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Rings of Power Season 2 – Trailer Analysis


      The fantastical world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth has long captured the attention and imagination of audiences through its deeply thought out lore, and epic storytelling. Jackson’s live-action adaptations of The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) and The Hobbit (2012-2014) propelled Middle-earth to cinematic fame, yet only explored the well-documented events of the Third Age. Amazon Prime Video’s series, The Rings of Power, instead aims to bring to life the rich, yet less frequently portrayed narratives of the Second Age. This time was defined by Sauron’s ascension to power, the forging of the rings, and rise and fall of many great kingdoms. The new trailer for The Rings of Power season two promises a fresh exploration of Tolkien’s rich world, maintaining its grand, immersive style. This trailer analysis will be delving into all facets of Middle-earth, thusly we will be talking about aspects of Rings of Power season one.


     The Trailer fades in with Halbrand/Sauron, hiking towards Mount Doom across the mountains of Ephel Duath that separate the lands of Mordor from the lands westward. Through voice over, Prince Durin IV, describes the return of “an evil, ancient, and powerful”. It then cuts to a symbiote-esque shadow creature climbing up a cliff. While this editing seems to suggest a connection between Sauron, the dwarves, and this shadow creature, I believe that Prince Durin is actually describing the Balrog that the Dwarves awoke near the end of the last season. Excited to see how they handle this, as it’s remarkably early in the narrative for the fall of Khazad-dûm.


     The trailer then shows Galadriel leading a team of elves through a dark, foggy woodland as they prepare for an attack. Many have been speculating about whom Galadriel’s team might be preparing to fight in this scene. These foes are likely not orcs, as they have glowing blue eyes, suggesting they are some form of the undead. Some theorize they might be Nazgûl or Ringwraiths, but it’s improbable since there are no rings of men yet. Theories suggest these might be Barrow-wights, but lore conflicts arise since they were servants of the Witch-King and shouldn’t exist yet. If based on existing Middle-earth creatures, Barrow-wights are plausible, being unseen in live action. Yet, these could also be entirely original to the show.


     Personally, I am excited to see Galadriel take a more active role in the elven storyline. Many labeled her a Mary Sue in season one, and this development presents an opportunity for writers to address that. Elves like Gil-galad and Elrond challenged Galadriel’s pride, this plot point could add depth to her character and the overall narrative.


    In the next sequence we see a person with cut palms, surrounded by moths amidst cubic construction, likely dwarven. This is reminiscent of the moths which the white cloaked witches evaporated into after confronting the Stranger. Perhaps the witches are reforming? Which brings us to my next point, that even with the dwarven architecture, I doubt that this is Khazad-dûm. Even though it is the only dwarven city we have seen thus far, the color correction matches the Stranger’s environment later.


     The next shots take us back to Lindon, the region ruled by elves. Tree roots crawl from a cloaked figure towards who we can guess to be Celebrimbor or Elrond. This may be a kind of magic manipulating these vines, as the forest would not be willing to be used in either side of this war. The trees of Middle-earth rarely choose sides, as reflected in the quote, “no one is on our [the ents’] side.”  


    In his forge, Celebrimbor seems surprised by someone’s presence, with a Voice over stating “I think he has been here among us all along.” It cuts to Sauron, who has taken a new elven appearance to blend in, likely his Annatar form from the books. I love the Annatar in Eregion story, but the existence of his Halbrand disguise cheapens any future deception. Nonetheless, I look forwards to it, as the Annatar storyline could guide the writers to the forging the other rings of power. However, they may rush this plot, as Annatar seems to be outed by the end of the season.


     In the next sequence, a large monster seems poised to devour a person submerged in water. Likely another vision of Miriels, who in season one foresaw Númenor’s destruction to a great wave. 


    The next several shots show connections to the dwarves. Disa looks off camera, King Durin III peers through rubble, and a bridge in Khazad-dûm collapses along with a roof. As I said earlier, it would be incredibly early for Khazad-dûm to fall, but ultimately, I believe that this would be where the Balrog destroys Khazad-dûm, making this Balrog Durin’s Bane, the same one we see in the story of The Lord of the Rings, leading me to believe it will likely kill King During III by the end of the series, much as it slaughters Durin VI in the books, thus earning its name.


     Then we see three very fast cuts: Elendil reaches amidst a crowd, pushed back by guards, Galadriel screams in darkness, an orc licking a bloody knife, and a pan over the elf city Eregion. We lack enough info to determine Elendil’s intent, but online speculation suggests he might reach for Miriel or Isildur. Galadriel in a dark place with red lights resembles Lindon, hinting at another vision. It might parallel Galadriel’s previous experience with Halbrand in Season One’s end. The orc licking his knife is likely an homage to Peter Jacksons adaptations where uruk-hai do the same. Lastly, aerial shot of Eregion with “Darkness will bind them” graphic, nodding to Galadriel’s Fellowship of the Ring intro.


     Our next shot shows the three elven rings of power being worn. Clearly we can tell Galadriel receives Nenya, the ring of water. Gil-Galad receives Vilya, the ring of air. Lastly, Narya, the ring of fire, originally worn by Círdan, who later passes it to Gandalf. Círdan, a significant figure in Middle-earth lore, is a wise and ancient Elf known for his maritime skills and foresight. While he hasn’t appeared in the story yet, the show has confirmed his presence in this new season.


    Quick shots follow: King Durin III gets his ring of power. Conflicting accounts in the book debate its origin from Celebrimbor or Sauron. The show needs to settle this. Arondir emerges from a wagon, holding someone at arrow point, Isildur behind him. Suggesting a team-up after Isildur escapes Mordor, where he was stranded in Season One’s end. A Great Eagle lands on a Númenorean balcony, seemingly backing Ar-Pharazôn, a villain seeking to corrupt Númenor against the Valar and Elves. While there were Eagles that dwelt in Númenor in the books, they would have left Númenor long ago. The Númenorians were hostile to the Valar, and the Eagles were servants of Manwë, King of the Valar. 


     Next a shot of Theo crying. Since Theo’s mother Bronwyn is absent throughout the trailer, I suspect she might die this season. She can’t end up with Arondir by the series’ end, as there are only three elf-man romances in Middle-earth lore. We cut to the attack on Eregion, seemingly led by Adar, the villain of the southlanders storyline in Season One. Next, we see the Stranger in a desert with his harfoot companion. This land is unlike anything we have seen before. This could be the land of Rhûn, but we don’t have much evidence to support this. Elrond leads a cavalry of Elves into battle, likely aiding those besieged in Eregion. In the books, soon after this, he founds Rivendell. Lastly, Celebrimbor throws rings into a fire. Possibly after discovering Sauron’s influence and seeking to destroy the rings before they can be used for evil purposes.


    The trailer ends with the elves of Eregion holding Annatar captive after discovering his true identity, and he uses to use magic to escape. A cold flash of light leads to the revelation of a tower and its surrounding land frosting over. The editing implies an immediate connection, but it could be the tower that Galadriel’s company finds in the series’ debut.


   Despite a promising exploration into Middle-earth’s lore, I still have reservations about the second season of The Rings of Power. The first season received mixed reviews and faced criticism for various reasons, from pacing issues to character development concerns. Despite these apprehensions, the trailer conveys an attempt to address these shortcomings and provide a more faithful adaptation. Cautiously optimistic, I eagerly anticipate the show’s evolution and its ability to capture the grandeur of the Second Age.


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