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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Fans return to Middle-earth to explore the Second Age

After two big-screen trilogies adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books, fans get to explore Middle-earth once more with Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The sprawling eight-episode first season is set within the Second Age of Middle-earth’s history, thousands of years before the events shown in both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books.

The show will begin during a time of peace, but will depict events that play a huge role in the LOTR and Hobbit franchise, including the forging of the Rings of Power.

Return to Middle-earth: After two big-screen trilogies adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books, fans get to explore Middle-earth once more with Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Forging: The show will begin during a time of peace, but will depict events that play a huge role in the LOTR and Hobbit franchise, including the forging of the Rings of Power

Forging: The show will begin during a time of peace, but will depict events that play a huge role in the LOTR and Hobbit franchise, including the forging of the Rings of Power

The episode begins with Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) giving a speech, with flashbacks to her youth, saying the world had been so young, there wasn’t even a sunrise.

‘But even then, there was light,’ she says, as we see a group of kids coming upon young Galadriel, asking if it is finished yet.

They all walk to a stream as one boy says, ‘Even you can’t believe that scrap can float,’ as a defiant Galadriel says sit will sail.

The paper boat transforms into a paper swan, as the boys all start throwing rocks at it and sink the boat, causing her to attack the boy before her brother Finrod (Will Fletcher) stops them.

‘It was a good ship, sister,’ her brother says, trying to comfort her.

He asks why the stone sinks, and he says  it goes towards the darkness, adding the ship doesn’t gaze downward, but up.

She adds sometimes it’s hard to know which way is up and which way is down, as her brother Finrod whispers a secret to her.

She adds it seems so ‘simple’ but he says the most honest truths are, as he takes them to see mother and father. 

‘We have no word for death, for we thought our joys would be unending,’ Galadriel says in voice over, as Finrod is seen walking towards their village. 

‘We thought our light would never dim,’ she adds, as she explains how a legion of elves went to war, leaving their home in Valinor, journeying to a distant realm… Middle-earth.

The episode cuts to a massive battle in Middle-earth, as Finrod is overcome by the enemy, as Galadriel explains they thought it would be over quickly, but the war woul leave Middle-earth in ruin and last centuries.

Galadirel is seen on the battlefield long after it had ended, picking up her brother’s golden helmet and placing it on a massive pile.

‘Now, we learned many words for death. In the end, Morgoth would be defeated, but not before much sorrow, for his Orcs had spread to every corner of Middle-earth.’

She explains that the Orcs were under the spell of a cruel and cunning sorcerer, who was called Sauron, who is seen only in shadows, his face not exposed quite yet.

‘My brother vowed to seek him out and destroy him… but Sauron found him first,’ she says, as she’s seen standing over his corpse.

She adds Sauron branded his flesh with a symbol, which even the wisest among them could not discern.

‘And there, in the darkness, his vow became mine,’ Galadriel says, while clutching her brother’s dagger.

‘To the ends of the earth we hunted Sauron, but the trail grew thin. Year gave way to year, century gave way to century, and for many elves, the pain of those days, passed out of thought and mind,’ she says in voice over.

We see the icy kingdom of Forodwaith, a.k.a. The Northernmost Waste, as Galadriel explains that many elves began to believe that Sauron was just a memory and the threat had ended.

As the shot moves closer on the icy peak, we see Galadriel hopping onto an icy sheet, sticking her brother’s dagger in the ice.

‘I wish I could be one of them,’ Galadriel says as she scales the icy peak, with others seen scaling behind her.

Galadriel gets to the top first and consults a crude map, as Thondir (Fabian McCallum) comes up to her.

‘This company has followed you to the very edge of the world, but none who ever dared search for this last stronghold has never found anything,’ he adds.

He says that it has been years since the last Orc was seen, adding, ‘Is it not possible the other commanders are right and our enemy is no more?’

Galadriel doesn’t answer as he suggests they should camp there before starting the journey home, but she only says, ‘We’re losing light’ and continues onward.

