High King Gil-galad of Lindon

Prime Video’s "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is shaping up to be a sweeping adventure across the Middle-earth landscape. Set during the Second Age, the show follows a gargantuan main cast spread out across several different kingdoms and regions of the map.

While the show is busy juggling a lot of different storylines, the production team hasn’t neglected the little details. From intricate clothing to elaborate sets, everything in "Rings of Power" looks to have been handled with care. Actor Benjamin Walker (who plays Gil-galad on the series) even told Looper in an interview that he felt "gobsmacked" during his first day on set when he was greeted by an army of technicians and craftsmen and saw half-a-million hand-painted gold leaves on the ground.

The attention to detail extends beyond the quality aspect, too. Throughout the Second Age show, the talented writers’ room has also managed to find a lot of opportunities to hint at the larger legendarium that Professor Tolkien created. Some of these are small details that are easy to miss. Others are legitimate Easter eggs squirreled away for eagle-eyed fans to discover on their 10th rewatch. We’ve scoured the footage of the first season, and here are some of the most interesting Easter eggs and small details viewers may have missed so far.

If it doesn’t go without saying, what follows contains spoilers for "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Season 1.

Finrod’s scratches

Finrod's corpse

The Easter eggs don’t take long to start popping up. In fact, there’s one that appears during the show’s prologue. As Galadriel can be heard narrating about her fallen brother, Finrod Felagund, we see his corpse laying on a table under a cloth. His arms are out, and his flesh is scarred with numerous wounds. The video highlights one of these cuts specifically — the mark that Sauron puts on him.

It turns out that Sauron’s branding behavior isn’t actually canon. In the source material, the Dark Lord doesn’t go around burning a sign into people’s flesh. But he does leave quite a few marks on the heroic Finrod Felagund. In "The Silmarillion," Finrod helps the heroes Beren and Lúthien in their quest to reclaim one of the titular hallowed jewels called the Silmarils. In the process, he and his companions are captured by — you guessed it — Sauron. The villain, who isn’t the Dark Lord yet, kills off the group one at a time using a werewolf. Eventually, the text reads, "But when the wolf came for Beren, Felagund put forth all his power, and burst his bonds; and he wrestled with the werewolf and slew it with his hands and teeth; yet he himself was wounded to the death."

Yeah, those scratches? They aren’t from a scrape in battle. They’re not from swords or spears or arrows. Those are bona fide dying werewolf wounds. Talk about a way to go.

The Oath of Fëanor

The Oath of Fëanor

Another Easter egg tucked into the early moments of "Rings of Power" appears when a bunch of tough-looking Elves draw their swords together in quick succession. For fans familiar with Tolkien’s lore, the scene immediately brings to mind the famous Oath of Fëanor from "The Silmarillion." Yes, Galadriel’s brother Finrod is amongst them, which is a little out of place considering the source material, but otherwise everything lines up.

The event, while skimmed over in the prologue of the show, is a watershed moment in Middle-earth history. The oath is taken by the famous Elvish character Fëanor (of all people) and his seven sons. It’s an irrevocable oath that leads to a lot of terrible stuff after the fact, and it reads in the book like this: "Then Fëanor swore a terrible oath. His seven sons leapt straightway to his side and took the selfsame vow together, and red as blood shone their drawn swords in the glare of the torches."

Their swords may not be blood red in the footage. And if it’s strictly the Oath of Fëanor (which, to be fair, isn’t directly stated) then Finrod shouldn’t be there. But the setting and actions, however briefly they’re depicted, seem to be a direct nod toward the oath that is so critical to the stories that follow.

Hinting at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears and the War of Wrath

A hill of helmets

"Rings of Power" doesn’t have access to "The Silmarillion," which is probably why its prologue is so quick and non-specific. It skims over many of the major events that take place in that book without clearly connecting the dots. Some are easy to spot, like the Oath of Fëanor. Others, though, seem to be a murky mash-up of multiple events presented at the same time, including a series of battles and violent conflicts. These start with a shot of a dragon throwing a giant eagle to the ground in a blaze of fire. This is an event that could have only happened during the Earth-shattering, age-ending War of Wrath right before "Rings of Power" starts. That’s the battle where Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, is finally defeated.

But wait. There’s more. When Galadriel picks up a helmet and puts it into a gigantic pile of other helmets, the scene calls another battle to mind. One of the most tragic events of the First Age of Middle-earth history is called the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. After the battle, which goes badly for the good guys, a giant mountain of carcasses is created called the Hill of the Slain. While it isn’t quite the same thing as a bunch of helmets, the feel of Galadriel’s sorrowful experience in the aftermath of the unnamed battlefield seems to hint at that famously tragic event.

Galadriel’s swan boats

A swan boat sailing in the Sundering Seas

In Peter Jackson’s extended edition of "The Fellowship of the Ring" Galadriel sails a swan boat in Lothlórien. In "Rings of Power," we see Galadriel sailing to Valinor in a boat with a similar bird-like prow. In the opening scene of the show, kid-Galadriel also makes a fantastical paper boat that doesn’t just float — it sails. And as it does so, its wings, neck, and head pop up in glorious fashion.

Okay, so what’s up with all of the swan boats? For the answer, we turn to Tolkien. Without going too overboard with details, one group of Elves that lives in Valinor is called the Teleri. They mostly dwell in a place called Alqualondë, which loosely translates to — drum roll, please — the Haven of the Swans. "The Silmarillion" explains this group and their home, saying, "For that was their city, and the haven of their ships; and those were made in the likeness of swans, with beaks of gold and eyes of gold and jet."

Much later in the book, it explains how the Elves visited the island nation of Númenor, too, saying, "And thence at times the Firstborn still would come sailing to Númenor in oarless boats, as white birds flying from the sunset." From the get-go, bird-shaped boats, and especially swan-shaped boats, are a trademark of Elvish maritime activity.

A gray rain curtain and a swift sunrise

The gray rain curtain pulling back

When Galadriel and her company set sail for Valinor in the first episode of "Rings of Power," they arrive in a foggy, rainy sea. As the clouds roll back, it slowly reveals a glorious, blinding light, which all of the Elves but Galadriel willingly enter into. This isn’t necessarily how the process of Elves leaving Middle-earth looks in the books, but there’s a lot left open to interpretation here. As far as small details are concerned, though, there’s one specific aspect that is worth calling out.

Twice in "The Lord of the Rings" books, Frodo experiences arriving in the Blessed Realm. The first time is in a dream in the first book. The second time is for real when he sails there at the end of "The Return of the King." Here’s how that book describes the experience: "And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the gray rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise."

We may not actually see Valinor in the scene from "Rings of Power," but we do see a gray rain curtain, and it definitely rolls back as they approach.

Are Harfoots Halflings … or birds?

The piping of birds

When we first meet the Harfoots in "Rings of Power," they’re running circles around a couple of wary hunters. The Little People are able to lay low and avoid being seen without any issues. As the Big Folk move along, one of the Halflings blows a whistle of sorts to signal that the coast is clear.

The casual activity makes sense, but for diehard Tolkienites, it may also bring another incident to mind — a time when Théoden, King of Rohan, has a conversation with a couple of Hobbits in Isengard in "The Two Towers" book. Merry, Pippin, and Théoden all bond over the fact that their ancestors came from the same area of the world — an area close to where the Harfoots are currently living when "Rings of Power" begins.

