Warning: This post contains spoilers for J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, including myths that are the basis for the plot of Rings of Power.
After dropping a teaser during the Super Bowl and images over the course of many months, Amazon has finally released a full teaser trailer for its much anticipated Lord of the Rings spinoff series, Rings of Power.
Set in the Second Age, thousands of years before the action of The Lord of the Rings, the Rings of Power spins an epic tale involving dozens of humans, dwarves, elves, hobbit ancestors, and mysterious magical strangers as they confront the threat of a growing evil on Middle-earth. (Spoiler alert: It’s Sauron!) The teaser includes some familiar faces, like younger versions of the immortal elves, as well as new characters created just for the series.
To weave a new tale, showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne combed through the appendices to the Lord of the Rings books to find mentions of characters, battles, kingdoms, and adventures of the Second Age. They used Tolkien’s lore as a guide and filled in the gaps, condensing the long history of the era to create one action-packed show. Five seasons will likely cost Amazon over $1 billion to produce, which means Rings of Power is the most expensive series ever created. It’s also one of the most highly anticipated: Its first teaser became the most-watched Super Bowl trailer of all time.
Read more: The Lord of the Rings Movies Are Now Holiday Movies. Here’s Why
Here is a breakdown of the new teaser trailer.
Young versions of elves like Galadriel
We get a look at Morfydd Clark as a young Galadriel (played by Cate Blanchett in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films). Rings of Power is set millennia before Frodo or Aragorn are born, but elves are immortal, so we’ll get a few familiar faces, including Galadriel and Elrond (who is, technically, half elven).
In the text of The Lord of the Rings, Galadriel is sort of an elder stateswoman. This Galadriel is much younger and still eager to take to the battlefield. In an earlier teaser, we saw her climbing a treacherous ice mountain. In this trailer, we get a hint as to why she might take on such daring missions.
In a voiceover, she says, “There was a time when the world was so young there had not yet been a sunrise. But even then, there was light.” We flash to an image of the elven city of Tirion and the Two Trees of Valinor which brought light in ancient times. This show is serious about its Tolkien lore.
Proof that Amazon went the distance, literally
We get a series of shots of warriors and travelers moving across majestic landscapes. One looks like men crossing a river, another looks to be Galadriel and other Elves in the snow. There were some concerns when the Super Bowl trailer premiered that Rings of Power would be CGI-heavy and lack the practical effects of Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. This is Amazon reassuring us that they shot on location in New Zealand with a boatload of extras and real humans in prosthetics.
This isn’t an idle fan concern: Jackson relied heavily on distracting CGI for his prequel Hobbit films, especially when it came to the orcs, rather than depending on the cumbersome but effective prosthetics and makeup he used in the original films.
Jackson got picked apart by fans and critics for relying too heavily on CGI in the Hobbit movie to create the orcs, as opposed to the prosthetics and makeup that had so successfully rendered the orcs in Lord of the Rings.
Reintroducing the peoples of Middle-earth
The trailer then does some scene setting, reminding the audience of the different peoples that populate Middle-earth. “Elves have forests to protect,” says an unseen narrator. “Dwarves, their mines. Men, their fields of grain. But we harfoots have each other.”
Harfoots are forebears of hobbits. They, too, are small with big feet. This group of harfoots, at least, seems to take a rather isolationist attitude: They protect one another and stay out of the way of elves, dwarves, and men. We know, again from the Super Bowl teaser, that a harfoot named Nori (Markella Kavenagh) dreams of adventure and what is out there in the lands of Middle-earth beyond where her family resides, not unlike a hobbit who thousands of years later will go on his own great journey.
“We’re safe,” the harfoot narrator concludes—a sentiment that is immediately undercut by a menacing meteor flashing across the night sky. Nori watches as it falls.
Setting up the threats
Now, on to the threat. Elrond (Robert Aramayo) tells Galadriel, “You have fought long enough, Galadriel. Put up your sword.” It sounds like Elrond is pressuring Galadriel to retire. She objects: “The enemy is still out there. The question now is where.”
Some scene-setting: Before Sauron became the Big Bad of the Lord of the Rings stories, there was another villain, an evil god named Morgoth. And while Morgoth and his orc army were defeated, Morgoth’s servant Sauron disappeared. Galadriel seems to be convinced that Sauron is still out there and still poses a threat to Middle-earth. Her mission is also one of vengeance: Galadriel’s brother Finrod died in the fight against Sauron.
Flashbacks that (may) reference earlier Tolkien lore
The two elves continue to argue.
Elrond: “It is over.”
Galadriel: “You have not seen what I have seen.”
Elrond: “I’ve seen my share.”
Galadriel, slowly this time: “You have not seen what I have seen.” Galadriel is, of course, right. She is much older than Elrond. But they’re both very old and have seen plenty of murder. Then we get a glimpse of Galadriel in a truly hellish looking place. She looks up to see bodies floating in a sea of red. It’s unclear what moment this is depicting, but it could be a flashback to the War of Wrath, which marked the end of the First Age and involved dragons. Morgoth was defeated but many lost their lives in the process.
The rise and fall of Númenor
We get a flash of what’s probably a city of Númenor, a realm on the sea inhabited by men. The rulers of Númenor are descended from Elrond’s half-elven brother Elros and have elongated lives (though they are not immortal). Aragorn is a descendent of the men of Númenor though the kingdom itself is long gone by the events of The Lord of the Rings. The rise and fall of the Númenor is a major moment that we have yet to see onscreen and can likely look forward to seeing in this show.