Night has fallen as they move ahead with torches as Thondir tries to get her to stop when one of the company has fallen.

Thondir says there is nothing out there and they should have been there by now, when lightning strikes and they see a massive castle ahead of them.

‘We are there,’ Galadriel says as they journey inside the castle, with Galadriel saying this is where the Orcs gathered after Morgoth’s defeat, adding, ‘Far more must have escaped than we eve imagined.’

One man in the company says his hand is beyond feeling, as Galadriel insists that this place, ‘is so evil our torches give off no warmth.’

She leads them on to another place deeper inside, saying it is ‘colder than the rest,’ as a huge hand moves as they pass.

Galadriel approaches an icy wall which she punches through, telling her company to bring the wall down as they find a path inside.

They find skulls inside and tables for medieval experiments, and Thondir opens a door and find an orc skeleton embedded in the wall.

‘These Orcs were meddling with the powers of the Unseen World,’ Galadriel explains, adding it was ‘some dark sorcery of old,’ wondering what its purpose was.

Thondir says the purpose was ‘lost to the ages’ and whatever happened here happened long ago… as a solitary snowflake falls on the table… which somehow sizzles and dissolves.

Thondir hand Galadriel some water, pouring over the table, revealing the mark that was embedded on her brother.

‘Even stone cannot hide the mark of one whose very hand is flame unquenched,’ Galadriel says as she sees a vision of Sauron’s mark in flames.

‘He was here. Sauron was here,’ Galadriel exclaims, telling the others to ‘rest while they can,’ adding they will take their search further north at sunrise.

Thondir wonders why they’re going further north as Galadriel explains the mark was left as a trail for orcs to follow, and the last time she saw it was on her brother.

An argument ensues between Thondir and Galadriel, with Thondir saying they exceeded their orders months ago and they should go home and take counsel with the High King.

‘I promise you there is not a soul in our company that yearns for home more than I,’ Galadriel explains.

‘Until we are certain every trace of our enemy is vanquished, I can never return,’ she tells him. 

One member of the company, Rian (Kip Chapman) keeps exploring throughout the castle as we see what was attached to the huge hand earlier: a Snow-Troll.

The creature chases Rian back where the rest of the company waits with bows and arrows, but it hurls a huge chunk of ice at them and takes them out.

Galadriel finds this troll decimating her company, before she literally launches herself into battle and makes quick work of the troll, delivering the death blow with her brother’s dagger.

Thondir says they should have never come here and Galadriel says they leave at first light, as Thondir unsheathes his sword.

‘Then you shall do so alone,’ he says, as he lays his sword down, ass do all of the other men in her company, as we go back to the mark of Sauron on the table, before the title card is shown. 

The episode transitions to Rhovanion, the Wilderands East of Anduin, where we meet two hunters (Kenneth Ransom and Tom McCathie) carrying large antlers.

They are making small talk when a creature rustles behind them, as the older hunter says it’s more likely a Harfoot.

The younger hunter says he’s making it up as the older hunter wants to get back before sundown.

We see a number of diminutive harfoots – one of the breeds of Hobbits – come out of hiding, with elaborate hiding places to disguise them from anyone passing by.

Marigold (Sara Zwangobani) is seen calling for Nori (Markella Kavenagh), as the Harfoots seemingly prepare for a feast.

Saddoc Burrows (Lenny Henry) is seen flipping the pages of an ancient text, when something he sees startles shim.

‘Travelers? This time of year?’ Saddoc asks, as Malva (Thusitha Jayasundera) says it’s a ‘bad omen,’ adding the last time they had travelers that early was the Great Frost.

She insinuates that was a very bad season but Saddoc dismisses them, says they just got lost, as we transition to Largo Brandyfoot (Dylan Smith), who talks about Nori.

We see Nori with a bunch of kids, as one complains they aren’t supposed to go out this far, as they continue exploring. 

