Every Episode of 'Rings of Power' Season 1 Compared to Tolkien's Lore
Amazon's fantasy epic adds to or edits Tolkien lore in interesting ways. We take a look at the whole season.
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All eight episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are now out in the world, giving fans the first new steps into Middle-earth since Peter Jackson's films 20 years ago. But with all that excitement comes a big question: Is this what Tolkien envisioned for his world?
Folks concerned that Rings of Power showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay plan to fill gaps in J.R.R. Tolkien's collected works or to present things in ways that differ from the films are fairly vocal -- and not just because Elves having short hair feels odd (but is, in fact, canon).
The truth is that there have been doubts cast on every modern Tolkien story brought to screen, including Peter Jackson's beloved Lord of the Rings movies. So if you're curious about how well The Rings of Power fits what Tolkien wrote, I'm here to help.
Every episode of The Rings of Power will have a fantastic recap article courtesy of CNET's Erin Carson, but I'm writing and updating this separate article dedicated entirely to the analysis of how well each episode sticks to what Tolkien wrote. Each episode was analyzed as it was released, so you can see how my attempts to explain what different things may have meant held up throughout the season. Ready? Here we go.
In our opening scene, young Galadriel's beautiful boat is destroyed, and her big brother stops her from beating the guilty party within an inch of his life for being such a tool. This scene is the first time we see Finrod's dagger, which Galadriel takes as her own while she seeks out the enemy responsible for his death.
This dagger is beautiful, but there's no evidence of it having existed in any of Tolkien's work. Canonically, we know Finrod had a sword and a bow. But we also know he was nobility, and in the few pieces of pre-Rings of Power art we have of Finrod he's got some beautiful nonstandard jewelry and weaponry on him, including the Ring of Barahir, which eventually finds its way to Aragorn's hand. The dagger isn't something Tolkien wrote, but it's also plausible he'd have a dagger like this. It's clearly a representation of Telperion and Laurelin, the twin trees of Valinor, which created sunlight and moonlight for the world before they were destroyed and their last remaining fruit and flower were turned into the sun and moon for Middle-earth. There appear to be three similar spheres on the dagger, in between the silver and gold trees, which would almost certainly be a representation of the three Silmarils. Finrod was a major part of the conflicts surrounding the destruction of the trees and the Oath of Feanor, so having a symbol of those events on him is totally plausible.
Where things get a little fuzzy is Finrod having that dagger in the initial scene with Galadriel. According to Tolkien, Galadriel was born around 90 years before the creation of the Silmarils. Elves physically mature in the first 100 years of their existence, and then age far, far slower after that. At age 90, Galadriel would have looked at least a few years older than what's shown on screen. Is this a big deal? Not at all. Do I still want one of those daggers? Absolutely.
Crossing the Sundering Seas
There's nothing technically wrong about this scene. The Elves left Valinor to wage a thousand years of war across much of Middle-earth, which led to Morgoth being stopped and Sauron going into a sort of hiding.
But my goodness did this scene leave a lot out. There could've been an entire season of this show dedicated to just that handful of sentences, recapping how the Elves found themselves in Middle-earth. If you're curious, read the ninth chapter of the Quenta Silmarillion titled Of the Fight of the Ñoldor.
The village of Tirharad
If the name of this village didn't sound familiar to you, you weren't alone. Tolkien didn't create Tirharad, but he didn't create anything in this area that would later become Mordor. We know there were Men living in what was then called the Southlands, because Tolkien wrote of how Shelob would prey upon Men and Elves before Sauron claimed the land as Mordor.
The name Tirharad is a mashup of "watch" and "south" in Sindarin, which makes some sense given the way the village is essentially policed by the Silvan Elves from their watchtower. This episode lays out how the descendants of Men who served Morgoth settled in the surrounding area, and the Elves keep a close eye on them out of concern that corruption may once again enter their hearts. We know that some Men did serve Morgoth, whose fortress Udûn existed in the northeast part of the area that later became Mordor, so it isn't a stretch that Men would've settled here after the wars.