An orc invasion
The rest of the elves must, eventually, come around to Galadriel’s worldview. We see High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) of the elves. We got a very brief glimpse of Gil-galad in the Fellowship of the Ring movie during the prologue. He rules over Lindon throughout the Second Age is one of the bearers of the three elven rings. Later, he becomes one of the founders of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men along with the human king of Númenor, Elendil. Together, they took on Sauron.
Here, we see Gil-galad tell Elrond that “darkness will march over the face of the earth. It will be the end not just of our people, but all peoples.” And we get our first glimpse in the trailer of menacing orcs.
A possible peek into the Undying Lands
We get a brief glimpse of Galadriel on a ship looking into a shining light. It is possible that this is the moment when Galdriel travels to the Undying Lands. Fans of the Lord of the Rings books and films may remember that many elves sail away from Middle-earth and travel to these lands unreachable by men. We know from previous teasers that Galadriel gets involved in some sort of shipwreck—and we’ll see that storm again later in the teaser—so maybe this is the precursor to that moment.
The queen regent Míriel
We get a glimpse of Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), the queen regent of Númenor. A recent Entertainment Weekly piece suggests that when we meet Míriel she is overseeing the region. Since Míriel is a woman, her cousin, the warrior Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle), also has a claim to the throne. In the books, Pharazôn becomes the last king of Númenor and eventually leads the island kingdom to its doom.
The Kingdom of Khazad-dûm
Elrond visits what looks to be a dwarf mine. This is possibly Khazad-dûm, the great underground kingdom beneath the Misty Mountain. Eventually, the dwarves got too greedy, dug too deep in the mountain, and unleashed The Balrog of Morgoth. The dwarves abandoned the mines, and the dank, dark place came to be known as Moria. This is where the fellowship of the ring encounter the Balrog, and Gandalf gets to perform his epic “You shall not pass” line.
But here, Khazad-dûm is still flourishing, free of evil monsters. (One cool note: The dwarves seem to be harnessing beams of light through windows to grow greenery, a fact briefly alluded to in the Fellowship book.)
We see an older dwarf say to a younger dwarf, “I am sorry, but their time has come.” Presumably this is the king of the dwarves, King Durin III (Peter Mullan), speaking to his son, Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur). It sounds like they’re deciding that someone must be killed or expelled. It’s probably not Elrond considering we know he makes it to the Third Age. Then we see a quick shot of Durin IV smashing a boulder, as dwarves do.
A smattering of new characters
We get lots of flashes of characters. Above is Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), presumably in some sort of court. He’s a new human character, a guy fleeing from his past and hiding a secret. He has low-key Viggo Mortensen-as-Aragorn vibes, so do with that analysis what you will.
This is the elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cardova). He and the human character Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) are hiding a forbidden love. There’s a long history of fraught elf-human romance in Tolkien lore, which includes Beren and Luthien, Tuor and Idril, and eventually Aragorn and Arwen.
“The past is with us all,” Arondir tells an unseen figure. A big theme of the trailer seems to be characters like Galadriel and Arondir warning people to heed history lest they repeat it. Unfortunately, we know the history of Middle-earth (and, well, this earth) is for people to ignore the signs of rising evil over and over again while a few Cassandras shout into the wind.
A young Isildur
Speaking of history repeating itself, let’s pause on a very important character. After more flashes of action shots like Galadriel leading charging soldiers on horseback, Nori hugging a fellow harfoot, and Halbrand in a shipwreck, we see Isildur (Maxim Baldry). Fans may recall that Isildur is the Númenórean who eventually slices the ring from Sauron’s hand but quickly falls under its corruption himself. He is unable to throw the ring into the depths of Mount Doom, which means that eventually Frodo (well, technically, Gollum) will have to carry out the deed instead. Here, Isildur is still just a young sailor.
A young(ish) Elendil
“The past is dead,” says another person, possibly Elendil (Lloyd Owen), Isildur’s father. “We either move forward or we die with it.” Elendil, again, winds up joining forces with Gil-galad in the clash with Sauron, so he will become another important player in this story. We see a shot of Elendil riding horses on the beach with Galadriel.
Pharazôn gathering a following
We then get a shot of Pharazôn, the man who will try to usurp the throne from his cousin, Míriel.
A Mithril easter egg?
“This could be the beginning of a new era,” says the dwarf Prince Durin, holding something in his hand. It’s possible he’s holding Mithril, a fictional metal that is both stronger and lighter than steel. By the end of the Third Age, Mithril is extremely rare and only found in Khazad-dûm.
Escape from the orcs
More action shots: Above we see Arondir with a chain on his leg avoiding being eaten by a giant wolf. (We know that Sauron likes to deploy evil wolves, so perhaps Arondir has been captured by orcs here.) We see Galdriel fighting what looks to be a troll.
Mysterious meteor dude
And then there is The Stranger (Daniel Weyman), a mysterious man who seems to have landed on Middle-earth on a meteor. When the man touches the ground, the rocks begin to move upward, which suggests he possesses some kind of magic. Fans have speculated that this could be a wizard. But others point to the fact that the meteor dude seems to be at the center of a fire-y eye: Perhaps this is Sauron.
A final shot of the harfoots
We end on harfoots. One of the brilliant aspects of the original Tolkien tale was its unexpected hero in Frodo. A brave hero among the littlest people, underestimated by a powerful enemy, is ultimately the one to bear a terrible burden and destroy the most powerful weapon in history. Frodo was not only our audience surrogate, learning about the wonders of elves, men, and wizards as the audience does, but the unlikely hero who would pave the way for the Harry Potters and Jon Snows who would follow him. So, of course, in keeping with Tolkien’s themes, the Harfoots must play a major role in this saga. What role that is remains to be seen.
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