In the discussion, Théoden mentions that the Halflings in the apocryphal stories that his ancestors remember have some interesting skill sets. He adds that they can vanish in a twinkling. In addition, he says, "They can change their voices to resemble the piping of birds." While that is clearly an exaggeration, it would appear that the "Rings of Power" writers may be hinting at how that legend came about.

Halfling children really like to eat fruit

A Harfoot holding berries

The Harfoots of "Rings of Power" and the Hobbits of later stories may be distantly related. But there are a lot of differences that set them apart, not the least of which is the fact that one group is living a wandering, nomadic lifestyle and the other is living in undisturbed, domesticated comfort. Even so, some of the throughlines are already visible, even when the setting is so different. Case in point: their food.

Harfoots are already shown with the Hobbitish appetite for good food. Sure, the food is prepared and consumed hunter-gatherer style, but there’s no denying that Harfoots still like a good meal. And when Nori leads a group of youngsters to a berry patch, their affinity for food is on full display. Interestingly, the scene also offers a cool parallel to the last pages of "The Return of the King."

In that book, Tolkien explains the happy aftermath of the War of the Ring, pointing out how much the Shire thrives after Sauron is defeated. At one point, this is illustrated through — you guessed it — kids and fruit. The text says: "The fruit was so plentiful that young hobbits very nearly bathed in strawberries and cream; and later they sat on the lawns under the plum-trees and ate, until they had made piles of stones like small pyramids or the heaped skulls of a conqueror, and then they moved on." The Harfoots will change a lot before they become Hobbits, but it looks like the kids just keep on eating fruit throughout the entire evolution.

Hinting at the shepherds of the trees?

Marigold explains life

In the first episode of "Rings of Power," there’s a point when Marigold Brandyfoot has a serious talk with Nori about her downright intrepid behavior. In the talk, the Halfling mother breaks down how the world works for the younger, less experienced Nori by saying, "I’ve told you, countless times. Elves have forests to protect. Dwarves their mines. Men their fields of grain. Even trees have to worry about the soil beneath their roots. But we Harfoots are free from the worries of the wide world."

It’s a very Hobbitish pep talk that leaves Nori squirming and doesn’t even put a dent in her desire for adventure. But it also may be the first time in the series that Tolkien’s Ents enter the conversation, too. The Ents are referred to at different times as the Shepherds of the Trees. They were originally created to not just to look like trees, either. They’re made to protect them. In "The Silmarillion," the Ents are explicitly made as a way to guard trees against other creatures that may want to harm them. The presence of Ents in the "Rings of Power" storyline is already established later in this episode, too. They make a quick cameo when the meteor streaks overhead and three Ents are shown clearly moving amongst the trees.

Middle-earth fireworks

The Elven land of Lindon

When Galadriel returns home from her very overextended pursuit of Sauron, the High King Gil-galad is convinced to welcome her as a hero. Despite her rebellious disregard of his orders, the king puts on a celebration to rival the likes of Bilbo’s 111th birthday party. No, seriously — it even has the same kind of fireworks.

As the Elves party in Lindon, the sky lights up with fireworks that take on many different shapes. Some swirl, while others look like flowers. One even takes on the distinct shape of a butterfly … and then flaps its wings.

In contrast, the "The Fellowship of the Ring" book describes Gandalf’s fireworks at Bilbo’s party by saying they included singing bird sounds, trees losing their leaves, eagles, sailing ships, and much more. It also has the line, "There were fountains of butterflies that flew glittering into the trees." Sound familiar? Of course, the question of who’s better at the craft of making fireworks is something that would have to be solved with a head-to-head contest between the wizard and the Elves. But alas, it’s a competition we’ll never get to see.

Important statues

Galadriel talking amidst statues

After Galadriel discovers that she’s going to be shipped back home to Valinor in Episode 1, she retreats to a peaceful area of the Lindon forests where Elrond finds her, and the two characters proceed to have a long talk. As they chat, they’re surrounded by a string of very Elvish-looking lamps and a series of statues carved right into living trees.

One of these statues depicts Galadriel’s brother Finrod, who is an epic First Age hero in his own right, but several others appear as well. We’re willing to guess that at least one is the Human First Age hero Túrin Turambar. There are plenty of candidates for who the others could be, but there’s one statue whose identity is without question.

At one point, the camera flashes past a living wooden statue of a woman with long, flowing hair and a shaggy dog in front of her. There’s no doubt that this is an image of the immortal maiden Lúthien and the dog Huan. Lúthien is one of the iconic heroines of Tolkien’s legendarium; she was inspired by the author’s wife and her Elvish name was even put on her gravestone. She’s known for her hair and also happens to be Elrond’s great grandmother. The dog, Huan, is also the greatest woflhound in Middle-earth history. He talks multiple times and even defeats Sauron in a duel at one point.

A childish Stranger

The Stranger and Nori hold hands

When The Stranger crash lands near the Harfoots, Nori and Poppy try to take care of him. This ends up being more difficult than it seems at first glance due to the fact that the fellow initially acts like a child. He can’t even talk and doesn’t know how to take care of himself.

For those who know their Tolkien, this seems to point very heavily toward The Stranger being a Wizard. Apart from the fact that he’s clearly supernaturally powerful, the whole infantile start to his Middle-earth tenure points to his Wizarding origins.

In the book "Unfinished Tales," Tolkien’s son Christopher brought together most of his father’s notes about the Wizards or "Istari" as they’re called in Elvish. In that collection of random facts, it says, "For it is said in deed that being embodied the Istari had need to learn much anew by slow experience, and though they knew whence they came the memory of the Blessed Realm was to them a vision from afar off, for which (so long as they remained true to their mission) they yearned exceedingly."

If The Stranger is a Wizard, it would make sense that after his arrival, he would need to relearn some basic things, like talking and eating. Add onto that the fact that he clearly knows some stuff, like constellations, and we must ask ourselves, who is The Stranger from "Rings of Power?"

The Stranger whispers to animals

The Stranger whispers to fireflies

As Nori and Poppy wrangle their mysterious, powerful friend, they slowly start to get some clues about who he is. Particularly toward the end of the second episode, he manages to communicate by using fireflies to form the shape of a constellation in the sky. Nori gets excited when she realizes that he wants to find a similar shape of actual stars.

During this scene, there’s also a small Easter egg that points back to Peter Jackson’s films. When Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is trapped on top of Isengard, he catches a moth and whispers a message to it in an unintelligible language. The Stranger talks to the fireflies in a very similar manner in the second episode of "Rings of Power." This could signal a direct connection between the characters — for instance, maybe they’re both Gandalf?

It could also simply be a magical behavior that they’re both displaying. This could be meant to showcase how both characters are Wizards, or at least have a similar spiritual power that enables them to talk directly to animals. Whatever the answer, the way The Stranger chats up the fireflies looks so similar to Gandalf’s discussion with the moth, it’s difficult to think it’s anything less than a direct Easter egg.

