Warning: the following article contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, season 1, episode 2, “Adrift.“
In episode two of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Durin III‘s treasure chest is opened and something from within it glows, but what could it be? The perspective doesn’t allow the audience to see what the box contains, but there are some clues as to its contents.
At the end of episode one, “A Shadow of the Past,” King Gal-galad (Mark Ferguson) introduces Elven-smith Celebrimbor (Charles Edward) to Elrond (Robert Aramayo). In the next episode, Celebrimbor reveals his great plan to move beyond petty works of jewel-craft and ensure his own legacy. He wants to create a tower that can host a more powerful forge than ever built. With it, they could create new things to transform Middle-earth for the better.
All this sounds good, but the timeline to finish this by spring would require a workforce greater than one ever assembled. Elrond comes up with the idea of relying on the dwarves through his old and dear friend Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur). The task is far more difficult than Elrond assumed. The Elf isn’t allowed into Khazad-dûm at first and has to invoke the Rite of Sigin-tarâg in order to see Prince Durin. This is a challenge of might where both competitors have to smash great stones with hammers until one can break them no more.
Elrond puts up a good fight, but Prince Durin rises as the victor. When Prince Durin escorts the Elf out, he reveals that he’s bitter about Elrond missing out on the last twenty years of his life. Elrond apologizes, and mends fences by having dinner with his wife, Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete), and eventually, the dwarf prince forgives him.
Prince Durin’s father King Durin III (Peter Mullan) isn’t convinced yet. The dwarves speak in private and then the box is opened with a mysterious glow emanating from within. One possibility is that it could be Silmarils – the three gems crafted by Fëanor from the essence of the Two Trees of Valinor before the First Age. Earlier, Celebrimbor talked about how Morgoth had stolen the Silmarils and found them so beautiful that he stared into their depths for weeks. It nearly turned the heart of the Great Foe himself, which would make possessing such a jewel tremendously advantageous. This could have been foreshadowing, but it might not be so likely. The Silmarils are supposed to be lost to the sky, sea, and under the earth respectively, which makes them incredibly rare.
It’s much more likely that it’s mithril, a precious silver metal that glows in the same manner as what glowed from inside King Durin’s box. The only known location of mithril in Middle-earth is in Khazad-dûm, and since dwarves are known for their mining it’s likely they would have come upon mithril before discovering a Silmaril. Mithril is light and yet harder than tempered steel, and with it, the dwarves could make armor, and an inlay called ithildin. The material was used to make the Doors of Durin during the Second Age, and it could possibly be used for Celebrimbor’s tower.