Rings of Power’s Sauron is exactly who you thought he was, sorry
Halbrand was, indeed, Sauron.
We finished it, folks. The Amazon Prime Lord of the Rings prequel, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, has finally revealed that we were all right, and that Sauron is, in fact, Halbrand (Charlie Vickers).
That’s a good thing, since it would be a wasted opportunity if he wasn’t — wouldn’t it be intriguing if the only person to survive with Galadriel, who rescued her from the Sundering Seas, was Sauron, the great villain she’s been seeking for years and the scourge of (future) Middle-earth?
It came to color every scene with him in it, despite the presence of larger mystery figures that no one could understand. Even when it didn’t quite match the extended narrative, with Galadriel potentially able to perceive Sauron, there was always a feeling. Perhaps that tense moment between them with the dagger is a double-edged weapon, and an evidence of his evilness. That, or he was the most uninteresting character alive, which is saying a lot for The Rings of Power.
If Halbrand’s unexpected heel turn surprised you, well, what can we say; we’ve been updating this post for weeks now, using up all our red yarn on what turned out to be a completely accurate conspiracy theory. Here’s a recap of the evidence woven throughout the first season that pointed directly to Halbrand’s antics:
- Here is a sampling of Halbrand’s statements from Episode 5: “You have no idea what I did. You have no idea how I survived.” “How much do you know about darkness?” He also states that if his secret is known, he would be “sent out,” and he apologizes to Galadriel for the murder of her brother (who was “killed” by Sauron).
- In episode 6, Adar ruled himself out of contention for Sauron, but he had a series of tense encounters with Halbrand, who clearly feels personally injured in some manner by Adar’s anti-Sauron campaign. During their confrontation, Halbrand says in cryptic terms that Adar should know who he is (as Halbrand nearly kills him), causing Adar to really question, “Who are you?” when the two are temporarily alone. There isn’t anything about these conversations that stands out as anything more than making Halbrand a tragic Middle-earth hero. But there’s something there in relation to the remainder of the program…
- As seen in the episode 3 alley scene, he is a brutal warrior who has no qualms about inflicting harm on those around him.
- Halbrand is an original character to The Rings of Power, and it’s clear from episode 3 that the production has a plan for him and that he’s more than just a vehicle for Galadriel to deliver exposition to. But, despite its amusement, we don’t think there’s much to this theory.
- It would be nice, narratively, if everything Halbrand says was a half-truth rather than a lie. For example, when he says nonsense like “I am not the hero you seek,” c’mon!
- Strangely, his history is quite precise and unrelated to any canon. Despite the name “The Southlands,” which sounds like the Southrons, they are located in the far east, beyond Mordor, according to the program map. Tolkien never enlightened any of the peoples of that region’s civilizations. (We know a few things about Rhûn, but as you can see, it’s a long distance northeast of Mordor.) We are unaware of any monarchs, kingdoms, or governing systems from that region. Huh.
- Wait, what? Other than staying out of trouble, the first thing he displays interest in is becoming a smith? Then, in the fifth episode, he creates a stunning sword that appears to shock a local guild worker.
- To be honest, The Rings of Power leans too much on apparent mystery boxes, and we think some subterfuge that seems like it yanked the rug out from under someone would be welcome.
- He persuades Galadriel to relax and stay in Nmenor…
- When he gave Galadriel a dagger, it was a bonding moment for them, and it could potentially save her neck in Nmenor. However, it also gives her the potential to cause havoc. So far, even when it appears that Halbrand is assisting the situation, he appears to be looking out for himself at best, and a chaos agent at worst.
- The only problem is that this would be a significant departure from Tolkien’s portrayal of Sauron’s post-war reappearance with Morgoth, in which he disguised himself as an emissary of the Valar named “Annatar.” And he’d have to leave Nmenor and travel to Middle-earth to begin working with Celebrimbor.
- The first sentence of the performance, “Nothing is wicked in the beginning,” is taken from Tolkien’s narrative about Sauron, who was corrupted by Morgoth. It might turn out that Halbrand is simply an ordinary guy who has been corrupted by the sins of the world. But it may also be a plant: with The Rings of Power relying more heavily on the grayness of Middle-heroes, earth’s perhaps it will also disseminate some of that grayness to its enemies.
- If the Stranger is Gandalf and not a balrog, I’ll be disappointed, and I’d want to see this program offer an olive branch.
Sauron’s underwhelming unveiling was simply the beginning of his current adventure in Middle-earth. The first season concludes with his arrival in Mordor, the area he’s selected for his new headquarters of evil activities, which should pave the way for his ascension to power in season 2.
The first season acts as a type of Sauron origin narrative, according to The Rings of Power showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. However, they also reveal that they have great plans for Sauron in season 2. Rather of portraying him only as a villain, the team wishes to present a more sympathetic interpretation of Tolkien’s most renowned and obvious expression of evil.