Note: Spoilers for the first season of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” follow below.
While Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” series takes place thousands of years before the events depicted in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” there are some very familiar names bandied about. Chief among them is Sauron, the Big Bad of “The Lord of the Rings” and a looming threat that hangs over the events of “The Rings of Power.”
But how and why does Sauron fit into the story of the Amazon series, where has he been and where does he come from? Everything you wanted to know about Sauron but were afraid to ask is answered below.
What Was Sauron Before He Was Evil?
As depicted in the prologue to “The Rings of Power,” Sauron was a lieutenant for Morgoth, who waged war on Middle-earth with many men aligning themselves with his efforts. But when Morgoth was defeated, Sauron escaped.
Drawing from the Bible, Tolkien’s history explains that Sauron was originally an angelic spirit known as the Ainur before he signed up with Morgoth and started wreaking havoc on the world. This explains why Sauron still exists thousands of years later, after his defeat at the hands of Isildur.
How Sauron Factors Into “The Rings of Power”
When “The Rings of Power” begins, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) has been hunting down Sauron for a long time – so long that most believe she’s hunting a ghost, that Sauron isn’t out there anymore. But she holds strong, and we get the sense that Sauron – or at least his presence – is doing some dark bidding.
That comes in the form of his broken sword that the human boy Theo happens across, which he hides from his mother. We see that when Theo’s blood touches the sword, some kind of power kicks in and it starts to rebuild itself.
There’s also the matter of the orcs, which were created by Sauron and who seem to be hunting his sword, led by Adar who claims to have killed Sauron and who is looking to create a new world for his orc following. He succeeds, creating Mordor in the process.
So Is Sauron in “The Rings of Power?”
Yes. Sauron’s identity was kept secret throughout most of the season, but it was revealed in the season finale that Sauron is actually the character we know as Halbrand (Charlie Vickers). He was adrift when Galadriel found him, and appeared to be genuine in his remorse (or at least regret) for his actions under Morgoth. But when Galadriel brought Sauron to Eregion, he convinced Celebrimbor to forge the first rings of power. Last we saw of him, he was walking into Mordor (as one simply does).
What Happens to Sauron in the Books?
Consider this a spoiler warning because this territory will almost certainly be covered in subsequent seasons of “The Rings of Power,” but in Tolkien’s books, after Sauron was defeated the first time, he came back in disguise and persuaded the Elves into his service. With an eye towards ultimately ruling Middle-earth, Sauron counseled the elves of Eregion – including Celebrimbor with whom Elrond is working in the second episode of “Rings of Power” – in the ways of magic, ultimately helping them forge the Rings of Power. We see Sauron do this in the season finale of the show.
But Sauron secretly forged the One Ring, which would rule all the other rings, at Mount Doom in Mordor. When he put on the ring, his façade fell and waged war, taking control of Eregion and capturing seven of the nine Rings of Power. The three he didn’t capture belonged to Gil-galad, Galadriel and Cirdan, who were then reinforced by a powerful army from Numenor to beat back Sauron.
Sauron surrendered to Numenor, corrupted the city from within, but then was beaten back again to Mount Doom. The final assault on Sauron from Isildur and Anarion – as depicted in the iconic prologue to “The Fellowship of the Ring” – found Isildur cutting the One Ring from Sauron’s finger, defeating him.
Of course, Isildur failed to destroy the ring, thus making it possible for Sauron to return in the events of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
So yes, Sauron is a bad dude who has a habit of being “defeated” only to return. Have we met him already in “The Rings of Power” and we just don’t know it yet? We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.