Breaking Down the Binding Darkness of Rings of Power Season 2’s Trailer

Breaking Down the Binding Darkness of Rings of Power Season 2’s Trailer

This morning Amazon’s Prime Videogave us our first look at Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s second season, and it’s leaning all in on Sauron. Times are dark in Middle-earth, and it needs a returned Dark Lord just to make everything a little more ominous. And maybe some statement jewelry? Here’s all that, and what else we spotted in today’s teaser.

Where Shadows Lie

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The trailer opens with a familiar sight from the climax of season one—the mysterious Southron Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), now revealed as the returned physical form of Sauron, lording it over what used to be the Southlands—now turned black and ashen by the tumultuous eruption of what will become known as Mount Doom. This happened way back in “Udûn,” the excellent sixth episode of season one.

Durin’s Bane

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“An evil, ancient and powerful, has returned,” Durin IV (Owain Arthur) intones. We actually didn’t get to follow up with the dwarves at the climax of season one, where Galadriel learned that Halbrand was secretly Sauron all along. So is Durin talking about the Dark Lord here, as the editing wants to imply, or something else… something, perhaps, lingering deep in the bowels below Khazad-dûm, awakened by Durin’s attempts to get his fellow dwarves to embrace mining mithril?

An Evil Rises

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Whatever the hell this thing is, it can’t be great… we just have no idea what this roiling mass of wormy black goop is meant to be. Some dark new creature being born? Maybe Sauron regaining his physical form for the first time in a flashback? Something else?

The Lady of Lothlórien

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Perhaps it’s meant to be menacing Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and her party of elves, given the shadowy environment looks similar. The elves already have enough on their plates—they’re surrounded by blue-eyed, spectral creatures, so whatever they’re on the hunt for probably isn’t going great. Worth noting though: Elrond (Robert Aramayo) is firmly part of Galadriel’s little party here. They spent so much time apart in season one, it’ll be nice to actually see them interacting… and to see Elrond fight, having to put aside his typical diplomacy in times of strife.

The Cultists Return

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Throughout season one we saw a trio of mysterious, white-robed cultists—the Nomad (Edith Poor), the Dweller (Bridie Sisson), and the Ascetic (Kali Kopae)—trailing the mysterious Stranger (Daniel Weyman), believing him to be Sauron returned. Close, but no cigar! But even though they got bamboozled by one of the Istari making themselves known on Middle-earth, it looks like the cultists will still be up to no good, as we see one here either summoning—or even transforming into—a swarm of moths.

Orcs on the March

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After the destruction of the Southlands in season one, the orcs are growing bolder in their movements across Middle-earth. Although they were ostensibly “defeated” before the whole explosion-of-Mount-Doom thing, the forces of Adar will be under ostensible new management in season two: the character will now be played by Sam Hazeldine, taking over from Game of Thrones’ Joseph Mawle, as he positions himself as a major player in what he’s now named Mordor.

Not Dark But Beautiful, and Terrible as the Dawn

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Oh, poor Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards). Things are going to go from bad to worse this season for the master forger, as we know he’s destined to be tricked by Sauron into forging the Rings of Power. He’s already started on that front, after Halbrand cheekily suggested the magical mithril crown he was going to forge in season one’s climax might work better as individual magical rings—but this moment here definitely looks like Sauron’s elven disguise making himself known to Celebrimbor so they can really start working together closely.

The Lord of Gifts

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“I think he’s been here among us all along,” a shaky, presumably elven woman says, as we smash cut into that elven disguise: Charlie Vickers, no longer Halbrand, but as Annatar: the form Sauron took to ensorcel the Elves of Eregion into forging his magical, mysterious trinkets. While Halbrand’s face was known to Celebrimbor, after they briefly met at the climax of season one, it was only Galadriel that learned his identity as Sauron returned—and Sauron was clearly capable of a vast array of illusions and deceptive magic as he tried to worm his way into her head, so it’s probably not going to be too much of an issue for Annatar to trick Celebrimbor.

A Watcher in the Water

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Well, that certainly looks a lot like a take on the Watcher in the Water, like the tentacled beast lurking in the waters outside Moria. But this doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the dwarven storyline stuff. And there’s a human woman seemingly tied down beneath the waters waiting to be chomped on by this beastie.

Given that, plus the watery environs, could this be Númenór? After being captured by the Númenóreans, having made himself known in Eregion, Sauron managed to corrupt the island nation, driving his followers to ritual sacrifice and eventually into an attempted invasion of Aman, the magical lands to the west that were home to the Valar and Maiar on Middle-earth. That, of course, goes incredibly poorly, because what is tantamount to God in Tolkien’s cosmology, Eru Ilúvatar, destroys Sauron’s physical form (again), sunders the invasion fleets of the corrupted Númenóreans, and makes the planet of Arda an actual sphere instead of a flat plane, cutting off Aman from conventional access and also sundering Númenór along the way.

Although in the chronology of Tolkien’s works all these events in the Second Age spanned thousands of years, Rings of Power is clearly condensing a lot of its timeline, so sooner rather than later we’re going to have to start seeing things going pretty bad in Númenór.

Fly, You Fools

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Back in Khazad-dûm, things similarly look dire—as falling debris smashes a bridge to pieces, sending people scattering. Like we said, Rings of Power is very much operating on a condensed timeline, so there is a chance that this could be a glimpse of the famed dwarven kingdom beginning to fall after their mining delved a little too deep for their own good.

