In order to get into Hall H for the Rings of Power panel, which was scheduled to be the first panel on Friday, July 22 at 10:30am, a group of fans needed a plan to camp out in line. Staffers from TORn, members of the Discord community and a bunch of fans from the UK banded together to have group members take turns standing, or sitting, in line, starting at Midnight Wednesday night, all day on Thursday, and overnight into Friday morning.
It was a blast to see the trailer, but the special footage that accompanied some of the cast discussions really showed us what type of show this is going to be, and those subwoofers that blow through the room during the first video emphasized the Power of the Rings.
Here is an accounting for the exclusive scenes shown to the 6500 fans in attendance.
Ring Verse video and sound:
The panel began with Bear McCreary conducting a small orchestra with choral and violin solos of several minutes of his newly created music for the series, which was released a couple of days ago. Once the music ended, Stephen Colbert was introduced as the moderator, and very soon we’ll be giving a rundown of those cast and showrunner Q&A sessions in a separate article. But the first group of guests comprised the show runners and producers of the show. One said that the thing he had most wanted to see on screen was the moment when Sauron puts on the One Ring and invokes the Ring verse for the first time, sending a ripple across all of Middle-earth, a moment when the Elves especially, realized they’d been had.
Shortly after this, we got our first Exclusive video footage, and it is this moment recreated for us in Hall H.
The sequence opens with the image we’ve all seen, of Finrod walking up the grassy hill to see the Two Trees, and at this point the black curtains on the side walls pull back to reveal the screens that stretch more than half the length of the hall (approximately the distance of two semi-trucks back to back). This allows us to see the mountains and valleys to either side of the main image of the city and the Two Trees.
But then we push in closer to see the trees better, and they are fading. As the light begins to dim, and the leaves fall, there is a giant shadowy figure of Morgoth in the sky. We are then transported to a realm of burning ground that seems to be disintegrating, and the Ring Verse appears in a golden circle on a black background.
We hear the first line, read by Morfydd Clark, ‘Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky’, a quick glimpse of an elven realm, and the Ring Verse enlarges and rushes towards us as a giant burst of sound emanates from some very large subwoofers at the front of the stage, the whole room shakes and you can literally feel the blast on your face.
She reads the second line, ‘Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone’ and a quick glimpse of Moria in it’s glory, then the same rush of the Ring verse rushing towards the screen and the burst of sound from the speakers, just a wave of sound rushing the screen.
Next comes the third line, ‘Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die’, and a look at Numenor from above, and again with the Ring Verse and Sound bursting through the room.
And finally, we get the final lines, ‘One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie’ and a glimpse of destruction before the final burst of sound with the Ring Verse.
And thus, everyone in the audience, and everyone who came back onstage were just dumbstruck by that experience. It was one of the most visceral experiences to ever happen in Hall H.
Elrond and Durin IV’s relationship:
Elrond and Durin IV, set up like a prize fight as Elrond walks past male and female dwarves singing and chanting, but not necessarily in a good way, then big cheers when Durin IV enters. Again, very much like the bravado of two competitors before a big fight.
Durin IV announces the challenge, to break rocks until one or the other cannot. If the Elf loses, he is banned from ALL Dwarven realms, if he wins. . .Durin IV sniggers, as if to say that is very unlikely, and then the big rocks are carted in.
Durin IV gives a big swing and easily splits his rock, Elrond hesitates just a moment and then gives a big swing as well. . .fade to black
Elrond and Galadriel’s relationship:
Elrond greets Galadriel, and then each looks at the tapestry of a ship sailing into the sunset, and mentions in somber tones what it is supposed to be like, of a song welcoming one to this realm. The moment is very contemplative, and almost fearful on the part of Elrond.
Then in a lighter tone, Elrond says he expected Galadriel to be covered in mud and dirt, she replies “more like frost bite and troll blood”
Galadriel and Halbrand saved from the sea:
We got context of that regal ship sailing into the Numenorean port. It is Elendil’s ship, the circular sails have the sunburst sigil on them, and two guests were aboard, the rescued Galadriel and Halbrand. Elendil recognizes Galadriel as one of the Eldar, and she asks what ship this is, he tells her and it does not ease her mind. Halbrand then asks where it is they are going, he doesn’t recognize anything about the port.
But Galadriel does, she recognizes the carved stone faces they sail by, the glorious waterfall next to what may be a statue of Ulmo, and announces to Halbrand that it is the island nation of Numenor. This sequence also gives us a heavy dose of the grandeur of the music Bear McCreary is creating for Numenor.
Arondir in chains:
The Arondir scene where his ankle is chained is an Orc prison gang thing, several elves, and maybe some men are all chained and working at what looks like a quarry. The Orcs have those white membranous cloaks (could it be flesh?) on to protect them from the sun, but they don’t work well
We see one Orc wince from sun exposure and retreat to a covered area made of wooden beams and canvas. Arondir looks at another elf, giving a signal, and they and other prisoners attempt a jailbreak using the long chains to whip the Orcs off their feet.
The prisoners cross their chains and then take turns smashing with their hammers where the chains intersect. One chain breaks and that prisoner takes off running and scales the walls of the pit, until he is shot down.
Thus comes the scene where Arondir pics up an axe and leaps high overhead, but not to attack an Orc. No, he goes for the wooden crossbeam and collapses the structure protecting the Orcs. . . fade to black
Nori and the Stranger
Nori appears at the top of the burning crater and looks down to see the ‘Stranger’ curled up in a fetal position unconscious. Her friend Poppy comes up from behind and tells her to get away from the edge, it’s dangerous. Nori says that they should help the man below, and Poppy says that they can’t, he’s a giant and it isn’t safe.
At that moment, the edge of the crater collapses and Nori falls into the crater, landing amongst the flames. As she scrambles to regain her feet, she realizes the flames don’t burn, they aren’t hot. This gives her enough courage to approach the figure at the center of the flaming crater.
She slowly reaches out to touch him, while Poppy pleads for her to stop. Nori pokes his face and nothing happens, and again Poppy pleads for her to come back. Nori says that we can’t leave him here, not for the wolves to get, and then suddenly he wakes enough to reach out and grab her arm.
Nori turns back to him, stunned and surprised, he looks just as perplexed and starts to cry out, the camera cuts back and forth between them, while the cries of surprise or pain or confusion escalate, the fire goes out. And then, Nori is able to pull away, and the Stranger falls unconscious again, and the flames return.
Poppy urges Nori to get out as fast as she can, and Nori says we have to help him, and Poppy retorts ‘how are we to carry a giant’, but Nori says that they can, that this is who they are, and Poppy reminds her ‘no, this is who you are’.
This last interchange between Nori and Poppy is very much like the Shire we know, where most of the Hobbits never go anywhere and never have any adventures, and then there are the Bagginses and Tooks, who do go places and have adventures.
Thus ends the Dispatches from Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, at least as far as the exclusive video content goes. There will be a synopsis of all the cast and showrunner Q&As forthcoming.