Galadriel's return to Valinor
It's long been suspected that Galadriel was either banned from returning to Valinor or didn't believe she deserved to return to Valinor, due largely to this line in Galadriel's Song of Eldamar:
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?
This scene shows Galadriel being rewarded (sort of) with the ability to return home, along with the rest of her company. Though Tolkien did write that some Elves were permitted to return home after the War of Wrath, it was never explicitly stated that Galadriel was among them. It was written that many high Elves opted to remain in Middle-earth even as more of their kind returned home, and Galadriel's activities at this time aren't well documented, so this new story is filling in those gaps with new adventures of sorts.
Episode 2: Adrift
With a pair of mischievous Harfoots trying to care for The Stranger, Galadriel trying to swim across the Sundering Sea only to find several ways that can go wrong, Tirharad experiencing a pest control issue and Prince Durin having an axe to grind with Elrond, this is a busy episode. Check out the full recap here, and the lore analysis below.
Nori's not-so-hot foot
It's easy to hear Nori say the fire isn't hot and immediately think of Frodo's reaction to the One Ring as it came from the fireplace to his hand, but the two almost certainly aren't related. Throughout Tolkien's works, there aren't mentions anywhere of magic fire that isn't hot, but there's a lot about the character known only as The Stranger that doesn't quite line up yet. This scene has further rumors that The Stranger is a Wizard, and that fire is actually the Flame of Anor or light of the Sun. For now, it's unclear how this character and his powers fit into what we know of Middle-earth.
The Rite of Sigin-tarâg
Not a ton is known about what Dwarves get up to in their halls under the mountains, because they don't often invite people in who aren't of their kin. The few exceptions in the Second Age are largely Elves who worked closely with Dwarven smiths to create a ton of different things, which we might get to see in this show but not in this episode. So, though Tolkien never wrote about Elrond claiming the Rite of Sigin-tarâg, there's a ton of empty space when it comes to knowing what Dwarves did in private.
Sigin-tarâg doesn't refer to some kind of competition. The word translates to longbeards, which is the other name for Durin's folk or this particular kind of Dwarf. In this context, the Rite of Sigin-tarâg is exactly as Durin explains it, a test of endurance his people created to settle internal disputes. It's not something we've ever seen before, and not something we'd ever see in the Third Age because of what happens to Durin's folk, so it's plausible a challenge like this would exist.
As this isn't a character created by Tolkien, there's no record of the special way she helps Dwarven miners do their thing. Dwarven women were kept from battle, and as a result aren't really mentioned much at all in Tolkien's works. But we do know that Dwarves were said to be the best mining folk in the world because they were created with that purpose in mind.
Tolkien never really expands on what specific abilities the Dwarves have when it comes to mining, only that Aulë taught them special skills while creating the seven original Dwarf lords.
Orcs under the floorboards
There are many examples of Orcs tunneling in Middle-earth, and those tunnels typically lead to what Tolkien called Orc-holds. Some of these Orc-holds were small, like the ones seen in this episode, while others occupied entire mountains, like those seen in Mount Gundabad, which Orcs hold for most of the Second Age.
We know Tirharad isn't a place Tolkien created, but its proximity to what would soon become Mordor makes it a perfect place for Orcs to be digging under.
Episode 3: Adar
Galadriel and Halbrand get very different things out of their first day in Númenor, it turns out Arondir is in a lot more trouble than initially suspected, and the Harfoots have an uninvited guest at their party. Check out the full episode breakdown from CNET's Erin Carson here, and read on for what's new to the Tolkien Legendarium.
Queen of Númenor
Galadriel isn't welcomed into this shining city with open arms, a chilly reaction she more or less expects as she and Halbrand are brought before Queen Tar-Míriel. We're told Elves haven't been welcome in Númenor for a long time, and later that Tar-Míriel's father is still alive but in exile.