Fëanor’s hammer … and family tree

Celebrimbor, grandson of Fëanor

When Elrond arrives in Eregion in the second episode of "Rings of Power," he hits things off with Lord Celebrimbor, whose craftsmanship he’s greatly admired from afar. As they get to know one another, they talk about a crafting hammer on display in Celebrimbor’s workshop. And it’s not just any hammer. It used to belong to the master Elven craftsman Fëanor. While the show makes that fact clear, the quiet context left out of the dialogue is Celebrimbor probably has the hammer because he’s Fëanor’s grandson.

The little details don’t stop there, either. As the conversation carries on, the two Elves look at plans to build a giant, overheated new addition to Celebrimbor’s workshop. The Elven master craftsman says that he wants to build "A tower. One that could host a forge more powerful than any ever built. Able to birth a flame as hot as a dragon’s tongue and as pure as starlight."

The subtle reference brings to mind a line from "The Fellowship of the Ring" book where Gandalf says, "It has been said that dragon-fire could melt and consume the Rings of Power, but there is not now any dragon left on earth in which the old fire is hot enough." The reference to a forge as hot as a dragon’s tongue is a fitting description because, chances are, Celebrimbor has plans to use his new forge to create some tiny little ring-shaped trinkets in the not-too-distant future.

Khazad-dûm has some delicious food

Khazad-dûm in its glory

When Elrond and Celebrimbor head over to Khazad-dûm to recruit the help of the Dwarves, the Lord of Eregion informs his companion that he’s always admired the Dwarves and wonders if he’ll be able to see them at work in their forges up close and personal. Elrond sets some rather lofty expectations in response, pointing out that he thinks they’ll do a lot more than that. From there, he launches into a description of Dwarven hospitality that includes blaring Ram’s horns, tables full of salted pork, and lots and lots of malt beer.

If the depiction sounds familiar, it’s because Gimli talks about the same kind of Dwarven welcome thousands of years later during "The Lord of the Rings." In "The Fellowship of the Ring" movie, as Frodo and company enter Moria, Gimli warns Legolas to prepare for the fabled hospitality of the Dwarves, adding that the Master Elf should expect "roaring fires, malt beer, ripe meat off the bone." Later on, in "The Return of the King" movie, Pippin also references salted pork to Gimli’s interest and great delight.

Tying these references to Dwarves is a fun way to create some continuity between the two distinctly different versions of Middle-earth. Both may be their own adaptations that march to the beat of their own drums. But when it comes to Dwarven hospitality, everyone’s on the same page.

Dwarves, their masks, and their maker

Dwarven guards in Khazad-dûm

The Dwarves have an interesting creation story. Unlike Men and Elves who are created by the God-like supreme being Eru Ilúvatar, Dwarves are initially formed by the angelic being Aulë. While he makes them, though, Aulë can’t give his Dwarves sentient life. That’s something that only Ilúvatar can do, and he eventually gets around to it. Even so, the Dwarves always have a special affinity for Aulë, and it shows in "Rings of Power."

In the rock-breaking scene, Durin IV references his semi-maker when he describes the event as "The Dwarven test of endurance fashioned by Aulë himself." Later on, when Durin and Elrond are arguing, Disa expresses her disapproval by referencing Aulë’s beard. For most viewers, it’s a random and odd name. For Tolkien fans, it’s a clear and well-placed reference to the greatest being in all of Dwarven culture and history.

It’s also worth pointing out that the full Dwarven face masks worn by many of the guards of Khazad-dûm get their inspiration from "The Silmarillion." At one point, the Dwarves take on a bunch of dragons, which they can do because, "It was their custom moreover to wear great masks in battle hideous to look upon; and those stood them in good stead against the dragons." It’s a one-off reference, and it’s fun to see the famous head gear translated into the garb of Durin’s guards.

Badly ending Elven-Human love affairs

Rings of Power forbidden love

When we first meet Arondir in the Southlands of Middle-earth, he’s visiting a town of Men with a fellow Elven warden. While there, he interacts with the Human woman Bronwyn and it’s clear that the two are crushing on one another. As they leave, Arondir and his fellow Elf verbally spar back and forth, like any good pair of soldiers would do. Eventually, though, the talk turns more serious, and Arondir’s companion says, "My point is this. Only twice in known history has a pairing between Elves and Humans even been attempted. And on each occasion, it ended in tragedy. It ended in death."

The reference is to two distinct pairings. The first is the mortal man Beren and the immortal Lúthien. They get hitched and end up dying … twice. Kind of. It’s complicated. The other pair is the Man Tuor and the Elf-maiden Idril. While they have a happier ending, there’s no doubt that their tale is filled with some epic and tragic stuff.

Love affairs between Elves and Humans are never common in Tolkien’s writings. In fact, it’s a topic that Looper discussed with Arondir and Bronwyn actors Ismael Cruz Córdova and Nazanin Boniadi, respectively. Wherever they choose to go with their characters’ romance, though, it’s cool that the writers used the opportunity to indirectly reference two of the most important mortal-immortal couplings in all of Tolkien’s writings.

The beacons are lit!

Passing a watchtower with a beacon

Anyone who’s watched Peter Jackson’s "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is familiar with the epic scene in "The Return of the King" when Pippin lights the beacons of Gondor. The little Halfling scales a watchtower and tosses a flame onto a pile of brushwood without the guards seeing him. This sets off a string of similar fire-bound watchtowers, which send a visual message to King Théoden in Rohan that Gondor calls for aid. The scene is also mirrored in the opening chapter of "The Return of the King" book, although in this case, Pippin observes the lit beacons from afar rather than lighting them himself.

In either case, the opportunity to light some beacons (and show off some gorgeous Middle-earth landscapes in the process) is too good to miss. and it should come as no surprise that "The Rings of Power" found its own way to sneak some lit beacons into its own adaptation. In Episode 3, when Galadriel and Halbrand arrive in Númenor on Elendil’s ship, they pass a watchtower out at sea. As they look up, lo and behold, a beacon is burning. In this case, it’s likely a lighthouse beacon designed for ships, but the callback to Peter Jackson’s films is difficult to miss.

Special statues in Númenor

A statue of Elwing and Eärendil?

The Elves aren’t the only ones with special statues. While Lindon is littered with gorgeous wooden carvings, Númenor has a lot of its own sculptures, mostly chiseled right into stone. In Episode 3, as Elendil’s ship sails down the narrow waterway that leads into the heart of his home island, viewers can see giant statues of heads perched along the route. Full-blown forms are also shown, including a gigantic statue just as the ship arrives in the main port.

This last statue was a central point of speculation for months after it first showed up in the show’s original Super Bowl ad in early 2022. Guesses as to the statue’s identity spanned the gamut (Númenor has a lot of kings and queens) but there are a couple of details that make one guess the clear frontrunner. First, there’s a giant statue of a bird next to the humanoid figure. Second, if you look really closely, there appears to be a small item bound to its forehead.

This indicates that we’re looking at a statue of Eärendil, one of Tolkien’s most important Middle-earth heroes. His wife is Elwing, who — get this — is turned into a bird at one point. He’s also the father of Elrond and his twin brother Elros, who is the first king of Númenor. And the thing on his forehead? Eärendil ends up sailing through the heavens on his ship with one of the shining jewels called the Silmarils tied up there. Oh yeah. It’s all coming together.

