After years of waiting and wondering, this weekend Amazon finally gave us a look at what it’s been working on in Middle-earth. The first teaser for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is here, and it’s filled with familiar faces, dire portents, and a few hints at what we can expect from the show—here’s all the details we spotted.
The teaser opens with a glimpse of a port city, densely packed with people. Although we don’t get close enough to see whether or not those people are humans or Elves, the architecture here doesn’t look particularly Elven, so this is likely not the Grey Havens, the famous port where elves took the passage to Valinor from when their time in Middle-earth was at an end. Instead, odds are that this is our first glimpse at the island kingdom of Númenor, the human society that we know will play a major role in The Rings of Power—and whose downfall leads to the founding of the twin kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor.
“Haven’t you ever wondered what else is out there? There’s wonders in this world... beyond our wandering,” a voice tells us, as we glimpse a suitably lush New Zealand vista—truly a hallmark of Lord of the Rings’ cinematic visual identity at this point—being traversed by two peculiar humanoids with massive antlers strapped to their backs. In a pre-trailer preview piece for Vanity Fair released last week, this mystery duo was simply described as “nomadic wanderers,” but little else is known about them.
As the narration ends, we come across the face of, presumably, that voice: Megan Richards, playing an undisclosed role but, judging by the wanderlust and her general appearance, appears to be playing a member of the Hobbit breed we know is going to appear in Rings of Power, the Harfoots. Judging by the acorns in her hair, this Harfoot is one of the many characters we got glimpses of in the mysterious character posters recently.
Tolkien largely left Hobbit history prior to the events of the Third Age untouched; we only really know that the Hobbits we recognize as the denizens of the Shire only migrated to that area of Middle-earth some time during the Third Age, and Hobbits up to that point were by and large secretive beings who stayed out of sight from the watchful eye of the bigger peoples of Middle-earth. Aside from Harfoots, there’s the swamp-loving Stoors and the Fallohides (the breed we’re largely familiar with), but we’ll likely be sticking to the Harfoots as far as Rings of Power’s halflings go.
On an ice-covered precipitous cliffside, by a raging waterfall, a young Elf maiden in armor uses a very elaborate dagger to gain a grip. Another character from the posters, we now know that this is Morfydd Clark’s young Galadriel, the future guardian of the woods of Lorien, and of course pertinent to Rings of Power, the future bearer of one of the three magical rings gifted by Annatar (Sauron in disguise, of course): Nenya, the ring of water.
As previously noted, Galadriel’s dagger is an interesting reference to another major piece of Tolkien lore we know Rings of Power is going to dive into. The twin gold-and-silver trees that make up its hilt are a reference to Laurelin and Telperion, the twin trees of Valinor—the mythical region to the West of Middle-earth that was the ancestral home of the Valar, their Maiar agents, and the Elves—which provided light across the land in a time before even the sun and moon existed.
This brief shot of a man ravaged by waves on a rather rickety raft might be a character we know from Vanity Fair’s preview: Halbrand, played by Charlie Vickers. He was described there as a human castaway who crosses paths with Galadriel.
Just as quickly, we cut to a slo-mo shot of an Elf grabbing an arrow mid-air, and returning it to sender via his own bow. Very cool! Even cooler: this is another character we learned about in the preview, a Silvan Elf (that’s a Wood Elf, ancestors of those elves that would populate the realms of Mirkwood and Lothlorien eventually) named Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova).
At this point in Middle-earth history, Silvan Elves have barely just encountered the other Sindar and Ñoldor Elves again, and are very different culturally. Arondir in particular goes against what we’d know is common of Elves in Tolkien’s lore, in that we know part of his story in The Rings of Power is entering a taboo romance with a human healer named Bronwyn, played by Nazanin Boniadi.
An Elf clad in elaborate golden robes watches an ominous meteor in the sky. It’s hard to say just what the meteor is, perhaps an omen of dire things to come—if we know one thing about Rings of Power, it’s ultimately going to be about a lot of dire things coming to pass, given the events of the Second Age at large—but we might know who this is: the actor here is Benjamin Walker, who’s been rumored to be playing Gil-Galad. Cut from a very brief appearance in The Fellowship of the Ring’s opening depiction of the Battle of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, Gil-Galad was the High King of the Ñoldor Elves—and perished in that aforementioned battle, fighting alongside Elendil, the King of Gondor, to gravely wound Sauron in a duel during the battle at the foot of Mount Doom.
