The Rings of Power finished airing on a note that likely left a lot of fans with mixed feelings. But what exactly happened in the final episode? For those who still have questions, here's the ending of The Rings of Power explained:
A few episodes in, fans started wondering where Sauron is. Knowing that he had an important role in the Silmarillion and that he was a shapeshifter, people started theorizing early on that anyone in the series could be Sauron.
Books fans and new fans alike might have found the reveal that Halbrand is, after all, Sauron, quite perplexing.
One element that makes it all confusing, is that Galadriel seemed very confident in Halbrands identity as a promised King of the Southlands, a fact that is confirmed by many other characters.
Moreover, Halbrand showed little to no interest in returning to Middle Earth when he met Galadriel as a castaway and when they both ended up in Numenor.
However, he ended up helping create the titular rings of power with little to no foreshadowing, and seemingly no pre-planning, essentially revealing that he's actually Sauron without giving us many clues - and only after the Stranger was heavily implied to be Sauron in that same episode.
Even more perplexingly, his ideas regarding the rings immediately alerted Galadriel to the fact that Halbrand is Sauron, after an entire season of traveling with him and never quite suspecting something was off about him.
So, why did the creators make such a choice, and was there any foreshadowing?
Other than Halbrands sideway glances at Galadriel, which might have been misinterpreted as attraction earlier on, there wasn't really much foreshadowing other than the fact that Halbrand generally looked a bit out of place in the narrative.
In an interview, Creator Patrick McKay defended the choice to make Sauron present as an entirely new character saying that the team was "concerned about a situation where the part of the audience steeped in lore is six or seven episodes ahead of the characters. If deception is an important part of the journey, [the RoP creators] wanted to preserve that experience for book readers too."
Of course, many fans of Middle Earth lore might not appreciate this deception especially as many deem it insufficiently foreshadowed.
Moreover, it was confirmed Charlie Vickers only knew that his character was Sauron after the second episode had finished filming, making it seem even more abrupt when his identity is finally uncovered.
So, Is the Stranger Gandalf?
The Stranger is revealed to be one of the Istari, that is, a Wizard, like Gandalf. After dark beings pledge allegiance to him calling him "Lord Sauron"
In the interview mentioned above, creator D. J. Payne revealed that the choice to include one of the Istari was based on the assumption that "some of the Istari wandered unknown among the beings of Middle-earth even earlier than [the Second Age of Middle Earth]. Whether that’s one of the ones that are named, like Gandalf or Saruman, or other ones, we will leave to the series to unveil."
From the above, we see that whether or not the Stranger is Gandalf has not been confirmed yet.
It has now alluded that the Stranger could even be Saruman, though his friendship with the Harfoots makes Gandalf a more likely candidate. Of course, Randagast would be another option that could be a bit more plausible, given his goofiness and occasional incompetence.
What's Next? Season 2 Predictions
Given that The Rings of Power doesn't adapt a specific book, it's hard to predict what will happens next.
We believe that Season 2 will address the creation of the remaining rings of power, if the song at the end - which comes from The Lord of the Rings book - is any indication.
Galadriel will likely continue to pursue Sauron, though, hopefully, with more self-awareness this time, while Nori and the Stranger will likely embark on new adventures.
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