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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the Prime Video series adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s many writings about Middle-earth, finally debuted the first two anticipated episodes of season 1. The prequel series takes the franchise back in time by thousands of years to explore life during the Second Age, when evil has receded from view… until now.
While the series picks up at a time of relative peace and prosperity, there are signs that not all is calm on the waterfront. Among them are Sauron’s sword, something that is somehow in the hands of a teenage Southland boy named Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), and the return of orcs, which are discovered by Theo’s mother, Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) and the elf soldier Arondir (The Undoing’s Ismael Cruz Córdova).
While speaking to ET, the actors reflect on a few notable, key moments for their characters in the two-part premiere. [Warning: Spoilers for the first two episodes of The Rings of Power.]
Theo’s Attachment to Sauron’s Sword
After venturing to places in Middle-earth like Lindon and Khazad-dûm, it’s in the Southlands where we finally meet Arondir, Bronwyn and Theo, who has been described by Muhafidin as a “rebellious teen.”
“We sort of find Theo in a place where he’s struggling to find who he is or what he’s going to be. I think he feels kind of alone because he and Bronwyn are being ostracized from the village because of what’s going on,” Muhafidin says, referring to Bronwyn’s not-so-secret romance with Arondir, something that’s looked down upon by the humans in the village.
It’s not long before it’s revealed that Bronwyn’s son has the broken hilt of Sauron’s sword, something he’s been hiding beneath the floorboards of their barn.
“So, I think when he finds the sword, now he’s found almost like a purpose and something to drive him,” the actor says, explaining that Theo “finds a purpose and he knows that there’s something special about this.”
He adds, “And now he has something to find answers to, and I think it drives him.”
When Theo briefly pulls the sword out to show to a friend, he appears to be deeply fascinated by the relic. Later, as an orc attacks him and his mother, Theo also seems strangely attracted to the fire and violence unfolding around him. Later, near the end of episode two, a bit of Theo’s blood gets on the hilt, seeming to give life to Sauron’s sword.
“He’s seen some insane things happen with it and I think when you find something that is obviously so special, you’re gonna, you know, feel an attachment to it and he definitely does,” Muhafidin says, adding, “I think it’s his precious.”
When asked about referring to the sword as “his precious,” something Gollum famously called the ring in the trilogy that follows thousands of years later, the actor says he “looked at other characters and to other men, like Isidur and Boromir and how they got attached to the ring.”
“I sort of looked at how the mind of a man can be corrupted and infused that with also being a teenager as well,” Muhafidin says.
The Return of the Orcs
After meeting Arondir, audiences quickly learn he is one of many elves who have been tasked with watching over the local men, a population of humans who were once on the wrong side of the battle with evil and await for the return of their king. Despite doing this for the past 79 years, it’s only now that King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) decided to disband “the watch” and let the men take care of themselves.
This decision, coincidentally, coincides with the unexpected return of orcs, creatures not seen since Sauron brought evil to Middle-earth. It’s Arondir and Brownwyn who first discover signs of them when they come across a recently burnt down village left in ruins.
While Arondir explores an underground passage, Brownwyn returns to Tirharad to warn the others of the danger headed their way. But it’s not until she and Theo are attacked by an orc, which she decapitates and takes in town that the rest of the villagers believe her.
Despite being seemingly captured by the orcs at the end of episode two, Córdova explains that Arondir has a far less black and white view of the creatures commonly associated with Sauron. “I don’t think this guy sees good and evil just like that. I think there’s a gray area,” the actor says.
“And I think there’s a moment of recognition, ‘cause this guy is also different from elves. He believes in humans, he’s curious about humans. But then he is also curious about other kinds. And orcs, as we know, are close relatives to the elves,” Córdova continues.
As a result, “there’s some sort of empathy and compassion,” the actor says, revealing that Arondir is asking himself, “Who are they? Who’s a good guy? Who’s a bad guy? …There’s a question mark there.”
That said, “he sees the danger,” Córdova says, noting that Arondir is still a warrior at the end of the day and “he’s ready to take them out if needed.”
Arondir and Bronwyn’s Forbidden Romance
As for Arondir’s relationship with Bronwyn, which is not that dissimilar to Arwen and Aragorn’s romance in the Peter Jackson films, Córdova says it’s something “everybody can relate to.”
He explains there is a “curiosity that sparks a wildfire almost immediately, where you cannot know enough of the person and cannot see enough of the person. You wanna almost fuse with each other.”
And for Bronwyn, what attracts her to Arondir is the fact that they’re both outsiders. “That bonds them because there’s this curiosity for each other and maybe finding common ground to overcome,” Boniadi says, explaining that “her voice doesn’t matter in the village as much as it hopefully will as the season goes on.”
But in the world of Middle-earth, romantic relationships between humans and elves are looked down upon. And because of that, “there’s a huge obstacle” between them, Córdova says. For them, the only way to overcome that is to believe in each other. “They have to trust each other.”