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LOTR: The Rings Of Power Episode 2 Recap - A New Age Dawns

Contains spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Episodes 1 and 2

Nearly half a decade after Amazon bought the rights to adapt a portion of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" has finally hit the streaming current. After a lengthy premiere tour that stretched from Mumbai to Mexico City, Los Angeles, New York City, and finally, London, the first pair of episodes officially became available for all to see on September 1st and 2nd (depending on where viewers were located around the globe).

Each of the first two episodes clocks in at over 60 minutes, making the more than two-hour opening experience similar to watching a full-length movie. At least, that's how it feels as far as viewing time is concerned. Otherwise, watching the first two episodes of "Rings of Power" is nothing like a movie. On the contrary, while the production quality is certainly Hollywood-level, the story is unfolding at a much slower pace.

The first two episodes spend a lot of time setting the stage, introducing characters, and generally world-building. In fact, no less than seven distinctly different areas of Middle-earth are glimpsed by the time the credits roll for episode two. (For those of you counting at home, that's Elvish Lindon, and Eregion, Dwarven Khazad-dûm, Harfoot-inhabited Rhovanion, the surprisingly green Southlands, the angry Sundering Seas, and the frozen Forodwaith.)

Toss in well over a dozen main characters and countless Middle-earth references, and there's just a lot of stuff to process here. Like, a lot. We've sorted through the narrative and pulled together a (relatively) quick recap of where everyone's stories ended along with a little speculation on where we can expect things to go next.

Galadriel's adventures go awry

Galadriel is clearly a central character in the first two episodes of "Rings of Power." This doesn't come as a surprise, since she's been featured heavily in the marketing from day one and is a staple character from Tolkien's original writings. While Galadriel's presence isn't a surprise, though, the number of things that we see her go through is an eye-opener, and no mistake.

The show starts with young Galadriel as an Elf-child in Valinor. She quickly grows up, and we see her take on her fallen brother's intense desire to take down Sauron. Eventually, she heads into the bitter cold of the northern Forodwaith, where she finally gets a sign that Sauron is returning. After being forced back by her own followers, she returns to Lindon covered in frostbite and Troll blood. She's thanked for her disobedient yet brave actions by a skeptical king Gil-galad — who uses the occasion to send her and her soldiers into early retirement in the West.

Changing her mind at the last second, Galadriel leaps from her swan ship into the Sundering Seas only to be picked up by a shipwrecked group of Men. A sea monster ruins the party, leaving the Elf-maiden and her new Mannish acquaintance, Halbrand, floating on a raft. They survive a storm (thanks to Halbrand, no less) and are discovered in the last moments of the episode by a ship out at sea.

While the vessel remains mysterious, we're willing to bet that we're about to meet the Men of the island nation of Númenor for the first time. Based on promotional footage, Galadriel's saviors will likely take her back to their homeland, where she'll start to work on the next phase of her endless mission to take down the rising Dark Lord.

The Elves of Lindon experience peace and portents

For the Elves of the Second Age of Middle-earth, the kingdom of Lindon is the pinnacle of power and glory. It's arguably the strongest Elven kingdom on the map at this point, and it's ruled by the wise and experienced High King Gil-galad. A very young Elrond is the Herald of the King, as well, and Galadriel functions as the Commander of the Northern Armies of the land — even though she spends most of her time off-site.

While Galadriel is actively chasing down the darkness that she fears, the Elves of Lindon waffle between peace and portents. Gil-galad initially shares in a speech that "Our days of war are over. Today, our days of peace begin." However, later on, he informs Elrond that, while sending Galadriel away was the right move, the evil that she feared isn't just hogwash. The High King is clearly aware that something is up. When we see Gil-galad one more time before the end of the episode, he observes a black, corrupting growth on one of the golden leaves of the Great Tree in Lindon. Bad portents.

Meanwhile, episode two follows Elrond to the Elvish city of Eregion where he helps the master craftsman, Lord Celebrimbor, with some plans to build a massive forge. This leads him to Khazad-dûm, where he loses a rock-breaking contest only to use his diplomatic skills to rekindle his friendship with Prince Durin IV. He meets Durin's family and is able to deliver a message from Lord Celebrimbor. While the next move for Elrond is unknown, it's cool to see him flexing his muscles as a mediator and an individual who brings people together. It's a theme that Elrond actor Robert Aramayo talked about in a recent Looper interview, as well.

The state of the Southlands

One area of Middle-earth that the show is exploring in much greater detail than Tolkien ever did is the Southlands — which includes a lush, Sauron-less Mordor at this point. The story of the Southlands is a fascinating one during this early pair of "Rings of Power" episodes. Elves are occupying the land and keeping an eye on the local tribes of humans that are living there. These groups are being watched because their ancestors fought for Sauron's original Master, Morgoth, more than a thousand years earlier. Over the course of the two episodes, the Elves leave, and the lands are left to their occupants. At the same time, signs start to pop up that all is not right with the world, and a new evil is coming.

