This post contains spoilers for the first five episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Another episode of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, another deluge of Tolkien lore to sift through. As we’ve noted previously, it’s not necessary to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works before watching The Rings of Power—and even if you have, there’s a lot of lore to track, some of it reprised and some of it lightly revised. Below, we attempt to answer the most pressing questions casual fans might have about the series’ fifth episode, “Partings.”
That song Poppy sings about how “not all who wonder or wander are lost” sounds awfully familiar. Where I have heard that phrase before?
The song appears to be a Rings of Power original, and on the soundtrack it’s credited to show composer Bear McCreary (with actress Megan Richards, who plays Poppy, credited as the singer), but the line you single out is very similar to a line from a poem by Bilbo Baggins, “The Riddle of Strider,” in The Fellowship of the Ring. In a letter, Gandalf tells Frodo that Aragorn can’t be judged by his initial appearance: “All that is gold does not glitter,/ Not all those who wander are lost;/ The old that is strong does not wither,/ Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” Bilbo later repeats this refrain at the Council of Elrond to chastise a skeptical Boromir.
Ah, of course. But wasn’t it the great poet Smash Mouth who once sang “All that glitters is gold/ Only shooting stars break the mold”?
Yes, and while that would have been an equally fitting song for Poppy to sing—considering the Stranger is very much a “meteor man”—we are getting ever so slightly off track.
Sorry. Who is this woman who kinda looks like Eminem?
Her appearance in the first Rings of Power trailers made quite an impression when she was mistakenly identified by fans as British actor Anson Boon, prompting speculation that the character might be Sauron. However, the producers soon clarified that the character is in fact played by Bridie Sisson—not a Slim Shady, but a Slim Lady. They also noted she and her companions were “traveling from far to the east—from the lands of Rhûn,” which means they are likely followers of Sauron. Sisson’s character is credited in this episode as “The Dweller.”
One of her arms has turned black, and the Stranger also gets a blackened arm in this episode. What does that mean?
It’s usually a sign of evil! And it could support the theory that the Stranger may secretly be Sauron suffering from amnesia. After all, the Dweller appears at the site of his crash to earth, indicating that she’s looking for the Stranger. In Tolkien’s books, Sauron is also described as having a blackened hand that “burned like fire” when Isildur takes the One Ring from him, which is later confirmed by Gollum.
Then again, the Dweller could also be looking for the Stranger not to follow him, but to kill him.
Do we know what language he is speaking? If he is speaking “the Black Speech,” that would appear to be a bad sign.
A good point, though for now it seems to be a mystery. The closed captions say only that he is “whispering in other language.”
This sure is a creepy forest! Is this show gonna have Ents?
Some fans, including famous Tolkien fanboy Stephen Colbert, have noticed that the leafy figure on Arondir’s breastplate resembles an Ent (though the writers have yet to give a clear answer about this), and, perhaps more notably, the credits for this episode list an “Ent unit,” so fans of the tree-like creatures may be in luck.
Speaking of the creepy forest, were those wolves or wargs? Looking at the pawprints, Nori deduces that they’re from “wolves,” but those attackers don’t look like any wolves I know.
Wargs are a type of wolf, but not all wolves are wargs. You’ll notice the wolves in “Partings” look pretty different from the (somewhat pathetic looking) warg that the orcs sicced on Arondir just two episodes earlier in “Adar.”
This show keeps mentioning silmarils. What exactly are silmarils?
Three jewels that are very important to the history and fate of Middle-earth—so important that Tolkien’s posthumous collection of Middle-earth tales is called The Silmarillion. The gems contain the essence of the Two Trees of Valinor, the world’s source of light, which were ultimately destroyed by Morgoth. The Rings of Power departs from Tolkien’s books by creating a connection between the silmarils and mithril.
Does every kingdom in Middle-earth have its own magic tree or what?
When it comes to elves and men, pretty much! They can be counted on to shed their leaves ominously, in keeping with the autumnal tone of so much of Tolkien’s work, as well as to grow them back once honor is restored.
Where have I seen mithril before?
In The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo and Frodo both wear a lifesaving chain-mail shirt, and that shirt is made of mithril. The Rings of Power imbues mithril with more mystique than it simply being a very useful, if rare, natural resource in Middle-earth—the Tolkienian equivalent of Black Panther’s Vibranium or Avatar’s Unobtanium. It also makes the ore essential to the elves’ survival, since in The Rings of Power it offers them a connection to the light of the Valinor.
To conclude … so Adar’s not Sauron?
Apparently not! And he seemed rather offended by the suggestion, so you’d better be careful about mentioning it to him.