It has been an intense time for The Lord of the Rings fans. After a long time of almost no news, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series suddenly released a flood of information. From mysterious character posters to a first-look teaser, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is starting to take shape before our eyes. To offer even more insights into the upcoming Lord of the Rings show, its showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, recently sat down with Vanity Fair. In addition to answering other burning questions, McKay and Payne revealed answers to one much-anticipated question: What stories will be central to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power‘s plot.
McKay and Payne first offer us a frame of what we can expect from The Rings of Power story-wise. They share, “We told Amazon we wanted to do four or five stories that are the big epics of the Second Age.” An ambitious undertaking, to be sure. But what are these Lord of the Rings tales that will feature in The Rings of Power? The showrunners shed light on four of the major plots we can expect to see at The Lord of the Rings show’s core. First, the story of Elrond. Second, the rise of Sauron and Galadriel’s search for him. Third, the rise and fall of the island kingdom of Númenor. And fourth, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.
The Forging of the Rings and Elrond
At the center of this Lord of the Rings series live the Rings of Power. These titular rings and their forging start us down the path that eventually leads to Frodo and the Fellowship gathering for their journey. The showrunners share that at the core of this story live “famed elven smith Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) and [Robert] Aramayos’s younger Elrond.”
Celebrimbor and the Forging of the Rings
Those familiar with The Lord of the Rings lore will recognize the name Celebrimbor. But just in case, Payne refreshes our memory. Speaking to Empire, he notes. “We’re dealing with one of the greatest villains that’s ever been created in Sauron. And one of the central figures in the story is the character of Celebrimbor. He’s an Elven smith who was manipulated into helping create the Rings Of Power. We’re excited to be bringing him to Middle-earth. He’s very mysterious.”
Mysterious indeed. Celebrimbor’s position as a master smith seems like it is about to get him in trouble. In the base material, Celebrimbor meets Sauron in disguise. In fact, Sauron claims to be an emissary of the Valar, a group akin to gods in Tolkien’s world. So when we see Celebrimbor appear in the show, we should keep an eye out for any “mysterious” figures around him.
Charles Edwards, who plays Celebrimbor, shares a bit more about the elf to Fandom. He notes that Tolkien didn’t offer a clear version of his character in his writings, leaving the show some room to color in the nuance of Celebrimbor.
He further offers about the elf, “He’s cautious, he can be quite gullible… He’s vain. He’s a brilliant craftsman. And he’s very meticulous. He can be a bit of a user. But he can also be used. He’s proud. He prefers seclusion; he’s not a people person. He is not terribly socially interested. He can be quite blunt. He’s very ambitious. Colossally ambitious.” And that ambition to create and surpass all those who have come before could be his undoing.
McKay shares the following about Elrond’s journey in Rings of Power, “We’re going back thousands of years to when the party was in full swing… We’re going to see the elf capital of Lindon where Elrond is a young up-and-coming operator within the political scene of the high elves during their glory day.”
Evidently, we find Elrond working on mending alliances with the dwarves. And it seems, he will have a friendship with Prince Durin IV. An interesting concept considering the typically antagonistic nature of Dwarf and Elf relations.
Additionally, it looks like Celebrimbor will have connections to the Dwarves in Rings of Power. Charles Edwards notes to Fandom, “He’s actively trying to turn Eregion into a place of excellence. And he is working with the Dwarves towards that end to try and capitalize on their talents and their creativity.” Also saying, “In our story, Celebrimbor encourages and assists Elrond to visit Khazad-dûm and to court the Dwarves… He may have an ulterior motive for that, but Celebrimbor is very much in support of working together … neither race would have produced the wonders that they had, that they created, without the aid of the other. So clearly, we’re in a time of peace, certainly in terms of working relationship, and [Celebrimbor] has a great respect for them. And Dwarves have a reputation as being fanatical workers, and jewelers and crafters, and Celebrimbor very much respects that.”
Payne adds, with regards to Elrond’s tale, “Elrond, we know from the Third Age, has a pretty bleak view on humans. He says, ‘Men are weak’ because he’s seen the foibles of humankind. In some ways, the Third Age is almost postapocalyptic Middle-earth. The elves have one foot out the door…. We’re going to watch as Elrond goes from optimistic to a bit more world-weary.”
