The first few minutes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Prime Video’s pricey, long-awaited prequel to the LOTR trilogy that premiered its first two episodes of the streamer Thursday night, give us a glimpse of this world as well as the view of a child Galadriel (Morfydd Clark).
However, that peace doesn’t last long. When Morgoth engulfs Valinor in darkness, the elves fight back. After hundreds of years of war, Morgoth is deleted but his army of Orcs have spread, now led by Morgoth’s successor, Sauron. Determined to hunt him down, Galadriel’s brother is killed by Sauron himself, leaving Galadriel as a woman with a thirst for revenge.
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This younger Galadriel is from the start quite different from the character played by Cate Blanchett in Peter Jackson’s movies. Of course she’s younger, but with youth comes a sharp tongue and rebellious spirit that drive her to take her company to the literal ends of the Earth in her quest for Orcs and their new leader.
Other familiar faces — either from the trilogy or legendarium — introduced in the first episode include High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker), half-elf and future Elven-lord of Rivendell Elrond ( Robert Aramayo), and crafter of the rings Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards).
Staying true to J.R.R. Tolkien, Elrond and Galadriel are close companions who reunite when she returns to Lindon, but they are torn apart when Elrond convinces her to accept the King’s offer to go to the West and abandon her quest — thus, in the King’s words, ending the days of war.
However, this Elrond is still a far cry from Hugo Weaving’s Elrond — a mere writer (and without the long hair) — but even in this first episode we start to see hints of his potential as Celembrimbor recruits him for a mysterious project.
After showing us the lore we’re acquainted with, the series transitions into two brand-new stories: the Harfoots, and Southlands.
In the Southlands, a land of men, the elves who were watching over them (protecting them from Morgoth ad the Orcs) are finally allowed to return home, forcing Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) to say goodbye to Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), a human healer for whom he has feelings despite their two species not necessarily seeing eye to eye. However, their separation is short-lived. After the discovery of a disturbingly sick cow, they venture to a nearby village, finding it absolutely destroyed as an indication that the evil isn’t gone. And in Bronwyn’s home village, there are signs of danger when her son Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), reveals a kilt engraved with Sauron’s symbol.
The land of the Harfoots is the only one without strife as these migrating ancestors of the Hobbits are simply living their lives, with two girls — Poppy (Megan Richards) and Nori (Markella Kavenagh) — being the only ones to break this tranquility when they go to pick berries and almost run into a wolf.
However, because nothing can stay good in a world leading up to the re-emergence of Sauron, a shooting star crashes outside the Harfoots’ camp, revealing The Stranger (Daniel Weyman). The episode ends with Galadriel jumping off the ship seconds before it reaches Valinor, stranding her in the middle of the ocean trying to figure out what to do.