The Rings of Power season 1 is in part the start of the story of how Galadriel became the incorruptible force that would one day, thousands of years later, overcome temptation in The Fellowship of the Ring. She’s not quite there yet at the end of the first season of Amazon’s ambitious Lord of the Rings prequel series, of course. Although she does reject Sauron’s offer to join her as his queen so that they may rule over Middle-earth together, Galadriel doesn’t warn Elrond, Celebrimbor, and Gil-galad about Halbrand’s true nature either, instead becoming too entranced by the light of the first three rings of power, including Nenya, the Elven ring she will soon wear.
“We spoke a lot about how there’s an almost childlike ‘back to Valinor’ thing that happens to the Elves when they look upon those rings. So for a brief moment, all that exists is this beautiful light shining from them,” Galadriel actor Morfydd Clark told Den of Geek in 2022 regarding Galadriel’s choices in the season finale. “She knows that she has done something that she’s going to have to pay for, she’s deceived Elrond and Celebrimbor, but she knew they needed to create something powerful to fight him, but also terrifying.”
Interestingly, in a recent interview with NME, The Rings of Power director J.A. Bayona revealed there were parts of Galadriel’s journey in the first season that were almost cut by Amazon because they were thought to be too expensive despite the show’s reportedly massive budget.
One Galadriel moment that was in question in the early days of filming was the scene where Galadriel and her fellow “retired” Elves approach Valinor by boat. The scene is an inflection point for Galadriel, who must choose whether to finally let go of her vendetta against Sauron or go her own way against the wishes of the Elven king. The scene of the passage into Valinor is of course a visual effects showstopper, as Galadriel is bathed in heavenly light just before she decides to jump off the boat and swim back to Middle-earth to continue her mission. But according to Bayona, the powers that be at Amazon “tried to take it out” because they felt it would be too costly.
“It wasn’t that expensive,” Bayona told NME. “I actually convinced them that we were going to be able to shoot that scene in the budget.”
More curious still was the debate of whether to cut the “sea creature” scene from episode two in which Halbrand begins to gain Galadriel’s trust after saving her from drowning. One could argue the scene is a foundational moment in their relationship and one that the finale even nods back to when Halbrand as Sauron makes Galadriel the aforementioned offer.
But as we know, the scenes stayed in the end, thanks to reassurances from the director. “I did a lot of stuff that the producers didn’t believe we were going to be able to put in those episodes,” Bayona said, “and we did it on budget and on schedule.”
It remains to be seen what’s next for Galadriel and Sauron in season 2 now that the truth is out in the open. When we asked Clark about the potential for romance between the two, the actor said it’s a lot more complicated than that: “I think that romance just doesn’t kind of cut it for them. It’s cosmic and it would be a Middle-earth shattering relationship should they enter into it.”
But Sauron and Mordor won’t be the only things on Galadriel’s mind when she returns along with the rest of the peoples of Middle-earth in the forthcoming second season: “The darkness is well and truly back. And, you know, Sauron isn’t the only villain in Middle-earth.”
No release date has been set for Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2.