Another quick shot of Galadriel sees her riding across a plain on horseback. We don’t know who she’s riding with, but the Vanity Fair preview teases that much of Galadriel’s arc in Rings of Power will see her traveling Middle-earth on a quest to destroy the lingering forces of the first Dark Lord, Morgoth, who battled the Elves, Dwarves, and the Valar in a terrible war at the climax of the First Age, the War of Wrath.
This person—hard to tell if they’re an Elf or Human with their face largely wrapped up—appears to be another member of Galadriel’s team scaling the icy cliffs earlier, as they’re dressed very similarly. How long they’ll remain a member of that team depends on just how hungry this massive, troll-esque monster is.
We get a very brief shot of a golden forest, as an Elf clad in similarly hued robes addresses a council of their kind. If those golden robes are Benjamin Walker’s character again, and he is indeed Gil-Galad, this could be somewhere in his Kingdom in Lindon, based in the northwest of Middle-earth.
We just as quickly cut to a shot of a teary-eyed Dwarf. This is Owain Arthur’s Prince Durin IV, the prince of Khazad-dûm. By the second age, Khazad-dûm is one of the most famous and populous Dwarven realms, home to master craftspeople who harbor some of the greatest supplies of Mithril in Middle-earth—and eventually tragically lost to the Goblins after its denizens mined too deeply into the Earth, becoming the ruined kingdom of Moria Frodo and his allies dangerously trek through in The Fellowship of the Ring. In Tolkien’s lore, the leaders of Durin’s folk were not descendants by blood—Durin III, one of the Dwarven leaders who accepted one of the seven Dwarf-Lord-gifted rings of power from Sauron, was not Durin IV’s father, and we know that both these rulers will appear in The Ring of Power. The Second Age lasts over three thousand years, so there’s plenty time for multiple Dwarf-Lords!
Although the context is left unknown, we know who this Elf is: it’s none other than the young Elrond, future lord of Rivendell. Played by Robert Aramayo in the show, the Vanity Fair preview teased that part of Elrond’s arc in the series will see him in an ambassadorial role, engaging in diplomatic talks with Durin’s Folk. Could this be Elrond in Khazad-dûm as part of that role?
In a blink-and-you’ll miss it shot we briefly get to see another character teased in that preview: Disa, a Dwarven princess of Khazad-dûm, played by Sophia Nomvete—perhaps related to, or married to, Durin IV.
Another quick shot sees a hand lift the hair on a sodden Galadriel’s head to reveal her Elven ears. Given the the sea backdrop, this could be the man we saw being marooned earlier—and likely then Halbrand.
That cuts into this peculiar shot of someone rescuing a largely naked man out of a swirling inferno of flame and ash. The person doing the grabbing appears to be quite small, so could either be a Dwarf or a Harfoot, but the context here is so brief it’s hard to say what’s happening.
Two further rapid-fire shots: the first sees Durin IV strike a rock as his fellow Dwarves look on...
And the other sees Arondir, now in the day, leaping to strike at an unseen foe with an axe. Note that one of his legs has been shackled—who’s captured him?
Slightly longer is one more shot of an Elven warrior, surrounded by both his fellow Elven soldiers and a swarm of orcs, screaming in rain-soaked despair. The armor here is not identical to, but very evocative, of the gold-and-navy clad Elves of the Last Alliance we saw in the Fellowship of the Ring movie—and we know that Rings of Power is allowed to use a nebulous idea of “material” connections to those films, so there’s a distinct possibility this is some kind of flash-forward to that war, which ended the Second Age with Sauron’s defeat and the One Ring being led away from Mount Doom by Isildur. Likelier still is that this is a flashback to the end of the First Age, and a depiction of the War of Wrath against Morgoth, in which Sauron was simply a lieutenant of the Dark Lord rather than his successor.
The teaser ends with another cryptic shot, as a small, childlike hand grasps the fingers of a much larger, older person. That older unidentified figure was depicted in one of the recent character posters, holding an apple, but we don’t know their identity—given the size/age disparity here, are these the people we saw in that inferno earlier in the teaser?
Our first glimpse of The Rings of Power didn’t really actually tell us much of what to expect from the show, just gave sight to a few details we had had teased. There’s still so much left to learn about just what kind of structure a series condensing thousands of years of fantasy history will have as it takes shape across not just this first season, but at least a second and perhaps even more to come, given the amount of cash Amazon has thrown at it. Time will tell, and we at least have plenty of that left to chew on this teaser—The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power doesn’t hit Amazon Prime Video until September 2, 2022.
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