The Rings of Power showrunners explain that explosive Lord of the Rings-shaped surprise

Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
(Image credit: Amazon)

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 6 ended with a (literal) bang. Now, showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have explained the thinking behind the decision to change Middle-earth forever.

Spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power follow. Look away now if you haven’t caught up!

After the battle between Adar’s Orcs and the combined forces of Numenor and Bronwyn’s Southlanders, it is revealed that Waldreg made off with the mysterious black sword – and used it as a key to open up a dam in Middle-earth.

The end result is catastrophic: water rushes down the mountain, through tunnels, and into a dormant volcano. The explosion – which may or may not be the origins of Mount Doom – changes the landscape forever and causes untold destruction.

For Payne and McKay, this was a way to echo one of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s overarching themes in The Lord of the Rings. "A huge theme in Tolkien is the environmentalism and the way machines and industrializations destroys the land," McKay told The Hollywood Reporter. "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?"

McKay continued,"It all builds towards 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."

With just two episodes left of the season, we should get answers amid the ash very soon. For now, we can ponder some of The Rings of Power’s biggest questions: who is Sauron and what do we know about Adar?

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.