If you’re not up to date on the Tolkien legendarium, this article could be considered spoilery for The Rings of Power. I won’t break down every little detail, but some of the major broad strokes.
We recently got the title reveal for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power courtesy of a nifty (and practical) video. But we didn’t just get a title, we also got some clues and outright confirmations as to where this show will go. The early rumours indicated that Amazon was committed to a five-season show, meaning that a lot of what this show will cover has been plotted out already against Tolkien’s notes. Showrunners J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay had this to say in a press release accompanying the show’s title reveal:
“The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Until now, audiences have only seen on-screen the story of the One Ring –but before there was one, there were many… and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”
So, based off of this statement and the official synopsis that came out last year, what could we see in each season of the show? I’m guessing each one of these events will be something of a broad stroke for each season. While it may not be exactly one event per season, I wouldn’t be surprised if the show takes something of an anthology-style approach, allowing us to see the Second Age through the perspective of multiple people over huge stretches of time. Case in point, for instance, would be that Isildur is not yet born when the titular Rings of Power are forged.
The Forging of the Rings
This will likely be the major event of the first season. Apart from the obviousness of the title, the reveal trailer is also narrated by Galadriel reciting the Ring Poem, emphasizing So, we’ll likely spend quite a good chunk of time with Celebrimbor, who personally crafts the three rings for the elves, all while Sauron, the Lord of Gifts, guides the elves in crafting the other rings. I wonder if Robert Aramayo (young Ned from Game of Thrones) will be playing Celebrimbor, the elven craft smith. There’s a lot that goes down in this part, but what’s most important is Sauron’s deception in the creation of the other rings and the One Ring, which would bind the other rings to him.
While this will account for the early events of the show, it won’t be the earliest. While I initially assumed the first-look photo was set in Númenor or the Undying Lands, it’s of course Valinor, as we can see the Two Trees of Valinor behind the sun in the photo. Seeing as how Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, destroyed the trees in the First Age, we can assume that the first episode, directed by J.A. Bayona, will set the stage for the show to come. Aside from Galadriel, we’ll probably also meet Fëanor, the one who forged jewels to hold the light of the trees, the Silmarils. Fëanor’s descendent is none other than Celebrimbor, who likely learned a thing or two about crafting otherworldy things from his grandfather.
The Rise of the Dark Lord Sauron
I wouldn’t be surprised if Sauron is one of the primary leads of the show. But, this won’t be armour-clad and fearsome Sauron that we’re used to seeing in The Lord of the Rings films. In order to manipulate so many people, Sauron had to be more presentable. He’s a deceiver after all, so we’ll likely spend a lot of time with his alter-ego of sorts, Annatar. Sauron is something of a shapeshifter and can change his face to suit his needs. In order to rise to power, the persona of Annatar was charming and good-looking, which allowed him access to the upper echelons of power, making sure his poison reaches those in high places, such as the elves and the craft smiths.
As we know, the elves and dwarves don’t fall under his corruption. The dwarves are literally biologically incapable of being corrupted by the rings, as the rings were made for the Elves but then gifted to the dwarves instead. The elves themselves began to show distrust to Annatar, by chiefly Gil-gabad, Círdan and Elrond (the keepers of the three elven rings at the time) and remove their rings of power when Sauron reveals himself. Thankfully, the Dark Lord had no hand in forging their rings, but the One Ring still sought to bind all the rings of power, regardless of corruption. But the nine rings for men do their part and turn the powerful men into the Nazgûl, also known as the Ringwraiths. This, in turn, would also be the origin of Sauron’s greatest lieutenant, the Witch-king of Agmar (who won’t go by this title in the Second Age and will likely simply be known as the Lord of the Nazgûl).
The Epic Tale of Númenor
One of the major events of The Rings of Power will be the political machinations, rise and subsequent fall (literally) of the island nation of Númenor. It’s worth reminding or informing that Isildur, who will end the Second Age when he cuts the Ring from Sauron’s hand, is born in Númenor and we’ll likely spend time with him in this part of the show, along with the King of the island, Ar-Pharazôn. Of course, you can bet Sauron gets involved with the politics of Númenor, donning the guise of a priest with the intent of getting the island to worship the fallen Dark Lord, Morgoth. Let’s just say that it doesn’t go well for the island nation.
This period of time is in conjunction with the Accursed Years, or the Dark Years, when Sauron’s power was basically absolute. Men were subject to the Dark Lord’s rule, the power of the Elves began to wain.
The Last Alliance of Elves and Men
We likely know exactly how and when the show will end. Being a prequel, some of the suspense is taken away as to the ultimate end game. By saying that the show will cover the Last Alliance, we can safely bet the show will end right where The Fellowship of the Ring opened up: with a climactic battle on the slopes of Mount Doom and Sauron (fully armored and with the One Ring), unleashing his hordes upon the Elves and the race of Men. Unlike the opening of Fellowship, which is only a few minutes, I would imagine this arc would see a lot of screentime dedicated to the actual formation of the alliance, the scouting that’s done to assess Sauron’s strength and the actual battle itself, which will likely take up a whole episode if I had to guess. I would imagine Elrond would play a large role in this segment of the show. Regardless, we know it’ll end with Isildur claiming the One Ring and putting an end to the Second Age.
So that’s my assessment of what to expect in The Rings of Power. Are you excited for the show or do you have any concerns? Let us know in the comments, as we’ll be sure to be covering this show as much as possible this year.