This is a very careful dance around the language Tolkien uses to describe what happens in Númenor. Tar-Míriel is described as having had her rightful place on the throne taken from her by Ar-Pharazôn, who seized the throne for himself when her father died. We also know that a lot of Númenóreans were unhappy with the way her father was trying to rekindle a relationship with the Elves, but not much more about that is ever discussed. What we're seeing on screen is absolutely plausible, it fits what Tolkien wrote and adds to it respectfully, but if you like this woman being queen, I'd suggest preparing for it to be a short-lived time on the throne.
Eärien, daughter of Elendil
In this third episode, we see a woman in a bright dress approach Isildur, and she's greeted as Sister. In the next scene, we see her seated with her brother and father, having a heated conversation about the future. It's clear Eärien is going to play a part in what comes next, but what exactly that is remains to be seen. There's a fair bit we don't know about Elendil's life before leaving Númenor, because Tolkien didn't write it down. This includes the name of Elendil's wife, or her status among their people. Tolkien never mentions Elendil having a daughter, and neither does he describe Isildur and his brother Anárion having a sister. This is a new character created for the series, so we really don't know what's going to happen to her, but there's a pretty good chance she never makes it to Middle-earth, where the history of these characters becomes more clearly outlined by Tolkien.
Hail King Halbrand
Since Tolkien never wrote about specific peoples living in The Southlands before it becomes Mordor, there's obviously no mention of there being a person who united all of those peoples under a single banner. But in very much the same way we've seen other people in this area reject the notion that they're loyal to Morgoth, it's not unreasonable to suggest there would've been someone in the race of Men acting as the leader of the armies Morgoth created.
Nothing about this character or his supposed lineage was ever written by Tolkien, including his ability to lay out four Númenóreans and still be able to walk away, but it's a nice addition to a part of this world that was never filled in by Tolkien.
Wargs in the Second Age
Just when it seemed like Arondir and the rest of his company finally had a plan to use the sun to gain the upper hand, the Orcs summon a familiar beast to counter. Wargs are a familiar evil to those who've watched or read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, but this little Warg looks very different from the creatures spotted in earlier films.
Tolkien never wrote about Wargs being present in the Second Age, but that's because there's not a lot of individual storytelling happening in this age. We know Sauron corrupted Wargs to fight for him, we just don't know when, so it's totally plausible this process started early and that ancestors to the Wargs we'd see a few thousand years later in The Hobbit would've been bred to be larger and more lethal.
Episode 4: The Great Wave
While Elrond gets to the bottom of an Age-changing mystery in Khazad-dum, Galadriel's tempestuous demeanor finally yields positive results. The full recap of this episode can be found here thanks to Erin Carson, but from a Tolkien lore perspective this episode offers the most significant deviations from written works so far.
Pharazôn's son, Kemen
In this episode, we see a young man scolded by the right hand of Queen Regent Miriel, and in the middle of that, he calls the man "my son." This young man is named Kemen, and when he's not watching his father bolstering the faith of the Men of Nùmenor, he's got eyes for Elendil's daughter Eärien. Which is impressive, for someone who didn't exist until The Rings of Power.
Not only did Tolkien never write about Kemen, but his existence alters what we know about Pharazôn in a significant way. According to Tolkien, Pharazôn wasn't married until he forced his cousin Miriel to be his bride in a successful coup to seize the throne and become the last King of Nùmenor. He never has a child because Miriel wants nothing to do with him after he takes the throne, which means the existence of Kemen is one of multiple details regarding this character that differs significantly from the lore.
All that glitters is actually Mithril
We finally have a name for the glowy material seen in Durin's chest from the first episode, and it's exactly what a lot of people initially guessed. This unique ore is a big deal for the Second Age, both for Dwarves and Elves. Unfortunately, Lord Celebrimbor seems to not know why Durin is hiding from him and sends Elrond to find out.
