The Rings of Power Just Revealed the Origin of a Key Lord of the Rings Location

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power's sixth episode, "Udûn," created an origin story for one of the most important, iconic locations in Middle-earth lore. The moment comes at the end of what is easily the most eventful episode of the series thus far, after two groups of protagonists meet for the first time. Together, they repel a group of Orcs as the series attempts to recreate the magic of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' cinematic depiction of the Battle of Helm's Deep. However, in the end, it proves a near-pointless victory.

The heroes take Adar, the leader of the Orcs, captive. However, he had already passed the mysterious hilt off to his minion, the human Waldreg, who inserts it into a keyhole-like opening. Upon turning it, the dams holding back the nearby waters break. The water fills the tunnels that the Orcs dug beneath the Southlands, ultimately pouring into the lava beneath the nearby volcano, causing it to erupt. But this isn't just any volcano. This mountain is Mount Doom in what will one day be Mordor.

What is Mount Doom?

Anyone familiar with the story of The Lord of the Rings trilogy likely knows Mount Doom as it is central to the story. Mount Doom is the mountain in which Sauron forged the One Ring. Thus, only its fires can destroy the Ring. It is Mount Doom to which the Fellowship of the Ring, and eventually Frodo Baggins with only Samwise Gamgee at his side, embarks.

Lord of the Rings fans may have seen something like this coming. The mountain we now know to be Mount Doom is visible in the background of shots in earlier episodes of the series. Once the series revealed that the Southlands is where Mordor will one day be, it shouldn't have been hard to identify the mountain. The title of this sixth episode is also a clue since Udûn is the name of a region in northwest Mordor, a valley likely formed by volcanic eruptions.

How is Mount Doom made in the books?

Not much specific about Mount Doom's formation exists in J.R.R. Tolkien's writings. However, we know that Sauron's master Melkor, a.k.a. Morgoth, created Mount Doom, not Adar or Sauron.

One could argue that this may remain true in The Rings of Power. The mountain did already exist, after all. Adar only set it off. 

Why is Mount Doom important?

The Rings of Power is telling the story of how Mordor came to exist. Mordor will be a realm where cruelty and brutality are the norms, and Sauron rules uncontested.

It's also essential to future Lord of the Rings stories since the strength of Mordor, often reflected in Mount Doom, represents the strength of Mordor. For example, Modor diminishes after Sauron's defeat in the War of the Last Alliance and the loss of the One Ring. Only when Mordor's fires begin to burn anew as Mount Doom becomes active do the Free Peoples of the World suspect Sauron's return.

Why tell the origin of Mount Doom?

Telling the origin of Mordor and Mount Doom is a bold move for The Rings of Power, especially when it involves making some changes from Tolkien's writing. Series co-showrunner Patrick McKay explained the decision to The Hollywood Reporter.

"A huge theme in Tolkien is the environmentalism and the way machines and industrializations destroys the land," McKay said. "We wanted that to be central and core all the time. It's a thing that comes up again and again throughout the show. So in the writers room, we asked: What if Mordor was beautiful? All bucolic like Switzerland. And then what could happen that could transform it? We talked about the poisoning of the land — which starts in the first episode with the cow. Then you find out about the tunnels being dug and sulfur is going up into the air. It all builds toward this geologically realistic way of igniting the mountain, which now blacks out the sky for a very practical reason — Adar, our villain, sees the Orcs as his people and they deserve a home where the sun doesn't torment them. We're hoping it will take people by surprise."

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power's sixth episode, "Udûn," is streaming now on Prime Video. New episodes debut on Fridays on Prime Video.