Amazon showcased a teaser trailer for their upcoming series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power at the Super Bowl, and we are stoked! Just in case you haven’t seen this trailer yet, we’ve got it right here for you…
Here’s our breakdown of what we’re looking at in this trailer and what it might mean for the series.
We open on a shot of a beautiful, elegant waterside city that is probably on the island kingdom of Númenor. Over that, we hear a young girl’s voice speaking. The choice of a young girl to introduce audiences to Tolkien’s usually male-dominated world clearly sets out the series’ intention to tell a new range of stories within the confines of Tolkien’s mythology.
Of Hobbits, Harfoots and (maybe) Vampires
This young girl isn’t a Númenorean though – she is a harfoot, the ancestors of hobbits. Showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne obviously want to ease viewers into the wider canvas of Tolkien’s mythology in the same way screen audiences were introduced to it in both of Peter Jackson’s blockbuster trilogies – through the eyes of hobbits. Or harfoots.
“Haven’t you ever wondered,” the young woman’s voice asks us, “what else is out there?” This is a neat reminder that the series will expand into areas of Tolkien’s world that haven’t appeared on screen before. We see a sweeping shot across the hillsides that’s very reminiscent of The Fellowship of the Ring’s teaser trailer, to remind us where we are, but then we see a couple of new characters as the voice says, “There’s wonders in this world beyond our wandering.”
The characters we see – human-sized, bipedal, but with great big clawed wings – are described as “nomadic hunters” in Vanity Fair’s recent exclusive first look at the show. They could perhaps be humans with a penchant for extravagant fake wings, though we’re hoping that they might be vampires – creatures with bat-like wings that play a role in Tolkien’s stories of the First Age and then disappear, but could conceivably still be around in the Second Age.
Finally we see the young woman whose voice we’ve been hearing as she says “I can feel it!” This is Markella Kavenagh, one of two young actresses (along with Megan Richards) playing “loveable curious harfoots”, according to Vanity Fair. Kavenagh is sporting some very hobbit-y brown curls, and her voiceover suggests a character who combines Movie-Frodo’s youth (Book-Frodo was 50) and Bilbo’s sense of adventure. This series might be taking us through a lot of epic landscapes and high drama among the peoples of Middle Earth, but we’ll still have a small, wide-eyed companion to take us there.
Don’t Forget, This is a Prequel
We see the words “Before the King”, indicating to audiences that this is a prequel set some considerable time before The Lord of the Rings, and then an image of waterfalls with snow behind them. Then we get our first look at a character we know, as we see Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) struggling through a snow-covered mountain. Galadriel appears several times in this trailer in a much more-action-oriented role than she had in any of the feature films – she fights, she climbs, she gets ship-wrecked, she rides horses, she does it all!
The words “Before the Fellowship” give us another reminder that this is a prequel, then we see a man on a raft in a storm. This must be Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), a human character invented for the show, who is cast away with Galadriel. Though how he and Galadriel end up on that raft, we have no idea.
We get a lingering look at another new character, a silvan Elf called Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova). This is the character who was wearing the breastplate with an Ent-like design on it in the character posters – whether he actually has any relationship with Ents remains to be seen, but like Legolas and Thranduil, he is clearly very much a woodland Elf.
We then come to another bit of text that’s a little bit more informative this time – “Before the Ring”. This is another reminder that, yes, this is a prequel, but it also tells us that the series will start before the forging of the One Ring, one of the events it is likely to show us. In fact, we now know that the planned five seasons of the show will seriously compress the thousands of years of history of Tolkien’s Second Age, and we will actually see Aragorn’s ancestor and thief of the One Ring, Isildur (Maxim Baldry). If we stuck to Tolkien’s timeline, he wouldn’t be born for several millennia! Given this time compression, it seems very likely that we will see the Rings, or at least some of them, forged towards the end of season one.
Elves, Isildur, Prince Durin IV and Celebrimbor?
After that we see lots and lots of very quick glimpses of various different characters and settings. We see a flaming arrow, then a shot of a well-dressed Elf man whom we think is Celebrimbor, played by Charles Edwards. Viewers may recognize Edwards from his stint impregnating Lady Edith and then disappearing off to Germany in Downton Abbey, but here he plays the Elf who forged the Three Elven Rings secretly and separately from the others, to keep them out of Sauron’s influence.
We see Galadriel leading a charge on horses, then a person holding a flaming torch, whom we think might be Isildur, though it’s such a dark, quick shot it’s hard to tell. Isildur in this series has been described as “a sailor” – he’s more familiar to Tolkien fans as a King of Gondor, but he was born in Númenor, so a background in sailing does make some sense.
After that there’s a brief shot of a monstrous creature of some kind, flashing by too quickly to make out much of what’s going on!
Some more text appears, telling us, “A new Legend begins this Fall”, we see some more waterfalls, and then a friendly-looking dwarf. This is Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), presumably during the reign of his father Durin III, King of Khazad-Dûm, better known to movie fans as Moria. Neither of these are the Durin who caused the Balrog to be known as ‘Durin’s Bane’ in the books, but since the series is compressing events into a much tighter time frame, they may end up suffering an unfortunate Balrog encounter in later seasons…
Young Elrond, a Dwarven Princess and Sauron?
We get a lingering shot of a young Elrond, next to a large rock that could almost be part of a forge, but it doesn’t tell us much about what he’s up to.
After that there’s a brief glimpse of Dwarven princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete) with gold-dusted hands, raising her arms. Perhaps her hands are covered in gold because she’s been busy forging Rings of Power? Then we’re back to a very wet-looking Galadriel on a boat, so presumably she’s escaped the raft situation.
There’s a very, very brief flash of two male figures, one of whom is severely under-dressed and could have been taking fashion tips from Gollum if this wasn’t too early for Gollum, with what looks suspiciously like the volcanic atmosphere of Mount Doom behind them.
Is one of these figures Celebrimbor having a really, really bad day? Or are we actually getting a teeny tiny glimpse of Sauron here?
This is followed by someone smashing a rock that might be a forge, and then a pointy-eared Elf jumping dramatically, and then a quick shot of a battle and a character we think is another Elf (he has the requisite shiny armor, and we think we can see a pointy ear there, but we don’t recognize the actor).
Finally, we see two dirty hands (a clear indication that these hands do not belong to Elves, who are always clean) clasping each other. One of them is wearing a rough robe and is the character we thought might just possibly be Tom Bombadil, and so far that hasn’t been contradicted, so we’re clinging on to that theory for now.
One thing we have definitely learned from this trailer is that this series is going to look absolutely gorgeous. Amazon seem determined to follow the lead of the Peter Jackson movies in combining cutting-edge CGI with gorgeous shots of the New Zealand landscape and the costuming and set design are as lush and as spectacular as ever. This first season also promises plenty of drama – rock-climbing! Battles! Ships at sea! Archery! And probably a feast at some point if there’s Dwarves involved. We can’t wait to see more!
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power starts on Prime Video on September 2nd.