Most of this is seen through the eyes of three characters: the Elven warden, Arondir, the human healer Bronwyn, and her son, Theo. Arondir and Bronwyn are a starry-eyed couple who are dancing around their mutual affection due to the intense disapproval they're getting from both of their peoples. The couple also head to a nearby village, which they discover burnt to ashes with its inhabitants gone. Arondir sets off down some suspicious tunnels in pursuit, only to be captured by... something before he disappears from the story.

Meanwhile, Bronwyn heads back to her village, where she faces a terrifyingly resilient Orc in her kitchen before beheading it and using the severed cranium to convince her townsfolk to head for the safety of a nearby watchtower, Helm's Deep style. Finally, her struggling teenage son, Theo, goes on a little side quest. He discovers a broken, malevolent-looking sword hilt with Sauron's sigil, which starts calling to him. There's a lot more to come in the south, folks.

Harfoot life and the Stranger

The Harfoots (Harfeet?) was one of the most curious people groups to make the cut for "Rings of Power." There's very little about these proto-Hobbits in Tolkien's writings, but when we meet them on-screen, the Halfling vibes don't fail to deliver. The group is shown wandering in the eastern region of Rhovanion, where they're on the lookout for hunters, wolves, and a smorgasbord of other threats.

While the Harfoots are an unobtrusive little people, there's one member of their community who is clearly the black sheep of the family. Elanor "Nori" Brandyfoot pushes the comfort zone of the Harfoot's predictable way of life from the moment she enters the screen. She's leading kids off on berry-picking adventures and challenging her elders about why they don't go on any adventures. Nori's less adventure-prone friend, Poppy Proudfellow, follows her throughout the two episodes ... straight into the arms of The Stranger. Affectionately nicknamed "Meteor Man" by fans, The Stranger falls from a fireball in the sky. He can't communicate or care for himself, and Nori, with the reluctant help of Poppy, takes him in.

By the end of the episode, things aren't going too well for the Harfoots. Wolves are closing in on their camp. Nori's father, Largo, has broken his ankle just as the group is about to migrate. Things with The Stranger seem better, and the fellow is starting to talk in grunts and scrabble some runic-looking signs. He recreates the image with fireflies, and they appear to be an unknown constellation in the sky. But then, all of the bugs die around the shrouded character for an unknown reason — a mystery that will hopefully clear up in the next few episodes.

Khazad-dûm in its glory

Khazad-dûm doesn't show up in the first episode of "Rings of Power." However, we get a very large dose of Dwarven life throughout the second episode. We see the thriving subterranean kingdom in its glory days. We get to know its prince, Durin IV, and his fiery, strong-willed, and supportive wife Disa.

We also see a familiar sight to anyone who knows their Tolkien: Dwarves and Elves not getting along. The Dwarves are skeptical of their Elvish neighbors — as is shown when King Durin III states at the end of the pair of episodes that "There can be no trust between hammer and rock. Eventually, one or the other will surely break." This is set in contrast to the king's son, Durin IV, who is long-time friends with Elrond. Sure, he's angry with his Elven companion for stepping out of his life for 20 years and missing out on his marriage and the birth of his kids. But still, after a heated expression of Dwarven emotions, the two patch things up and become good friends again.

By the end of the second episode, the Dwarves have clearly been established as a thriving and well-off community. In Durin's own words, they're holding the long end of the hammer. As they discuss whether or not to help the Elves of nearby Eregion, both Durins walk up to a box where a shiny, glowing unknown object is revealed. Its prominent place in the final scene indicates that the contents of the mini treasure chest clearly will be important in the future. How and why it will matter, though, remains to be seen.

When does Rings of Power Season 1 Episode 3 air?

The third episode of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is slated to air on Friday, September 9, at 12 a.m. With so many storylines already established, it will be interesting to see which areas of Middle-earth fans will revisit.

Of particular interest, a "Coming This Season" teaser included with the first two episodes shows a lot of footage of the Human nation of Númenor, suggesting that we may get a hefty dose of the star-shaped island nation in the next episode. Galadriel's apparent rescue by the seafaring Númenóreans also points in that direction. But what about the Harfoots and the Stranger? Will Elrond succeed in Khazad-dûm? Are the Southlands going to get a breather, or are they in imminent danger? There are plenty of directions that the story could go in. And don't forget, behind it all, the slow yet steady rising specter of Sauron. The Dark Lord may have his fingerprints all over the place, but he's still technically hidden. When will he be revealed? There's still a lot more to come when "Rings of Power picks back up after its splashy, world-building, scene-setting, story-starting pair of opening episodes.