Blowing in horns … made of shells

Seashell horns like Ulmo's

When Isildur first shows up, it’s early in Episode 3 when we see the young cadet preparing for the sea trials with his shipmates. When the exercise is completed, they sail to shore and stand, facing the water, while the drill sergeant blows on a horn and says "The sea is always right" — a phrase that’s repeated by the cadets. Once the ceremony is over, everyone goes home. Okay, so what’s the big deal?

The Easter egg here is tucked into the drill sergeant’s accouterments — specifically, his shell-shaped musical instrument. The choice of a shell isn’t just a fun way to show off the Númenórean penchant for sea travel. It’s a detail that connects right back to one of the most important beings in all of Middle-earth: Ulmo.

Ulmo is one of the Valar, the angelic beings who function as the lowercase "g" gods and guardians of Middle-earth. Ulmo is called the Lord of Waters, and his power extends throughout all of the oceans, seas, and tributaries of the world. And what does a being as epic as Ulmo, the Lord of Waters use to get some attention? Why giant sea shells, of course. No, for real. "The Silmarillion" says that, at times, Ulmo will come to Middle-earth and "there make music upon his great horns, the Ulumúri, that are wrought of white shell; and those to whom that music comes hear it ever after in their hearts, and longing for the sea never leaves them again."

White trees galore

Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor

When we arrive in Númenor in Episode 3, there are a lot of sights to take in all at once. One of these is a stunningly vibrant tree with white petals. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this tree, either. It’s shown up repeatedly in the marketing, as well — including shots of the petals floating in the wind far from the tree itself (an omen of decay, perhaps?).

The concept of a white tree isn’t new to Tolkien fans — even casual viewers of the films. In Peter Jackson’s "The Return of the King" movie, a white tree can be seen in the center of a court in Minas Tirith, except this time, we’re looking at a dead corpse, not a thriving, living organism. The two images aren’t just similar, either. They’re actually related.

That’s right, the dead White Tree of Gondor can trace its roots back to its ancestor seen in Númenor in "The Rings of Power." The Númenórean iteration of the arboreal wonder is called Nimloth, and it’s brought to Númenor by the Elves as a gift from Valinor — in fact, its lineage goes even further back than that, but we have to cut this explanation off somewhere. Eventually, Isildur takes a fruit of Nimloth with him to Middle-earth, where he plants it in Minas Ithil. When that fortress is captured and becomes the headquarters of the Nazgûl, the tree is destroyed, but one of its fruits survives and is planted in, you guessed it, Minas Tirith.

You bow to no one

Queen Regent Míriel of Númenor

One of the most iconic moments in all of Peter Jackson’s films takes place when the four heroic Hobbits, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, come before the seat of the newly crowned king, Aragorn. When they go to bow down, Strider stops them, telling them that they bow to no one. It’s a spine-tingling acknowledgment of the incredible deeds that the quartet of Halflings just accomplished … and it’s another line that is quietly reflected in "The Rings of Power."

When Galadriel and Halbrand are brought in front of Queen Regent Míriel, Halbrand is doing his best to help his Elvish companion keep up with the manners of Men. When they’re standing in front of the queen, he whispers to Galadriel to kneel, only to have Míriel stop them by saying, "No one kneels in Númenor." The little royal custom is a fun way to set the tone for a kingdom of Men where everyone is blessed. But it’s also a great way to sneak in a little reminder that, even thousands of years later, Númenórean kings are still able to acknowledge greatness when they see it.

Míriel’s grandfather’s great-grandfather rejects the Elves?

Members of the Númenórean royal family

In "The Rings of Power," Númenor is led by Queen Regent Míriel when Galadriel and Halbrand first arrive. In Episode 3, Míriel talks to Elendil about the struggle that her people have with trusting Elves. She points out that "Elves have been unwelcome on our shores since the reign of my grandfather’s great-grandfather." This feels like an eloquently written throwaway line meant to emphasize how serious it is that Elendil brought an Elf back to Númenor, but as with all things Tolkien, things go much deeper than that.

The author traced the entire line of Númenórean kings in his writings, which means we can take a quick stroll back up the family tree to see who Míriel’s "grandfather’s great-grandfather is," and it turns out that it’s a not-so-nice fellow named Ar-Adûnakhôr. In the book "Unfinished Tales," Tolkien explains that "In this reign the Elven-tongues were no longer used, nor permitted to be taught, but were maintained in secret by the Faithful; and the ships from Eressëa came seldom and secretly to the west shores of Númenor thereafter." (Eressëa is a the name for an Elven area in the West.)

So yeah, when Míriel specifically highlights that her — let’s see if we can get this right — great-great-great grandfather started the antipathy toward the Elves, it isn’t a line that the writers created out of whole cloth. It’s a deliberate reference to a grumpy Númenórean king who ruled long before the "Rings of Power" story ever starts.

I know his brother better

Twin brothers Elros and Elrond

When Galadriel visits the Western regions of Númenor with Elendil, the pair of travelers visit the Hall of Lore, a library and depository of information that Elros, the first king of Númenor, himself created. While the actual hall is made up for the show, Elros is very much a Tolkien original — he’s the brother of Elrond and a character that comes from a very complicated family tree that includes Elves, Men, and even the angelic Maiar. While Elrond chooses the immortal life of an Elf, though, Elros opts for the mortality of being a Man. Along with choosing the mystery of the gift of death, Elros also becomes a mighty king who founds Númenor and lives for five centuries.

Even so, by the time of "The Rings of Power," Elros has been gone for a long while … even though his twin brother is still serving as Gil-galad’s Herald back in Lindon. This leads to an interesting line when Galadriel and Elendil look at a tapestry of the twin brothers in the Hall of Lore. Galadriel confirms that she knew Elros, adding, "But I was always closer with his brother." For savvy viewers, this is a quiet connection to Galadriel’s already established friendship with Elrond (as shown in Episode 1). But it goes even deeper: In the source material, Elrond will eventually marry Galadriel’s daughter, and the two will go on to serve on the White Council and generally resist Sauron side by side over the millennia. To say she’s closer to Elrond is an understatement.

Beings turned into stars

A sailing star

Early in Season 1, the Harfoot leader Sadoc Burrows tells an endlessly inquisitive Nori Brandyfoot that the stars are strange. The foreboding words literally materialize in the form of the Stranger, who crash lands from the sky right near the Halfling community. Nori takes the Stranger under her tiny yet formidable wing and, in Episode 3, it comes out that she’s been helping the odd super-powered giant.

In the fallout, Sadoc faces off against Nori, inquisitor style, reprimanding her in front of the entire clan. At one point, Nori’s father Largo chimes in, pointing out that the whole situation is extraordinary before asking "Have you ever heard tell of beings falling from the stars?" Sadoc’s response: "I’ve heard of beings that were turned into stars, but never the other way around."

The reference to beings becoming stars feels random, but once again, it could be a quiet Easter egg pointing to Tolkien’s famous sailor of the firmament, Eärendil. The hero ends his epic First Age career by having a shining Silmaril bound to his forehead before his ship sails off into the heavens over Middle-earth — in effect, turning him into a star. The thought that a random Harfoot leader in an isolated community would somehow know about Eärendil seems unlikely, but the line could still be left behind for those to find it who can.

Nori knows she isn’t special

Nori knows her place in the wide world

The last time we see Nori in Episode 3, her mother, Marigold, confronts her about her actions with the Stranger, asking if she thinks it’s destiny and that she’s somehow special. The little Harfoot’s response is, "I know I’m not special. I know I’m just one little Harfoot in a grand, wide world." For fans of Tolkien’s legendarium, the line echoes another spoken by Gandalf at the end of "The Hobbit."

