Warning: this article contains spoilers for The Rings of Power up to and including episode 7.
In its penultimate episode of the first season, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power introduces us to the land now known as Mordor. We also know the fate of Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova).
But even when all of this is happening, there is one question we still ask ourselves: who the hell is Sauron? As we get closer to the end we are no closer to an answer. So we’re here to rank some of the most likely (and least likely) candidates before the end of next week.
Definitely no son Sauron
Let’s start by throwing some names that are definitely not Sauron: all hairy, Bronwyn, Arondir, Theo, Galadriel, both Durins, Elrond (Robert Aramayo), High King Gil-Galad (Benjamin Walker), almost all surviving southerners, Elendil (Lloyd Owen), Queen Regent Miriel ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and the rest of the Numenorians. Sure, it might sound silly to say this, but we’re seven episodes in now, so we need to start making some concrete claims about these possibilities. And we are stating that the above are not absolutely, unequivocally Sauron.
7. The Ascetic
This week has given us more time with the mysterious hooded figures we first saw in episode 5. Though now it seems unlikely that any of them are Sauron, we have to include all three as potential, since we know they are evil. Although we originally saw them searching for the Stranger (and many fans assumed Bridie Sisson’s character was Sauron in the trailers) we weren’t sure they were evil until Episode 7. How do we know? Well, thanks to the fact that they accidentally burned all the hairy carriages after Nori tried to direct them to the Stranger.
6. The nomad
With his cool helmet and strange powers, the Nomad is another member of the trio of hooded travelers. His helmet appears to have been forged in earnest, and we all know that Sauron loves to forge. Again, this seems quite unlikely. But we know that Sauron shapeshifts to manipulate those around him, so why couldn’t he become a woman to do so? It is more reasonable to imagine that these three powerful witches could be a cult dedicated to the dark arts, perhaps seeking the Stranger because they believe him to be Sauron or Morgoth reborn.
There are precedents for cults in Tolkein’s world, but since the trio come from Rhûn, so too. there is a possibility that they are a reimagining of the Blue Wizards of Tolkien. If that’s the case, finding him to take down the Unknown would strongly suggest it’s Sauron, since they were sent to confront him in the Second Age.
However, before getting to that, let’s talk about adar. Joseph Mawle’s original villain had long been a fan favorite for a possible Sauron, but after the epic events of Episode 6 that possibility seemed to have been exhausted…or was it? In that brutal chapter, Adar claimed that he had killed Sauron, “splitting him in two” because of the evil figure’s treatment of the Uruk. But let’s face it, if you were Sauron, wouldn’t you lie and pretend to be dead too? It would be an evil echo of Adar’s battle plan against the southerners: lure them into a false sense of security and victory, then commit your real attack. So Adar is still a contender, potentially Sauron in disguise, fooling the world into thinking he’s dead. It could be an interesting inversion of the canon of the books, in which Sauron first claimed to be an emissary of Morgoth and then Morgoth himself.
4. Someone we haven’t met yet
Sure, we have too many good candidates for this to ring true, but we think it’s worth mentioning. Since Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) is already searching for Mithril, there is a possibility that has already met Sauron in his form as Annatar and that it is being manipulated. That opens up the very real possibility that Sauron is out there and we have no idea who he is. Hopefully if this is the case, we’ll find out in the season one finale.
3. The resident
We still think the witch trio is probably a cult of some sort or potentially the aforementioned Blue Wizards, but we keep the Dweller at the top of our list after this week. After the good-natured hairy Nori sought out the trio to send in the direction of the Stranger (not the wisest choice, but harpies are not suspicious creatures) we saw the Dweller take the fire Long Brandipie (Dylan Smith) tried to kill with. drive them away, freeze it, and then reignite it to burn down the camp. That was decidedly evil behavior. Also, when it comes to aesthetics, the Dweller is without a doubt the most Sauron-like of the trio. So even if we think that the trio is probably a follower of Morgoth or Sauron, or is hunting them, rather than them, we still think that she could be the big villain.
2. The Stranger
Ah, Sauron’s original contender again! From the moment he fell from the sky in a flaming meteorite that looked a lot like the Eye of Sauron when it opened, the question of whether or not the Stranger is Sauron has been very popular. However, throughout the episodes, the Rings of Power creative team has spent a lot of time trying to get fans to believe that he is Gandalf (despite not owning the rights to the character). His affinity with nature and his deep connection with the hairy seem to fit the future of the famous wizard as we know him. It would be a pretty charming twist for the books, but seeing as the evil cloaked trio are after him, he’s moved back up our Sauron list. If he’s not the most wanted man in the Rings of Power, there’s a chance he’s still a wizard. However, wizards as we know them in Tolkien’s canon don’t arrive in Middle-earth until the Third Age, making the presence of one of them a legal issue that scares Prime Video, not to mention. be that there are details of the deal that we still do not know.
Galadriel’s unexpected companion has been through it all. He was mysteriously shipwrecked in the sea, he lost all his companions at the hands of a monstrous giant worm; he was imprisoned in Númenor both physically and metaphorically; and he was forced to return to the place he promised he would “never return”, where his entire family was apparently massacred by Adar. It’s a tragic origin for such an engaging and charming new addition to The Lord of the Rings canon. But if we take a closer look there is another version of this man and his story. Halbrand got over the death of his fellow castaways fairly quickly, easily turning to violence after robbing the craftsmen and, like Sauron, he has a great fondness for the forge.
But it’s the events of Episode 6 that really start to point the finger at Halbrand. When he confronts Adar, the leader of the Uruk insists that he doesn’t know him. This is understood as the ultimate cruelty, one that is expected of someone so nefarious. However, Adar again asks Halbrand who he is, at a time when he becomes genuinely curious. Shortly after, Halbrand answers Bronwyn’s question in the most suspicious way possible.
It would be extremely cruel if Galadriel were to lead Sauron to the Southlands and the creation of Mordor after his thousand-year quest to destroy it, but currently there is a not insignificant amount of evidence which point to that being the case.