The Rings Of Power Is The Most Chaste Current Fantasy Show With The Hottest Chemistry

Spoilers below for the finale of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

Chemistry's a funny thing. It's not something you can fake, much less force, and it's equally hard to quantify. All that aside, I think we all know chemistry when we see it — and it's been a long, long time since we've seen it used to its full potential.

We live in bleak times, people. The world is, in a lot of ways, crumbling before our very eyes — but on an infinitely more superficial level, actors just don't have the chemistry they used to. There are, of course, exceptions: actors like Oscar Isaac and Daniel Kaluuya, for example, who generate enough electricity on their own to power a small town. But the characters they play aren't afforded many chances to explore that electricity outside of the bedroom, if at all. Call me a prude, but one soulless sex scene does not chemistry make. Sometimes it's about the yearning: the mournful looks between star-crossed lovers, the self-denial in the face of duty, even blind passion thinly disguised as animosity.

That's what makes a show like "The Rings of Power" so unique. It's decidedly light on the lust-fueled trysts and violent encounters that create major talking points on neighboring fantasy shows. Hell, the only couple on the show with an established romantic connection don't share a kiss until the sixth episode — and in the entire first season, they are the only couple to even remotely consummate their love. But that's not to say there isn't searing chemistry elsewhere. Like I said, sometimes the subtext is enough — and within every pairing that "The Rings of Power" introduces, a little goes a long way.

Looks like chemistry's back on the menu, boys!

As far as clear-cut romances go, the one blossoming between Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) and Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) is one of few featured on "The Rings of Power." The series isn't one to stray too far from the lofty concepts of duty, sacrifice, and the battle between good and evil, so friendship and devotion carry much more weight in the Tolkienverse. But when all your actors are tuned into the same smoldering frequency, it gets very hard to ignore the potential (romantic or otherwise) in each of them.

Take the incredibly charged dynamic between Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Sauron, FKA Halbrand (Charlie Vickers). I know we're not supposed to interpret their relationship as a romantic one, but ... come on. Look at the material. Even before Sauron revealed his true nature to Galadriel and asked her to help him conquer Middle-earth in the series finale, their sexual tension was palpable. And of course, a lot of it has to do with the intense connection Clark and Vickers share. Their smoldering looks and soft-spoken exchanges bring something to life in each and every scene — not only with each other but with other actors in "Rings of Power" too.

Dealer's choice

Clark, for her part, has yet to cross paths with an actor she doesn't share innate chemistry with. There's something to be said for her rapport with Robert Aramayo's Elrond. Of course, their dynamic is meant to be platonic, at most familial: Elrond later marries Galadriel's daughter, so he's basically her future son-in-law. But whenever the two are in a room together, the years of history, trust, and love they share are in the room with them too. And Galadriel's connection with Elendil (Lloyd Owen) is just as powerful. There wasn't much to it at first, but the moment Elendil invokes his namesake of "Elf-friend" and converses with Galadriel in Quenya, something definitely shifted.

Though whatever Galadriel and Elendil had effectively fizzled after Númenor's brutal defeat in "Udûn," the "Rings of Power" finale managed to give shippers a sweet consolation prize. With Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) blinded after the battle against Adar's forces, Elendil steps up to be her guide. They've both suffered incredible loss and are each mourning in their own ways — but the fact that they find solace in each other and pledge to keep fighting together is just enough to feel like a promise of something more.

Come what may

Is "Rings of Power" teasing anything between these two, or is this just another instance of crackling chemistry? It's hard to say at this point, but I'm more than willing to concede to the cast in this case. No shade to the writers' room — seriously, the writing on this show is incredible — but it's called subtext for a reason. In less committed hands, every beautiful, poetic connection written into the script would fall flat, especially compared to the scale of the series. In "Rings of Power," the emotional dynamics matter just as much as the narrative, and that's as much a credit to the cast as it is to the casting department, because clearly chemistry reads were taking place.

Middle-earth isn't really the place for sexposition or steamy make-out sessions, but "The Rings of Power" compensates for its chastity in other ways — and after watching these characters exchange puppy-dog eyes and pledge their love in roundabout ways, can you honestly say you miss the former?