On the last page of that book, Gandalf and some of the Dwarves come back to visit their burglar bestie in the Shire. Bilbo expresses surprise that so many things they hoped to happen had come true, at which point the Grey Wizard interjects, "And why should not they prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophesies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself?"

Gandalf goes on to highlight the larger purpose behind Bilbo’s story, saying, "You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world, after all." This concept of a higher purpose runs throughout Tolkien’s stories, and it’s cool to see the larger theme reflected in Nori’s small-yet-significant story.

Is that a Maia we spy?

Númenórean ships at sea

When Galadriel visits Halbrand in prison, the center of the room is filled with a giant statue of a blue, mermaid-looking female figure positioned as if she’s swimming. It’s an odd sight in the midst of a jail, but it may be there to help calm the occupants in their cells. Why? Because it looks an awful lot like the Maia Uinen, an angelic being known for bringing peace and calm to turbulent waters.

Uinen is married to the violent Maia Ossë, who has a reputation for causing storms at sea. "The Silmarillion" describes Uinen as the counterpoint to her spouse, adding "[Ossë’s] spouse is Uinen, the Lady of the Seas, whose hair lies spread through all waters under sky. All creatures she loves that live in the salt streams, and all weeds that grow there; to her mariners cry, for she can lay calm upon the waves, restraining the wildness of Ossë."

The flattering description ends with the line "The Númenóreans lived long in her protection, and held her in reverence equal to the Valar." While it could just be a random statue, the fact that she’s loved by the Men of Númenor and even details like the seaweed in her hair seem to reinforce the idea that we’re looking at an Easter egg visualization of the Lady of the Seas.

Stuck in a cage

Halbrand is stuck in a cage

In Episode 3, it’s revealed that Halbrand’s mysterious past has something to do with a royal connection to the Southlands. This immediately gives the character a "returning king" feel similar to that of Aragorn thousands of years later. Of course, the news that his ancestors fought for the Dark Lord Morgoth is still a major factor here, but still, Halbrand has the growing potential to play a critical role in the story.

Of course, when this information is revealed, the character is still behind bars — and he points that out to Galadriel, saying "It’s an odd thing to say to a man in a cage." The use of the word "cage" is interesting here, as it immediately harkens back to Éowyn. In the "Return of the King" book, Aragorn asks the Shield-maiden what she fears, to which Éowyn responds, "A cage," adding, "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire."

The circumstances and motivation may be quite different. Nevertheless, the image of an individual trapped in a metaphorical "cage" is one that is certainly familiar to fans of Tolkien’s world.

Elendil is a petty lord

Elendil, ship captain and petty lord

When we first meet Elendil in "The Rings of Power," he’s a ship captain. As far as we can see, he has a limited amount of authority as a military man, and that’s about it. Then, Pharazôn casually mentions to his Queen Regent that the man comes from a noble line. Okay, so there’s more here than we were initially aware of. In the fourth episode, "The Great Wave," as Galadriel and Míriel verbally spar about Halbrand’s claim to the throne of the Southlands, Elendil adds to this growing pedigree by mentioning that he’s a "petty lord."

For fans of Tolkien’s writings, this immediately brings to mind the title of the "Lords of Adúnië." This is an offshoot of the royal line that rules in the western region of Númenor, facing Valinor. In Tolkien’s original writings, the Lords of Adúnië were important people in the Númenórean political system. They were also leaders of the Faithful, who preserved the Elven ways of ancient Númenor.

The last Lord of Adúnië was a fellow named Amandil. His son never got the chance to become his heir because of some spoilery stuff that we won’t break down here. But let’s just say that Amandil’s son was a guy named Elendil. Yep, that Elendil.

Isildur’s friends have interesting names

Isildur's friend, Valandil

In Episode 3, one of Isildur’s fellow cadets on his ship lets a rope slip. The hero catches the loose line and hauls his shipmate back to safety, but the friend is dismissed from the sea guard for his mistake. This individual, who is made up for the show, is named Imrahil, which happens to be the name of one of the most famous captains of Gondor in the "Lord of the Rings" story. Coincidence? We think not.

On top of that, one of Isildur’s close friends is named Valandil. Again, the character is made up for the "Rings of Power" story, but the name choice seems deliberate, as Valandil is a name that shows up more than once in Tolkien’s legendarium. It’s the cognomen of one of Isildur’s ancient ancestors, the first Lord of Adúnië. In a very early version of the legendarium, it’s also the name of Isildur’s uncle. In fact, this is so early on that in this iteration, uncle Val is functioning in Isildur’s role as the guy who founds Gondor later on in history. As if that wasn’t enough, Valandil is also the name of one of Isildur’s sons and his future heir. That means, it’s the name of an ancestor, an uncle, a son … and now a friend.

The mouth of the river

Arondir talks to Adar

When Arondir meets Adar, the villain talks to him in a surprisingly relatable way. He asks him where he was born, and when Arondir replies "Beleriand," Adar asks the follow-up question, "By the mouth of the river?" The conversation moves on from there, leaving the mysterious body of water unnamed. But the wording gives us a clue about which area could be in question.

Beleriand is the name for the westernmost portion of Middle-earth. It’s a huge area of land where most of the events of the First Age take place. However, Beleriand isn’t a factor after that point because, when that era ends, the entire chunk of the continent is drowned beneath the waves.

Beleriand has a lot of very famous geographic locations — including several important rivers. One of these, and arguably the most important, is the River Sirion. It’s so big that it stretches across a huge portion of the continent. And when it reaches the ocean, it splits into a large delta called — drum roll, please — the Mouths of Sirion.

A lot of important things happen here, too. It’s particularly important as a refuge and a central point where most of the world-shaking events of the end of the age take place. When Adar refers to "the mouth of the river," there’s a good chance that this is what he’s talking about.

The rocks and roots remember them

Adar, Orc leader

When Arondir asks Adar why the Orcs call him father, he replies "You have been told many lies. Some run so deep even the rocks and roots now believe them. To untangle it all would all but require the creation of a new world." This reference to roots and even rocks understanding things has shown up in Middle-earth before in reference to another area of "The Rings of Power" story.

In "The Fellowship of the Ring," right before they reach Moria, Frodo and company pass through the region that used to be the Elvish realm of Eregion — that’s the area led by Celebrimbor in "The Rings of Power." By the time of "The Lord of the Rings," this area is desolate, and the Elves are long gone, leading Legolas to say "the trees and the grass do not now remember them. Only I hear the stones lament them: Deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone. They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago."

Tolkien’s Elves are closely connected to the world. So, while Men, Dwarves, and Hobbits might blunder along, making a noise like elephants, Elves are always aware of how their actions impact their surroundings. Whether it’s Legolas listening to the rocks of Eregion or Adar trying to rewrite a history deeply embedded in the very fabric of the world itself, you can bet they’re hearing more than our mortal ears are picking up.

Casually mentioning Orodruin

Orodruin in the background...?

