Well, here it is, two and a half minutes of Middle-earth… and even some Valinor! Amazon Prime is calling this the “Main Teaser,” for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which means maybe a regular trailer is still to come? It’s a more thorough stage setting this time and a better introduction to our protagonists. And maybe—just maybe—a glimpse of some of our villains. But mostly the former.
It seems the welfare of Elves, Men, Dwarves, and Harfoots are on the line. We also get a few new glimpses of places: Lindon (where the Noldorin Elves who remain in Middle-earth have settled); the kingdom of Khazad-dûm (Moria), the most famous and wealthy of Dwarven realms; the island kingdom of Númenor, where the Men who have been blessed with many gifts have been established; possibly even Ost-in-Edhil, the capital of Eregion. Not to mention Belegaer itself, the Great Sea, which isn’t a realm but Elves and Númenóreans do sail across it often enough.
The trailer starts off with Númenor, but we move quickly over to one of the more established characters, Galadriel. When we see her, we also hear the beginnings of the Rivendell theme as composed by Howard Shore in The Fellowship of the Ring. Nice. Will they continue with this musical call-back or is this just for the trailer? Curiously, it’s not the Lothlórien theme.
Galadriel says :
There was a time when the world was so young, there had not yet been a sunrise… but even then, there was light.
The Two Trees of Valinor are revealed, there in their heyday before falling victim to Sauron’s old boss and his gal pal Ungoliant (Shelob’s mom). I don’t expect we’ll have more than this look in the actual show, just elements of a prologue. I don’t think Amazon has the rights to explore that much further. But wow, they look amazing. In this version of the cosmology, from the published Silmarillion, there was no Sun or Moon in such ancient times. They came later. Galadriel’s been around since before the sunrise.
Then we get glimpses of woodlands, mountains, and pastoral lands, and a Harfoot (Hobbit) voice:
Elves have forests to protect, Dwarves their mines, Men their fields of grain. But we Harfoots have each other. We’re safe.
Except for the risk of falling sky rocks, it seems. So, Meteor Man remains unidentified, though we do get a quick look at him without all that fire around him. One assumption many have made is that this is somehow Sauron, signaling his entrance to the world. Never mind that he’s supposed to have been on Middle-earth for thousands of years already. I hope this isn’t the case. They’ve been teasing the hell out of this meteor guy, so I hope it pays off.
Now back to the Elves. We see Galadriel and some other Elf standing in a frozen wasteland, probably Forodwaith in the far north of Middle-earth. That’s not Elrond, though we’re hearing him talk. This guy looks different, and anyway Galadriel is royalty; she’s sure to have the help of any number of Elves. Hopefully not a red shirt Elf.
The voiceover is Elrond, from some later conversation, saying to her:
You have fought long enough, Galadriel. Put up your sword.
I do wonder if Elrond will always keep Galadriel on a first-name basis like this always, even after she becomes his mother-in-law, or if he changes it up out of respect. Let’s be clear: She’s his elder by, like, a lot. Hmm. Anyway, we’ll probably not hear his mode of address change during the course of this show (but I’d love to be wrong). I do hope we get to meet Celebrían, Elrond’s future wife. But still, we can’t meet her until we have Celeborn, Galadriel’s husband. In the published Silmarillion, Galadriel meets Celeborn in the First Age. She will have been married long before this point in time in the Second Age. In fact, by the time the Rings of Power are made, she and Celeborn will have crossed the Misty Mountains and settled in the forest that will later be called Lothlórien. But I don’t think Patrick McKay and John D. Payne, the Rings of Power showrunners, are doing it that way. Timelines are shifting to make way for the story they want to tell in this show.
Anyway, back to the trailer. Galadriel answers Young Elrond:
The Enemy is still out there. The question now is where?
Presumably Galadriel knows that Morgoth, the big bad through all of the world’s history, has already been defeated and removed. In this version of events, she was obviously part of those past wars. Now, Sauron is a name known to Elves, but maybe not to everyone else. And they don’t necessarily know he’s going to be a problem at the start of the Second Age. But is this the start of the Second Age, or further in?
It is over.
Films and TV shows love having people make bold statements that even the viewer knows is going to be very, very wrong. Boy will there be egg on Elrond’s face when Sauron is revealed.
You have not seen what I have seen.
I have seen my share.
Nevertheless, she persists (as Galadriel does):
You have not seen… what I have seen.
By which she means some First Age shit. Morgoth-fueled war, death, and destruction, stuff that little-kid Elrond will barely have glimpsed at the tail-end of said age. Though, to be fair, while Elrond may not have seen half of what Galadriel has, he’s inherited it. His father was Eärendil, “of mariners most renowned,” whose voyage to Valinor helped bring about the end of the First Age and the final ultimate of Morgoth (at great cost). Elrond and his brother, Elros (first king of Númenor!), did not have their mom and dad around for most of their lives.
In any case, the trailer gives us a little morsel of what Galadriel has seen.
Gosh. McKay and Payne sure did make that red light and its glowing source very Barad-dûr-ish, didn’t they? A call-back for Jackson film moviegoers, but not book readers. Still, it’s fine if the implication is that Barad-dûr, Sauron’s Dark Tower, took its inspiration from Angband, his old boss’s digs. Also, is it a trick of the light that makes Galadriel eyes here no longer blue? Maybe it’s just the darkness.
