The first season of “The Rings of Power” has officially come to a close with an “unexpected” finale as the “Lord of the Rings” prequel series explores the lives and events that took place thousands of years before J. R. R. Tolkien’s trilogy of books (and subsequent films). And along the way, audiences learned how Mordor was created, that the elves were in danger of dying, and there were plenty of signs that evil was, in fact, reemerging.
As showrunner Patrick McKay previously teased to ET, “Some mysteries may be answered, so answers may provoke new mysteries.” And that’s exactly what the final episode of the season does, making good on those “several big booms” he promised were coming later in the season.
Not only that, but Morfydd Clark (Galadriel), Charlie Vickers (Halbrand) and Benjamin Walker (High King Gil-galad) react to the revelations offered in episode eight, including the true identities of season 1’s most mysterious characters who will have a deep impact on where things are headed for Middle-earth. “I read [the script] and it blew my hair back,” Walker says.
[Warning: Spoilers for “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” season finale, “Alloyed,” written by Gennifer Hutchison and directed by Wayne Che Yip.]
Upon reading the script for “Alloyed,” Walker says, “It’s one of those things where you go, ‘No, come on.’ And then it’s also like you’re gonna want to go back to the beginning, watching it and knowing what you’ve just learned.”
“There are things that happen with our characters in the first and second episode that not only pay off at the end of the season, they’re gonna pay off in the series to come,” he continues, adding, “It’s so dense and beautiful and well orchestrated.”
Leading up to the finale, there were many theories about Halbrand’s true identity, with his character bearing striking similarities to the trilogy’s Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortensen in Peter Jackson’s films). But in the end, it was finally revealed that he was, in fact, Sauron in disguise.
“There are definitely similarities to Aragorn,” Vickers previously told ET, with the actor noting that there was a key difference over “the type of responsibility” Halbrand was avoiding. “He maybe has a destiny that he’s refusing to face, I guess, at this point in his life,” he said, adding that “there’s also similarities to other characters in Tolkien’s Legendarium and not just Aragorn.”
Vickers even hinted that the dynamic between Halbrand and Galadriel, who inadvertently drew him out of hiding since first encountering him on the raft, by suggesting that the “many specifics around how it changes or how aligned they are or how much we see of them together” changes significantly as the rest of the season unfolds.
When it came to episode 8, which eventually saw Halbrand convincing Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) to forge the fated rings and attempting to drown Galadriel by distracting her with visions of her dead brother, “I was excited,” Vickers says of reading the script. “It’s cool. It’s great.”
Adding to that, Clark says the finale “was unexpected and satisfying.”
Meanwhile, when it comes to the identity of the Stranger (Daniel Weyman), it was revealed that he is, indeed, a wizard, as many had suspected since he first arrived by a fiery, crashing meteor.
However, this was not confirmed before the three mystics – Dweller (Bridie Sisson), Ascetic (Kali Kopae) and Nomad (Edith Poor) – confronted him, thinking he was Sauron. But Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh) and her Harfoot companions were able to rescue their lumbering new friend from the clutches of the magical travelers from Rhûn.
As for which wizard the Stranger actually is remains to be seen. Of course, the most popular theory is that he’s Gandalf (previously played by Sir Ian McKellen) even though the character’s whereabouts in the Second Age were never revealed by Tolkien. But he could also be two other notable wizards, Saruman (as later portrayed by Christopher Lee) or Radagast the Brown, or even one of the Blue wizards, who were written about during that time.
When asked about those theories and when audiences will learn about his character’s identity at the beginning of the season, Weyman said, “I suppose the best thing to say is that while we were working, I, at each point in the story, knew exactly where the character was and who he was and what he was going through.”
He added at the time, “I would think, hopefully, people will have as much fun watching his story as I had filming it.”
Elsewhere, a blinded Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) returned to home with Elendil (Lloyd Owen) by her side while his son Isildur (Maxim Baldry) still remains missing after the explosion of Mount Doom. Meanwhile, the queen’s father, mistaking Eärien (Ema Horvath) for his daughter, warned her the island of Númenor is doomed and showed her where the Palantír is kept before dying.
Addai-Robinson previously suggested there’s “a real joy in just letting it unfold,” before adding at the time that “we enjoy all the fan theories and we have those ideas. But even for some of us, we don’t ultimately know the way in which our characters are going to have these experiences.”
Echoing that sentiment, Trystan Gravelle, who plays Ar-Pharazôn, says that following the finale, “[Audiences] can live with this and go through this with us for the next however many years.”
“That’s a testament to our showrunners. They’ve really mapped it out, this intricate, beautiful way that is Tolkein candy but also incredibly entertaining,” Walker concludes.
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