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The Ending Of The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Season 1 Explained

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Season 1 brings J. R. R. Tolkien's world to life in a new and exciting way. Instead of rehashing tales fans are already familiar with, this series winds the clock all the way back to Middle-earth's Second Age. From here, "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" sets up a sweeping narrative encompassing a huge cast and a dozen or more geographic locations. The series works off severely limited source material, necessitating many significant changes and the development of a lot of original content. What results is a very complex season of television.

With so many characters, narrative threads, thematic elements, and locations woven into its glittering tapestry, it's no surprise that Season 1 comes to a multifaceted end. This finale presents fans with an endless array of details to analyze, to the point that it's downright difficult to pick just one way to do so. Not to worry — we're here to help. We've opted to go in a mostly geographic manner, reviewing the events, individuals, and future potential of each major region or place that factors into the first part of this grand saga. This is the ending of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Season 1, explained.

Khazad-dûm sets the stage for disaster

Fans of "The Lord of the Rings" know Khazad-dûm as the sinister Moria. In "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," though, those dark days haven't yet arrived. Instead, fans are introduced to a magnificent subterranean kingdom at the zenith of its glory. As Season 1 plays out, the primary Dwarven plotlines form around King Durin III (Peter Mullan), his son Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), and the latter's wife, Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete).

Tensions rise as Prince Durin discovers mithril in an abandoned mine. It turns out that the Elves need this ultra-precious metal to prevent their spirits from fading. The king refuses to help his allies, for fear of darker repercussions from the land's many secret dangers. But his son wants to help the Elves, especially his friend Elrond (Robert Aramayo). The two remain at loggerheads, which causes a rift in the family in "The Eye," and the elimination of Prince Durin's claim to the throne.

In our last moments in Khazad-dûm, we see the angry, hurt king throw a leaf into the mithril vein before they close up the mine. The golden botanical floats far into the shaft ... only to awaken a sleepy Balrog when it finally reaches the floor. That's the last we see of the fiery demon, but it leaves a plethora of questions about the future of the Dwarven city.

Leaves fall in Lindon

The Elves are strong in the Second Age. In fact, they're the premier superpower when "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" starts, and their greatest stronghold is Lindon.

Situated in the northwest region of Middle-earth (near where the Shire will eventually be located), Lindon is ruled by the High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker). Despite his strength, all is not well in the magical kingdom. The Elves are fading (a classically Tolkienian concept), and must find a way to rejuvenate themselves in the Light of Valinor, lest they be forced to leave these mortal lands (a very un-Tolkienian concept).

This leads to an ongoing struggle as Gil-galad schemes with Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards), lord of distant Eregion, to find a solution to their dilemma. Eventually, an apocryphal tale about mithril is brought up. They choose Elrond to try and weasel some of the miracle metal from the Dwarves. In the end, Lindon is spared its doom, since we see the Three Elven Rings forged in time to keep the Elves in Middle-earth. It's a good thing, too: This Elvish kingdom will likely provide a lot of the muscle in the coming wars with Sauron.

Eregion in the limelight

Throughout Season 1, the Elvish city of Eregion, located near the western entrance to Moria, is little more than a footnote. We see a couple of meetings between Elrond and Celebrimbor and a few shots of a giant forge being built. It isn't until the season's end that the region steals the limelight — specifically, its capital city of Ost-in-Edhil, which means "Fortress of the Eldar."

This militant name is appropriate, as the Elves of Eregion are famous smiths, and their leader, Celebrimbor, is hell-bent on finding a magical way to stop the blight afflicting his people. While it doesn't have a ton of screen time in Season 1, Eregion's role in the Second Age is difficult to understate. This slate of episodes shows fans the forging of three of the titular Rings of Power within its walls, though the rest of the set remains conspicuously missing. Celebrimbor's people are also famous in Tolkien's writings for forging a close-knit friendship with the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm. Their leader is even a key contributor to the famous doors that open at the word "friend." What does fate have in store for the Elven citadel? Plenty — but we don't yet know exactly how it'll play out.

The Harfoots migrate into an adventure

The proto-Hobbit Harfoots receive a significant amount of attention throughout Season 1. From their quiet, hidden lives to their rough-and-tumble cultural quirks, they provide a fascinating, pint-size exclamation mark to a much larger story. But said story eventually crashes into their midst in the form of a Wizard.

