Breaking down those daddy issues on The Rings Of Power

·6 min read
Robert Aramayo as Elrond in The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power
Robert Aramayo as Elrond in The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

History is important in The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power. Whether we’re talking about Númenór and its relationship with the Elves, the residual trauma of the War of Wrath, or the heritage of the Southlands, the characters are constantly steeped in the legends of those who came before them. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the lives of the Elves of Middle-earth.

Because their race was born and lived for centuries in a time before the Sun ever rose, and because they’re immortal, the Elves have both long memories and interesting relationships with time. We see it in the way Elrond (Robert Aramayo) struggles to think of the passage of years in the same way that his Dwarf friends do, and in the way Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) struggles to let go of events that transpired millennia ago. We also see it in the reverent, sometimes even ominous way the Elves talk about parentage, and the great deeds their forebears achieved in days of old.

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Throughout the first five episodes of the series, both Elrond and Galadriel mention their famous fathers, and other characters sometimes remind them of their parents’ great deeds. Suffice to say that family history is a key component for both of them. But why exactly are Elrond and Galadriel’s respective fathers so important to the history of the show, and what does their legacy say about the characters as The Rings Of Power portrays them? Let’s take a closer look.

Galadriel: choosing a much different path than Finarfin

Galadriel’s father, as she explains while held in Númenór, is Finarfin, one of those powerful and important Noldor (one of the three Elven clans) in early Tolkien history. A King of the Noldor in Valinor (the paradise-like home of the Elves to the West of Middle-earth), Finarfin resisted calls for the Noldor to sail to Middle-earth and attack Morgoth after the theft of the magnificent gems known as the Silmarils (long story, read The Silmarillion if you want all of it). Finarfin’s half-brother Fëanor (who has a long story of his own), who created the Silmarils, led this charge, and roped both his children and his nieces and nephews—including Galadriel—into the cause. For the sake of his children, Finarfin eventually agreed to join the fight, and sailed to Middle-earth. He was right to be reluctant, though. Fëanor’s wars over the Silmarils would eventually cost many lives, including those of Finarfin’s sons.

Still, Finarfin was wise enough to understand that the threat of Morgoth would not be extinguished easily. Though he left Middle-earth during the Wars of the Jewels and returned to rule in Valinor, he went back to fight in the War of Wrath, leading the Noldor of Valinor in the battle to defeat Morgoth. When the war ended he returned to Valinor, and as far as we know, in the world of the show that’s where he remains.

The royal house he founded, The House of Finarfin, still has an essential role to play in Middle-earth, though. Galadriel is obviously still around, but Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker), the current High-King of Middle-earth’s Elves, is also a member of this royal house; according to Tolkien’s genealogies, he’s Finarfin’s great-grandson and Galadriel’s grand-nephew. But perhaps more important is the thematic role Finarfin plays. He’s a great leader who resisted the violence of Middle-earth, fought at great personal cost, then returned to Valinor with his task seemingly accomplished. In the beginning of The Rings Of Power, we see his daughter reject this same trajectory, unable to let go of the personal tragedy of losing her brother and the feeling that evil still lurks in Middle-earth. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see Finarfin onscreen, but his deeds, reputation, and ability to let go of what Galadriel still clings to loom large in her background.

Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power
Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

Elrond: trying to live up to the legacy of Eärendil

Then there’s Elrond’s father, a guy who could make even the most accomplished son feel like an underachiever. Eärendil was a mortal half-Elven man who became a legendary mariner, sailing the seas West of Middle-earth in search of his parents (his father was also a great mariner) while Morgoth was still in power. His wife, Elwing, stayed behind on the continent, guarding the only one of the three Silmarils Morgoth no longer possessed. When Fëanor’s sons—who swore an oath to go through anyone and anything to get the gems back—tried to kill Elwing and take the gem, she leaped into the sea. According to legend, she then appeared to Eärendil aboard his great ship, Vingilot, in the form of a giant board, then transformed into human form and told him of the strife on Middle-earth that had turned even the mutual enemies of Morgoth against one another.

In an effort to save not just his people, but all people, Eärendil did the thing everyone brags to Elrond about on the show: He sailed to Valinor with his wife, and became the first mortal to ever set foot there, thanks in part to the power of the Silmaril. Though the journey was forbidden, the Valar were moved by Eärendil’s pleas, and granted his wish for aid. Eärendil returned to Middle-earth with a host of warriors from Valinor (including Galadriel’s father, who led the Noldor) and fought in the War of Wrath, imbued with a flying ship and the Silmaril blazing on his forehead. He defeated the greatest of Morgoth’s dragons, and the Valar themselves eventually bound and cast out Morgoth. His task accomplished, Eärendil returned to Valinor with his wife, where the Silmaril still blazes on his head as a great star in the Western sky. For his selflessness, the Valar also granted his Half-elven children (and their children) the ability to choose whether they would belong to Elves or Men, which helps explain why Elrond’s daughter Arwen was able to give up her immortality to be with Aragorn.

So yes, Elrond has very big shoes to fill. We know from The Lord Of The Rings that he goes on to be a great leader in his own right, but as Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) points out in episode five, it’s not an easy road to get there. He has to consider making some decisions for the greater good, sometimes at the expense of his friends. But because we have the benefit of knowing how much worse the fight against darkness gets before it gets better, we also know that Elrond might not always make the right choice.

How much will Elrond and Galadriel lean toward, or away from, the legacy of their great fathers in the episodes to come? We’ll keep watching to find out.