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This article is about the series episode. For the second chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, see The Shadow of the Past.

"A Shadow of the Past" is the premiere episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season One. It aired on September 2, 2022 on Prime Video.

It is named after the second chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring.


Years of the Trees[]

In Valinor, near Tirion, an adolescent Galadriel speaks with her older brother Finrod about destiny and vocation. An older Galadriel then narrates concerning the bliss of the Years of the Trees, their destruction by Morgoth, the Elves' war against him, and the uncertainty of Sauron's endurance past the War of Wrath. Among many glimpses of the First Age is a sequence of the Dagor Bragollach in FA 456, in which Finrod is seen being pressed back by an overwhelming force of Morgoth's Orcs (moments before Barahir would have rescued him). Galadriel tells of Finrod's later resolve to seek for and defeat Sauron, amidst which he died. This mission she chose to take up after him.


In the second millennia of the Second Age, Galadriel leads a troop of Elves including Thondir on a bold quest hunting for any long-fled remnant Orcs, and for evidence of Sauron. Passing through the dangerous wastes of Forodwaith, they find an abandoned, unspecified stronghold, in which they discover evidence of attempts at profane magic and a mysterious sigil that Sauron had left, long beforehand, on Finrod's body. A resident snow-troll appears and assails them, and is killed by Galadriel. Galadriel believes from their findings that Sauron had apparently endured Melkor's defeat, and hides somewhere else regathering strength, and so she resolves to continue the search further north, but Thondir and the other companions interpret the findings otherwise, to indicate instead that Sauron and the Orcs had not endured. They refuse to follow Galadriel thence, and choose to return home to Lindon. Unwillingly, Galadriel departs to Lindon as well, but only in order to briefly stay and request new companions for her hunt.


In the open regions east of the Misty Mountains, hunters of Men (whose affiliations are unknown) wearing large moose antlers pass through a secretive land of Harfoot hobbits, whose central home is a forest. Since foreigners had rarely been spotted by the Harfoots at that part of the year, this arouses suspicions in Sadoc Burrows and others. Playing with friends in a meadow just outside the permitted boundaries of home, Harfoots Elanor Brandyfoot, Poppy Proudfellow, and Dilly Brandyfoot discover a recent footprint of a dangerous wolf.

Later in the episode, Elanor returns home and speaks with her father, Largo, and mother, Marigold, who advises her against exploring forbidden lands beyond home, despite Elanor's passionate intrigue at the possibilities of the wider Middle-earth.


In Lindon, capital of the High Elves on the west coast of Middle-earth, Galadriel arrives from Forodwaith and meets with her close friend Elrond, who is herald and speech-writer for High King Gil-galad. She tells Elrond of her search for Sauron that she intends to resume, and he cautions her against contesting Gil-galad's authority further. In a ceremony by the coast, Gil-galad honors Galadriel and the Elves who had accompanied her for their successful quest in ensuring, supposedly, that there is no remnant of Morgoth or Sauron. As the greatest possible reward, Gil-galad grants them passage to Valinor across the Sea, from the Grey Havens. That evening, Elrond exhorts Galadriel to not risk further lives of Elves trying to locate Sauron.


In the southern lands of Middle-earth, the Elf Arondir is introduced as one of a troop of Elves watching over Tirharad, a town of Men. He encounters Rowan, a young despiser of Elves, in a bar run by Waldreg, and interacts with Bronwyn, a human woman he fancies who works as the town-healer. At the local Elven outpost, Arondir hears from his commander the supposed news from Lindon that any threat of Sauron's return is no more. Because of this, the outpost is to be disbanded, ending Arondir's duties at Tirharad. He expresses resentment over the matter to Revion, his commander, who conveys his own low view of the people they have watched over, urging Arondir to be grateful to leave and return to Elven lands.

Conflicted because of his interest in Bronwyn, Arondir defies the will of his company and goes to Bronwyn and her son Theo's home. He attempts to convey his feelings to her, but is interrupted by Tredwill who arrives at the house with a sick cow for Bronwyn to diagnose. She and Arondir inspect her, and she emits a frightening black substance from her udders. When Tredwill tells that she had been wandering as far as the village of Hordern, Arondir sets out for Hordern, and Bronwyn goes with him. Meanwhile, Theo and Rowan are searching for something hidden in Waldreg's barn; Theo uncovers it beneath the floorboards: a mysterious sword-hilt emitting faint words of Black Speech. On its blade is the same mysterious symbol of Sauron that the Elves had earlier found.

Near Hordern, Arondir reminds Bronwyn that many Men of Hordern, as with Tirharad, are descended from allies of Morgoth. This displeases Bronwyn, who is close to some who live there. Hearing a noise suddenly, the two ascend a nearby hill and see that Hordern, beyond it, is aflame.

The Seas[]

Some days after the scenes in Lindon, Galadriel, Thondir, and the group stand upright in a boat that has crossed the Sea from Mithlond, ready to enter the paradise of the Undying Lands. As they approach a great curtain of light at the fringe of Valinor, however, Galadriel has second thoughts, and, pulled by her desire to resume her quest for Sauron, she forfeits entry into Valinor and jumps the ship a second before it enters the curtain. Alone, she intends to swim back to Middle-earth.

At this same moment, a meteor flies eastward across Middle-earth's skies, seen by Gil-galad and the other primary characters of the episode. It lands near the Harfoots' home in Rhovanion. Out of curiosity, Elanor goes and approaches the smoldering crater alone, and sees a strange man lying at its center.

Appearances & mentions[]

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