It certainly sounds like Elrond begins with a rosy view of all people, but his exposure to the Rings of Power may soon change that. Growing up is never an easy process, even if you are an ageless elf.
The Ascent of Sauron and Galadriel
The Rings of Power‘s next major plotline will center on “the rise of Sauron himself, when he was a physical villain.” Sauron, of course, was not always an eyeball living in a tower. At one point, he was even a “fair” a.k.a. “attractive” man. One who knew how to seduce for power. The showrunners offer that, “he may be hiding in plain sight or he may be yet to come, but Galadriel’s search for him takes her, and eventually the strange human she’s encountered, Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), all over the map.” Interestingly, it sounds like the showrunners are teasing that we may meet the future dark lord without realizing it.
From everything we’ve heard, it sounds like Galadriel has Sauron’s number, and with good reason. The showrunners add about Galadriel, “She’s full of piss and vinegar and she’s got a sword that’s broken because she’s killed so many orcs. This young hot-headed Galadriel…how did she ever become that elder stateswoman?” But more importantly, Galadriel has “already survived multiple attacks by Sauron and his predecessor, Morgoth, and losing her brothers in the process.”
Galadriel’s actress additionally echoes the idea of a more active character. And she notes to Empire, “I had to find that balance between someone who has got an element of the eternal but hasn’t yet seen it all. Don’t expect the same character that you meet later on.” And that Galadriel “still has a lot to learn.” It sounds like Galadriel’s journey will be central to the plot of this Lord of the Rings series.
Those who know Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings books and movies know she has an inclination for power herself. Throughout her life, we see her struggle as she is tested by the darkness inside of her. And we have a feeling a rougher, younger version will struggle even harder. It will be fascinating to see the relationship between Galadriel and Sauron play out.
The Rise and Fall of Númenor
Next, the third Lord of the Rings show plot will revolve around “the rise and fall of the island kingdom of Númenor. (Emphasis on the fall.)” Númenor is an island kingdom of men that was ruled by Aragorn’s ancestors. Some compare it to Lord of the Rings’ Atlantis. According to the article, those who live on Númenor are “mortals with an extended life span that are far more advanced and powerful than those who dwell on the mainland of Middle-earth.”
The story of Númenor promises political intrigue, with a fight for the crown playing out between “characters Tar-Míriel and Ar-Pharazôn, the island’s last king.” Additionally, the character of Isildur (played by Maxim Baldry), will be at the center of this The Rings of Power plot. We know that in the future Aragorn’s ancestor cuts the ring off Sauron’s finger, but fails to follow through with its destruction. Instead, Isildur allows the ring to seduce him. And thus, the ring and Sauron live on, even in defeat.
But in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, we have not yet arrived there in the story. Instead, McKay shares, “You meet Isildur and he’s like Michael Corleone… He’s the young member of the family who has optimism and immaturity. Trace that guy to the tragic, final decision rather than the mistake of a fool.”
The Last Alliance of Elves and Men
According to the article, Isildur, his desire for power, and “his relationship with his father, Elendil” all lead into the last major storyline we’ll see play out in this series. The final item on the list of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power‘s plots? The Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Although the showrunners don’t go into it too much in their article, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men is “a great alliance formed in the year 3430 of the Second Age in response to the threat of conquest by the Dark Lord Sauron.”
This Alliance features many names we’ve heard shared already, including Elendil, Gil-galad, Isildur, Elrond, and more. Of course, we know it succeeds, though not entirely. How we get there though, is where the story really takes its shape.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Main Plots and Other Stories
These Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power plots and stories will unfold over many seasons, of course. But we know a quest is all about taking one step at a time. McKay shares that season one is for the heroes. He offers, “We didn’t want to do a villain-centric thing. We wanted it to be about introducing these worlds and the peoples who dwell in them and the major heroes and characters, some of whom you know, and some of whom are new. Season two we go a little bit deeper into the lore and the stories people have been waiting to hear.”
Of course, in addition to these main plot points, The Lord of the Rings show will have many other characters and adventures in store. Including that of the love story between the elf Anrondir and human Bronwyn, the possibility of wizards, the adventures of the harfoots, and more. We can’t wait to see this adventure come to life. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will bring all of its plot points to life when the Lord of the Rings series premieres on Amazon Prime on September 2.
Originally published on February 14, 2022.