But this could similarly just be a precursor to all that happening at some point, teasing the eventual doom the Balrog brings. Before all that happens, Durin IV and Khazad-dûm are major allies in the battle against Sauron, helping the survivors of Eregion’s fall and eventually participating in the Last Alliance to push Sauron back in Mordor at the climax of the Second Age—there’s plenty to get through before its fall into shadow and flame just yet.

The Elven Rings

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At last, some Rings of Power in a show called Rings of Power! Given the environs here, and the elves, these are of course the three rings gifted to the elves: Narya, Nenya, and Vilya. Forged in the season one finale, these rings are inherited by Círdan, the lord of the Grey Havens (Michael Elsworth), who takes Narya, the ring of fire; Galadriel, who takes Nenya, the ring of water; and Gil-Galad (Benjamin Walker), who takes Vilya, the ring of air.

Seemingly through their magic, we see the foliage of Lindon’s trees begin to flourish and turn golden once more, so everything’s going to be fine. Probably. Almost certainly.

Seven for the Dwarf-Lords

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Speaking of everything being fine, we see Durin III (Peter Mullan) grasping his own ring, with a massive blue gem. Considering the design similarities it’s perhaps safe to assume that this is one of the seven rings gifted to the dwarven lords. Although less explored in Tolkien’s work, we do know that the dwarves were largely resistant to the influence of Sauron compelled by the One Ring—and that, even then, the magical rings still did have some impact on them, driving the Dwarf-Lords to seek out and amass vast treasures. Given how furious Durin the Elder was over his son’s decision to help Elrond find mithril last season, perhaps in an effect of this ring being around in season two will see him suddenly be quite okay with all that mining.

The Eagles Are Coming

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Back on Númenór, there’s a very strange sight: Ar-Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle) looking rather worse for wear as he makes his way through a crowd at Númenór’s ruling chambers… backed up by a great eagle. At the end of season one, Queen Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) returned home to the news that her father and the former king, Tar-Palantir, had succumbed to illness, so everything’s a bit tumultuous in the island nation, it seems—and we know things are inevitably going to go bad for Númenór and Ar-Pharazôn after they help capture Sauron.

But an eagle? Actually not all that surprising. Three of Manwë’s eagles were believed to guard Meneltarma, the sacred mountain at the heart of Númenór, and before Eru Ilúvatar turned sour on the Númenóreans for their part in Sauron’s plot to assault the Valar, there was an eyrie in Númenór’s capital home for two of the majestic beasts.

Eregion’s Fall

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Speaking of things going bad: here’s our first look at the Siege of Ost-in-Edhil—the elven capital of Eregion. The city is virtually destroyed when Celebrimbor discovered Sauron’s plans for the rings, sparking the great war between the elves and Mordor’s dark forces—and it certainly looks like we’ll see that unfold here.

Adar Returns

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Speaking of Mordor’s forces, here’s our first proper look at Sam Hazeldine as the “new” Adar. Considering he named himself Lord of Mordor in season one, he’s going to have a prominent role here—although a certain someone may take umbrage at that name.

An Istar Rises

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This trailer is largely concerned with Sauron and the elves, but we do get one tiny little glimpse of another important plotline here: the Stranger, who we last saw leaving the lands of the Harfoots to travel east to Rhun, to try and discover more about his revealed identity as one of the Istari. It’s not been explicitly confirmed yet, but everyone is operating on the assumption that the Stranger is in fact the Maiar Olórin, who eventually takes on the identity of Gandalf, bringing up his appearance on Arda significantly—in Tolkein’s works, the Wizards don’t descend to the physical world until the Third Age.

The War of the Elves and Sauron

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Elrond leads a massive cavalry charge, in what is presumably the full outbreak of war between elf-kind and Sauron. Sparked by the invasion of Eregion by Sauron after his deception of Celebrimbor was made known to Gil-Galad—and after Sauron had secured all but the three elven rings from Eregion—this war saw Sauron’s dominion claim all of Eriador, destroying the elves’ rule of the region and driving the survivors of Eregion’s fall westward.

Although Celebrimbor was slain during the assault on Ost-in-Edhil, Elrond’s host arriving in an attempt to defend the capital was saved by the intervention of Khazad-dûm’s forces, buying him and the survivor’s time to flee north: founding what would become known as Imladris, aka Rivendell. Given his prominence here, we’re presumably seeing Elrond racing to try and defend Eregion, rather than the first siege of Imladris that occurs later on in the war.

Annatar Revealed

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Speaking of Eregion, this is seemingly the moment that Celebrimbor realizes that Annatar is in fact Sauron. We get a brief shot of Celebrimbor attempting to destroy rings in his forge, but we all know how badly that goes—and Sauron flicks his wrists, cutting to…

A Dark Tower Rises

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A fascinating shot of a verdant valley buffeted with bright magical light, transforming it completely into a frozen landscape… and a giant, blackened tower rising amid the mountains. Although this certainly doesn’t look like Mordor as we saw it at the start of the trailer—and the sudden appearance of the tower doesn’t really jibe with the little we know of its construction—there stands a not-altogether-unlikely chance that this is our first look at Sauron’s dark tower, Barad-Dûr, being raised.

In Tolkien’s histories, Barad-Dûr was actually built over a period of six hundred years in the Second Age, finishing approximately a century before the war between the elves and Sauron breaks out. Given that, once again, Rings of Power is playing with a much more compressed timeline, it perhaps wouldn’t be too surprising to see Barad-Dûr built much more closely and quickly to those events. Especially so if it can be magically formed like it seemingly is here.