After a few rather subdued episodes, Amazon's "Lord of the Rings" series picks up speed in episode six - and for those of you who have wondered what the rumored $1 billion budget is being spent on, you'll get an answer. Consisting almost entirely of a single battle between terrifying orcs and the humans of the Southlands, the Rings of Power episode "Udûn" delivers the most compelling action and the highest visual impact of the entire series to date.
The critics of Amazon's large-scale fantasy project have been numerous and vocal so far. In the "Lord of the Rings" series, too little happens and the various storylines spread across the continent of Middle-earth and the island kingdom of Númenor are too unconnected, are just two of the often-heard objections to "The Rings of Power".
Episode six, which was directed by Charlotte Brändström (63), undoubtedly clears up these two points of criticism. The previous Númenor story arc around Galadriel (Morfydd Clark, 33) runs together in the southern lands with the elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova, 35) and the healer Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi, 42). In a breathlessly timed battle, the inhabitants of what would later become Mordor fight against oncoming hordes of orcs - only to be rescued in the face of certain defeat by the approaching cavalry of Númenor.
Of course, this last-minute attack is reminiscent of Gandalf's (Ian McKellen, 83) intervention in the second "Lord of the Rings" film "The Two Towers" from 2002 - how the series "The Rings of Power" changed at the end of the first Season seems to reflect more and more on Peter Jackson's legendary film trilogy. Because here, too, the battle for Helms Klamm was only the prelude to further feverish carnage in the trilogy finale "The Return of the King" (2003).
In the epic, episode-long fight from episode six, the series creators seem to effortlessly find the right balance between brutal action and rather quieter character moments, which also give the viewers a respite. The clash of orcs and humans is excellently choreographed, and individual actions such as Galadriel's brilliant dodge on the back of her horse will be remembered by fans for a long time. As if all that weren't enough, the episode "Udûn" also surprises with an impressive cliffhanger ending, which is steeped in the mythology of template author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) is rooted.
Because the volcano that erupts so explosively at the end of episode six is that mountain of doom in whose flames the villain Sauron will forge the One Ring - and in whose fire Frodo (Elijah Wood, 41) and Sam (Sean Astin, 51 ) eventually destroy the powerful artifact again. "Lord of the Rings" fans experience here for the first time in moving images how the green southern lands transform into the barren, barren Mordor, probably the most famous setting from Tolkien's works along with the Shire. Now that the sun has gone dark, the light-shy Orcs have a home they will inhabit well into the Third Age and throughout Jackson's early 2000s film trilogy.