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Where Is Shelob During Season 1 Of The Rings Of Power?

A recent scoop from Middle-earth fansite Fellowship of Fans claims, "'YOUNG SHELOB' is a character featured in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' season 2 with a small role." The rumor has set Tolkien fandom ablaze with speculation as to how she could factor into the show. After all, the monstrous arachnid is well-known for the part she plays at the end of the "Lord of the Rings" story.

But how did she get into that lair in the first place? How long has she been there? How old is she? And how does all of this factor into her playing a role, however small, in Amazon Studios' Second Age story, which takes place thousands of years before Frodo is even born? Let's dig into the backstory of Shelob a bit and consider where she might be in Middle-earth during Season 1 of the show and how that could set up her appearance in Season 2.

Shelob starts out in the West

At the beginning of the first episode of "The Rings of Power," we get a brief overview of why Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and her fellow Noldorin Elves come back to Middle-earth over the seas from the Blessed Realm in the West. This is an extremely truncated and significantly altered version of the events that are recounted in "The Silmarillion," in which the same group of Elves chase down the Dark Lord Morgoth and eventually, after a lot of drama, defeat his armies in battle (with a big leg up from their allies away back in the West).

The beginning of this lengthy story (and a part that isn't included in Amazon Studio's concise summary) involves a nasty demon called Ungoliant, who takes on an arachnid form and uses it to attempt to satisfy her insatiable hunger. She initially helps Morgoth before turning on him and fleeing from his Balrogs. Long story short, Ungoliant most likely ends up eating herself in her famished misery, but not before she mates with a bunch of other spider-like creatures in an area called Beleriand. One of these horrifying offspring is Shelob.

At the end of the First Age, Beleriand sinks beneath the seas in a cataclysmic event, which is briefly shown in Episode 1 of the show. The rising tides force Shelob to head east for cover. Eventually, this brings her to the mountainous region that will eventually be called Mordor, although at the time, there isn't a Dark Lord or even a fiery mountain anywhere in sight.

When does Shelob come to live in Mordor?

Shelob is famous for her encounter with Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) in "The Two Towers" book and "The Return of the King" movie. By then, she is a well-established entity in the Mordor mountain district. In "The Two Towers" book, Faramir describes her terrifying lair in the mountainous pass of Cirith Ungol by explaining that "there is some dark terror that dwells in the passes above Minas Morgul. If Cirith Ungol is named, old men and masters of lore will blanch and fall silent." Earlier in the book, the narrator describes Cirith Ungol as "a name of dreadful rumour. Aragorn could perhaps have told [Frodo and Sam] that name and its significance; Gandalf would have warned them."

The terror of Shelob may be widespread by the War of the Ring, but it isn't new. On the contrary, the monstrous threat is already thousands of years old. In fact, we get a brief summary of Shelob's geographic history at another point in the same book when it explains how Shelob arrived in the area by saying, "How Shelob came there, flying from ruin, no tale tells, for out of the Dark Years few Tales have come. But still she was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr; and she served none but herself."

Chances are, Shelob is already on site in Season 1

Long story short, if you connect the dots, Shelob's webbed history may start elsewhere, but she spends most of her life tucked away in her dark lair in the mountains. While her arrival isn't specifically dated, she is definitely on site by the time Sauron arrives in Mordor. By the end of "The Rings of Power" Season 1, Sauron has already arrived in Mordor twice, first as the unsuspecting Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) and again as the Dark Lord revealed.

According to the source material, that means Shelob should already be in Mordor. In fact, she's likely tucked way up, just out of sight, in the craigs and mountain peaks above the pass that the Númenórean cavalry use to enter the Southlands — and again to make a hasty exit after Mount Doom erupts.

If the show sticks to the books, Shelob is already on location, hanging out on the edge of the story throughout Season 1. In fact, that season features multiple shots high up in the mountains right around her lair. Arondir's (Ismael Cruz Córdova) watchtower is perched on the same range near the mountain pass. At the end of the season, Galadriel, Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), and Elendil (Lloyd Owen) also congregate up on the mountain tops, probably not too far from the spot.

Of course, the showrunners have shown that they're not afraid to fudge the timeline of events, too. Perhaps Shelob is still wandering, trying to find a new home as she relocates from her sunken birthplace in the western lands. If that's the case, she may be anywhere during Season 1. Maybe, just maybe, the "small role" she plays in Season 2 will be her finding and settling in the lair that will become her haunted abode for thousands of years to come.