In Part One of my outline covered my predictions for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power seasons 1 and 2. Now, I’m ready to dig into the super intense events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Second Age, in what should come in seasons 3-5 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
[Warning: while this article is largely speculation, you should be aware there may be spoilers ahead!]
From the fall of Númenor and the Changing of the World to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, here’s how I think Rings of Power should tackle the end of the Second Age of Arda. For more information about The Second Age of Middle-earth, check out Brian Kitson’s article on what is known about this period from J. R. R. Tolkien’s work.
The Rings of Power season 3: The distribution of the Rings & rise of Númenor
Season 3 should skip ahead another few years, beginning with Sauron’s torturing of Celebrimbor to determine the location of the other Rings. Having captured the Nine in Eregion, Sauron will force Celebrimbor to give up the location of the Seven. Sauron will kill Celebrimbor and begin distributing the Rings among the free peoples of Middle-earth, besieging Elven strongholds in his efforts to find the Three.
The Seven will be distributed first. Durin IV will have become king of Khazad-dûm by this time, obtaining a Ring from Sauron. Sauron will then take the Nine to the kings of Men, bestowing one upon Halbrand, who has united his Southlander kingdom with the help of Arondir and Bronwyn.
Arondir will distrust the gift, driving a wedge between Halbrand and his friends, but the allure of power will cause Halbrand to accept it regardless. Halbrand’s fate will be sealed by the Ring, putting him under Sauron’s dominion. Sauron will begin wielding his influence through the Rings, slowly corrupting the Men and Dwarves.
After the destruction of Eregion, Elrond will flee and establish the haven of Rivendell. Galadriel will accompany him, hopefully establishing her relationship with Celeborn around this time. The Stranger will be established as either Gandalf or a Blue Wizard by this time, working with Galadriel to thwart Sauron’s plans. Nori and Poppy may accompany the Stranger, helping him and the Elves on simple missions around Middle-earth. The War of Elves and Sauron will be in full force throughout the middle and end of the season.
Meanwhile, the Númenoreans will begin expanding their kingdom, moving towards Middle-earth and establishing settlements on the continent. Pharazôn’s power will have grown throughout the second season, culminating in his marriage to Queen Regent Míriel upon her father’s death. Pharazôn will cheat her out of the throne, establishing himself as the last king of Númenor.
An arrogant Pharazôn will sail for Middle-earth, intervening in the War of Elves and Sauron and ultimately securing his surrender. Having fallen into Sauron’s trap, Pharazôn will bring the Dark Lord back to Númenor as a prisoner of war, unknowingly dooming his people. The third season should end with Sauron beginning to influence Pharazôn as the Elves recover from their war.
The Rings of Power season 4 – the downfall of Númenor
Season 4 will focus primarily on Númenor, depicting Sauron’s rise to power within the island nation. Whispering in Pharazôn’s ear, Sauron will become a court advisor to the king despite his previous actions.
During this time, Númenor will be split into two groups: the Faithful, led by Elendil and loyal to the Elves, and the King’s Men, who hate the Valar and Elves. In the early episodes, Sauron’s influence will poison Númenor, driving their society into darkness and creating an evil cult centered upon his master, Morgoth.
Promising eternal life, Sauron will corrupt the Númenoreans in an effort for revenge. Sacrifices will be offered to Morgoth, leading to the felling and burning of the White Tree and the death of many Faithful. Preying upon his fear of death, Sauron will convince Pharazôn to build a great armada to sail into the West and steal immortality from the Valar.
By the second half of season 4, Sauron will persuade the Númenoreans to break the Ban of the Valar, promising that they will gain immortal life upon their arrival in Valinor. Sauron will stay in Númenor as the Númenoreans leave to make war against the Valar.
Warned of the consequences of Pharazôn’s transgressions, Elendil and his son Isildur will rally the Faithful and depart for Middle-earth with the company of several ships in the penultimate episode. In the finale, Pharazôn’s army will land upon Aman and march to the city of the Valar. Manwë, chief of the Valar, will call upon Arda’s creator, Eru Ilúvatar, to intervene.
In The Rings of Power’s most epic sequence, Eru will bring about the Changing of the World. Arda will be broken, changing from a flat world to a spherical one. Valinor will be removed from the surface of the earth as Pharazôn and his army are crushed by the moving landmasses.
In the Sundering Seas, Númenor will be struck by a great wave, sinking the island and killing all who remain. Sauron himself will be cast down and his body destroyed, unable to assume a fair form ever again. Blown by the wind, the Faithful will be greeted on the shores of Middle-earth by the Elves, establishing the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.
In Middle-earth, Halbrand and the other Ring-bearers of Men will begin to fade as the Rings take a toll on their bodies. Returning to Mordor, Sauron will take up the One Ring once more, turning Halbrand and the others into the deadly Nazgûl.
Right now, I expect Halbrand to become the infamous Witch-king of Angmar. However, it’s also possible he is the King of the Dead from The Return of the King. The King was a leader of Men who swore an oath to Isildur that he would help Gondor in their time of need. When the time came and Sauron devastated Middle-earth, the King betrayed Isildur. He was forever cursed, doomed to a restless existence until he helped Gondor fight the enemy, an oath he fulfills thousands of years later when Sauron returns.
The Rings of Power season 5: The Last Alliance of Elves and Men
Season 5 will begin after the longest time jump so far, with Sauron’s dominion over Middle-earth growing. The Dark Tower will be complete and Mordor will be a hellish wasteland as Sauron begins his conquest with the Nazgûl by his side. The Stranger will reveal himself openly to the people of Middle-earth, convincing them to march against Sauron.
The Last Alliance of Elves and Men will be formed by Gil-galad and Elendil, bringing together all of the disparate storylines throughout the series. Isildur will march into battle alongside Elrond and Galadriel. Durin IV will send an army of Dwarves to join the Alliance. Season 5 will be the most action-heavy, with many battles leading up to the final fight on the plains of Mordor.
During the final battle at the foot of Mount Doom, Gil-galad and Elendil will be killed by Sauron, as depicted in the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring. Isildur will cut the One Ring off of Sauron’s hand with his father’s shattered sword, defeating the Dark Lord. Elrond will urge Isildur to cast the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom, but the Ring’s dark influence will persuade Isildur to take it for himself.
Elrond will return to Rivendell while Galadriel and Celeborn retreat to Lothlórien. The Stranger will part ways with the Elves, beginning to wander across Middle-earth. The Dwarves will keep their Rings of Power, continuing to mine the mithril in Khazad-dûm, woefully unaware of the danger lurking deep within the earth.
The Harfoots will settle in what will eventually become the Shire, while the Men retreat to their own lands. Isildur will embark on his journey home, only to be waylaid by Orcs along the way. Invisible, Isildur will escape into a river, where the One Ring will betray him. As it slips off his finger, Isildur will become visible in the water, allowing the Orcs to shoot him with arrows, killing him. The One Ring will drift away, sinking into the water and settling in the muddy riverbed, waiting for the day someone will discover it.
I don’t envy the writers of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – crafting a story at this scale that stretches across several years must have them under a lot of pressure. I don’t even know where characters like the Harfoots and the Stranger will fit in, but that’s also because I don’t think they were necessary additions to the story.
It’s still early in the series and I’m sure everything will become clear as the story progresses, but since they don’t appear in Tolkien’s descriptions of the Second Age, it’s difficult to see what role they’ll play.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power drops new episodes every Friday on Prime Video. What do you think of The Rings of Power so far? Let us know on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus, and check out Part One of my outline if you haven’t already!