The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episodes 1 and 2 recap: Welcome to Middle-earth

·4-min read

It’s been eight long years since the epic The Hobbit trilogy concluded with The Battle of the Five Armies, but now the wait is finally over for Tolkien fans: it’s time to go back to Middle-earth. This new saga from showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay, based on JRR Tolkien’s lengthy appendices to The Lord of the Rings, gets off to a spectacular, cinematic start despite being designed for home streaming rather than theatres. Here’s a breakdown of what happened and who we met in the first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Beware, here be spoilers:

“Nothing is evil in the beginning”

The first episode opens in the fabled realm of Valinor, “the Land across the Sea”. This is the home of the Elves, where young princess Galadriel is playing in a field, making a beautiful and ornate paper ship. Unfortunately, even in their sun-dappled pastoral paradise, kids will be kids, and they promptly sink her ship with a stone. Galadriel takes umbrage at this, but her fight is broken up by the arrival of her unnamed elder brother (Will Fletcher) who hands down some life advice. Before long the elves travel to Middle-earth, where big brother is killed in a battle against evil Lord Morgoth and his stooge Sauron. This inspires Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) to take up the sword in his memory, hunting Sauron across Middle-earth for centuries until we pick up the story in Forodwaith, a frozen northern wasteland.

Galadriel makes short work of a menacing snow troll and believes she’s getting closer to finding her nemesis, but her trusty troops think she’s leading them on a wild Sauron chase. They’re determined to return home. When they get back to Lindon, capital of the high elves, King Gil-Galad (Benjamin Walker) agrees and hands Galadriel a one-way ticket back to Valinor. She’s not content to forget about the threat of Sauron, however, so at the last minute she jumps ship. It looks like she’ll have to swim The Sundering Seas until she’s rescued by plucky shipwreck survivor Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), and soon the pair are found adrift by a mysterious ship.

Forging ahead

Meanwhile, King Gil-Galad has a job for Elrond (Robert Aramayo). He wants him to assist the famed Elf smith Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) in creating an hugely powerful forge. They don’t have the manpower (elfpower?) to do it themselves, so Elrond hits on the idea of calling in a favour from his old mates the dwarves. The pair travel to dwarf stronghold Khazad-dûm, where Elrond learns that his old pal Prince Durin (Owain Arthur) is so miffed he missed his wedding no favours will be forthcoming. That is until Elrond lets the prince win a public display of strength (rock-smashing) and charms his way in through small-talk, compliments and winning over Durin’s wife Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete). That’s enough to convince the prince, who takes the forge plan to his dad King Durin (Peter Mullan).

Elf Inspector

With the elves convinced that the threat of Sauron has blinked out, King Gil-Galad’s decree echoes around Middle-earth, calling all elves home. This isn’t great news for smooth-talking elven soldier Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) who has spent nearly 80 years stationed in the southlands, the lands of man, and has his heart set on local healer Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi).

Just as Arondir is about to leave, he finds a reason to stay that’s even more compelling than making eyes at Bronwyn. Over to the east animals are becoming sick and crops are failing, and when Arondir and Bronwyn go to investigate they find her hometown village razed to the ground and mysterious tunnels underneath it.

Bronwyn rushes home to warn the others, arriving just in time to help her son Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin) kill the creature that built the tunnel: an orc, loyal to Morgoth and Sauron. The King’s decision to pull his troops out is looking hastier by the minute.

Morfydd Clark in ‘The Rings of Power’ (Prime Video)
Morfydd Clark in ‘The Rings of Power’ (Prime Video)

Naughty hobbits

Finally over in Rhovanion, the Wilderland east of the Anduin, we meet a group of harfoots – an evolutionary predecessor to the much-loved hobbits. And much like hobbits, some of the younger ones seem to have developed a troubling wanderlust and a taste for excitement. Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) and her slightly more sensible best friend Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) are curious creatures who love to run off and pick berries despite their parents’ fears about what might happen to them.

When a comet streaks across the sky and crashes to land near them, the pair can’t help but investigate. In the crater they find a mysterious tall, bearded stranger (Joseph Mawle) who seems to have magical powers. Might this stranger prove to be a wizard of some significance? Too soon to say for sure, but one thing’s for certain: this grand adventure is just getting started.