This is a fairly significant departure from Tolkien's works in two way. The first is the lack of a relationship between Celebrimbor and the Dwarves. While it's likely someone with a lower title like Herald would have been the go-between as an introduction between the Lord of Eregion and the Dwarves, Celebrimbor is known for having a great relationship with Dwarves, and that has yet to play out on screen. Instead, Durin seems to only trust Elrond and even then only as far as his father will allow. Hopefully, this becomes less complicated as the season progresses.
The name Mithril comes from the Elvish words for grey and glitter combined, but that's never the name the Dwarves have for the metal. In fact, nobody who isn't a Dwarf knows the secret name for Mithril. It's a closely guarded secret according to Tolkien, which Durin seems happy to share when he says his people call the ore grey glitter in the show. While that is certainly one name for this ore, it's not the Dwarven name for it.
When Durin met Elrond
From a second instance in this show of how incredible Elrond's sight is to the descent into the Mithril shaft next to the Mirrormere, this episode was full of little nods to Tolkien lore that would make any fan smile. A great example of this is when Disa asks Elrond to share his version of how he and Durin met, which of course differs from the story proud Durin shared with his wife.
While Tolkien never describes a deep relationship between Elrond and Durin quite like we're seeing on screen, the reference to them meeting over a conflict with Hill-trolls is a fun nod. Hill-trolls are known to inhapit an area of Middle-earth known as the Coldfells, which is just north of an area Elrond will eventually call Rivendell.
Galadriel and Miriel, off on a fateful adventure together
We've previously established that Miriel is never dubbed queen in Tolkien's writing, but the space is there for her to have had the title Queen Regent before her father's passing. That space now includes a fleet of ships bound for Middle-earth so the Men of Nùmenor can help squash the rise of Sauron in the Southlands. It's a great way to start pulling some of these individual threads together now that we've reached the halfway point in this season, but it obviously deviates from Tolkien's writing in some significant ways.
As it's originally written, High King Gil-galad is the one who asks Nùmenor to join the fight. That can't happen in this story right now because High King Gil-galad seems unaware that a threat in the Southlands currently exists. It's possible that invitation becomes official in the next episode when all of this information is likely to be presented to the High King, but for the moment that hasn't happened.
Episode 5: Partings
The Harfoots appreciate their strange new companion just in time for Nori to be terrified by his power. Arondir tries to swap out being broody and hot for inspiring and hot, while Bronwyn falters. Nùmenor competes with Lindon for the political theater Heavyweight Belt. Check out the full recap and come back for the lore analysis.
Adar's impending glow-down
In a moment of calm reflection before marching off to a big battle, the corrupted Elf who insists on his Orc followers calling him Father implies he will soon be burned by sunlight just like his followers. The origin of Orcs is a fascinating topic among Tolkien fans, because the author himself seemed to change his mind about how these creatures came to be in a way that leads to confusion. It has been heavily implied that corrupted Elves and corrupted Men can transform into Orcs over time, because the god of this universe has rules on who can create new life from nothing. Orcs are not exactly their own species so much as they are corrupted forms of other species, basically. While Tolkien waffled on whether corrupted Elves become Orcs, that seems to be the suggestion Adar is making here in regard to his personal journey into darkness. That is unless, of course, he's planning to use that sword hilt, which is apparently also a key, to do something spectacular to himself. But we'll address the sword later.
We've discussed previously that Tolkien never explicitly wrote Miriel as Queen Regent while her father was locked in a tower, or her quest to Middle-earth with Galadriel while Pharazôn fixes his gaze on being the next King, so it should come a no surprise that Tar-Palantir never warns her away from Middle-earth. This entire thread in the show is an interesting way to fill the gaps in Tolkien's timeline without seriously deviating from his works so far.
There's a lot of small details about Nùmenor that don't line up verbatim with what Tolkien created, largely because the show has messed with the timeline of the Second Age to tell a better story. So while it's compelling to see all of these people try to sort out going to Middle-earth for the first time in forever, in the original writing there had already been settlements on the main continent and trade between Nùmenor and Middle Men at this point. It should also be Gil-galad asking for Nùmenor to join the fight, but more on that later.