Time for more Elves. This time we’re in Lindon, where the High King of the Noldor, Gil-galad, presides. He is also talking to young Elrond. It seems he and his kinswoman Galadriel are of like mind here (which is a bit more canon). Which I love. They’re both doom and gloom, worried about a hidden Enemy. They should be, especially Gil-galad. That’s very canon. He’s the most antsy of them all. Now, as we see orcs, torchlights, and some ominous eyes-to-the-sky shots, Gil-galad says:
Darkness will march over the fate of the Earth. It will be the end of not just our people, but all peoples.
Now over to the Dwarves in Khazad-dûm (Moria)! We see a new chap we’ve not seen before, some sort of lord or king. Not Prince Durin IV yet. Durin III, maybe? Setting aside we’re not generally supposed to be seeing more than one Durin (reincarnated) at a time…
I am sorry. But their time has come.
Oooh. Whose time? And this shot of Elrond-as-ambassador visiting the Dwarves is worth drooling over. I wonder if it’s a deliberate call-back to Jackson’s hobbits wandering across the bridge into Rivendell (Elrond’s later abode) and looking around with wonder for the first time.
You know what’s extra cool in that view? The green on the left! Plants, moss, whatever it is. Hey, Dwarves need to cultivate food, too. Sunlight must be let into the mountain.
All right, now over to Arondir, our new Elf character. A Sylvan Elf, we’ve been told. I like his serious tone. As we’re witness to some action footage among all the races, he’s telling us:
The past is with us all.
Then someone else, a Man of Númenor, possibly even Elendil—father of Isildur—says:
The past is dead. We either move forward or we die with it.
Some context: Elendil of Númenor, together with Gil-galad, will lead the Last Alliance of Men and Elves against the power of Mordor at the very end of the Second Age. It’s supposed to be Elendil and Gil-galad who, in hand-to-hand combat, kill the physical body of Sauron, but they die in the process. Isildur, eldest son of Elendil, then cuts the One Ring off the hand of the already-defeated Sauron (not quite how Jackson portrayed that moment).
Anyway, we have more action shots of ships, beaches, horses! And that is definitely Ar-Pharazôn in politician mode.
Very unclear what they’re doing with Pharazôn here. He’s going to be the last king of Númenor; not by rights, but by force. Presumably he’s not king yet here, and I guess we’ll get to see that transfer of power. In Tolkien’s lore, he forces the rightful heir, Míriel, daughter of Tar-Palantir, to marry him. We do see her now. According to the recent EW article, they’re calling her the “queen regent.” Hmm. While most monarchs of Númenor are dudes, at a certain point the laws did change to allow the eldest child to inherit the scepter of rulership, son or daughter, thus allowing legitimate queens. Míriel has no siblings, so she should be more than a regent. So what are McKay and Payne doing here?
Anyway, they’re not giving villains a speaking part in this trailer, so we don’t get any words from the man who steers Númenor completely off its metaphoric cliff.
Now the trailer zips over to the Dwarf prince Durin IV as he holds up some sort of stone or crystal:
This could be the beginning of a new era.
You can’t tell me that’s not mithril!
Mithril (“truesilver”) becomes a big part of the identity and wealth of Khazad-dûm and yeah, it could be considered a game-changer for the Dwarves. In the lore, it’s also partly why the Elves of Eregion (Celebrimbor, etc.) settle so close to the Dwarf kingdom. Now, it’s the Dwarves’ greed for that mithril that also eventually uncovers their not-so-friendly neighborhood Balrog.
Back to the trailer! We see a chained-by-the-ankle Arondir doing some Legolas-style Elf-o-batics among some wolves/wargs. I’m not loving that, especially, but I’m also not surprised by it. If Legolas skating down stairs on a shield at Helms Deep was meant to be popular with teens, then I suppose Amazon wants to bring in some crazy Matrix moves, too. I will say, I hope we see similar moves from Celebrimbor or Gil-galad, too. If all Elves have superhero moves, then I can accept that as part of this adaptation. It looks like Arondir is a captive here and we’re possibly witnessing his escape.
Then we get a split second or two of Galadriel squaring off against a troll. That snow-troll from the original teaser? Then over to that mysterious fiery meteor from the previous teaser. Followed by the soot-footed Harfoots doing what they seem to do in the Second Age: Travel. Migrate. Be nomads.
I am optimistic about the Harfoots. I don’t love the names they’ve given them, which sound very much like Shire names thousands of years later. Like Elanor, which is what Samwise Gamgee names his daughter because he was fond of Elanor the flower that grew in Lórien. But as long as this show keeps these proto-hobbits under the radar of remembered history, it’ll probably be fine. Remember that Treebeard himself had never met hobbits before. And in “The Shadow of the Past,” chapter 2 of The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf tells Frodo that Sauron finally has learned about them—that is, there at the end of the Third Age.
He knows that it is not one of the Seven, or the Nine, for they are accounted for. He knows that it is the One. And he has at last heard, I think, of hobbits and the Shire.
So it’s got to be mum’s the word about Harfoots until then.
But dang, this trailer’s music is working overtime to make us excited. I’ll give it that.
Jeff LaSala is responsible for The Silmarillion Primer, the Deep Delvings series, and a few other assorted articles. Tolkien nerdom aside, Jeff wrote a Scribe Award–nominated D&D novel, produced some cyberpunk stories, and works in production for Macmillan and Tor Books. He is sometimes on Twitter.