There’s a loose theme around the subject of parents and children running through this week’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. And also themes of risk and safety. We see that clearly in Míriel’s dream during the opening where she greets a roomful of babies before the titular Great Wave comes and destroys the city. The dream of “The Great Wave” is a recurring one Tolkien himself had. He gave it to Faramir in The Two Towers, so it’s very appropriate that it appears here first.
It is Míriel’s fear of this dream coming true that has her in conflict with her ailing father and unwilling to trust Galadriel. Meanwhile, Prince Durin is taking risks that bring both reward and danger, and which his father does not think are worth it. Theo is taking risks that nearly get him and his mother killed, and Isildur is allowing himself to be distracted and letting down those around him, including Elendil.
All of these storylines involve the difficult balance between risking something or not. As Míriel’s problem demonstrates, even knowing the (possible) future cannot always help with decision-making in the present, but there’s a suggestion that listening to the wisdom of your forebears is usually a good idea. The parents, meanwhile, are motivated almost entirely by the desire to protect both their own and others’ children, with poor Míriel experiencing both sides at once, unwilling to listen to her sick father, and desperately trying to protect the children (and adults) of Númenor.
We also get references to Elrond and Galadriel’s fathers. Galadriel is referred to as “daughter of Finarfin” by the Númenoreans, while Elrond talks about his father Eärendil with Celebrimbor and with Durin. In these cases, the great deeds of the parents over-shadow their children, providing both inspiration and an impossibly high standard to live up to, something that obviously weighs on Elrond in particular.
We get a little more movement in some of the major plot threads in this episode. It’s looking like the mysterious object the Orcs are searching for might be a palantír. These have been changed a bit from Tolkien’s source material. In the books, there are a number of palantíri around during the Second Age, one belonging to Elendil’s father, and it is Elendil who brings seven of them to Middle-earth. They are used for telepathy and communication, though Sauron also uses them to show only selective truths to Saruman and to Denethor to corrupt them in The Lord of the Rings.
Here, the palantír seems to function more like the Mirror of Galadriel from The Fellowship of the Ring, showing “many visions” that Galadriel says “may never come to pass”. We’re also told that there were only seven of them, and that the other six have already been “lost or hidden”. That being the case, it seems likely that it’s a palantír that the Orcs are looking for.