This Lord of the Rings article contains spoilers for The Rings of Power.
“It’s really nice that it’s out. It was just terrifying the buildup to it,” says The Rings of Power star Morfydd Clark during a Zoom chat ahead of an Emmys FYC event earlier this month. “We’d spent three years doing this. There was so much riding on it and we knew there was so much expectation.”
Clark, of course, plays Galadriel, the Elven warrior hellbent on finding and destroying Sauron before he envelops Middle-earth in darkness. One of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s most beloved Lord of the Rings characters, Galadriel was first immortalized on the big screen by Cate Blanchett in the Peter Jackson trilogy from the 2000s. But The Rings of Power shows us Galadriel at a very different point in her life, thousands of years before Frodo’s quest to destroy the One Ring, and we get to watch across the show’s first season as Clark makes this warrior version of the character her very own. Clark’s Galadriel isn’t happy to wait in Lothlorien while Sauron amasses his forces in Mordor, she’s armored up, sword in hand, and ready to fight.
But things took a dark turn for Galadriel at the end of season 1 when she learned that the so-called King of the Southlands, someone it seemed she was beginning to think of as more than a friend, was actually her greatest enemy. The finale ended with the revelation that Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), initially presented as an Aragorn-like hero for the Second Age, had been Sauron in disguise all along. Successfully manipulating Galadriel, the Numenoreans, and several other factions into creating the land of Mordor, and the Elves into forging the first three Rings of Power, Sauron turned out to be the big winner of the season.
With a resurgent Sauron now headed to Mordor despite her best efforts to stop him, things are only going to get more complicated for Galadriel in season 2.
“[Galadriel] is about to have a life-changing thing happen to her,” Clark revealed during the FYC event (via Deadline). “She’s about to become acquainted with Nenya, her ring. It’s really exciting to see how the magic creeps in [to the show]. When we finished season 1, the rings were being made and we knew it was going to be a huge change for Middle-earth. [Galadriel] is going to be part of that change because she has her own ring.”
Her role as one of the three Elven ringbearers will bring her closer to her role in Tolkien’s books, but The Rings of Power has of course added a dark twist to the story of how she acquired Nenya in the first place. Even though she’s now aware of Sauron’s treachery, and how he fooled Celebrimbor and Elrond into doing his bidding, Galadriel doesn’t reveal Halbrand’s true identity to the others or warn them about the danger of the Rings of Power. In fact, in the final minutes of the season, Galadriel looks as mesmerized by the new rings as her brethren, lured in by Nenya despite what she now knows about its creation.
“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,” Clark told Den of Geek last year 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.”
But Galadriel didn’t completely give in to temptation in the finale. After all, there was Sauron’s offer to become his queen, which she outright rejected. Some fans aren’t so convinced, though. These days, you can find plenty of “Galadriel x Sauron” shippers online who feel the hero and the villain are meant to be. Fan fiction, art, and theories depict the unexpected Lord of the Rings ship.
Last year, Clark told Den of Geek that things were much more complicated between Sauron and Galadriel than a will-they-won’t-they relationship: “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.”
Yet, when we ask Clark during our call this month if she thinks the shippers are on to something, the actor plays coy: “I don’t think it’s important what I necessarily think so I want to be careful about that. But I really enjoy people’s ideas about it. I don’t think we appreciate fanfic enough and how some of it is fantastic and that it’s part of the ongoing world. It’s great that there’s all these people with various different jobs writing fanfic or doing cosplay and I love fantasy opens that up.”
Season 2 won’t just be about Galadriel’s ongoing beef with Sauron though, Clark teases. There are even more threats to Middle-earth yet to be dealt with. Our heroes must still contend with the Uruk villain Adar, who in season 1 unleashed the fires of Mount Doom on the Southlands and sent the Numenorean army limping back home. And there are rumors swirling online that at least one other villain from Tolkien’s legendarium could be popping up in the second season…
For now, Clark remains silent about who or what Galadriel and the rest of the heroes of Middle-earth will face when the show returns sometime next year: “The darkness is well and truly back. And, you know, Sauron isn’t the only villain in Middle-earth.”
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2 is filming now.