The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Trailer Breakdown: Witness How The Legend Begins

To paraphrase a famous Gandalf line: the hype is never late, nor is it early; it arrives precisely when it means to.

To this point, it'd be fair to say that diehard fans haven't known quite what to make of Prime Video's upcoming "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" series. All the previously released footage has certainly showed off all the vast, sweeping landscape shots, ponderous dialogue, and fantastical beings that even the most casual observer knows to expect from a tale set in Middle-earth ... but a few potential red flags kept some from fully embracing the material on display. For as many resources that Amazon has poured into their (hopeful) crown jewel, our initial glimpses of the highly anticipated show risked feeling oddly cheap, somewhat stilted, and missing that impossible-to-define "spark" that set Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy apart from fantasy epics that came before or after.

Something tells me that the vast majority of those concerns are going to disappear entirely after this newest trailer released earlier today. Though still plainly holding a lot back from us, this is perhaps the first bit of marketing to really sell the grand scope, the life-or-death stakes, and that quintessentially J.R.R. Tolkien feel to the proceedings. But more than anything else, this trailer goes a long way towards giving audiences context for when exactly all this is supposed to take place in Middle-earth canon. Though separate from the continuity of both "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" trilogies, a few familiar faces take the central spotlight to guide viewers through this adventure set thousands of years before Frodo ever volunteered to take the Ring to Mordor.

As Gimli once said, what are we waiting for? Let's break down all this new footage.

Let there be light

In a welcome change of pace, the trailer doesn't waste any time in delivering some of the most stunning imagery we've yet seen from "The Rings of Power." Those who know their Tolkien lore know that the devoutly Catholic novelist borrowed heavily from the Biblical creation myth when it came time to building out his own fictional world of Middle-earth. For our purposes here, the prolific author's equivalent of the Garden of Eden and its forbidden trees took the form of a pair of light-giving trees known as the Trees of the Valar.

After much speculation in months past, we're no longer beating around the bush. (See what I did there?) As heavily implied by Galadriel's (Morfydd Clark) sagely narration, these are unquestionably Laurelin (with its distinct golden light) and Telperion (the Silver Tree), which are ultimately responsible for the legendary devices known as Silmarils as well as for the sun and the moon themselves. Though "The Rings of Power" is nominally set in the Second Age of Middle-earth — "The Lord of the Rings" took place during the Third — the appearance of these trees indicate the use of flashbacks to even further back in history to set the scene for the present-day storyline. Think of how much "The Fellowship of the Ring" relied on that opening expositional sequence (also narrated by Cate Blanchett's Galadriel!) to establish so much world building, and it's easy to imagine a similar case here.

We quickly transition to some gorgeous vistas, a giant eagle in the distance, and a quick rundown of the realms of Men, Elves, and Dwarves before glimpsing our heroes of the story: the harfoots.

A growing threat

"Elves have forests to protect. Dwarves, their mines. Men, their fields of grain. But we harfoots have each other."

As comforting as these words are, the smallest inhabitants of Middle-earth are once again about to become pulled into a far greater conflict. Juxtaposed not-so-subtly against the spoken reassurance from one of the proto-hobbits that "We're safe," we get another glimpse of one of the harfoots witnessing the fiery meteor raging overhead and crashing into the ground as we learn more about the (largely unspoken) threat of the story.

At this point in Middle-earth history, the Dark Lord Morgoth who came before Sauron (of which the latter was only a servant of, mind you) has already been defeated ... though the scars of the catastrophic war still remain. Now, only a young Galadriel seems aware that the intervening years of peace is coming to an end. Her attempts to convince fellow elf Elrond (Robert Aramayo) of this harsh reality don't go so well, however, with the elven lord telling the warrior queen to put down her sword and accept that "It is over." It doesn't take a Tolkien scholar to figure out that one of these elves is woefully wrong about their assumptions here, which Galadriel throws into sharp relief when she fires back, "You have not seen what I have seen." Elrond may not have, but we're about to.

Visions and portents

Look, when someone as wise and capable as Galadriel says that the end of the world is coming, you should probably believe her. "The enemy is still out there," she earnestly claims to an unseen listener (though it's probably Elrond, who all but refuses to entertain such thoughts). "The question now is where."

Here we see a disturbing vision meant completely devoid of any other context, which appears to be shot from underwater. Is it a vision of the future, perhaps of the fall of Númenor and the destruction of the island nation? Or is it a flashback to the distant past, in which case it could be a glimpse of the War of Wrath, the conflict waged against Morgoth that left Middle-earth a shattered wreck and for one massive landmass to sink beneath the waves.

Assuming Galadriel was somehow given a look into what's to come, then we can expect this to be a main driving force in Galadriel's quest to convince the rest of the realm that evil is once again afoot. That feeling of certain doom proves to be somewhat infectious, as Elrond is once again confronted by another elf (this time, Benjamin Walker's High King Gil-Galad). "Darkness will march over the face of the Earth," he says as ominously as possible. "It will be the end of not just our people, but all peoples." Cue several concerned looks of cultures spread throughout Middle-earth, linking them all with this one fate that none can apparently escape.

Nobody utters the name "Sauron" (or, as he'd be known at this time under his much more innocent disguise, "Annatar"), but it seems that the first season will build towards the reveal of his villainous intentions with his Rings.

Tom Bombadil truthers, activate!

A dizzying array of people and stunning locales fly by, from Galadriel's journey into the frozen wastes to Elrond's mission to the dwarven city of Moria (which we saw in "The Fellowship of the Ring") to figures such as Maxim Baldry's Isildur (who will eventually cut the Ring from Sauron's finger), his grim father Elendil (Lloyd Owen), and the original character of Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova). The trailer crescendos with an army of horsemen galloping into battle, a raging storm at sea that Galadriel will be caught up in early in the series, a blink-and-miss moment of someone in chains battling a wolf (Tolkien aficionados, could this be a flashback of Beren?), Galadriel narrowly fending off a troll, and finally, another extended look at the mysterious "meteor man" who falls from the skies.

Speculation has run the gamut that this figure could be the arrival of the Blue Wizards (whom Tolkien mentions but never actually shows during the events of "The Lord of the Rings"), some spy for Sauron, or maybe even the long-lost Tom Bombadil himself. It's difficult to describe the cult of personality that has sprung up around this frankly bizarre Tolkien character to casual fans. Basically, the possibly supernatural figure shows up randomly in "The Fellowship of the Ring," saves our brave group of hobbits early on, proves to be too powerful for even the One Ring to influence, and disappears with his wife Goldberry as quickly as he appeared. He also has a habit of singing and dancing and rhyming to no end, calling himself a "Merry fellow." If he actually does show up in this series, the internet might actually melt down.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" will debut on Prime Video September 2, 2022.