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Rings Of Power Leak Claims Shelob Will Cameo In Season 2, But How?

There are many monsters and villains in Middle-earth. Some of these are mere brutes, like the trio of trolls that waylay Bilbo and the Dwarves early in "The Hobbit." Others are devious, sophisticated antagonists, like the Wizard Saruman or the Dark Lord Sauron himself. And then, there are the creatures that seamlessly combine animalistic terror with horrifying malice, creating chaos with rancorous precision in the process.

In "The Lord of the Rings," one antagonist fits that description more than any other: Shelob the Great. The demonic arachnid captures Frodo as he's trying to cross the mountains into Mordor and nearly ends his quest right there on the spot. Sam, of course, saves his Master with some timely and utterly unprecedented heroics, forcing Shelob to flee. And that's it. Apart from that single, nearly destructive chapter of the story, Shelob plays no other part in the plot, especially when it comes to cinematic adaptations of Tolkien's world. But Shelob's singular role in Tolkien's legendarium may change in the next installment of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

According to a rumor from the fan site Fellowship of Fans, a younger version of Shelob is set to show up briefly in Season 2 of the show. The leak officially reads, "EXCLUSIVE: 'YOUNG SHELOB' is a character featured in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' Season 2 with a small role." While the "small role" part is unfortunate, the fact that Patrick McKay, JD Payne, and company might be weaving an earlier iteration of the eight-legged villain into their Second Age story would be a brilliant use of canon characters — especially in a show that is already light on source material.

The smart use of a canon character

If the rumor of a Young Shelob in Season 2 of "The Rings of Power" is true, it is a smart move by the creatives behind the scenes. The group is already working with a very limited amount of source material in the form of "The Hobbit," the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and the appendices at the end of "The Return of the King" (where most of the Second Age source material for their show is located).

This limited batch of info is further complicated by the fact that most of the events in the material take place thousands of years after "The Rings of Power" story is set. This makes recognizable faces hard to come by unless they're immortal characters like Elrond, Galadriel, Sauron... or Shelob.

The spider demon is a great way to tie in a pre-existing part of Tolkien's writings that everyone will recognize in an instant. Even better, Shelob doesn't require a visual recasting, as is the case with characters like Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Galadriel (Morfydd Clark). Shelob is a CGI villain that can look very nearly the same in Payne and McKay's show — as was the case with the Balrog we already saw in Season 1.

While using Shelob is a great way to connect to the movies and books everyone is familiar with, though, it still doesn't answer one important question: How can Shelob factor into the "Rings of Power" narrative?

Shelob comes from horrifying origins

The potential use of Shelob in "The Rings of Power" story is even more justified when one considers the history of the character. Shelob is the daughter of the monstrous spiritual being, Ungoliant. Very early in Middle-earth history, Ungoliant partners with Sauron's original master, the first Dark Lord Morgoth, and together they wreak havoc on their mutual enemies. Eventually, the two antagonists turn on one another, and Ungoliant, who is an incredibly powerful being obsessed with hunger, is forced to flee from the overpowering force of Morgoth and his army of Balrogs. (Yes, you read that right, an army of them. Things are hella crazy in the earliest parts of Tolkien's stories.)

"The Silmarillion" tells us that, "Of the fate of Ungoliant no tale tells. Yet some have said that she ended long ago, when in her uttermost famine she devoured herself at last." A darkly disturbing ending to an insane villain. Before Ungoliant dies, though, the same text tells us that she spends some time in an area called the Valley of Dreadful Death, named after her offspring, who come into the story after she mates with other oversized spider-like creatures. The text adds that after Ungoliant leaves, "Her offspring abode there and wove their hideous webs." And guess who one of those offspring is?

How Shelob could show up in Season 2

The Ungoliant narrative in "The Silmarillion" takes place centuries and even millennia before the "Rings of Power" story. Now, let's leapfrog that narrative again and consider what we hear about Shelob's backstory thousands of years after Payne and McKay's series. In "The Lord of the Rings," Tolkien provides a brief summary of Shelob's history and how she ended up living on the edge of Mordor, adding that "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..." A bit later it adds, "But none could rival her, Shelob the Great, last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world."

Shelob is the last survivor of Ungoliant's children. She shows up in the area around Mordor before Sauron takes over and starts building his capital fortress of Barad-dûr (the predecessor to the one with the Eye perched on top of it in Peter Jackson's movies). This is a construction project that hadn't even started by the end of Season 1. That means, according to the source material, Shelob is most likely already in the district previously called the "Southlands" in the show and is just waiting to reveal herself... or for some poor, unexpecting victim to stumble into her lair. The lingering question now is, when will that happen, and who will be the poor wretch who has to pay the price of discovering her?