They finally find what Nori was leading them to – a grove full of bushes with fresh berries, though one of the children finds a rather large print in the mud.

A clearly distraught Nori tells the child that it’s just a dog, since dogs love berries, but Nori tells them to go.

She tells them first one to camp gets the first pie at Harvest Fest, telling them not to tell anyone they were there, as we get a glimpse of the huge creature that made the print.

The episode transitions to Elrond (Robert Aramayo), who is writing a story of some sort, when he is interrupted by an attendant (Shelley Waddams), who tells her that he cannot attend the next session, for elf-lords only.

She adds that his friend as arrived, which excites him and says, ‘Why didn’t you say so’ and hurries off.

This is in Lindon, the Capital of the High Elves, as we see the friend Elrond was expecting is Galadriel.

Elrond greets her and says Lindon receives her with grace, mentioning she is now the commander of the northern army and ‘Warrior of the Wastelands,’ joking he expected her to arrive caked in mud and blood.

She tells him that Sauron is still out there and that she intends to ask the King for a new company, but Elrond says she has only just arrived.

He says he wants to hear about her and her harrowing journey but she says he’s become such a politician and she wishes to speak to the king directly.

He tells her that it was not her company that defied her, but rather her who defied the High King by refusing to place any limit.’

‘Rather than dwell on your insolence, test him again and you might find him less receptive than you might have hoped,’ he says gingerly. 

She asks plainly if he will arrange an audience or not, and he says if it’s still her wish after the ceremony, than she shall have it.

Back at the Harfoot village, Nori returns to her father Largo, who asks if she heard about the travelers, which excites her.

She’s sad that she missed them but he says if she would stick closer to home she wouldn’t.

Marigold asks Nori if she went out to the old farm again, which Nori admits she did, adding they never get travelers or wolves this early, as Nori wonders if there is trouble down south.

Marigold asks what concern that is of hers, but Nori asks if she has ever wondered what else is out there?

‘I can’t help but feel there are wonders in this world beyond our wandering,’ Nori says, but Marigold says elves shave forests to protect.

She adds the Harfoots are free from the worries of the world, adding, ‘nobody walks off trail and nobody walks alone. We’re safe. That’s how we survive,’ though Nori is clearly discouraged, as Marigold tells Nori to help her father.

Before she does, though, she hands a fresh berry to her mother, who smiles.

Back at Lindon, Elrond and Galadriel are watching the High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) honor Galadriel’s former company.

The High King says their journey proves their days of war our over and their days of peace begin, though Galadriel clearly doesn’t believe that… though she takes her golden wreath anyway.

The High King says as a measure of their gratitude, they will be escorted to the Grey Havens to dwell for eternity, the Undying Lands of Valinor.

‘At last, they are going home,’ the High King says, as the audience applauds, though Galadriel shoots a glance at the king.

Galadriel looks at a statue honoring her late brother, carved into a tree, while clinging his dagger, when Elrond brings her some wine.

‘It is said that wine of victory is sweetest,’ Elrond says, but Galadriel says she doesn’t feel victorious.

Elrond says her brother will be proud, as Galadriel says she remembers when the statues were first carved, and she always imagined she would be there.

Elrond says it is a gift from her king, but she reveals, she will refuse his gift and continue her journey.

‘My brother gave his life hunting Sauron. His task is now mine. I go to seek the enemy that escaped us in the north, alone if I must,’ she says.

He says he shared the ‘mystery sigil’ of Sauron with the king and says that just because she found it doesn’t mean she’s any closer to finding Sauron.

‘It’s over. The evil is gone,’ Elrond insists, as Galadriel asks, ‘Then why is it not gone from here?’ as she covers her heart with her hand.

She insists he has not seen what she has seen, and that evil does not sleep, ‘it waits and in the moment of our complacency it blinds us.’

Elrond asks if seeking the enemy will satisfy her, and if she’s wrong, would she lead more elves to die in far off lands?

