Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” movies won raves for their lengthy combat sequences, filled with fantasy beasts and spectacular backdrops, unlike anything ever seen before in a multiplex. Those scenes in turn inspired some of the most talked-about episodes of “Game of Thrones,” which devoted entire hours to armies at war. Now “The Rings of Power” has its first “battle episode” with “Udûn,” in which roughly two-thirds of the running time is spent on the orcs’ two swarming nighttime invasions of the human strongholds, followed by the tide-turning daytime arrival of the Númenórean forces.
The 45 minutes or so of nearly nonstop fighting stands up well to both “Game of Thrones” and the “Rings” films — though as was the case with those, it was also a little fatiguing. So far, each episode of this show has featured impressive action choreography, in scenes that stand out because they last for just a few minutes. The daredevil stunts and dynamic camera moves in this week’s episode are just as excellent; but when there are so many of them, they become less special.
That said, it is always exciting to see the likes of Halbrand, Galadriel and Arondir fight with skill and valor. The time the writers have taken to establish each of these characters makes it easier to pick out who’s who in the middle of any melee. Plus, the stakes of their skirmishes are always perfectly clear … which makes the ultimate outcome of the fighting this week all the more devastating.Here are five takeaways from an episode that accelerated the plot in this series, before delivering a cruel twist.