Tolkien describes Tar-Palantir as being "far-sighted both in eye and in mind," so it's entirely possible that him being locked in the tower has not stopped him from knowing about the day-to-day things happening in his kingdom. The warning to not go to Middle-earth could be a warning away from open war, or it could be a warning that Pharazôn is not the dedicated servant she believes him to be. It's all uncharted territory, which means it should be interesting to see how the writers connect this thread to what Tolkien has already outlined.
The black sword key thing
The more we see of Theo's black hilt, the more likely it is this is not some previously famous sword like Anglachel, Anguirel or even Gurthang. There's no previously described blade in Tolkien's works that lines up exactly with what this blade is or what it does. For the moment, it appears this sword was created for this series. If I were to speculate on what this hilt is, I would say it's an early Morgul Blade. Those who have seen or read Fellowship of the Ring will remember Frodo was stabbed by one of these magic blades and it started to pull his soul into the Unseen World like a Ringwraith. We saw in the first episode of this show Galadriel and her company stumble across a magic lab with Unseen World experiments. It's entirely possible this blade is a continuation of that research. Taking that speculation one step further, it's possible from the carvings Arondir uncovers at Ostirith that Adar's plan is to stick himself with this Morgul Blade and join the Unseen World as a servant of darkness that is much more difficult to kill. But to be clear, that's all entirely speculation.
Of the many adaptations this show has made, the way we experience the High King of the Elves is my least favorite. Tolkien describes Gil-galad as a warrior king who faces off with Sauron with Elendil in the Last Alliance of Men and Elves, but what we see in The Rings of Power is a scheming politician who seems to avoid conflict wherever possible.
There's a lot about what we see in this episode that does not line up with what Tolkien has written. The panic over the corruption seen in the trees would only make sense if this "great tree" as Elrond described it was one of the Mallorn trees, which do not grow in Lindon. In fact, Tolkien said the seeds of this tree were given to Galadriel and she uses them to create Lórien. For this tree to be such a revered thing worthy of this much panic and subterfuge, Gil-galad would have to be tending to a tree we know doesn't grow in Lindon (or in Khazad-dûm for that matter).
But the biggest deviation from Tolkien's lore in this episode is the discussion around Mithril. Gil-galad asks Elrond to recite the "song of the roots of Hithaeglir" that tells an apparently apocryphal story of an Elf warrior and a Balrog fighting over a tree believed to hold a lost Silmaril. This song claims lightning struck the tree and sent the light of the Silmaril into the roots of the mountain beneath it, which Gil-galad believes to be the Mithril needed to save his people.
I was initially surprised by this scene largely because I'd never heard of this song being so deeply described on screen, and to the best of my research that's because it doesn't exist. Tolkien never wrote an official origin for Mithril and, as far as I can tell, never wrote about a powerful Elf warrior squaring off against a Balrog over a tree at the top of the mountains above Khazad-dûm. This origin, along with the urge to give Mithril to every Elf in order to maintain the light of the Valar and maintain their immortality, isn't a part of Tolkien's writing based on my research. Hunting for answers, I checked in with Don Marshall (The Obscure Lord of the Rings Facts Guy on TikTok) and confirmed this Mithril origin was created for the series.
Episode 6: Udûn
Arondir and Bronwyn save the Southlanders from standing around and waiting for death, Elendil and Galadriel fight real good, and Adar turns his L into a W while his captors stare in horror. The full recap of what is easily the most intense episode of this season so far can be found here, but let's dig into how this story fits into Tolkien's creation.
The black sword won't break
We've talked about this mysterious black hilt before, and the shadowy blade that reveals itself through blood sacrifice. As it's shown on screen so far, this hilt doesn't line up exactly with any of the powerful swords Tolkien described in the Age. Which is weird, because legendary weapons and their use was something Tolkien spends a fair bit of time on in his works. But it's entirely plausible that Sauron would have made a weapon like this, given the properties of other great weapons of the age.
