Warning: spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power episode 4.The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showing scenes of Númenor’s destruction as early as episode 4 is a strange decision indeed. When Amazon announced its The Lord of the Rings TV series would be set during Middle-earth’s Second Age, fans would’ve immediately started anticipating which major events from The Silmarillion and J.R.R. Tolkien’s appendices might potentially get the live-action treatment. Near the top of those fantasy wishlists would’ve been Númenor’s downfall. Twisted and corrupted by Sauron, the Númenóreans betray the Valar, and their entire island kingdom gets cast into the sea as punishment.
Seeds are sown for this tragedy in The Rings of Power episode 4. Queen Regent Míriel has witnessed the decimation of her homeland in the royal family’s mystical palantír, and shares its dark prophecy with Galadriel. Míriel is now desperately attempting to avert Númenor’s end by weighing up whether to honor her father’s beliefs and befriend the Elves, or give into the growing discontent festering among her population.
The Rings of Power teasing Númenor’s doom so early isn’t surprising. In Tolkien’s legendarium, many of those faithful to the Valar predicted the punishment their island would receive, and Tar-Palantir (Míriel’s father) even envisioned Elros’ line of rulers ending. But while hints are expected, it’s strange that The Rings of Power actually shows extended scenes of Númenor’s destruction at such an early juncture. As one of the most epic moments in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Second Age, Númenor sinking always carried the potential to be The Rings of Power‘s visually stunning centerpiece. Thanks to Míriel’s vision, however, audiences have already watched massive CGI waves crashing over Númenor’s cities, buildings shaking, and citizens terrified. When The Rings of Power‘s soggy cataclysm eventually comes for real, the impact upon viewers now won’t be quite as strong, since the very same visuals already appeared.
What Episode 4’s Vision Scenes Mean For The Rings Of Power’s Future
Whether Númenor is destroyed later in The Rings of Power season 1 or way ahead in season 4 or 5, giving away the big CGI payoff in an episode 4 dream sequence is odd. A bit like if Game of Thrones had dropped glimpses from the astounding Battle of the Bastards before Ned Stark even died, or if Stranger Things season 4 had included flashforwards to Eddie Munson’s iconic “Master of Puppets” performance before Chrissy even started contortionist lessons.
Perhaps The Rings of Power showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are so confident that their show’s Númenórean apocalypse will be one of the most visually striking sequences in TV history, the flashes given away by episode 4 will actually pale in comparison and not detract from the final scene’s impact whatsoever. On the opposite end of the scale, perhaps seeing Míriel’s visions in such detail now indicates Númenor’s proper destruction won’t be depicted in the up-close, CGI-heavy, jaws-on-the-floor manner many expect. The Rings of Power might only show the island’s breaking from afar, perhaps through the perspective of escapees such as Isildur and Elendil.
At the very least, a keen focus on how Númenor will die proves the importance of this storyline to The Rings of Power‘s future narratives. Númenor may be a thriving, bustling civilization right now, but by giving audiences a forensic taste of its fate, The Rings of Power ensures Sauron’s capture and his manipulation of Pharazôn are all but inevitable somewhere along Middle-earth’s journey down the Amazon.
Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues Thursday/Friday on Prime Video.