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Alex Welch

Mordor? 'Rings of Power' just changed Tolkien's canon for the better

The sixth episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is easily the show’s most explosive (pun very much intended) to date. We’re going to get right into it so consider yourself warned:

Massive spoilers ahead for Rings of Power Episode 6

Not only does the Amazon series’ latest installment finally bring together many of the show’s characters, including Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), but it also ends with the eruption of none other than Mount Doom. The iconic Lord of the Rings volcano spews lava, fire, smoke, and steam across the entire valley of Udûn, which The Rings of Power Episode 6 is named after, all while Galadriel watches on helplessly.

To say that the moment in question is equally thrilling and tragic to watch unfold would be a massive understatement. Beyond that, it’s a turning point in both the history of Middle-earth and the story of The Rings of Power so far, one that may very well force several of the series’ characters to finally reckon with their past mistakes.

Mount Doom’s eruption in “Udûn” (which is Elvish for dark pit, underworld, or hell) also represents another instance in which The Rings of Power takes something largely skipped over by J.R.R. Tolkien and made it a fundamental part of its story.

The origins of Mordor

Mount Doom’s eruption at the end of The Rings of Power Episode 6 is not only a disruptive, cataclysmic moment, but it also marks the beginning of a transformation that will presumably see the Southlands turn into Mordor. That means Season 1 of The Rings of Power has set up Sauron’s inevitable arrival by revolving almost entirely around the creation of the very kingdom where he’ll eventually forge the One Ring.

Anchoring its first season around the creation of Mordor isn’t just an exciting way for The Rings of Power to set up Sauron’s reemergence in Middle-earth. Doing so also allows the Amazon series to offer its own version of how Mordor became such an inhospitable place for the elves, men, and dwarves of Middle-earth, which is something that J.R.R. Tolkien never totally explored in any of his work.

Mount Doom’s awakening

Mordor’s transformation into the land “where the shadows lie” is something Tolkien fans have discussed and debated for years, and that’s because little is actually known about the kingdom’s history. Indeed, even though we know that Mount Doom, (aka, Orodruin) was created during the First Age of Middle-earth by Morgoth, it’s unclear when it became an active volcano capable of turning an entire region into an endlessly dark, ash-covered realm.

The origins of the name “Mordor” are also a bit of a mystery. Based on Tolkien’s work, it’s unclear who renamed the region or whether the name predates Sauron’s decision to claim it as his domain. But what is clear is that Mordor itself wasn’t always as aggressively inhospitable as it is when Sam and Frodo journey through it in The Return of the King.

All of which is to say that The Rings of Power Episode 6 manages to take on a piece of Middle-earth history that has long remained shrouded in mystery by offering its own, explosive take on the formation of Mordor.

The Inverse Analysis — The Rings of Power Episode 6 may very well become a topic of intense debate among Tolkien fans for the way that it writes its own version of Mordor’s creation. But regardless of how well the episode’s final twist is received, there’s no denying the sheer boldness of the creative decision.

Additionally, Mount Doom’s eruption in “Udûn” is not only an exciting moment in its own right but it’s also the biggest sign we’ve gotten yet that Sauron’s long-awaited debut in The Rings of Power may, indeed, be just around the corner.

The Rings of Power airs Fridays at midnight on Amazon Prime Video.

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