We may know it as Mount Doom in "The Lord of the Rings," but another name for Sauron’s personal forge-mountain is Orodruin. It’s an Elvish name that, in "The Silmarillion," is translated as "Mountain of Blazing Fire." Seems appropriate enough. The peak is stealthily introduced in the background of a few shots early in the series, but it isn’t until Episode 4 that we hear it directly mentioned.

In that episode, as the Southlanders seek protection in a nearby watchtower, Bronwyn looks at the column of individuals who are arriving and notices how many different people are pouring into the fortress. This leads her to state, "That makes it every village from here to Orodruin."

The line is focused on the severity of the situation, and Bronwyn’s face is clearly worried as she tries to manage the endless line of refugees. The fact that she doesn’t say "Mount Doom" also makes it easy to miss. And yet there it is. Orodruin is a regular fixture of their Southland life and one that is casually mentioned in conversation — even if it’s quietly harboring the potential to ruin that very existence if it blows its top. The question is, if Orodruin means "Mountain of Blazing Fire," why is it called that already? In "The Silmarillion," it says that the Elves are the ones who give it that name. Were they around early enough to see its fiery potential in the past? Or is this just a nominal oversight?

Licking blood

A thirsty Orc

In Episode 4, when Theo sneaks back to town to forage for some food, he goes into a tavern where he’s attacked by an Orc. The vicious assailant hacks at the boy, initially cutting through the grain sack he’s holding and then catching his leg on the second swipe. We then get a close-up of the Orc licking the blood off of his knife in a threatening manner.

The visual immediately invokes the scene in Peter Jackson’s trilogy when the towering Uruk-hai Lurtz is stabbed by Aragorn in the leg. The cold-blooded warrior pulls the blade out of his own flesh and then licks it, clearly as an intimidation tactic before he hurls it right back at Aragorn’s face. Of course, in this case, it’s his own blood that he’s licking, which is particularly gross. In "The Rings of Power," at least the Orc is getting some Human blood — which is a dietary option that they actually like. Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys.

Meeting Elrond’s father

Elrond gazes out the window

Episode 4 tackles the question of Elrond’s parentage more than once. The first time it comes up, it’s when the Herald is with Celebrimbor, who mentions that he looks just like his father. Elrond replies inquisitively, clearly surprised that Celebrimbor had ever met his pops, to which the Elven Lord replies, "Of course, many times."

This is a veiled reference to a backstory that even Tolkien never fully fleshed out. The early life of Celebrimbor is underdeveloped, to say the least. Chances are, though, that he spent a decent amount of time in the famous Elven stronghold of Gondolin — where Elrond’s father, Eärendil, was born. Eärendil is less than ten years old when that city is destroyed, though, and after that, we have no idea whether he and Celebrimbor cross paths again. It’s a couple of loose ends that "The Rings of Power" showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have chosen to connect via a backstory in their own narrative that clearly has Eärendil and Celebrimbor connecting more than once in their early lives.

Guarding three doors

Gandalf tries to choose a passage

In Episode 4, Elrond visits Khazad-dûm to get to the bottom of why Durin IV is avoiding him and Celebrimbor. When he reaches his Dwarven friend’s house, though, Durin isn’t home, and Disa gives a few reasons that could be the case before she suddenly remembers that "He was off to mine Quartz Chasm today." Elrond immediately reads into the deception, and the two continue to dance around the truth for the rest of the conversation.

When Disa is listing off places where Durin could be, though, she casually asks if Elrond has tried "The three-door guard." While there are doubtless many areas of Khazad-dûm with more than one door, this has to be a reference to one place in particular.

When "The Fellowship of the Ring" passes through Moria thousands of years later, Gandalf confidently guides them on each step of the journey in the dark … until they reach a particularly troubling impasse that the wizard can’t remember. The location in question? A point where the path splits into three different passages. It’s enough of a conundrum that they have to stop and give Gandalf time to think. When they do that, in the book version, they take refuge in a nearby guard house, which prompts Gimli to say, "This seems to have been a guardroom, made for the watching of the three passages." Could this be the "three-door guard" referenced in "The Rings of Power"? Seems likely to us.

Super-powered vision … and the Mirrormere

Durin IV talks about the old mine

When Elrond can’t figure out what’s going on with Prince Durin by talking directly to his wife, he resorts to straight-up spying on the couple from a distance. He’s able to do this from far away due to the power of his Elf eyes, which can see much clearer than those of other mortal races. Through his espionage, the Half-elven herald realizes that Durin is working on a special project in "the old mine below the Mirrormere."

And what is the Mirrormere? We’re glad you asked. This isn’t an object inside of Khazad-dûm, but rather an important lake just outside of its eastern gate. The Mirrormere is a body of water that Durin IV’s ancestor, Durin I, discovers very early in Middle-earth history right before he decides to found Khazad-dûm in the nearby mountains. Gimli chants about it in the "Fellowship of the Ring" book, and it’s a very important part of Dwarvish culture — especially for the Longbeard clan that lives in the mines.

The curious question here is if the mine really is below the actual Mirrormere lake. The body of water is all the way on the far side of the Misty Mountains, about as far away from the entrance Elrond uses to get into the Dwarf mansion as you can get. It’s not an easy journey, but he’s got time. Maybe he thought he needed the exercise, too.

Fighting a sea monster

Men and Elves fighting side by side

When Isildur and Eärien meet up late in Episode 4, the former tells his sister that he and his friends have been booted from the sea guard. As the siblings talk, a massive mural can be seen behind them. It appears to show a ship full of sailors fighting an enormous sea serpent of sorts. It’s a site that is very familiar after the second episode of Season 1, where a massive monster attacks the raft with Halbrand and Galadriel.

The Easter egg here isn’t about the monster, though. It has to do with the sailors: Most of them are hairy-looking Men with full beards and heads of thick hair, but one of the figures is clearly an Elf in fancy armor with long, blond hair and pointy ears. Whether this points to a specific event that we’ll eventually hear about is unclear, but the presence of Elves in a Númenorórean mural is interesting. At this point, it’s the kind of thing that you would only expect to see in Isildur and Eärien’s Elf-friendly homeland in the West. This is an area where Elves used to visit regularly, bringing gifts, making friends … and apparently in the world of "The Rings of Power," helping the local Men take down a sea beast every once in a while, too.

Galadriel’s proto-mirror

Míriel and Galadriel standing side by side

In Episode 4, Queen Regent Míriel finally starts to make some headway in her relationship with Galadriel when she brings the headstrong Elf to take a look-see at her palantir. The royal warns her Elven visitor that, in spite of her past experience using seeing stones, this one is very different, since it’s fixed on a specific vision — one of a Great Wave destroying the island kingdom. When Galadriel sees for herself, she’s quick to calm Míriel’s fears by saying that palantíri show many visions, adding that "Some that will never come to pass."

It’s a line that the future Lady of Lorien clearly takes to heart because she says something very similar thousands of years later. In the "Fellowship of the Ring" book, when Galadriel explains her far-seeing mirror to Sam, she says "Remember that the Mirror shows many things, and not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them. The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds." It would appear that, at least in the "Rings of Power" adaptation, Galadriel starts to accumulate this sage wisdom all the way back in the Second Age as she sorts through what to do about visions of Númenor’s destruction.

