The trailer captures in spirit Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth and of other Tolkien artists. I was caught up by it and am curious to see more, but it left me, and probably most viewers, with more questions than answers.
The trailer can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/ewgCqJDI_Nk
Elrond tells Galadriel “Put up your sword.”
Why would he say this? It means not only literally put down your sword, but give up the fight. He’s asking her to give up everything she has stood for. To give up on what she has so long fought for. Even after Lothlórien is well established, Galadriel never gives up fighting evil in Middle-earth. If I were her, I’d be pretty angry at him for saying this. Could this be a hint of a thread of conflict that will run between the two of them throughout the show?
Galadriel is believable as a younger version of herself who seems capable as one of the Elves who lead the Noldor across the Grinding Ice. Is that a map she is holding? If this is the Helcaraxë, I doubt a map would exist. If she is in the Northern Waste which has been mentioned as a featured location, I wonder what brings her there. It would be interesting to learn more about the Forodwaith, and it opens up the opportunity for dragons who also lived there.
What is Elrond referrring to when he says, “It is over?” Perhaps this scene is taking place after Númenor falls, and Elrond thinks Sauron (and evil) is gone. Or maybe he is talking about Galadriel’s dispute with the heirs of Fëanor because all the Silmaril’s have left Middle-earth.
Galadriel says, “The enemy is still out there. The question now is where.” The trailer then cuts to a city on a river. I wondered if it was Rómenna because Sauron is now on Númenor. Or Ost-in-Edhil in Eregion where Sauron as Annatar, “Lord of Gifts”, is hanging out with Celebrimbor showing him how to make rings of power. My immediate thought was that the location looked like Middle-earth rather than Númenor. I even hoped for a moment it might be Osgiliath which straddled the Anduin River, though it was not at the confluence of two rivers like this appears to be, unless it is a curve in the river. Osgiliath had a great stone bridge, and there is a domed building in this city that could be the Dome of Stars. I doubt it is Osgiliath, but one can hope we will get to see the founding of Gondor and Annúminas.
When Galadriel says she has seen things Elrond has not, we are shown an image that looks like the world is on fire. I first thought this might be the burning of the Teleri ships at Losgar, but because of the tower, I think not. Could it be the destruction of Thangorodrim in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age? The description in the Silmarillion of the battle says: “all the north was aflame with war” and “…Orcs perished like straw in a great fire, or were swept like shrivelled leaves before a burning wind.” This gives credence to the bodies floating in the air, though they look rather like Elves than Orcs. In that battle, Eärendil slew the mighty dragon Ancalagon the Black, and “cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin.” This would account for the broken tower. Perhaps, but perhaps not. TORn staffer Demosthenes has a more comprehensive post about this scene to come.
Preparing for disaster
In this shot where a huge stone figure reaches out its hand, I wonder if the harbor is Rómenna where the ships of the Faithful are prepared for departure as Amandil, Elendil’s father, instructed. The image depicts nine large ships at anchor. Elendil landed in the north of Middle-earth with four ships. Isildur with three and Anárion with two, ended up in the south at the Mouths of Anduin.
The frontal view of the ship sailing through the gates has the sun symbol on the sails, the same as Elendil’s armor. The ship is a very intriguing design with two large curved and ribbed sails sticking out from the mast and smaller sails in the middle. The ships in the harbor have furled (wrapped up) sails that stick out perpendicular from the boat, the same way the sails on the hero ship would likely be stowed. Later in the trailer we see Isildur on a ship, but is hard to tell if the sails are set the same, though the masts seem to be positioned differently.
There has been speculation that the meteor man could be Sauron because the lantern on the left is reminiscent of the Eye of Sauron. But in Akallabêth, it says Sauron’s spirit came back to Middle-earth “as a shadow and a black wind over the sea” not as a flaming meteor. I am still leaning towards this being an Istari, possibly even Gandalf. Now that we can see the man more clearly, he has similar physicality, hair, mustache, and beard as Gandalf. I know Gandalf is not supposed to come to Middle-earth until the third age, but with time compression, who knows?
