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Succumb to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

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Look, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has a lot of stuff working against it. For starters, did they notice that the middle six words of the title are just same words said twice? The new Amazon Prime series is a prequel to the much-loved original LOTR books and movies, which kind of already had a prequel in The Hobbit, but who’s counting? “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an epic and ambitious telling of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fabled Second Age of Middle-earth,” said the press release accompanying the latest teaser. “This epic drama … will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and one of the greatest villains that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.” Not a lot of plot in that summary, Miss Press Release!

In fact, the entire production has been shrouded in secrecy. The actors weren’t allowed to tell anyone what they were working on when they left for New Zealand, according to Time. With all that secrecy, we thought it might be high time to round up all the information we do know before the first two episodes premiere on September 1 or September 2, depending on your time zone.

What’s the plot?

Um … great question! The plot points of LOTR: TROP haven’t been released yet. We do know the series includes LOTR favorites such as Galadriel, who will played here by Morfydd Clark, and Sauron, whose casting has not been announced. The relationship between the two and the plot that surrounds it was teased in the Time piece: “Middle-earth is flourishing, but the flaxen-haired elf Galadriel is convinced that Morgoth’s missing servant Sauron is amassing power.” That content was teased in the trailer as well, with Galadriel saying, “The enemy is still out there. The question now is where.” Where do other characters fit in? That is yet unclear.

Who’s in the cast?

Nobody super-famous, actually. Although some of the aforementioned characters may be familiar, the faces onscreen likely won’t be. Along with Clark playing Galadriel, the cast of characters includes Isildur (Maxim Baldry), Elendil (Lloyd Owen), Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle), Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), Kemen (Leon Wadham), and Eärien (Ema Horvath). Also in play are Elrond (Robert Aramayo), High King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker), the Harfoots Marigold Brandyfoot (Sara Zwangobani), Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh), Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) and Sadoc Burrows (Sir Lenny Henry), The Stranger (Daniel Weyman), the Dwarves King Durin III (Peter Mullan) and Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova). You might recognize a name here or there — especially if you loved Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter — but the show seems to be banking on the Tolkien name rather than the names of its stars.

What does it look like?

This show looks expensive. And, honestly, it should. LOTR: TROP is already the most expensive TV show every created, with costs totaling over $1 billion. A large portion of that went into making the show, which was filmed in New Zealand and has a multiplicity of realms and locations, including “the Elven realms of Lindon and Eregion, the Dwarven realm Khazad-dûm, the Southlands, the Northernmost Wastes, the Sundering Seas, and the island kingdom of Númenór,” according to the press release. As the trailers show, the snow is snowing, the grass is growing, and the budget is increasing.

Wait, haven’t all the Lord of the Rings books already been adapted for the screen?

Yes, they have — but that doesn’t mean the writers have gone rogue. LOTR: TROP creators JD Payne and Patrick McKay instead turned to the “Appendices” at the end of the original The Return of the King book for inspiration. In them, the rise of Sauron is detailed in depth. When Amazon bought the rights to the Lord of the Rings series, the company apparently didn’t even know the Appendices would be the basis of the show. But Payne and McKay, a relatively untested writing duo who have worked for J.J. Abrams’s company Bad Robot, pitched a story based on the Appendices, and their ingenuity and enthusiasm won the approval of Jeff Bezos and the Amazon team.

I’m a superfan. Should I be worried?

Well, without all the plot details, it’s hard to say. We do know Payne and McKay are huge fans of the original books, with Payne even sending out his son’s birth announcement in both English and Elvish. Peter Jackson, who helmed the original films and the extended Hobbit prequels, is not involved, so whether you trust these creators is really up to you. Most of the changes to the original aesthetic that we know of so far seem to be for the better, like the fact that there are now non-white major characters. There was some controversy from fans over the fact that some of the elves are not white, and some deemed Galadriel’s new armor unladylike, for example, but those complaints are racist and sexist, so if they don’t bug you, you shall pass.

How do I watch?

You can watch Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime starting either September 1 or September 2, depending on where you are. Confusing? Sure is! Basically, the first two episodes will premiere at the same time across the globe, which is 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST on September 1. However, at that time, some places will already be in September 2 because of time zones. So feel free to convert your time if you’re desperate to avoid spoilers. Even for skeptics, the billion-dollar budget might just be worth checking out.

Succumb to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power