The big thing in the beginning of this episode is Arondir claiming the sword was beyond his skill to destroy here in the village. It's a nice nod to Gurthang, also known as the Black Thorn of Brethil. Gurthang is described as an all black sword made from a meteorite, having been reforged from a different sword called Anglachel (Tolkien really had a thing for famous weapons being broken and reforged into different famous weapons). Gurthang is said to have "shone with a pale fire" when it was being wielded by Tùrin Turambar in the First Age, and did not break until Tùrin himself used it to commit suicide. This sword is clearly not Gurthang, but its seemingly indestructible properties have been seen in Tolkien's world previously.
Adar reveals his kind prefer to be called Uruk, which is a word those who have watched or read The Lord of the Rings will have heard before. In that story, Sauron and Saruman create a superior breed of Orcs by crossbreeding them with Men and removing many of the weaknesses of both. Here in Rings of Power, Adar is specifically referring to Morgoth corrupting Elves into Uruks.
This may feel like a distinction without a meaning, since in Black Speech the word Uruk translates directly to Orc. But this dialogue and his scene feels more like an attempt to make it clear he prefers Black Speech to Elvish or Westron and claim this identity as his own. As he hinted to in the last episode, Adar is an older form of Orc and not some deviation of the Uruk-hai seen in The Lord of the Rings. It's a little confusing, but this reveal does line up with Tolkien's writing even if Adar himself was never in Tolkien's works.
The death of Sauron
Despite the many fan theories that Adar is secretly Sauron, we learn in this episode that Adar was there in the big broken castle up north where experiments on The Unseen World were being performed. As Adar tells it, he was tired of his people being tortured and killed for what seemed like no progress and took matters into his own hands. Adar says he splits Sauron open and runs off with his people to enact his grand plan in the Southlands. Since Adar is not a character Tolkien created, it should be no surprise that Tolkien did not write anything about Adar attacking Sauron. And while Orcs have been seen fighting among themselves, there's no evidence I could find of Orcs ever attacking Sauron directly. I don't know that I believe Adar thinks Sauron is actually dead, especially from his reaction to Waldreg calling him Sauron. It's likely this description is an effort to continue the mystery of where Sauron is at this point in the story, which so far has been pretty effective.
Mount Doom erupting
Plot twist! Adar handed off the hilt to Waldreg before Galadriel and Halbrand caught up to him, which is why he was so smug in his capture and interrogation. Waldreg puts the sword key in the lock, and the Southlands is suddenly in a lot of trouble.
According to Tolkien, the mountain formerly known as Orodruin was created by Melkor before he became twisted into Morgoth and Sauron chose the area as his home base because of the eruptions in this mountain. Tolkien only wrote of Amon Amarth (Mount Doom) erupting once toward the end of the Second Age, as a signal to Gondor that an army was headed its way. But it's clear from the description of the mountain itself that eruptions were semi-common as this area became Mordor.
So while this specific event is not spelled out by Tolkien, the only part here that could be seen as an explicit deviation from his works is Queen Regent Miriel being in Middle-earth for any of these fights.
Episode 7: The Eye
As the evacuation of the Southlands becomes top priority for everyone we saw on screen last week, the power throuple of Khazad-dûm find difficulties of their own. And shortly after the long journey of the Harfoots comes to a surprising end, they learn that fighting with fire is a decidedly bad idea when their gray protector isn't around to help. Erin Carson has the full recap, but for those on this page there's lore to dive in to!
Mithril does what now?
After King Durin lets everyone down by refusing to help the Elves, Prince Durin stares in amazement as putting Elrond's corrupted leaf next to a chunk of Mithril purges the corruption. It's a powerful, emotional set of scenes leading to a major confrontation between the Durins, but it perpetuates a property of Mithril that doesn't exist in Tolkien's works.
