Hey, everybody, welcome to the first Recap for the new Rings of Power series. After months of dissecting images and trailers, we finally got to dive into this new Middle-earth adaptation. There are lots to cover on characters and storylines, new and old – some things I really liked and some things I’m not super crazy about so far. We’ll go over all of that and all the deeper lore references I caught in this first episode.
Rings of Power has the potential to create a standard for television that is almost impossible to replicate and will be very challenging to match. My only complaint with the makers is that the episodes don’t have the famous LOTR theme. That particular sound immediately draws you into its trance with its own appeal and mystery. Look how HBO fully utilized the GoT theme in the first two episodes! It had a similar impact on viewers. Prime, you have to get smarter.
The Rings of Power Episode 1 Recap
We see Galadriel as a child while adult Galadriel narrates and during the time of this flashback, referred to as the Years of the Trees, the Blessed Realm is lit by the light of the Two Trees before the existence of the Sun and Moon. Galadriel is making a paper boat and argues with the other elven kids about whether it will sail, and it does – turning into a familiar shape – a swan ship that we not only see later in Lorien but throughout the history of Middle-earth used by the elves. Turns out the other kids are jerks and destroy the boat, and Galadriel gets into a fight before it’s broken up by her brother Finrod.
We get some moments between Finrod and Galadriel, who talk about the difference between ships and stones and following the light. And as Galadriel asks how to know which lights to follow, we see Finrod whisper something that won’t be revealed until much later. Then Finrod mentions that he won’t always be around to speak such words of wisdom to her. Next is the absolutely jaw-dropping shot of Valinor and the Two Trees. Galadriel’s voiceover says how the elves didn’t have a word for death, and they thought their light would never dim. And then we see the two trees shriveling and dying, with the silhouette of Morgoth briefly appearing in the mist.
With Morgoth’s destruction of the two trees, we are launched into a montage of a prologue sequence. We have a shot of Tirion that looks like a wasteland. Next, we get a shot of a circle of elves in what immediately calls to mind the Oath of Feanor, though it’s definitely not that because we see Finrod is one of those raising his sword. Next, Galadriel says that a legion of elves went to war, following Morgoth to Middle-earth. Here we see ships of elves making their way to Middle-earth. We also see eagles flying with the ships of the elves.
The Great War
Next, we have scenes of battle, and we have a fell beast or possibly a dragon taking down a great eagle, which I think is a nice flip from what we’ve previously seen in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings – a quick communication that these first age battles often don’t go well for the good guys. The montage we get of Finrod in battle and shots of devastation seems like they’re kind of combining all the wars of the First Age into a single centuries-long conflict. And while Beleriand wasn’t on the map, it does seem to pay homage to the sinking of these lands with the shots that seem like the War of Wrath.
Next, we see Galadriel with the huge mound of helmets, saying they now have many words for death. Galadriel talks about Morgoth’s orcs spreading to every corner of Middle-earth, under the command of his most devoted servant, and we get a silhouetted shot of Sauron, whom Galadriel describes as cruel, cunning, and a sorcerer. According to Galadriel, Finrod had sworn to seek out Sauron, and we see big claw marks on Finrod’s arm. So Galadriel takes up Finrod’s dagger and his mission to hunt down Sauron. We get a look at the symbol Sauron branded into Finrod’s skin, which Galadriel says even their wisest couldn’t discern.
Galadriel On Her Journey
So over the centuries, Galadriel and the elves hunted for Sauron, and we pick up with the present day, where it seems Galadriel and her company are the last ones on the mission in the far northern lands of Forodwaith. Most elves have been able to move on, content that Sauron is of no imminent danger. They press on, and we get another shot that is very reminiscent of a different Tolkien moment. When an elf falls from the back of the pack, Galadriel, who maybe doesn’t realize what’s happened, says they keep moving, and at this moment, she’s definitely coming off as a bit Feanorian in her single-mindedness. They realize they’ve found it – the old fortress they sought.
They go inside, where the orcs gather after Morgoth’s defeat, and Galadriel discovers a covered passageway. Inside, they find an orc sort of melted into the wall, and we’re told they were meddling with the powers of the unseen world. Galadriel pours water on the stone slab, and it reveals Sauron’s mark, noting how Sauron’s very hand is flame unquenched. Galadriel wants to continue north, and we get some dialogue where she says how she can still see and feel the light of the trees. The group is attacked by a snow troll, and we get a bit of action. And Galadriel finishes it off. Now Galadriel’s company stands up to her, putting down their swords and telling her if she wants to continue north, she will do so alone.
Map transition time, and we’re off to the land of the harfoots, who, it turns out, live in southern Rhovanion. We see how the harfoots live, hiding from any outsiders. We see the harfoot Sadoc looking through some parchment, and we see a pictograph of the folks with antlers, which is followed by wolf-like images, and he’s concerned that the timing of travelers seems off. We’re introduced to Nori and Poppy, and they take a bunch of hobbit kids out to some field to pick blackberries when one finds a large footprint. Nori likely realizes it is a wolf footprint, so they gather up the kids and leave as we see a close-up shot of one of the creatures in question.