‘How many more statues would you add to this path?’ Elrond asks, saying that no one in history has refused the call out West and if she refuses it may not come again.

He says in the Blessed Realm whatever is broken in her can be healed, telling her that if any rumor of a threat she speaks of is proven true, he, ‘will not rest until it is put right.’

‘You have fought long enough, Galadriel. Put up your sword,’ Elrond says, though Galadriel asks what she would be without her sword?

‘What you have always been, my friend,’ Elrond insists, as the episode transitions to The Southlands – The Lands of Men.

We come across a village where everyone comes out of their homes when two archers walk through, one of whom suggests a winning strategy in a chess-like game, which proves successful.

The archers walk into a butcher shop, as one reveals himself as the elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova), who reveals he has been gone a fortnight, as Waldreg (Geoff Morrell) welcomes him, while Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) pores over a satchel.

Waldreg explains what has happened in town in the fortnight he’s been gone, as Bronwyn picks up her satchel and leaves.

Arondir asks what about the poisoning, but Waldreg says it was poison grass, a fellow he says only weeds will grow in his field.

Arondir keeps asking about it, when Rowan (Ian Blackburn) calls him ‘knife-ears’ and tells him to ‘let it go.’

‘The lot you lump us in with died off a thousand years ago. When are you people gonna let the pasts go?’ Rowan says.

‘The past is  with us all, whether we like it or not,’ Arondir says as Rowan says their true king will return and pry us under their pointy boots.

Waldreg tries to punch Rowan, but Arondir stops him, which surprises Rowan as Arondir picks up the cup Rowan knocked out of Waldreg’s hands. 

Waldreg asks if there will be anything else, as Arondir leaves the tavern, going over to talk with Bronwyn, asking him to give her his hand.

She places a small container in his hand, which he opens and spreads out in his hands, surprised to discover they are alfirin seeds. 

He says he hasn’t seen that flower since he was a child, as she says she had to trade with a healer who was passing through.

She asks if there are healers in his kind, and he says there are but they’re called artificers, and that since their wounds heal naturally, so their labor is to ‘render hidden truths as works of beauty.’

Waldreg opens the door and startles them, as Arondir goes on his way, meeting the other archer elf, Medhor (Augustus Prew), who asks if there is anything to report but Arondir says nothing out of the usual.

Medhor insinuates they will get in trouble if Arondir keeps trying to pursue anything with Bronwyn, adding that only twice in history where a pairing between elves and humans have been attempted, and both times it ended in death.

Medhor asks why he keeps persisting pursuing Bronwyn, when they’re interrupted by an elf (Nicholas Fousstellis), who tells them the High King has declared the days of war are over.

Medhor says all the outposts are being disbanded and they’re leaving, though Arondir clearly seems conflicted.

Revion (Simon Merrells) climbs up to one of the lookout posts where he finds Arondir, asking if he’s taking a last look.

‘Seventy-nine years I’ve been stationed here. I suppose I’ve grown accustomed to it,’ Arondir says.

Revion says there are some men whose veins are still darkened by their enemy, but Arondir says that was a long time ago.

He asks Arondir what he was before the war, as he says he was a grower, as Revion says his life will begin anew.’

Revion says that he kept watch not because of what their ancestors once did, ‘but of who they still are,’ saying he should be ‘grateful’ never to see them again.’

Bronwyn is in her home with her son Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), who is mixing fire root, saying there are mice ‘scratching and scraping,’ when they see Arondir arrive.

Theo quickly gets angry, asking what ‘that sort is doing here’ as Bronwyn goes out to see him.

She asks where his company is and he says they are likely searching for him now, as she asks him to say what he came to say.

Before he can do so, Theo says there is a man to see her as she goes inside to the front door, where a man named Tredwill (Peter Tait) asks if she can heal animals.

Arondir comes around the house to help, as Bronwyn examines him as the farmer says the cow wondered east.