Cryptically referred to as the Stranger (Daniel Weyman), this supernatural visitor shakes up the Harfoot community, starting with the adventurous Nori (Markella Kavenagh) and Poppy (Megan Richards). After making initial contact, these two Harfoots help guide the confused, star-fallen figure. They bring him along on their wanderings until his usefulness as a protector and his apparent inherent goodness wins over the rest of their group, including their leader, Sadoc (Lenny Henry).

In the end, Sadoc, Poppy, Nori, and Marigold (Sara Zwangobani) help the Stranger overcome a trio of evil mystics who emerge from Rhûn. Though the invaders are defeated, Sadoc loses his life in the scuffle, leaving a leadership gap that the orphaned Poppy seems ready to fill. Nori parts ways with her people in the finale, joining her Wizarding friend as he sets off to search for answers. Here's one fans are interested in: Who on Middle-earth is this guy? Here's hoping Season 2 gives us a name to go with the staff and beard.

Númenor juxtaposes glory and fear

Tolkien's island nation of Númenor is one of the most famous locations of the Second Age. When Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand — i.e. Sauron (Charlie Vickers) — arrive on its shores, they find a nation of Men who, like the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, are at the peak of their glory. And yet, all is not well on the star-shaped island.

As the episodes flit by, we discover that the king, Tar-Palantir (Ken Blackburn), has been pushed from power due to his pro-Elvish beliefs. His daughter, Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), rules in his stead and struggles to keep the peace between the traditional Faithful and the progressive King's Men. Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle), chancellor and cousin to the queen regent, clearly harbors anti-Elvish sentiments, fears death, and is scheming to exploit resource-rich Middle-earth. Even the minor noble line of Elendil (Lloyd Owen) is hurting, with the future king and his family mourning the loss of their matriarch when the story begins.

Everywhere you turn, Númenóreans are struggling. Even when they sail to Middle-earth to help the Southlanders, they walk into a volcanic catastrophe and high-tail it back to Númenor to regroup. The question is, how will this slowly crumbling nation overcome its latent flaws as time goes on — especially with Sauron aware of its jaw-dropping potential?

Mordor is born

In "The Lord of the Rings," Mordor is a nearly impenetrable hellscape the Dark Lord has called home for centuries. But in "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," it doesn't even exist — until suddenly, it does. Early in the season, it's slowly revealed that a group of Orcs, led by a twisted Elf called Adar (Joseph Mawle), is creeping into an area known as the Southlands. Things look dicey, but the real danger doesn't reveal itself until the end of Episode 6, "Udûn," when Mount Doom is unleashed. The entire area is turned into a fiery heap of volcanic ash, instantly creating Mordor.

The establishment of Mordor is a big deal. In the source material, this event provides Sauron with a home base where he can plot, scheme, and gather his armies. Though Mordor is created in "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," it isn't yet Sauron's home base — or at least, not as far as we've seen. Instead, the area becomes Adar's home. The last thing we see is Halbrand-turned-Sauron heading into the area with unknown intentions. Trust us: There's a lot more to come as the power struggle shakes out in the Land of Shadow.

The Southlanders find a new home

The Southlanders' homeland goes kablooey halfway through Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." Before that point, they're established as a tough group of Men contending with a combination of their own past sins and the Elves' perpetual power. When Adar and the Orcs show up, the Southlanders are forced to choose between good and evil. Many of them break bad, joining team Mordor. But the rest resist, led by the unsuspecting town healer Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) and her Elvish beau, Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova). Thanks to some timely aid from Númenor, they win the initial fight ... only to see their lands devastated by Mount Doom.

Ultimately, the Southlanders make their way out of newly-minted Mordor and head for Pelargir. In the source material, this Númenórean colony is a key city of the Faithful and a crucial urban center of future Gondor. This could bode well for the Southlanders headed that way as the season ends. However, it remains to be seen if the port city will hold the same geopolitical weight in "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

Halbrand is revealed

Halbrand, the fan-favorite candidate of the "Who's Sauron?" sweepstakes, ends up unmasking himself as the Dark Lord just before Season 1's credits roll. Up until this point, he masquerades around Middle-earth under the guise of a dispossessed Southern king called Halbrand. In that persona, he saves Galadriel at sea (twice), only to be talked into reclaiming his kingdom by the Elf warrior. After a lot of heroics, Halbrand gives Celebrimbor some smithing advice out of left field. This is the kind of insight that a lowly, mortal human should never be able to casually offer the world's greatest living craftsman.