A Wizard learns to talk

The Stranger is learning slowly

The further into Season 1 you go, the more clear it is that the Stranger is a Wizard. The mystical fellow is clearly otherworldly, since he, you know, fell from the sky. He also displays magical powers on a regular basis. But there’s another obscure element that points to his being one of Tolkien’s grey-bearded order of the Istari (Elvish for Wizards): his need to relearn things.

Episode 5, "Partings," opens with Nori Brandyfoot having a broken conversation with the Stranger. The two have been traveling for a while now, and the oversized Harfoot traveling companion has had a chance to figure out how to communicate a bit. As he learns to express himself, it becomes clear that he’s not entirely a blank slate. Sure, he’s figuring basic things out again, but he has some memories and is slowly piecing things together.

This harkens to a section of the book "Unfinished Tales," where it says, "For it is said indeed that being embodied the Istari had need to learn much anew by slow experience, and though they knew whence they came the memory of the Blessed Realm was to them a vision from afar off, for which (so long as they remained true to their mission) they yearned exceedingly." It’s a small-yet-critical detail that points to the fact that this guy is a straight-up, bona fide Middle-earth Wizard. Maybe that constellation he’s searching for is even a yearning he has toward a view of the heavens from the Blessed Realm. The question is, which Wizard is he?

Visiting the marshes

The Harfoots visit the Grey Marshes

Early in Episode 5, we get a quick montage of the Harfoots on the move. The map shows them passing places called, among other things, Thistledell, The Braids, Trout Bend, and Weedbrook. Two spots stand out more than the rest, though — a pair of names next to each other on a very recognizable part of the map called Undercliffs and the Grey Marshes.

The first is an area that is eventually known as the Emyn Muil, and it’s the strip of treacherously hilly country that Frodo and Sam cross right before they meet Gollum thousands of years later. The Grey Marshes right next to them eventually become known as the Nindalf, a swampy region near the flat area that is later called the Dead Marshes. That’s the haunted quagmire that Frodo and Sam fall into while following Gollum toward the Black Gates of Mordor. The region isn’t haunted when the Harfoots pass through, though. Not yet. That comes later in the "Rings of Power" story.

Finally, who can resist a good Peter Jackson callback? As the map fades, we’re shown the Brandyfoots, Poppy, and the Stranger as they work their way through the marshes. We see them plagued by flying insects that are immediately reminiscent of "The Fellowship of the Ring" where four Hobbits follow Strider through the fly-infested swamp called the Midgwater Marshes. The only question we have is, "What do they eat when they can’t get Harfoot?"

Not all who wander are lost

Harfoots wandering

As the Harfoots travel during the beginning of Episode 5, Poppy Proudfellow sings her parents’ walking song to keep everyone in good spirits on the long road ahead. One of the lines in the song says "that not all who wonder or wander are lost" — a string of words that are clearly inspired by a similar line in a poem from "The Lord of the Rings."

When Frodo and company get to Bree in the "Fellowship of the Ring" book, they receive a letter from Gandalf. In that letter, the Wizard records a poem that they can use to vet any strangers they meet and make sure that they’re actually Aragorn son of Arathorn, and not an imposter. The first two lines of that poem read — drum roll, please — "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost." The concept of purposeful wandering is one that is found often in Tolkien’s writings. It’s also something that applies to the Harfoot way of life very well, and it’s fun to see the writers of "The Rings of Power" finding clever ways like this to weave Tolkien’s original writings into their Second Age show.

What kind of wolf is that?

Warped wolves attack the Harfoots

Early in Episode 5, the Harfoots are attacked by a pack of wolves while they’re on the road. The assault is stymied when the Stranger intervenes with some unexpected magic, sending the four-legged beasts scampering for cover. While the show has referred to the animals as wolves, it doesn’t take much to see that they’re not your traditional canine. These creatures have huge upper bodies, oddly shaped snouts, and almost hoof-like paws — and we’re willing to bet that’s for a reason.

"The Silmarillion" explains that, early in the Second Age, "Men dwelt in darkness and were troubled by many evil things that Morgoth had devised in the days of his dominion: demons, and dragons, and misshapen beasts, and the unclean Orcs that are mockeries of the Children of Ilúvatar." That mention of misshapen beasts is left vague and unclear. Could it be that these animals aren’t just wolves but a form of the warped and twisted creatures mentioned in Tolkien’s original text?

An Elf-warrior with a pure heart

An Elven warrior with a heart as pure as Manwë

In Episode 5, Elrond recounts an apocryphal tale of the origin of mithril. The story starts with two individuals dueling on a mountain top over a tree with one of the hallowed jewels called the Silmarils inside of it. On the right, we have a Balrog of Morgoth wielding a whip of flame. And on the left? An Elf-warrior. But not just any Elven hero. Elrond says it’s "An Elven warrior with a heart as pure as Manwë." One quick follow-up: who’s Manwë?

Manwë, or Manwë Súlimo if you’re being formal, is basically the head honcho of the group of immortal beings called the Valar. These are referred to at different times as angelic beings or lower-case "g" gods. Either way, they’re the spiritual leaders of Arda, and Tolkien himself refers to them as the guardians of the world. There are 14 Valar total and countless other Maiar (similar angelic beings without the titular status of a Valar), and Manwë is considered their king, along with Varda, his wife and queen. Manwë is associated with wind, Eagles, and all of the sky and air-related stuff. He’s also considered extremely pure and "The Silmarillion" summarizes this by saying, "Manwë is dearest to Ilúvatar and understands most clearly his purposes." (Ilúvatar is the Creator of all.) So, yeah, putting an Elf on the same tier as Manwë isn’t a light comparison. No wonder mithril came out of the deal.

Mentioning Stone-giants

Stone Giants in "The Hobbit" trilogy

When Galadriel visits Elendil as he trains raw Númenórean recruits in Episode 5, she looks on the soldiers’ swordplay and casually mentions that "Their strokes fall like the Stone-giants of the North Moors." The disparaging remark leads to a dramatic display of Galadriel’s centuries-old experience as a warrior and swordsman — sword-elf? Sword-she-elf? Anyway, it’s easy to forget the remark in the dazzling fencing that follows.

But, hold the phone for a second. Did she say giants? That’s no mere mention, even for an immortal Elf who’s seen some stuff. Why? Because the truth is, giants are barely involved in Tolkien’s world. In fact, they’re only mentioned on rare occasions, and only really show up once in legitimate Middle-earth stories.

In "The Hobbit," Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves head into the Misty Mountains after leaving Rivendell, and they quickly encounter not just a thunderstorm, but a thunder battle. During the violent weather engagement, the book tells us that Bilbo "peeped out in the lightning-flashes" and "saw that across the valley the Stone-giants were out." It goes on to explain the giant creatures’ raucous behavior, and that’s it. We never really hear of giants again, other than in obscure and unreliable references. For Galadriel to mention them means she’s seen some things in her days — or at least heard some stories that she’s adopted into her vernacular.

Talking in Elvish code

Galadriel spars with cadets

When Galadriel joins Elendil to help train the Númenórean cadets in Episode 5, she has a brief conversation with the ship captain about how unready the troops are, saying, "They are untested against this foe." To which Elendil responds, "Perhaps the elf would be willing to offer some instructions?" The conversation makes sense, and it’s fitting for the circumstances. The only odd part? They say this in Elvish, clearly in an attempt to keep the discussion private from the Human ears that are listening.