Arondir tries to milk the cow as a brown liquid comes out, as the farmer says the cow may have wandered as far east as Hordern.

Arondir stands and gathers his bow as Bronwyn asks where he is going. He says it’s a day’s journey and she insists on going with him. 

Theo meets up with Rowan, who head into a barn as they pull a board out, as Rowan asks if it’s true about her mom with Arondir and he sayss it’s a lie.

Rowan says that’s why his father run off, as Theo pulls something from under the barn – the remnants of an ancient sword… which has Sauron’s mark.

As soon as he looks at the mark, it glows a fiery orange as Theo is clearly mesmerized by its power.

Galadriel is seen on a ship heading West with the rest of her company as Elrond is back home and says her search is beyond their sight.

Gil-galad reveals that he foresaw that if Galadriel’s search would have continued, she may have, ‘kept alive the very evil she sought to defeat.’

‘For the same wind that blows out a fire may also cause its spread,’ he says, as Elrond asks if he thinks the evil does exist.

Gil-galad says to set his mind at peace and what he did was right for Galadriel and all Middle-earth.

Elrond says it’s hard to see what’s right when friendship and duty are mingled.

Gil-galad says they must look to the new sunrise asking if he knows the work of Lord Celebrimbor?

Elrond says he is the greatest of Elven-smiths and he’s admired his work since he was a child.

Gil-galad says he is about to embark on a new work of ‘singular importance’ and it’s been decided that Elrond will be working with Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards), who arrives. 

Back in the Harfoot village, Nori spies on Sadoc, asking him to tell him what is wrong and he says the skies are strange.

Arondir and Bronwyn continue their journey as he asks how familiar she is with the people of Hordern and she says she was born there.

He says those people have an especially strong loyalty to Morgorth, which upsets her, insisting there are ‘good people there.’

‘That’s why I’m here with you, instead of the Watchwarden. You’re the only kind touch I’ve known all my days in this land,’ he tells her, as they notice something.

They scale the cliff’s edge and find the village on fire as the episode transitions to the Sundering Seas where Galadriel and the rest are having their armor removed.

Someone tries to take Galadriel’s brother’s dagger and she won’t let go, but she eventually releases it, as singing birds fly overhead.

Suddenly the sky opens up and a bright light shines upon them, as Galadriel looks back at her dagger, as she hears her brother asking why a ship can float and a stone cannot.’

A fiery projectile flies through the sky as the elves watch, indifferent, seemingly sending Galadriel and her company to their death.

Back on the ship, as they get closer to the light, Galadriel backs towards her dagger as Thondir tries to stop her, asking her to give him his hand.

She reaches for it but looks back at the dagger, as it’s revealed what Finrod whispered to her, when she asked what light to follow: ‘Sometimes we cannot know until we have touched the darkness.’

Thondir keeps reaching for Galadriel but she’s seen diving out of the boat with her brother’s dagger, just as it explodes and disappears into the sea, as she’s left floating alone. 

A gold leaf falls  next to Gil-galad, though it starts spreading black, as Nori comes across the fiery wreckage… as she sees a man in the midst of the fiery wreckage as the first episode comes to an end. 

The show made history long before the first two episodes debuted on Thursday evening, since it’s considered the most expensive series ever.

The show’s inception can be traced back to July 2017, when a grueling lawsuit between Warner Bros. – the studio behind the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films – and the J.R.R. Tolkien Estate, was settled.

Both the studio and the estate started offering the television rights to the franchise to streaming services, with Amazon quickly becoming a front-runner.

History: The show made history long before the first two episodes debuted on Thursday evening, since it's considered the most expensive series ever

History: The show made history long before the first two episodes debuted on Thursday evening, since it’s considered the most expensive series ever

Front runner: Both the studio and the estate started offering the television rights to the franchise to streaming services, with Amazon quickly becoming a front-runner

Front runner: Both the studio and the estate started offering the television rights to the franchise to streaming services, with Amazon quickly becoming a front-runner

Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos has previously given a mandate to the Prime Video streaming service that he wanted a large-scale franchise.

