There was no God to be found last night when Amazon unceremoniously dumped one of the worst television episodes ever on their streaming service. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s episode 6, “Udun,” was released like a lava flow upon the world. Its stupidity is baffling and infuriating to any who give it more than a passing glance. The last few episodes of The Rings of Power have been dull and uneventful. Now, viewers beg for boring as “Udun” surpasses the offensive nonsense viciously bored through their eyes. Never in recent memory has such an atrocity been produced. There is no redeeming this abomination. It isn’t Tolkien; it is not even just bad. It is horrific and owed all the descriptive expletives that have ever been labeled as history’s most villainous. It is an affront to sanity and common decency.
Nobody in “Udun” makes logical decisions. The meager character development from the last five episodes is utterly ignored. “Udun” reduces the characters to simple plot devices to justify the utter insanity of the writers. This heinous episode is rampant with unexplainable teleportation, inconsistent army sizes, and incongruent time passage. There is no decent action to make up for breaking continuity and characters. Anyone defending this episode must have their heads examined by a professional. Any child of basic intelligence would recognize the inconsistencies and narrative-breaking choices that are abundant through “Udun.”
“Udun” centers around Arondir and Bronwyn’s defense against the coming orc horde, which numbered in the thousands at the end of “Partings.” They finally leave the elven watchtower after the previous episodes pretended that was not an option. However, they waited until the giant army was on their doorstep, covering the only escape from the dam upon which the elven tower sat. This forces the humans to pass through an orc army undetected. A logical person would assume that they were fleeing the Southland entirely, but they go back to their village, which they left in “Adrift” because there was no way they could fortify against an orc onslaught there. To cover their retreat, Arondir shoots a single rope attached to the elven tower, bringing it crashing down upon Adar and a couple of his orcs. Somehow, Adar and one of the human traitors survive this before the rubble vanishes around the Sauron statue at the tower’s base.
Arondir rejoins the others to defend the village from a tiny attack. This begs the question, where did the thousands of orcs from the last episode go? At the absolute most, the collapsing tower killed a couple of hundred. Regardless, a defense of the village is mounted. When defeat seems inevitable, Galadriel and the Númenóreans teleport in and rescue them. While Galadriel is distracted by interrogating Adar, the main human betrayer takes Sauron’s hilt to the elven tower, using it as a key to open the dam’s spillway, so very little water pours out and gets funneled by the orc tunnels to Mount Doom, forcing it to erupt as if a nuclear bomb had been dropped. Water can ignite a volcanic eruption, but only in very specific circumstances, primarily when the event takes place in a pressurized cave where the steam pushes the cavern to its capacity. With Mount Doom’s open top and so little water, there is no way this would create an eruption to shame Pompeii’s. The episode ends with a pyroclastic flow, or fiery ashen wave, washing over the town and all the characters. Pyroclastic flows burn at around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and destroy everything in their path, killing everyone, like what occurred in Pompeii. There is no possible way that these characters could have survived this onslaught, but we know this isn’t the end of the season or the last we see of them. Elves, like one of Galadriel’s brothers, have died of dragon fire, which doesn’t even burn at this heat. Even the super-duper awesome Galadriel is very, very dead.
To briefly talk about the good things in this episode: there are no dirty hippie Harfoots and no Elrond and Durin. Additionally, there is one piece of good music while Galadriel is chasing Adar through the woods. That is what tent pole television has been reduced to in terms of positivity—the absence of characters and storylines and a single piece of good music.
The worst logic-breaking portions of “Udun” center around the decisions made by Arondir and Bronwyn. Originally, the humans left their hometown because it was indefensible. Then in the tower, they realized that they were vastly outnumbered,. to the point of no hope. They acted as if their two options were to die in battle or be evil, completely forgetting about the option to leave. Suddenly, leaving is an option, but instead of fleeing the area — as would have been prudent the moment they realized there were no elves to help in the watchtower — they decide to go back to the town, which was impossible to hold against just the few orcs they initially thought were coming. They leave a town because it’s indefensible and then leave the easily defendable tower to go back to the town that was originally indefensible. They leave a militarily fortifiable position with a single, narrow point of access for a town in a field full of stone thatched buildings. They would never have won a battle at the tower regardless because of the vast army that was seen approaching at the end of the last episode. However, it is a far better position to defend 100-fold. That’s not even to mention that the orc army increases and shrinks based upon whether or not it’s a wide shot or the insane tower falling sequence. These people are so dumb and irresponsible that it’s impossible to root for them.
After some awful dialogue from both plotlines, the battle for this indefensible town begins. It starts with Bronwyn screaming like an idiot and giving away her position before springing a trap on the orc army that suddenly numbers in the dozens. Bronwyn decides to engage in this battle with a shawl around her shoulders that forces its wearer to keep their shoulders still. She restricts so much of her arm mobility for a fashion accessory. She deserves to die for this stupidity alone. The following action sequence is laughable at the very best. Two fiery blockades covering two directions while leaving two other directions from which to flee or attack is not a good enough strategy. However, the humans somehow prevail, and they celebrate as if the war is over, forgetting that there are still thousands of orcs out in the dark, as seen at the end of the last episode. A few orcs — nowhere near the thousands that there should be — surprise attack the celebrating humans, forcing them to retreat into the tavern and barricade themselves inside. Already, the flaws of their new defensible position are glaringly apparent.
There is more stupidity here surrounding the medical treatment of Bronwyn’s arrow wound, which can be seen as nonsense by anyone with a basic understanding of medical procedure. You don’t break off an arrow and pull it out until you have a cauterizing agent available. Additionally, you don’t cauterize the wound with seeds and a flaming branch because pieces of the seeds and the branch could break off in embers inside the wound and cause infection. There’s a reason why hot metal is always used for cauterization in field medicine like this. Bronwyn may have survived the blood loss, but she’ll be dead within days due to this horrendous medical treatment.
Somehow, it takes this orc army — which is suddenly just a few dozen soldiers again — all night to break down this tavern door. Once they get in, the humans are killed to force Arondir to tell Adar where the hilt is located. Once Bronwyn is threatened, Theo gives up the blade’s location. Not only does he know where the blade is, but he is literally standing right on top of it while held by an orc.
It is at this extremely fortuitous moment that the Númenórean army arrives with Galadriel to rescue the few humans left. This moment causes several issues for many reasons, but the largest and most egregious is, once again, the passage of time. A sea voyage from Númenor to Middle-Earth should take weeks. However, being as good faith as possible, let’s say the voyage only takes a single day. Once they reach land, Elendil says it will take two days to travel upriver by boat and another day to ride to the elven tower. At the end of the last episode, Arondir said that the orcs would be attacking that night, and it has been a day since. At most, it’s been 30 hours for Arondir and the humans. In that time, not only did the Númenóreans sail across an entire ocean but also up a river and across land by horse, taking an absolute minimum of four days to make the trip, but the Númenóreans also miraculously gleaned that the battle was taking place at this random town and not at the elven tower for which they were heading.
There is far more wrong with this episode than can be calculated. A description of its flaws could go on and on, like Galadriel torturing Adar and threatening genocide, sounding like a supervillain. Also, the super-duper evil keyhole is in the elven tower the whole time, which only opens a little vent in the dam to let out some water, which somehow makes a volcano explode immensely. However, the most egregious issues have already been noted here. Logic, immersion, and any semblance of intelligence are entirely absent from “Udun.” Never before has such an utter and complete series of nonsense been cobbled together with such incompetence. All the characters are either evil or so stupid that Sauron deserves to win. #TeamSauron all the way; let these people die.