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Spoilers for season 1 ahead.
With the first rings forged and the true identity of Galadriel’s boyfriend—er, sorry, mortal enemy—revealed, the Rings of Power is finally ramping up now that its first season has aired. But the fires of Mount Doom will wait for no man (or elf), and you’d better believe Amazon Prime Video plans to milk its Lord of the Rings IP for as long as possible. (There are still more J.R.R. Tolkien footnotes to explore!) Thus, another four seasons of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are already queued up, as Rings co-showrunner J.D. Payne revealed before the first season had even premiered.
“There are things in the first season that don’t pay off until season 5,” Payne told Empire in June 2022. “We even know what our final shot of the last episode is going to be.”
With that in mind, here’s what we know about what’s next for Middle-earth.
Will Rings of Power have a season 2?
Yes, and three more after. Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, revealed during an interview with Variety, “We’re building infrastructure for five seasons. We’re building a small city. We were always going to spend what we needed to spend to get it right.”
When will season 2 of Rings of Power come out?
Five seasons are planned in total, with season 2 expected sooner rather than later—possibly even in 2023. As Salke revealed, the sophomore chapter is already in production. “We’re going to get that out into the world as soon as we can,” she told Variety. “We want the shortest time possible between seasons, but we want to keep the bar just as high. So it’ll take what it takes. But there’s been some urgency around moving quickly, which is why these guys have been writing all through their hiatus. We’re moving fast.” As of March 2023, the cast was still filming in the U.K.
Who will be in the cast?
Most of the main cast is expected to return, including Morfydd Clark, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charlie Vickers, Markella Kavenagh, Daniel Weyman, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Sophia Nomvete, and more.
But Prime Video has also announced additions to the already sprawling cast. One as-yet unannounced newcomer will play Círdan, an old, wise elf with an essential role in not only Middle-earth’s Second Age, but also its Third and Fourth.
On top of this TBD actor, Prime Video has announced that a number of others will join season 2: Gabriel Akuwudike (Hanna); Yasen ‘Zates’ Atour (The Witcher); Ben Daniels (The Crown); Amelia Kenworthy; Nia Towle (Persuasion); Nicholas Woodeson (Silent Witness, Skyfall); Sam Hazeldine (Peaky Blinders), taking over for Joseph Mawle as the orc villain Adar; Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones); Rory Kinnear (Skyfall, Spectre); and Tanya Moodie (Motherland).
What will season 2 be about?
We don’t know much about next season’s plot details just yet, though Galadriel will likely still be reeling from her crush-gone-wrong, bless her. As Payne told Esquire in an October 2022 interview, “Even knowing that Sauron was partially involved in the science behind the making of the rings, we see [Galadriel] give the go-ahead to make the rings anyway. She also has to bear some responsibility: ‘I empowered the Dark Lord. I saved his life on a raft. I was party to him coming from obscurity to head an army.’ That’s a lot she has to wrestle with and be accountable for. I think we can expect to see her having to pick up those threads and see how those decisions impact her various relationships.”
We can therefore expect some tension between Galadriel and Elrond, the latter of whom seemed to learn of Halbrand’s true identity from a genealogy scroll he scoops up in the final moments of season 1. “I think it’s pretty clear at the end that there’s a bit of conflict in that moment,” writer Gennifer Hutchinson told Polygon. “She’s made a big ask of him. We really did want to have that. ‘This is the true test; you said you’ll trust me.’ We really wanted to make sure that came through.”
And as Charlie Vickers’s Halbrand steps toward the lava-spewing mouth of Mount Doom in the final frames of season 1, we can expect much higher stakes in season 2. The real battle is about to begin.
This post will be updated.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE.