A legion of Elves was taken in by the light of Valinor in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 1, thus raising questions about what happens to those who choose that fate. Only one character onboard the Elven vessel – Galadriel – had no interest in what the Undying Lands had to offer. Rather than follow her brethren into the light, Galadriel leaped from the boat to continue her pursuit of Sauron, whom she’s convinced is still a threat.
The Undying Lands of Valinor are a key part of The Lord of the Rings lore, even though certain aspects of it have always been rather mysterious. At the end of The Lord of the Rings story, Valinor was the final destination for Bilbo, Frodo, and Gandalf who accompanied the Elves on a ship. In Tolkien’s world, Valinor is viewed as the endgame for all Elves, who seek to go there after they’ve finished with their affairs in Middle-earth. In The Rings of Power episode 1, a ship full of Elves passed directly into the light of Valinor, but exactly what happened to them after that wasn’t shown.
Presumably, the Elves who faded into the light went into a heaven-like paradise. Of course, the implication of going to heaven implies that a trip to Valinor involves death. But as The Rings of Power showrunner Patrick McKay pointed out, whether or not Elves actually die when entering the light is a question that only Tolkien could have answered [via Decider]. True to the source material, Rings of Power leaves this element of the story open to interpretation. What is known though, is that they found their way to a beautiful, wondrous land where the Elves can live peacefully for eternity. As for what kind of place it actually is, Valinor is a realm complete with a large city, forests, seas, pastures, gardens, and more.
Do Elves Ever Return To Middle-earth From Valinor?
Venturing into a world that’s described as heaven for The Lord of the Rings’ Elves obviously sounds like it would be a one-way trip, especially if Elves die when they enter. However, it technically is possible for Elves to leave. After all, they began their journeys there in the first place before leaving Middle-earth, so it stands to reason that they can depart again. What stands in the way of that though, is that there’s very little reason for Elves to go back to Middle-earth. For the most part, Elves travel to Valinor when they’ve done everything they’ve set out to do and no longer wish to continue spending time in Middle-earth.
All things considered, the Elves who disappeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power are unlikely to ever be seen again. Instead, it can be assumed that they found what they were looking for and are now enjoying the peaceful, ever-lasting existences promised to them. Galadriel, on the other hand, won’t step foot into Valinor until the Third Age when the conflict with Sauron finally reaches a conclusion.