The Rings Of Power Finale Learned The Right Lesson From The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

Endings: they're tough! Ask plenty of "Lord of the Rings" fans and they'll say that "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" had a perfect conclusion. But whenever I hear that, I think, "Which one?!" The film trilogy famously didn't seem to know how to say goodbye to the characters we'd grown to love so much, so it tacked on not one or two but at least four endings, if not more. The emotions of that trilogy's ending hit like waves, crashing into you one after another. This week's finale of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," on the other hand, kept its most emotional moment short and sweet – but it still hit like a tidal wave.

There were plenty of moments to love in "Alloyed," from the tricky, trippy, memory-hopping scenes between Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Sauron (Charlie Vickers) to the cheer-worthy moment when we knew for sure that The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) was friend, not foe. But none brought tears to my eyes quite like the farewell sendoff for Nori (Markella Kavenagh), the brave harfoot who chose to leave behind her clan in order to go on an adventure – we can call it that, rather than a journey, since it features two people — with the man who almost certainly is Gandalf.

Nori's goodbye was a perfect ending

Though the series streamlined the harfoot plot's conclusion, it still featured a little bit of a fakeout. Nori initially chose to travel on with her community, but they saw right through her selflessness and told her to join The Stranger on his quest to Rhûn. Like parents seeing their kid off to college, her family fusses over whether she has enough blankets, snails, and a good lantern for the quest. Then, her father, Largo (Dylan Smith), approaches her with tears in her eyes that are hard not to match as a viewer. "Some father," he says. "Here you're heading into the big beyond and I haven't taught ya a bloomin' thing."

This scene works so well not just because it ties up the occasionally meandering harfoot plot with a clear vision, but also because it's so authentically emotional. Everyone has to leave home in one way or another eventually, venturing out beyond what they know into a world that can often seem scary. Nori does so with a self-assuredness that shows her family she's ready, reciting back some of the best advice her parents gave her before sharing a heartfelt handshake with her father.

The scene hits home

Nori also gets her mom's blessing in an exchange that includes one of the most straightforwardly meaningful lines of the series. "Find where the river runs, where the sparrows learn their songs," Marigold (Sara Zwangobani) tells her, a wish for her daughter to learn more about the world than she would be able to at home. "I will, mother, and I'll be careful," Nori assures her, to which her mom answers, "No, you'll be bold." As a former first-generation college kid whose decision to leave my hometown for school was met by some around me as if I was headed straight toward mortal peril, this hit hard. The harfoots are notoriously clever and safe, so for Nori's mom to tell her not to be careful, but to be bold, is a beautiful show of love and support that likely goes against her every instinct.

Nori's goodbye wraps up perfectly: Poppy (Megan Richards), who brushed her off with an abrupt goodbye earlier, runs up to her for a true, heartfelt farewell. "Why does everyone I love the most always have to go away?" she asks. "Cause I think if we didn't, then we'd never learn anything new," Nori answers. The end of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is a masterpiece in its own right, and this is really more of a beginning anyway, but still: Nori's farewell is a well-executed and beautiful final scene that hits home in a big way, with a short runtime to boot. If "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" has more moments like this up its sleeve, I can't wait to see where it goes next.