The way Arondir just backs straight into this Goliath orc after falling off the roof and tangoing with other orcs lets us know he’s in trouble. Then, the orc starts tossing Arondir around, bearing down on him in a low-angle shot, and you just want him to avoid close quarters combat because it seems like that’s the only way he’ll have a chance. Brute strength isn’t going to win against this foe. When the orc gets Arondir up against the well, removing the blade from its eye and leaking black blood all over his face, that’s when you know “The Rings of Power” isn’t fooling around anymore.
When Bronwyn gets shot by an arrow and Arondir has to remove it, the camera also lingers on the blood oozing from her wound before he cauterizes it. Orcs furthermore hack and slash away at various villagers, leaving them dead, and thanks to ace prosthetics, the enemy looks just as scary in close-up as they did in “The Lord of the Rings” movies. These moments might seem gratuitous, but they’re not violent just for the sake of being violent. Rather, they live in service of a story that has suddenly become much more edge-of-your-seat.
Tolkien was a World War I veteran, and the aforementioned Atlantic article spoke of the “non-violent ethic” in his writing. It’s understandable that, having experienced real-life violence in the war (in the Battle of Somme, for instance), he might want to shy away from showing that in his writing. However, “The Rings of Power” lives as much in the house Peter Jackson built onscreen as Tolkien built in his books. In “Udûn,” it makes us feel the terror of the war that’s suddenly come to Middle-earth.