Queen Miriel stands alongside Galadriel in her Numenor court room as she delivers a speech to her people in The Rings of Power episode 4

Númenor is the back drop to plenty of tense politicking in The Rings of Power episode 4. (Image credit: Matt Grace/Prime Video)

Like episode 3, The Rings of Power’s fourth entry is primarily set on Númenor. Sauron’s orc forces and their leader Adar – more on him later – might be the more immediate threat to Middle-earth but, while the elves and Númenoreans continue to squabble, it’s the infighting between the two races that’s a far more pressing matter to deal with.

This feud is most evident between Galadriel and Queen Regent Míriel, whose disharmony shows no sign of abating. After their startling discovery in episode 3, Galadriel and Elendil present their Sauron-based findings to Míriel in private. However, Númenor’s leader refuses to aid the former’s quest to return to Middle-earth – with a Númenorean army in tow – to protect the Southlands from the Dark Lord. It’s a increasingly tense showdown that presents another fascinating insight into the relationship between these two powerful characters; a rare female dynamic, too, given The Rings of Power’s predominantly male cast.

Unsurprisingly, it isn’t long before tempers fray between the pair. A Hail Mary move by Galadriel – one that sees her seek an audience with Míriel’s father, aka Númenor’s actual king – leads to a furious exchange, which ends with Galadriel being imprisoned. As the elven warrior stews in her jail cell, Halbrand comes to the rescue again. He helps Galadriel see that her arrogant ‘act first, think later’ approach isn’t always the best one to take; a conversation that seemingly begins her journey towards becoming the wiser, more serene individual we see later in The Lord of the Rings.

Their chat is interrupted, though, with Pharazôn’s arrival. Long story short, Míriel has decided to send Galadriel back to Middle-earth, under armed guard, with Númenor’s population growing restless over her appearance in their realm. Galadriel agrees to leave but, as she’s released from her cell, she quickly overpowers Pharazôn’s guards and locking them up before leaving to secretly seek an audience with Míriel’s father. However, it’s a move that feels a bit too easy for an unarmed Galadriel to succeed in pulling off, even if she’s a battle hardened warrior.

Pharazôn, who appears ready to make a half-hearted attempt to stop her, is halted by a still-jailed Halbrand. It’s an intriguing piece of foreshadowing. Pharazôn might have the political charm to win over Númenor’s disgruntled populace – as he does so early in episode 4 – he’s not the brave fighter some might believe him to be. Could this be our first insight into his secretly weak-willed character that plays a huge role in events to come?

Eärien and Kemen chat as they watch Phazaron work his magic in The Rings of Power episode 4

Eärien and Kemen start to grow close in The Rings of Power episode 4. (Image credit: Prime Video)

Breaking into Númenor’s main tower, Galadriel makes her way to meet the king – only to find Míriel sitting with her ailing father. Remembering Halbrand’s advice, Galadriel apologizes for intruding before she implores Míriel to explain why Númenor turned its back on the elves.

As Míriel explains, following his coronation as king, Palantir – Míriel’s dad – claimed Númenor had angered the Valar (Middle-earth’s gods, essentially) and that they must return the old ways when men and elves worked together. This enraged Númenor’s population, leading Palantir to take the difficult decision to fully sever ties with the elves. He soon took ill, though, leading to Míriel to govern in his stead and quell any further unrest.

It seems the Valar are still unhappy with Palantir’s choice. Míriel shows Galadriel the last remaining palantír (not to be confused with her father’s name), an indestructible crystal ball that foreshadows the future. Placing her hand on it, Galadriel receives a premonition of the Great Wave – a cataclysmic oceanic event that leads to the destruction of Númenor. Míriel has foreseen this event in the palantír and her dreams, and is convinced Númenor’s fate is sealed as, according to the palantír, Galadriel’s arrival has set these events in motion. Galadriel presses Míriel to join forces with her omce more, which might appease the Valar and subsequently save Númenor. Reluctantly, Míriel declines, deciding instead to send Galadriel on her way.

Or so it would appear. As Galadriel leaves, Númenor’s White Tree begins to shed its blossom; a palantír-based sign that suggests Míriel is making the wrong move. She reneges on her decision to cast Galadriel out and, addressing an assembled crowd later on, Míriel announces that Númenor will stand with Galadriel, sail to Middle-earth, and aid the Southlanders in their fight against Sauron.

It’s a meeting that presents another fascinating insight into the growing dynamic between two powerful female characters

But things won’t be plain sailing (pun intended). As Elendil reads a royal decree to another crowd, one which calls on Númenoreans to volunteer in following its Queen into battle, Isildur – Elendil’s son – and his former friends Ontamo and Valandil put themselves forward.

It’s a gripping move on the trio’s part – and not only because Elendil and Eärien look concerned that Isildur enlists to fight in a foreign land. It was Isildur purposefully throwing his training exam that got him and his two pals thrown out of the sea cadets, much to Valandil’s fury. Isildur and Valandil’s frayed relationship, then, is sure to be put to the test in enthralling fashion if they’re forced to fight alongside each other.

Of equal intrigue is Eärien’s seemingly blossoming relationship with Kemen, Pharazôn’s son. The pair’s likely romance feels a bit forced even at this early stage, but it’s one that’s sure to drive a wedge between Elendil and Pharazôn. The duo are Míriel’s closest confidantes, so a power struggle may erupt between them if either party is unsettled by Eärien and Kemen becoming close. Both instances might unwittingly sow more seeds of division among Númenor’s people, giving Míriel more headaches to deal with.

Heading south

Bronwyn stares in disappointment at two Southlanders at a Watchtower keep in The Rings of Power episode 4

More problems arise in the Southlands in episode 4. (Image credit: Prime Video)

As for the Southlands, things are truly going, well, south.

After making it to the abandoned elven Watchtower, things look bleak for the townfolk of Tirharad. Food rations are running low and, despite Waldreg, Tredwill, and Theo all suggesting a search party should be sent back home to gather supplies, Bronwyn forbids it as it’s too dangerous.

Theo isn’t one to listen to his mom, though. Enlisting the help of Rowan, the duo return to Tirharard to raid their stores for food. However, the arrival of dark clouds blot out the sun, giving an orc scouting party the chance to find new subjects to kidnap. As Rowan escapes, one orc attacks Theo, who defends himself with the blood magic sword in his possession. Unfortunately, the orc recognizes the blade, leading Theo to flee and hide down a well until night arrives.

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