An Ode To Prince Durin, The Rings Of Power's Best Boy

Spoilers ahead for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" episode 7.

A true friend will do anything for you. They will be there for you in your hour of need. They will fight dad and king for you, forgive you for your silly elven faults, and give you shiny rocks as presents. You want an example of the truest friend you could ever have? Look no further than Prince Durin of Khazad-dûm (Owain Arthur). 

Pretend for a moment that we don't know what's coming in the Third Age of Middle-earth. Forget the Balrog and the destruction of the dwarven kingdom. Forget Sauron and Mordor and the long-distant Fellowship of the Ring. Our Second Age friends in Middle-earth know none of this. All this prince of the dwarven kingdom knows is that he is good at mining, he adores his wife Disa (Sophia Nomvete) and his children, and he thinks his father is just a big ole stick in the mud. He knows that his elven bestie Elrond (Robert Aramayo) needs his help, and Durin will do anything for him. Let us sing the praises of Durin, the best boy of Middle-earth. 

They will dig too deep ... but not for a long time yet

High fantasy has often shown us dwarves who are gruff and unfriendly. Though a deep bond develops between a dwarf and an elf thousands of years later in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, it starts off as antagonistic. The friendship between Elrond and Durin, however, is so heartwarming that it makes water come out of my eyes. We don't get to see its beginning (though Arthur said that if there's any story he'd like to see, it would be about their friendship forming, in an interview with Collider) but we certainly have a sense of how strong it is now. It's as deep as the mithril mine that will become so pivotal for the future of Middle-earth. 

Before we even get to Elrond, let's look at who Durin is as a person. He loves his wife, and how could he not? Disa is a strong woman and a talented miner. In fact, she is the one who found the mithril vein in the first place. She's also funny, doesn't take any crap from him, and backs him up when he's mad at his royal pops. 

When a whole lot of fantasy is supposedly based on the Middle Ages, we often see marriages that reflect that time period. The man is the breadwinner/warrior/etc. The woman is an heir machine and has to scheme behind the scenes (looking at you "House of the Dragon"). Here we have a relationship that is equal, with each partner devoted to the other. That alone makes Durin stand out (along with a worthy partner for Disa, the series MVP). Durin adores his kids, loves his dad and his wife, and more than that, he is devoted to his friend, despite the time they've spent apart. 

Doing the right thing

Look, we as the audience know that Durin's decision to mine the mithril (and the decision of his descendants to continue doing so) is going to result in the destruction of Khazad-dûm. We know the Balrog is down there, and if we forgot, the show reminded us this week. We know what's coming, but let's forget that for a moment and pretend we know only what Durin knows.

He knows that his friend didn't mean to leave him alone for years and miss his wedding and the birth of his children. He knows that his father disapproves. He also knows that he loves this elf (who either saved his life or whose life he saved, depending on which account you hear). 

A true friend can forgive, and Durin forgives a decades-long absence. He forgives the fact that his friend is eavesdropping on his conversation with Disa. He forgives Elrond for letting Gil-galad find out about the mithril. He may have played a little joke that got his wife a new table from the elves, but when Elrond needs him, there he is. He is even willing to get himself disinherited from the line of succession to help save the elves. He's a good man ... which makes his decision all the more heartbreaking in the end.

If he'd only known about that Balrog

If you didn't cry along with Durin as he says his goodbyes to Elrond, you are heartless. Yes, his decision to defy his father, in the end, will destroy a lot of things, but there is no way he could know that. All he wants to do is the right thing for the man he cares about with all his heart. 

This is a person who nurtured a tree as a tribute to a friend that he thought abandoned him. He's a person who doesn't want to model bad behavior for his beloved children. He's also a man who is full of joy when he feels like the people around him care. He can make a good joke at someone else's expense, but he can also find the humor in being outwitted. If he'd lived at a different time, perhaps he would be called Durin the Joyful, or Good King Durin. 

As an audience member, it's hard to watch him so earnestly doing what he thinks is the right thing for the people he loves, knowing what's to come. There is still a little part of you that wonders if there's any way to change the future. I just want to give him a hug and tell him and Elrond to take themselves, Disa, and the children to Valinor and disappear forever. Alas, their love and friendship are too pure for this fictional world. 

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is currently streaming on Prime Video, with one episode left in season 1.