As far as Easter eggs go, it’s hard to watch the scene and not think of a similar conversation in Peter Jackson’s "The Two Towers" film when Legolas and Aragorn discuss how the defenders of Helm’s Deep aren’t ready for what awaits them. Surrounded by mortal Men, the two heroes use Elvish to avoid being overheard by their audience. While the specific scenes are different, the specter of imminent death for the unprepared and the desire to hide it behind Elvish speech are eerily similar in both instances.

Exploiting Middle-earth

Pharazôn explains himself to Kemen

As Númenor prepares an expedition to succor the Southlands in Episode 5, Chancellor Pharazôn’s son Kemen confronts his father about the folly of aiding an Elf and sending so much of Númenor’s military resources away from its homeland. In response, the wily politician points out that, regardless of his cousin Queen Regent Míriel’s goals, he’s in it for the economic potential. Ores, forests, trade, and tribute will all be on the table if the Men of Middle-earth find themselves owing Númenor a favor for delivering them from their enemies.

The ambitions of the chancellor aren’t made out of whole cloth for the show, either. They come directly from "The Silmarillion," where it says that as they grew restless on their island, the Númenóreans made huge colonies on the shores of the mainland, "and they desired now wealth and dominion in Middle-earth, since the West was denied." A bit later in the text, it adds, "but they appeared now rather as lords and masters and gatherers of tribute than as helpers and teachers." In Tolkien’s original tale, this all takes place in the generations leading up to Pharazôn, but in the compressed timeline of "The Rings of Power," it appears that we’re going to see the exploitation begin in real time.

A far-sighted ruler

Tar-Palantir in his bed

In the fifth installment of Season 1, Míriel joyfully recounts to her father, the aging king Tar-Palantir, that she’s going to Middle-earth to help deliver the Southlands from Sauron’s evil conniving. Great news, right? But the old king rains on her parade by looking off in the distance and saying "Míriel, don’t go to Middle-earth. All that awaits you there — darkness."

Depressing words, to be sure. But they aren’t just coming from a senile man who doesn’t want to lose his daughter. Tar-Palantir actually has a reputation as a prophet in the source material. "The Silmarillion" says that his name literally translates as "he who looks afar" and it describes the king thusly: "For he was far-sighted both in eye and in mind, and even those that hated him feared his words as those of a true-seer." So when the old man in the tower looks off in the distance and tells you not to do what you’re about to do, you better think twice before you, well, go and do it.

What’s that again, Gil-galad?

Gil-galad explains things to Elrond

When Gil-galad finally reveals the importance of mithril to Elrond in Episode 5, he puts his upstart herald in his place by telling him to sit down and tell him a story. The story ultimately reveals to Elrond why the precious metal is so important, and the narrative goes on from there. When Gil-galad tells Elrond to recite the story, though, he specifically says, "Recount it, Elrond Peredhel."

So what’s up with the strange word added to Elrond’s name? It’s actually the Elvish version of a part of his title that many people are used to hearing in good ol’ English. Peredhel is the singular form of the word "half-elven," and it refers to Elrond’s extremely complicated backstory. (The guy isn’t even technically half Elven. It’s a tad less than that since he’s fully half Human, but one of his immortal ancestors was an angelic Maia, too — trust us, it’s complicated.)

The character’s backstory is so complex that it led Elrond actor Robert Aramayo to say, in an interview with Looper this summer, that "He is the mutt of the legendarium. Everything feeds into him, and it’s why he was given the choice in the first place. If you look at where he comes from — I read this thing — he’s 1/16th Maiar and 8/16th this. It’s mental if you wanted to break it down." We agree, Robert. We agree.

Is that a Galadriel-esque mirror we spy?

A mirror in the meeting place

At one point in Episode 5, Gil-galad takes Elrond over to see a decaying tree, showing off the outer manifestation of the threat that the Elves collectively face. As they make their way over to the gnarly roots, though, they pass a giant bowl that appears to have water in it. The item has been in the background of a few different shots before this point, too, and it immediately conjures images of the Mirror of Galadriel from "The Fellowship of the Ring."

The far-sighted contraption in "The Lord of the Rings" shows both the Lady of Lorien and Frodo and Sam a variety of different visions. Some are helpful, and others aren’t. The question is, are we seeing a prototype of that mirror here in Lorien? Maybe that’s where Galadriel gets the idea for a mirror in the first place. After all, we see her use a palantir in this season, too. Maybe she combines her far-sighted experience with that stone (and the others like it that she’s used) with her own magic to create a mirror in the future based on the same model Gil-galad has back in Lindon.

And there’s a Silmaril

The Silmaril next to the stars

The Silmarils are mentioned from time to time in "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Rings of Power." But in the latter, we actually see a massive recreation of one of the bright, shiny gems in a scene. At one point in Episode 5, the camera cuts to Númenor at night. A starry sky can be seen in the background, while the shot focuses on the top of the giant statue of Eärendil in the foreground. (That’s the stone figure majestically reaching an arm out to the distance, which all of the ships can see when they enter the harbor.)

Eärendil is Elrond’s father. He’s also the father of the half-elven Herald’s twin brother Elros, who happens to be the guy who helps found Númenor and rule as its first king. The guy is a really important character who spends his life sailing through the skies in a ship with one of the shining Silmarils tied to his brow (in effect, making him a star).

It turns out that the statue is an accurate representation of the character, too, and not just because it depicts the hero himself. When we finally get this close up and personal, particularly in the dark, we can clearly see a faux Silmaril glittering on the forehead, reflecting the starry light from above.

Prophetic sacrifices

Valandil is initially upset with Isildur

Halfway through Episode 5, Isildur confronts his recently promoted companion Valandil in the hopes that his old friend will help him get a spot on the expedition to Middle-earth. Before this point, his dad, Elendil, had already denied him a position on the boats, and rather than stick his neck out for a friend with a bad track record at going through with things, Valandil wisely follows the same line of reasoning.

However, as the friends part ways, Isildur tries to convince his pal one more time, telling Valandil that it will be different this time. The friend turns around, comes in close, and says "One day I hope it will be. One day, I hope you find something that you would be willing to sacrifice anything for." The prescient words hit hard for Isildur, who finds himself still stranded behind. But for viewers who are familiar with the larger story, they carry even more weight. Remember, this is the character who will eventually find himself holding the One Ring, unwilling to give it up for anything in the world.

Sinking continents

Theo and Arondir look at the sword hilt

Toward the end of Episode 5, Arondir finds himself trying to talk down a desperate Bronwyn, who is about to sell her soul to the devil (or the Middle-earth equivalent) by bowing the knee to Adar to save the lives of her Southlander people. As Arondir tries to talk her out of the idea, he points out that there’s more at stake here than just their lives, saying that "When Morgoth was at war, whole continents sank. Who is to say what horrors this might unleash?"

That last part is talking about Theo’s broken sword blade, but the first part is a reference to something much bigger than an overpowered weapon’s rusty hilt. It’s referencing an event that takes place at the end of the First Age called the War of Wrath. In the apocalyptic catastrophe, the entire northwestern portion of the Middle-earth landmass, an area called Beleriand, sinks into the waves. It may not technically be an entire continent in its own right, but the point is well taken. When the bad guys in Middle-earth get some momentum, the results are literally world-breaking.