Spoilers for The Rings of Power season one follow.
The first season of The Rings of Power has come to its epic conclusion, with the bombastic final three episodes providing huge battles and even bigger reveals. You can read my thoughts on the series here, but now I’d like to look ahead. Obviously there’s four more series to come, but many of the show’s stories and mysteries have already reached some sort of conclusion, not least with the Elves.
I think there’s an obvious overall story to come with the show, so I’ll outline that first: each season we see more Rings crafted by Celebrimbor and Sauron, probably in the order of the Ringverse. We’ve seen the three Elven rings in the first season, and I expect the Dwarves are next in line. I believe they’ll request the Elves’ aid (and give up their precious Mithril) in order to beat the Balrog lurking below Khazad-dûm. Meanwhile, the Númenorians will return to Middle-earth and start forming the settlements that become Minas Tirith and Minas Ithil. Come Season 3, they’ll be getting their hands on some rings of their own.
However, that’s too straightforward. My main complaint with the first season of The Rings of Power was that it was too fast, rushing over beautiful locations instead of taking the time to build Middle-earth. I’ve mentioned it before, but spending half an hour in The Shire at the start of the Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens trilogy perfectly draws you into Tolkien’s world, and later provides the stakes – that beautiful, quaint society is exactly what the Hobbits must save by destroying the Ring. I missed this in The Rings of Power, and would have loved more traveling time, more time spent exploring Númenor and Eregion for the sake of exploring, rather than relegating these incredible sets to mere backdrops for expositionary conversations to happen in front of. That’s why we need to go back in time in Season 2.
Galadriel and her pursuit of revenge for her brother Finrod thrust the first season forward with intensity, and it would be difficult to slow down from this position. Galadriel now knows that Halbrand has manipulated her and he has revealed himself as Sauron, so naturally she is as angry as ever. However, at some point she needs to heed Elrond’s words and become the Galadriel we know from The Lord of the Rings, calm and wise. What better way to begin that change than for her to look to her past and see exactly how her anger blinded her and aided her enemy – just as Gil-galad said it would?
These sequences, over the course of an episode, could give us an insight into who Galadriel was before her quest for vengeance. They could show how the Elves lived in times of peace in Eregion and Lindon, and that could extend prologue-style to the Dwarves, Númenorians, and Southlanders, too. I’m not expecting a full episode set in Valinor – I’m being vaguely realistic here – but we could even see her husband Celeborn for the first time. It’s a chance for Galadriel to have some introspection, to learn from her mistakes, and for Morfydd Clark to flex her acting muscles.
This would also show the audience the full depth of Halbrand’s manipulation. While I liked his reveal as Sauron, PowerPoint presentation and everything, it was all a bit fast. He lingered in Celeborn’s forge a moment too long, suggested exploring alloys, and gave the Elves gifts of knowledge (all very Saurony things to do), but I want to see more. Celebrimbor talked about his quest for power – a word with hugely evil connotations in Tolkien’s writing – since the first episode, and I want to go back and see Halbrand stoke that desire. I want to see him stroking Celebrimbor’s ego, gently gaining the Elf-smith’s trust and manipulating him to create the Rings.
Of course, Sauron is a shapeshifter, so we could well see this without diving into the past. I’m hoping to see Charlie Vickers take the guise of Annatar, too, and aid in the creation of the Dwarven rings, but doing so without looking back first feels like a missed opportunity.
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