Spoiler alert! The following contains important plot points from the first two episodes of Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” now streaming on Prime Video.
Talk about a leap of faith.
In the dramatic final moments of Episode 1 of “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is on a ship from Middle-earth to Valinor, the place she was born and a haven of sorts where elves can live in eternal bliss.
But just as she and her soldiers are about to reach their destination, Galadriel jumps into the sea and swims away as the ship disappears into a blinding white light.
Why’d she do it? Despite peace throughout Middle-earth, Galadriel believes that evil is ready to reemerge at any moment, so she leads a tireless quest to find the Dark Lord Sauron at the start of the series. Although she and her warriors come up short, the elven high king Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) rewards them for their efforts by sending them to Valinor, otherwise known as the Undying Lands or Grey Havens.
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But more than the guarantee of eternal life, Galadriel wants to protect Middle-earth, which compels her to turn back at the very last second. Clark believes Galadriel wouldn’t have been content in Valinor, because she’d always be wondering what might’ve happened if she’d stayed and fought.
“She feels that’s a duty of hers,” Clark says. “Galadriel is immensely powerful, so when she sets her mind to something, big things will happen. Some of them she expects and is ready for, and some no one in the whole of Middle-earth is prepared for.”
Co-creators J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay say Galadriel’s conflicted feelings about leaving Middle-earth was one of the earliest ideas they had for the “Lord of the Rings” prequel series.
“She’s been through so much,” Payne says. “She has a difficult conversation with Elrond (Robert Aramayo) where she says, ‘If I go to Valinor right now, it would be heaven. But it might not be heaven for me because I’m taking so much pain inside me, and I also don’t really know if I’ve finished the mission that I’m in Middle-earth to do.’ “
Her choice to jump from the boat was “a very selfless thing and a huge sacrifice, but also very necessary.”
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The second episode traces Galadriel’s treacherous journey across the water back to Middle-earth. Along the way, she meets a man named Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), who’s stranded on a raft.
Elsewhere, Elrond travels to the dwarf kingdom of Khazad-dûm to make amends with Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) and partake in a glorious feast with Durin’s wife, Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete). And in the Southlands, a human boy named Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) helps his mother (Nazanin Boniadi) kill an orc that attacks their home, and continues to feel the dark pull of a strange blade he finds in their barn.
But the biggest mystery of the first two episodes involves harfoots Nori (Markella Kavenagh) and Poppy (Megan Richards), who spot a meteor shooting across the sky near their temporary forest dwelling. They run to the place where it landed, where they discover a giant man (Daniel Weyman) lying in a fiery crater. Nori eagerly tries to help him, while attempting to ask who he is and where he came from.
“Lord of the Rings” fans have breathlessly speculated online about the character, known simply as The Stranger. But the series’ creators – who have five seasons of storylines mapped out – are staying tight-lipped about his identity.
“I can definitely say before the end of the show, you will come to learn who the Stranger is,” Payne teases.
“He’s certainly a really important character and a character that is going to surprise people,” McKay adds. “He has quite a surprising journey through Season 1.”