Bezos was also reportedly a huge fan of the franchise and was personally involved in the negotiations for the just the rights alone, which were ultimately acquired in November 2017 for a whopping $250 million. 

Amazon also struck a deal with the Tolkien Estate and the Tolkien Trust where they are believed to have given the green light for upwards of five seasons of the show.

Mandate: Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos has previously given a mandate to the Prime Video streaming service that he wanted a large-scale franchise

Mandate: Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos has previously given a mandate to the Prime Video streaming service that he wanted a large-scale franchise

Five seasons: Amazon also struck a deal with the Tolkien Estate and the Tolkien Trust where they are believed to have given the green light for upwards of five seasons of the show

Five seasons: Amazon also struck a deal with the Tolkien Estate and the Tolkien Trust where they are believed to have given the green light for upwards of five seasons of the show

With an estimated production commitment of between $100 million and $150 million per season, Amazon is expected to shell out $1 billion for the production costs and the rights, when all is said and done.

The series was created by Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, who had previously only worked on 2016’s Star Trek: Beyond as uncredited writers.

The duo pitched a series that would be set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, a history glossed over in a five-minute prologue during the Lord of the Rings films.

Billion-dollar show: With an estimated production commitment of between $100 million and $150 million per season, Amazon is expected to shell out $1 billion for the production costs and the rights, when all is said and done

Billion-dollar show: With an estimated production commitment of between $100 million and $150 million per season, Amazon is expected to shell out $1 billion for the production costs and the rights, when all is said and done

Creators: The series was created by Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, who had previously only worked on 2016's Star Trek: Beyond as uncredited writers

Creators: The series was created by Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, who had previously only worked on 2016’s Star Trek: Beyond as uncredited writers

They wanted to expand this into roughly 50 hours of television, which would include the forging of the Rings of Power, the rise of the dark lord Sauron, the fall of the island kingdom Numenor and the final alliance between men and elves.

There will be characters fans will recognize, though, most notably Galadriel, played in the LOTR movies by Cate Blanchett, with the much younger version played Morfydd Clark.

There have been rumors that a white-haired character shown in the trailers, played by Bridie Sisson (previously thought to be Anson Boon), is actually Sauron himself, though producers have not confirmed that.

Galadriel: There will be characters fans will recognize, though, most notably Galadriel, played in the LOTR movies by Cate Blanchett, with the much younger version played Morfydd Clark

Galadriel: There will be characters fans will recognize, though, most notably Galadriel, played in the LOTR movies by Cate Blanchett, with the much younger version played Morfydd Clark

Executive producer Lindsey Weber would neither confirm nor deny Sisson’s character, she did offer a hint as to his origins to Time.

‘We are enjoying all the speculation online and can tell you Bridie Sisson is an incredible actor,’ Weber began.

‘We also thought fans might like to know that her character is traveling from far to the east—from the lands of Rhûn…’ Weber teased.

The new episodes will roll out simultaneously across the globe, with the first two episodes dropping on Thursday at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET/2 AM UK.

The final six episodes will roll out weekly at 9 PM PT/12 AM ET/5 AM UK, with the finale of the eight-episode season arriving Thursday, October 13 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.

New episodes: The new episodes will roll out simultaneously across the globe, with the first two episodes dropping on Thursday at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET/2 AM UK

New episodes: The new episodes will roll out simultaneously across the globe, with the first two episodes dropping on Thursday at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET/2 AM UK

Final six: The final six episodes will roll out weekly at 9 PM PT/12 AM ET/5 AM UK, with the finale of the eight-episode season arriving Thursday, October 13 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video

Final six: The final six episodes will roll out weekly at 9 PM PT/12 AM ET/5 AM UK, with the finale of the eight-episode season arriving Thursday, October 13 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video

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