Finally, ‘The Rings of Power’ moves forward with Sauron unmasked

The universal challenge of doing a prequel is that certain events are set in stone or, to use a more appropriate term for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, forge. Viewers of the extravagant Amazon series must already know that 19 Rings of Power will be divided between the races of Elves, Dwarves and Men, and all can be controlled by the One Ring in the possession of the Dark Lord Sauron. . But while Sauron looms large in much of Middle-earth’s vast history, we’ve yet to put a face to the name. With the exception of The Fellowship of the Ringthe breathtaking prologuein which he reigns over his enemies in the heat of battle with certain [technical term] kick armorSauron’s most enduring image is that of a giant, disembodied eye of Mordor.

Of course, all this should change with power rings, the first JRR Tolkien adaptation to incorporate the iconic villain as a true flesh-and-blood character who tricks the elves into forging the rings in the first place. Part of the thrill of the show’s first season was knowing who exactly he was. The Sauron’s theories been spreading for weeks, but it wasn’t until the season finale, “Alloyed,” that power rings finally shows his hand: It’s the Stranger! Or at least that’s what the mysterious white-clad trio of Nomad, Ascetic and Dweller believe.

The Stranger-Sauron reveal is the very first scene in “Alloyed,” and power rings uses the rest of the episode to poke holes in that claim. For one thing, the Stranger didn’t cross paths with anyone of significance besides the sound harp feet, so having him appear before the elven smith Celebrimbor by the end of the season seemed like a reach. (Surely power rings wouldn’t wait until the second season to give us a taste of the titular rings?) Also, Sauron supposedly appears in ‘good form’ to the elves, and with all due respect to the Stranger, he looks more like like Tom Hanks in Castaway. Unless the Stranger has received a weird eye makeover and a well-deserved bath, it can hardly be considered fair.

So let’s turn our gaze to other candidates, chief among them Halbrand. Since the start of the series, the case against Halbrand being Sauron has been that he would too obvious. (One of the first things he says to Galadriel: “Looks can be deceiving.”) But having Sauron hidden in plain sight as the character who is, initially, most suspicious of power rings‘s ensemble would be its own kind of shine. Halbrand initially makes you a little wary with a mysterious story in which he is king of the Southlands by birthright, but he never actively seeks power. In fact, it seems Halbrand would much rather be an unnamed blacksmith in Numenor – from the audience’s perspective, he’s being tricked into reclaiming his homeland by Galadriel. Either Halbrand goes along for the ride, or he tricks others into thinking he’s a passive participant in order to get exactly what he wants.

After all, after the ill-fated battle in the Southlands – now transformed into ruinous Mordor – Galadriel takes Halbrand to Eregion so he can be healed by elven magic. If Halbrand is really Sauron, then Galadriel has just given him a front row seat for the eventual forging of the rings. The biggest clue to Halbrand’s true intentions is when he’s alone with Celebrimbor, first appealing to the smith’s ego while admiring his work, then explaining how mithril can be alloyed with another ore to create something. powerful. “Call it a gift,” Halbrand told him with a mischievous look.

Once Celebrimbor repeated in front of Galadriel a phrase uttered by Halbrand – “Not of the flesh, but on the flesh”, which she once heard from the orc leader Adar – the alarm bells finally rang. Galadriel’s suspicions are confirmed when she asks an elven archivist to research the history of the Southlands, and a scroll reveals that the line of the King of the Southlands was broken over a thousand years ago. Halbrand is not who he claims to be, and although he has gone by many names over the ages, we can finally say with certainty: This is Sauron. (The Stranger, meanwhile, is basically the antithesis of Sauron: he saves the harfoots of the Nomad, the Ascetic, and the Dweller, and it is strongly implied that he is none other than our well-being). loved Gandalf.)

There is a tragic irony in Galadriel’s honorable quest to rid Middle-earth of an evil like Sauron, convinced he always lurked in the shadows, only to be the catalyst by giving him access to a power that he can use to take control of the kingdom. But while Sauron has deceived Galadriel thus far, he can’t quite compel her to join him and rule together, even if he enters her mind and, briefly, assumes the face of his dead brother. His pitch: They both want peace in Middle-earth, though he, especially, sees no difference between saving the kingdom and ruling it.

Like anything from the notoriously deceitful Sauron, the sincerity of his proposed alliance with Galadriel should be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless: Galadriel has enough moral conviction to reject him, and Sauron flees to Mordor with the knowledge to forge his own Ring. (In a roundabout way, the man formerly known as Halbrand will technically rule the Southlands…hooray?) In the meantime, Celebrimbor is able to create three rings by binding mithril to Galadriel’s dagger, the one passed by his brother. Although Galadriel has yet to tell anyone Halbrand’s true identity, it may only be a matter of time.

And There you go: The rings of power finally delivered… some power rings. More importantly, with a season of smart misdirection out of the way, rings of power paved the way for Sauron to be his best – or rather his worst – in the future. (Series co-creator Patrick McKay compared the next leg of Sauron’s journey to that of Tony Soprano and Walter Whitealthough I’m pretty sure the Dark Lord won’t therapy or feel uncomfortable breakfasts with orcs.) While this turn of events doesn’t bode well for Middle-earth, it could prove to be a defining moment for the show – and, perhaps, the future of amazon ambitions as a streaming service.

During its first season, power rings was able to rely on his lavish world building: a incredibly expensive combination of New Zealand’s natural splendor and state-of-the-art special effects. It was easy to bask in the familiar charms of Middle-earth and let the series take its time preparing the ground for the inevitable conflicts to come. But to win the streaming war against other fantasy heavyweights like Dragon House, rings of power must do more than rest on good vibes in the coming seasons. With Sauron finally unveiled and Celebrimbor cracking the mithril code, power rings will have to move forward in every sense of the word.

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