Speaking of time compression, one thing that is bothering me is that when the Rings of Power were forged, Tar-Telperiën was the Queen of Númenor, not Tar-Míriel, who we see in the trailer. The Rings of Power are forged in the year 1600 of the 2nd Age, and the downfall of Númenor is in 3319 of the same age. Given the title of the show, it seems that the forging of the rings would be featured. So either the compression is rather severe, or perhaps flashbacks are used extensively. There is a scene of Ar-Pharazôn stirring up a crowd in front of either the King’s Court or the tower where Morgoth was worshipped. It surprises me that the show would already be in his time frame since Ar-Pharazôn’s reign is so close to the fall of Númenor, which seems like a conclusion and not an opening to a series that is supposed to have five seasons.
Another clue the show-runners are not sticking strictly to canon is the character Eärien, sister of Isildur, who does not exist in Tolkien’s work. Elendil had only two children: Isildur and Anárion. I was looking forward to meeting Anárion who we know so little about and who dies in the siege of Barad-dûr. I hope he has not been cut completely.
Durins III & IV
I’m curious what Durin III means when he says, “I am sorry but their time has come.” Is he talking about Durin IV and Disa? Is he telling someone that his reign is over, and that his heirs will be taking the throne? The trailer cuts to Durin IV breaking the rock right after he says this. We later see Durin IV holding a piece of what is most likely mithril (so exciting!) saying that it could be the beginning of new era. Is Durin III stepping aside because his son has discovered the wealth of the Dwarves’ future? Then why does he say he’s sorry? Maybe instead he is implying that Elves will once again have more power than Dwarves in Middle-earth. After the war between Sauron and the Elves begins, Khazad-dûm is closed, and its population dwindles, and the Dwarves became a wandering folk while Elves become established in Rivendell and Lórien.
What is Arondir’s role in the story? Why is Arondir’s costume so different than the other Elves we have seen? In the trailer released in Brazil earlier this month, I noticed Elrond’s and Arondir’s brooches are very similar, both open silver circles but the heads of the fastener pins are different. Is this style a trend? Or does it mean that Arondir is somehow closely connected to Elrond? In his army? A scout for him?
Who is in the pit with Arondir? The scene reminds me of when Sauron cast Beren and Finrod Felagund into the pits of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, and the wolves came and killed their companions one-by-one (Silmarillion, Of Beren and Lúthien). Perhaps this scene takes place after the One Ring is revealed, and the second person in the pit is Celebrimbor who was captured by Sauron and tortured to disclose the locations of the lesser rings. Throwing him into a pit with wargs to extract a confession would fit the dark lord’s style.
The Horse Warriors
We see Galadriel leading a host of horse warriors with Isildur(?) riding beside her. I wonder if they are in Middle-earth during the War of the Elves and Sauron. No major battles are written about that take place on Númenor, but these riders are wearing the scale mail of that culture. [Edit: “The Tale of Years” in Appendix B of “The Lord of the Rings” says in 3175 there is civil war in Númenor, but nowhere is Galadriel mentioned as leading an armed force there.] Possibly they are Isildur’s men that sailed with him, or maybe Númenórian’s who had already settled in Middle-earth.
Númenóreans are not widely known for their horsemanship, but horses were their main mode of transportation while on the island. They had a deep love for and connection with the animals and could communicate with them from afar by whistling or even by thought, much as we see Gandalf doing with Shadowfax.
I have been hoping to see the steel bows of the Dúnedain, but these riders have spears.
“In later days, in the wars upon Middle-earth, it was the bows of the Númenóreans that were most greatly feared. ‘The Men of the Sea,’ it was said, ‘send before them a great cloud, as a rain turned to serpents, or a black hail tipped with steel;’ and in those days the great cohorts of the King’s Archers used bows made of hollow steel, with black-feathered arrows…”– Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 1, A Description of the Island of Númenor
I like that the Harfoots are portrayed as wanderers. As distant ancestors of Bilbo and Frodo, this explains why the two Shirelings are predisposed to going on adventures. The Harfoots’ role in these tales is not canon but being invented from whole cloth, as they say, yet I am happy they are included and feel the story will be enriched.
There is a lot to unpack with the trailer, but it is definitely intriguing. Looking forward to getting answers once the show airs on Amazon Prime Video.
See other TORn staff reactions here: https://www.theonering.net/torwp/2022/07/16/113628-reactions-for-the-new-rings-of-power-teaser-trailer/