Galadriel Is Back Home
Next, we go to the elven realm of Lindon. This is where we find my personal favorite Tolkien character, Elrond. Mr. Halfelven is perched in a tree, writing a speech we will later learn is for the High King Gil-galad. An elf maiden approaches Elrond, addressing him by his title of Herald and informing him he won’t be able to attend the council because it’s limited to elf-lords only. Turns out Galadriel is back in Lindon and Elrond rushes to meet his friend. In one of the better pieces of dialogue, we hear Galadriel and Elrond talk about what it’s like to sail into the west. Galadriel shares the mark with Elrond and says she wishes to go back out on her quest. Galadriel demands an audience with the king, and Elrond says she can have it after the ceremony if she still wishes.
Then we are back to harfoots doing hobbity things, and the main takeaway is Nori is adventuresome, unlike the others, which no doubt feels very similar to the way Bilbo and Frodo are described and behave. Then we’re right back at the elven ceremony where High King Gil-galad is reciting the speech Elrond wrote. And the big twist here is that Gil-galad is granting the company the honor of sailing West to Valinor. We next see Galadriel in a forest where the images of fallen elves are carved into living trees Elrond and Galadriel strike up a conversation, Galadriel says you haven’t seen what I have seen, and Elrond says I’ve seen my share, followed by Galadriel repeating her line. And yeah, these two characters have seen some stuff.
Galadriel saw the two trees destroyed, and while it’s not in here, all three of her brothers die because of Morgoth; meanwhile, Elrond has been a victim of an elf against elf kinslaying and separated from his parents since a young age. While Galadriel doesn’t want to leave because all the horrors of her past would be left alive in her, which Elrond points out that it’s only in the Blessed Realm that she could be fully healed and vowing to take up the cause himself should her fears come to fruition.
And I like that Elrond doesn’t back down from Galadriel in this scene – he knows what she needs to hear and shows the wisdom I hoped to see in the character. And when Galadriel asks who she is to be without her sword – I think this will be her arc for a good chunk of this series – the Galadriel we are getting in this show is not the Galadriel of the Third Age, and she is going to have to learn how to become that person – and I think Elrond will be a big part of that journey.
An Elf And A Human
Next, we see the Southlands, which actually seem to be in a different position than in the featurette. Here it seems more East than South within Mordor. And here’s where we are introduced to Arondir. He and one of the Southrons talk about a poisoned patch of grass when one of the patrons gets all bent out of shape. Turns out the elves have been watching over these people for 1000 years since Morgoth’s defeat because their ancestors sided with the dark lord in the First Age, and the kid says one day their king will return and free them from the elves.
Next, we see Arondir with Bronwyn, who gives him Alfirin seeds. Now, these two are obviously sweet on each other, and Arondir’s fellow elf gives him a hard time about it – pointing out that there have only been two man-elf pairings attempted, each ending in tragedy and death. We get news that the High King has declared the watchtowers are no longer needed, and Arondir has a conversation with the watch warden, who says they’ve not watched over the people of Tirharad because of what their ancestors once did, but because of who they still are.
While Arondir’s at Bronwyn’s house, a man brings a sick cow which produces a black ooze instead of milk. So Arondir and Bronwyn head to the next town over to investigate. Theo brings the kid from the pub to their barn, where he shows him the black sword shard. The kid mentions Theo’s dad leaving, which makes me wonder if that could be someone we meet in episode 2. And, of course, we do see that the sword has Sauron’s mark on it.
A Man Falling From Sky
Galadriel passes beyond Elrond’s sight. And Elrond and Gil-galad talk about how it was best for Galadriel and Middle-earth for her to sail west. While Elrond is torn and perhaps second-guessing himself, Gil-galad hints they foresaw that she could cause the very thing she wished to prevent. We are then introduced to Celebrimbor, Lord of Eregion. Gil-galad wants Elrond to help Celebrimbor on a mission of the utmost importance. Sadoc says the skies are strange, and we’re back to Arondir and Bronwyn, who discover the village on fire and destroyed.
Then we are back to Galadriel and the elves sailing west. Intercut is the meteor making its way across the lands, finally landing in southern Rhovanion near the harfoots. Galadriel is torn about her decision and Finrod’s earlier words of not knowing which light to follow until you’ve touched the darkness return to her. She then jumps ship, rejecting the call to sail into the west. Gil-galad notices a fallen leaf that has black veins appearing on it. Nori walks up on the wreckage to find Meteor Man in the midst of the Fire, and we cut to black.
Overall, I don’t think this was the stronger of the two episodes. There were a lot of things crammed into the first half, and actually, on rewatch, I found myself enjoying the pacing better around the time of Galadriel and Elrond’s conversation in the forest. While it’s not a start that hooks me the same way Fellowship did all those years ago, I think it’s strong enough to be getting on with and certainly shows a lot of promise moving forward into episode 2, which I have done a separate breakdown/recap.