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Alex Welch

'Rings of Power's best storyline steals one brilliant trick from LOTR

Over the course of its first five episodes, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has taken viewers to practically every corner of Middle-earth and introduced a wide range of both new and pre-existing characters. In the same amount of time, important new relationships have been forged in the Amazon series and several mysteries have driven the plot.

However, of all the storylines that The Rings of Power has focused on throughout its first season, there’s one in particular that has risen above the rest. We are, of course, talking about the ever-evolving friendship between Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur).

The two characters’ stories have been tied together in The Rings of Power and, through their friendship, the Amazon series has managed to honor one of the most appealing aspects of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work in much the same way that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films did.

Elrond and Durin IV’s friendship in The Rings of Power

The Rings of Power may not introduce Elrond’s relationship with Prince Durin IV until its second episode, but it doesn’t take long for it to become clear that their bond is stronger than it initially seems. Between Durin’s brief tantrum about how his Elven friend disappeared from his life for nearly 20 years and the subsequent dinner scene that the two characters share with Durin’s wife, Disa (Sophia Nomvete), The Rings of Power Episode 2 effectively establishes an old, complex friendship between two of its principal characters.

Their bond is one that is hampered at times by mutual feelings of distrust and paranoia, but it’s ultimately strengthened by the love and understanding that Durin and Elrond have for each other. In other words, their scenes are — yes, full of drama and tension — but are also characterized by levity, warmth, and humor. As a result, Elrond and Durin’s friendship already feels more well-developed and layered than basically any other relationship in The Rings of Power.

Their storyline also contains the same palpable sense of camaraderie that is so present in the Tolkien-penned books that inspired Rings of Power. In this way, Elrond and Durin IV’s friendship has allowed the Amazon series to occasionally capture the same sense of cross-cultural companionship (as best defined by an unexpected but strong friendship between an Elf and a Dwarf) that director Peter Jackson articulated so well in his Lord of the Rings films.

Indeed, in addition to everything else they do right, Peter Jackson’s three Lord of the Rings films all manage to honor Tolkien’s original books by creating some of the most memorable on-screen friendships in cinema history. That includes the bond that grows between Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) over the course of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which — similar to Elrond and Durin’s friendship in The Rings of Power — delivers some of those films’ funniest and most quietly moving moments.

For that reason, the fact that The Rings of Power has made the time amidst its numerous storylines to develop Durin and Elrond’s relationship so well is proof that the Amazon series was created with some of the same intentions that Jackson had when making his Lord of the Rings films. Both titles, at the very least, understand that friendships between the different races of Middle-earth are integral to the tales Tolkien told.

The Inverse Analysis — Season 1 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has been far from perfect. The Amazon series has frequently struggled to nail down a consistent pace, and its depictions of certain Tolkien characters have proven to be undeniably lacking.

But those problems have not plagued Elrond and Durin IV’s friendship in The Rings of Power. As a matter of fact, their storyline has proven to be the show’s most consistently entertaining, rewarding, and emotionally affecting to date. Consequently, it seems fair to say that The Rings of Power does understand something important about J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films also did: there is perhaps no force in Middle-earth more powerful than friendship.

That’s clear not only whenever Legolas and Gimli appear on-screen together in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but also whenever Prince Durin IV and Elrond end up engaging in another engrossing, humorous conversation in The Rings of Power.

New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere Fridays on Prime Video.

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