Mithril is impossibly light and strong, and the light from within can be manipulated into a glowing moon stone called Ithildin. That Ithildin is what's used to create the infamous doors to Moria, which the Elves help make for the Dwarves. But at no point did Tolkien ever use Mithril as a way to prolong the existence of Elves or reduce any form of corruption.
It's possible there's more to this story that we haven't seen yet, that this corruption is a manipulation by Sauron to obtain large quantities of Mithril. But if it turns out that isn't the case, the way this show is handling Mithril's origin and properties is an unfortunate departure from what Tolkien intended.
The queen regent is blind
In this episode, Miriel does what only the greatest leaders of Men do -- she gets her hands dirty and helps save people. And if you watch the episode carefully, there's a lot of hints leading up to the actual reveal that she's lost her sight.
We know Tolkien never wrote about Miriel being queen regent and coming to Middle-earth with a battle party to save the Southlands, but as we've covered before, the space is there for this addition to be an entertaining one. Miriel being blinded by Mount Doom creates additional space for Pharazôn to step in and take over as the next king when the current one dies, due to a perceived weakness in the current leader, instead of what Tolkien wrote.
Put simply, this deviation from Tolkien's story is a lot more palatable to modern audiences that Pharazôn forcing his cousin to marry him against her will and take the throne just because he can. This addition of her being in a position of weakness and needing him as the voice of the people (as we've already seen him be) seems like a compromise for modern audiences.
The white-robed trio are dangerous
We now know just about as much about the strangers in white robes as we do about the Stranger they're chasing. They're powerful magic users from Rhûn, known as the Dweller, the Ascetic and the Nomad, and that's about it. Oh, and apparently they don't care who they harm on the way to finding the Stranger, which I bet right about now was something Nori wished she'd known before trying to help them.
Tolkien wrote very little about Rhûn, and humans who can wield magic in Middle-earth are rare but known as Sorcerers. It's not immediately clear if all three of these characters are magic-wielders, but it's clear these are created entirely for this series and it's going to be interesting to see what they get up to next.
Galadriel and Celeborn
At long last, Galadriel utters the name of her husband Celeborn. She says they met, fell in love and got married, and that he didn't know how to wear his armor at first. Oh, he's also dead? That's weird, since we see him in The Fellowship of the Ring. What's happening here?
This bit of information is stretching what Tolkien wrote quite a bit, but what's most likely going on here is Galadriel doesn't yet know that Celeborn escaped an event called the second sack of Doriath. In the First Age, there was this area of Middle-earth called Beleriand up near what's called Lindon in the show. Beleriand is utterly destroyed toward the end of the First Age, which is why it's not on most Middle-earth maps you've seen. Doriath was an area in the middle of Beleriand, and when it was attacked a second time, only a few people escaped. Celeborn was one of those people, but in The Rings of Power it seems Galadriel isn't yet aware of this fact.
Hopefully someone lets her know her husband is alive before she gets and closer to Halbrand.
Taking refuge in Pelargir
If it seemed like that name sounded familiar, you're correct. In The Return of The King, Aragorn uses his army of the dead to take the corsair ships attempting to flank the armies of men. That ambush happens at Pelargir.
This episode of The Rings of Power describes Pelargir as an abandoned Númenorean settlement. In Tolkien's writings, Pelargir is established in the middle of the Second Age as one of the earliest Númenorean outposts and eventually becomes the primary sanctuary of those who call themselves the Faithful. These are Númenoreans who believe in the old ways passed down by the Elves, rejecting the notion that tradition should be abandoned in an endless quest for more power and eventually immortality.
Tolkien never wrote of Númenor abandoning Pelargir early in the Second Age, but this deviation further highlights the work being done in the show to distance the island from the rest of Middle-earth. And for now, it's a refuge for those who want to escape the area now known as Mordor.
