we now see him creating a powerful shockwave to defeat these strange wolves. Doing so does something with his arm. We later see him creating ice and saying “envinyata”, which is Quenya and means “to heal” or is some for of that. He also says “cala”, which means light. In addition he hurts Nori a bit with his ice without noticing her presence. She runs of in fear, which is a very untypical behaviour for Nori and the stranger has this scary gaze. They also talked about if he his good or a peril at the beginning. The writers place

some hints that constantly makes you question who the Stranger might be. Another theory I expressed in a video some time ago is that a good and an evil entity is inside him fighting over control. There is no story like this in Tolkien’s lore, but we just learnt about the Balrog and the hero. Maybe they fused together into a new entity after the lighting strike hit the tree and they became trapped outside of Arda, falling down as meteor, when Galadriel and her companions opened the path the the West Continent, which in the books is later moved

outside of the confines of the world. And they fight over control inside the Stranger. We have his compassion, but also these outbursts of this character, that seem to cause harm to others. A wizard would in my opinion have less of a “bad omen” and harmful aura than the Stranger. I know this theory is probably nonsense, but I wanted to share it anyway. Maybe at the end the Balrog wins and goes into hiding, becoming Durin’s bane or something. That he is a Maia seems clear though. One time he even says Ainur (while Nori thinks he repeated

“I Nori”). The spirit beings or angels in the world are Ainur, it’s the name of their “species”, while Valar and Maiar describe their “ranks”. My favourite theory is still the Man in the Moon theory, but I don’t see the connection to ice yet, which would also not fit for a Balrog as well. We know the Witchking had a cold arm and that Sauron could make use of fire as well; so if the Witchking can do ice, Sauron can do that as well. We learnt that in this ancient outpost of Sauron the fire was cool as

well, same as the One Ring when heated. So I think the theory that the stranger is Sauron is not off the table either. Adar seems to not be Sauron (I love Waldreg in this scene esp. how he asks if Adar is Sauron; the question the viewers ask themselves as well). I think Adar is following his own goals and is devoted to the orcs. I like the theory that he is one of the Elves Morgoth tried to turn into orcs and now sees those as children. He might use the broken sword as key to activate Mount

Doom, turning Mordor into a place where his Orcs do not have to fear the Sun anymore. We have this seen with him and the Orc, whose arm got burned by the Sun and he says that he will miss it. As said Mount Doom is the “Mordor defining” place and its ashes would cover the Sun and transform Mordor into this hellish place we know. So that would make sense. Further I also think the “Halbrand as Sauron” theory is not off the table yet either. What throws me off is how reluctant he is, when he is alone,

him saving Galadriel and he still needs to make the One Ring. I guess it would fit Sauron’s style to trick his victims in terrible ways. However Galadriel is a bad choice as potential victim here from the books’ perspective. Further it would be required that nobody finds out about him until the One Ring is forged and he has to take Mordor as his realm in the mean-time as well. The only way possible I see is, that he will not return to Númenor and is maybe asked to go to Eregion due to his smithing skills. Else he

would need a new disguise later on. The idea that Sauron split into multiple persons I also dislike, because it has no precedent in the lore and the idea behind it would just be strange for Tolkien’s world. Ofc Halbrand could become a Nazgûl, the like the Witchking or the King of the Oathbreakers as well. But (as most people) I think it will not take a good end with him. He also revealed to Pharazôn where Galadriel would go, when she escaped the prison. For that he got his guild crest. So he is very manipulative person, which fits

Sauron perfectly. I have to admit the speculating part was quite fun so far and I’m curious what theory might be the right one at the end. They also established Celebrimbor as potential schemer (maybe having already contact with a certain character) and the wise King Gil-galad does not seem very wise yet, which might trigger his fans a bit. I would have also preferred if Pharazôn would have went to Middle-earth as well, because he was also known as “leader in the wars” of the Númenóreans in Middle-earth. He already expressed his ambitions and though in the books Númenor

had established settlements long before Pharazôn was born, here he seems to be the one planning those. So maybe we will see that later in the show and maybe also see him as “captain both by land and by sea”. Then we briefly saw these cultists. In chat we called their leader Nazgirl though most call her Eminem and they seem to search the stranger, which surprised me. Maybe they are Morgoth or Sauron cultists? The helm looking like a praying hand is quite interesting, but they don’t look too friendly and the red haired woman also reminded me a

bit of of Elden Ring’s Malenia Blade of Miquella. This now brings us to the end of this video. My conclusion: pretty decent episode I have to admit, sadly also very setup focused, but it seems things finally start after it. It has also very triggering lore changes or additions for fans of books, but there is at least hope that now the show actually starts, so I’m at leat curious what will happen next and hope they can increase the quality of some of their story telling in some of the arcs, because that is what holds the show

back in my opinion. Thank for Watching! I hope you enjoyed this review and small analysis. If so press the like button, subscribe and let me know in the comments. How triggering was the mithril and decay story for you? How much sense did it make for people not familiar with the lore? I feel even here it could seem strange. Also maybe check my other videos. Would love to see more views on the Galadriel lore video (though it’s just part one). I also mentioned the one about Glorfindel. Feel free to recommend me further to other people interested

in the lore as well. Sorry for those who are waiting for regular lore videos, I will return to making them after the show is done. I also try to make a little review video on my German channel. Next would be an episode 5 Watch Party on YT and maybe on Twitch, the detailed episode 3 analysis and another Roundtable next week. Beyond that you can ofc also follow me on Twitter or Instagram or Twitch. Again thank you for watching and good bye.

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