After nudging the smith of Eregion into creating some circular jewelry, Halbrand's disguise is removed, thanks to Galadriel's too-little-too-late investigative work. This leads to a confrontation, in which Sauron reveals who he is, walks Galadriel through a semi-convincing vision, and even offers to make her his queen. This disconcerting offer (which never happens in the source material) is thankfully rejected by Galadriel. Finished manipulating the Elves — for the time being — Sauron makes a run for it and heads down to Mordor. We see him entering the Land of Shadow with his cape billowing behind him and a sly grin on his face before Season 1 fades to black.

Sauron's story is just getting started

Anyone familiar with Tolkien's legendarium knows that Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" captures the Dark Lord's barest beginnings. Sauron has a long upward trajectory throughout the Second Age, before he's brought to ruin by the events many know from the opening sequence of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." After that, Sauron takes a new shape, spends some time as the Necromancer, and eventually becomes the titular threat of "The Lord of the Rings."

But 99% of his narrative as Middle-earth's villainous top dog is still in front of him as Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" plays out. Over the course of eight episodes, we see Halbrand's complicated, haphazard trajectory slowly turn into Sauron's master plan. There's a whole lot more to come. While discussing what Season 2 will bring with GQ, Sauron's actor, Charlie Vickers, said, "We start to see Sauron's journey — in the same way that we saw Galadriel's origins, we see it for Sauron. Now he's out there and the game is afoot for him. So we get to start to see him manipulating people." Sauron's Season 1 reveal may be a slow burn, but now that he's out in the open, we can expect some true fireworks.

Nagging mysteries and unanswered questions

Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is filled with character development, stage setting, exposition, and, by the time the finale rolls around, some initial answers. But it still manages to leave a lot of nagging questions behind. While he's officially established as a Wizard, the Stranger's identity remains shrouded in mystery. Galadriel casually mentions that she lost her husband, Celeborn, in a war centuries earlier. What's up with that? Pharazôn is clearly plotting to abuse Númenor's position as Middle-earth's savior, and is showing some blatant fears about his impending doom. Elendil's daughter, Eärien (Ema Horvath) literally looks into a palantir. The ship captain's son, Isildur (Maxim Baldry), goes MIA amidst the action in Mordor. Heck, there's even a wide-eyed Balrog who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.

While a lot of head-scratchers are addressed in the finale, there's no doubt that more questions are left hanging than answered. While this might seem frustrating, this myriad of mysteries gives viewers food for thought and ammunition for analysis for a long time to come.

One Ring to rule them all

As Season 1 comes to a close, the Three Elven Rings are forged and ready for use as an antidote to atrophy and a magical Middle-earth preservative. But that's not all she wrote when it comes to the titular jewelry of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." Tolkien's Rings of Power include nine Rings for mortal Men, seven for the Dwarf-lords, and One Ring to rule them all. Last we counted, that leaves 17 more Rings of Power to be made (or at least revealed) on the series.

The creation of the One Ring clearly lies in the future we see reflected in Sauron's infamous eyeball. But the rest of the Rings? We have no idea where they are. In the source material, they're created by Sauron and Celebrimbor (who doesn't know he's working with the Dark Lord) before the Three Elven Rings are ever forged. This means we're basically left with three paths. Either the other Rings already exist in the TV series' world, they're going to be forged at a later date, or they won't be made at all (the least likely hypothesis, in our humble opinion). Whatever the answer to this conundrum, the one thing that's certain is that we're going to need to wait for Season 2 to get more info on the matter.

Whispers of Season 2

The obvious question many fans ask as Season 1 wraps up is how long of a wait we'll have before Season 2 arrives. Love it or hate it, there are a lot of things that remain to be seen as this story enters its second slate of episodes. The good news is, even as the dust settles from a busy Season 1, we're already getting updates on Season 2's production.

In early October, before the Season 1 finale had even aired, it was announced that Season 2 was already in production (via The Hollywood Reporter). While this is welcome news, viewers should temper expectations of a short turnaround time: The Hollywood Reporter also shared that showrunner Patrick McKay expects work on Season 2 to last another two years. As the countdown starts, fans are left to digest the avalanche of information provided by Season 1. What's next for this unfolding Second Age adaptation? We'll have to wait to find out.