Episode 8: Alloyed
Sauron is revealed, the Harfoots stick up for their new friend, and Miriel's homecoming party is less than great. Also, some rings got made. It's a busy episode -- you can find the full recap here -- and all those new details mean lots to talk about.
As we've discussed before, Halbrand is not a name used by any character in Tolkien's writings. Given all of the hints scattered throughout the series, many already suspected this character would turn out to be Sauron. It explains his ferocious fighting ability, the instant way he can turn on charm to get out of a bind, and how deftly he manipulates those around him to get what he wants.
Once the characters arrive in Eregion, the hints are more like shouts. Halbrand offers Celebrimbor a "gift" and suddenly everyone around him is excited about the Unseen World. Galadriel picks up on the deception before anyone else notices, and when Halbrand is chased out of Eregion and relocates to Mordor, the Elven smiths forge three great rings. Unfortunately, we already have a name for the character who was in Eregion doing all of those things. That name was Annatar.
One of Sauron's many abilities is to change form, and when he was Annatar he looked Elven and was supposed to be ridiculously attractive. Unfortunately, Annatar is never mentioned by name in the parts of Tolkien's writings that Amazon Studios is allowed to use for this show. So instead, we briefly get Halbrand filling the Annatar-shaped hole before buggering off to his volcano. This is a significant deviation from Tolkien's writing, but it's because the Tolkien Estate would not let the creators use the name Annatar.
The Stranger's big Adventure
For a brief moment there, this show had everyone believing Sauron had been wandering around with the ancestors of the little folk who would eventually be his undoing. Fortunately, Nori was there to remind him of his purpose and have him do his thing to save the day. And in doing so, we got a big confirmation -- the Stranger is a Wizard. The name of that Wizard was not revealed, so there may be more surprises in store from this adorable duo.
Tolkien's writings identify three Istari or Wizards who travelled to Rhûn. Saruman is known to have travelled there and back again (I'm not sorry) and the two Blue Wizards travelled there and stayed. Alatar and Pallando, the only Wizards we haven't seen on screen before, came to Middle-earth together in the Second Age to help defeat evils in other parts of the world. If this character ends up being Gandalf, which is hinted at with his line about following your nose, it would be a significant addition to Tolkien's writings.
Just before Nori's Wizard friend banished the Rhûn sorcerers back to the darkness, their "true" forms were revealed and sure looked an awful lot like Sauron's nine wraiths from Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien's writings on Rhûn, its peoples, and the general capabilities of the folks there are thin in the best of times. We know human sorcerers existed in Middle-earth, but they're not supposed to be as powerful as a Wizard. We know Sauron was experimenting with the Unseen World for centuries, so it's reasonable to infer there were beings touching that place before the Nine Kings of Men were corrupted by their rings and became Sauron's servants as Ringwraiths.
All of this is an addition to Tolkien's writings, but because there's so little detail about that area, it's all plausible.
Nothing in this episode refuted the previous claims that Mithril is the byproduct of a lost Silmaril, or that is has the power to heal the Elves of their diminishing light. It seems like these significant deviations from Tolkien's works are an earnest part of the show, but I can see how the writers got there.
Celebrimbor and his smiths forged three rings of power for the Elves. Tolkien made it clear that Galadriel's was made of Mithril, but never explicitly said the same of the other two. So by taking the Mithril and combining it with Finrod's dagger, we get Mithril in all three rings even though they are different colors. This is overall a fine way to demonstrate the forging of these rings, because it's clear those three rings were made at roughly the same time.
Separately, the ring made for Gil-galad is supposed to be the most powerful of the three rings and had the ability to prevent decay and postpone the weariness of the world. This ring is called Vilya. Tolkien never wrote of the Elves fearing death in such an immediate fashion, or that the rings were made in a hurry to deal with that crisis, but Gil-galad's ring is supposed to do what the show claims it does.
At the moment, we have no idea when Season 2 of Rings of Power will release. We do know that it has already started filming, so maybe we'll be back in a year or two for more lore breakdowns.