This article contains spoilers for the Lost finale and the epilogue “The New Man In Charge.” Perhaps you may have heard, but the Lost finale was a touch controversial. As one of the biggest network TV dramas of all time and one of pop culture’s great “mystery box” stories, this ABC series had a lot […]

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Last year we went on a flying visit to Middle-earth, otherwise known as the set of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season two. Beyond learning about the epic Second Age battles to come between Elves and Orcs, we also had a chance to set sail across the Great Sea to the island of Númenor where darkness grows in the kingdom of Men after the death of King Tar-Palantir. During our tour, we learned a few things about the power struggles, drama, and betrayals to come.

The first season was shot in New Zealand, but production shifted to primarily to the UK for season two—with a bit of help from hotter places, including Tenerife for the desert scenes in the land of Rhun, where the Stranger and Nori will be spending most of their time. But although many of the behind the scenes crew have newly joined the show for season two, their overall commitment to creating a spectacularly rich environment hasn’t changed. And the same beauty that marked out season one can be seen most clearly when we visit the show’s fanciest set, the royal court of Númenor.

Stepping into the royal court at Númenor feels like stepping into a church or a temple from the Roman Empire. The entrance is flanked by pools of real water—shallower that they were in season one, according to actor Trystan Gravelle (Pharazôn), because some people fell in. Step through the arched entrance and you find yourself in a huge, round space, with raised areas all around the edges and the throne of the kingdom looming up in front of you. Lines of gold paneling rise up around the walls and everywhere is richly decorated. The feeling of being completely immersed in Middle-earth is only broken if you tilt your head back to look directly at the ceiling, which is of course a black hole filled with studio lights.

It’s a very appropriate look for Tolkien’s Númenor. Although the island kingdom is inspired by the Greek myth of Atlantis, the story of the fall of Númenor is more about Imperial Roman-style politicking in the court, something we will see more of this year. Showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne promise that season two in Númenor will bring “a civil war and a battle of ideologies.”

As Gravelle puts it, “not only have the Númenoreans lost the [battle] that they went over [to fight] with an expeditionary force, but they’ve been embarrassed as well in that the Queen Regent has lost her sight.”

Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who plays Queen Regent Míriel, adds that with increasing civil strife in the kingdom, “there’s a, no pun intended, real sea change because there’s these two directions in which society can go. The time of relative peace is over and things are shifting.”

While Míriel is the rightful heir to the throne of Númenor, fans of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s books know that the question of succession is a much more complicated one than it would appear, especially when other parties scheme to take the kingdom of Men in a different direction. That power struggle will eventually lead to some very dark days for Númenor. We’re speculating here, but it’s probably safe to expect quite a bit of court intrigue in season two.

As far as the stage where part of the succession drama will unfold, the throne room will look mostly as it did in the first season, as the whole set was shipped over from New Zealand. But there are some small changes to look out for. Most of them won’t be visible on screen, and Addai-Robinson mentions that “whenever I see the sets and you look up close, I always have that appreciation for how much work goes into the detail and for things that the c

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