This article contains spoilers for season 1 of The Rings of Power and a likely character return for season 2.
In the penultimate episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1, Elendil’s (Lloyd Owen) eldest son Isildur (Maxim Baldry) is seemingly crushed by a burning building while rescuing Queen Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and others during the orcs’ attack on the Southlands. Isildur is presumed dead by his father and fellow soldiers, and they mourn him as such. However, a set photo from the filming of The Rings of Power’s second season seem to indicate that Isildur somehow survived the collapse and the fire and is very much alive.
Isildur’s survival may come as a surprise to some, but for those familiar with the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy and/or J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, his perceived death at the end of last season was significantly more shocking. Isildur is a crucial part of The Lord of the Rings’ story, and while The Rings of Power definitely has some room to make changes, killing off Isildur seemed like an odd choice given his role in Middle-earth’s future.
For anyone not familiar with Isildur’s future, he is an important member of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and is responsible for separating Sauron from the One Ring during the war of the Second Age in Middle-earth. Separating Sauron from the Ring appears to defeat him, but what Isildur doesn’t quite realize is that Sauron’s power lives on within the Ring. Instead of destroying the One Ring, he decides to keep it for himself. By keeping the power of the Ring alive, Sauron is able to grow in power and return in the Third Age. Keeping the Ring also led to Isildur’s death at the hands of surviving Orcs who were drawn to its power. After falling to the Orcs, Isildur’s body and the Ring lay in the Gladden River until the Ring was found again by Déagol and Sméagol.