Attention: This post contains spoilers for the first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The first two episodes of The Rings of Power, Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings backstory, set the stage for a drama that would play out over five seasons of television. Set in the Second Age, thousands of years before Frodo’s birth, the show will follow the rise of Sauron and the creation of the titular rings, including the one ring to rule them all. And already heroes like Galadriel can sense that something evil is coming to Middle-earth.
Showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay introduce many mysteries in the early episodes of the series. Bad-looking objects and sketchy dudes falling from the sky abound. And of course, audiences are on the lookout for the Sauron we know—from what author J. RR Tolkien wrote in the appendices to The return of the King –disguised himself during this time period to deceive the elves. The internet is already full of theories about whether the evil overlord is masquerading as one of the supposed characters of the series.
Here are the questions we hope the show answers before Season 1 ends.
Who is the man who fell from the sky?
The magical stranger must be important. After falling from a meteor at the end of the first episode, Norrie and Poppy discuss who he might be. They eliminate the possibility that he is an elf (no pointy ears) or a mortal (men cannot wield magic). What’s that left?
An obvious answer might be a counselor. Although Gandalf didn’t make it to Middle-earth until the Third Age, according to Tolkien, it’s possible that showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay found a way to write around that reality. Or the stranger might be a different wizard altogether.
Alternatively, this stranger could be Sauron himself. As he collapses to the ground, the camera zooms out to show what appears to be a flaming eye, which is how Sauron manifests in Lord of the Rings.
What’s up with Sauron’s evil sword?
Tyro Muhafidin as Theo c Rings of Power
Ben Rothstein—Prime Video
Bronwyn’s son Theo casually carries around a broken sword carved with the symbol of Sauron and – checks notes – oh yes, sucks blood from people’s wounds. How on earth did Theo get his hands on this very evil weapon? And what is?
I have some theories. The city where Bronwyn and Theo live is home to followers of Sauron’s old lord Morgoth. Elven soldiers like Arondir patrol the area to prevent evil from resurfacing. Their home is also located quite close to Mordor, which can’t be good for property values.
So it is possible that Theo will find this weapon on earth one day. But I bet he either got it or stole it from his dad. We haven’t heard anything about Theo’s father – whether he’s dead, alive, or an evil lord named Sauron. Ok, so I don’t think his father is actually Sauron, but he could be a supporter of Sauron who died brandishing that now broken sword.
As for the origin of the blade: I have no answers. As far as I know, Tolkien never wrote about anything that fits his description. So this weapon may be an invention of the show. But it no doubt offers some clue as to where Sauron is hiding and what he’s up to.
What’s in the box (dwarf)?
Owain Arthur as Prince Durin c The Rings of Power
Ben Rothstein—Prime Video
in classic Criminal fashion, King Durin III and his son Prince Durin IV open a box near the end of the first episode and see a glowing object. King Durin III boasts that the treasure will be essential to the future of their underground kingdom of Khazad-dûm. So what’s in the box?
My best guess is mithril, the precious and strong metal prized by dwarves. in fellowship of the Ring, Fordo inherits a mithril-woven chain mail from his uncle Bilbo. This special chain mail later saved his life.
Is Halbrand evil?
Charlie Vickers as Halbrand in The Rings of Power
Matt Grace — Premium Video
The showrunners and actor Charlie Vickers were pretty tight-lipped when I asked them about Halbrand’s past. Vickers said that to get into character he thought about what it would be like to never have been loved. This suggests that Halbrand has a rather dark past – and perhaps a dark future?
Speculation has been rife online as to Halbrand’s identity. Given that he is never mentioned in Tolkien’s writings, his random inclusion in Galadriel’s journey seems rather fortuitous. The prevailing theory seems to be that Halbrand is either Sauron or Sauron’s puppet.
Where is Sauron?
Enter Bridie Sisson The Rings of Power
Sauron is lurking somewhere. Tolkien wrote that the villain disguised himself in a “fair” form and called himself Anathar to deceive the elves. So, basically, we’re looking for someone attractive – a difficult task on a show full of very attractive people.
When Comic-Con trailer The Rings of Power fell in July, some fans have theorized that a blonde character with close-cropped hair is Annatar/Sauron. The internet dubbed the character “Slim Shady Sauron” because of the hairstyle.
Executive producer Lindsey Webber revealed exclusively to TIME that this unnamed character is being played by Bridie Sisson (and not Anson Boone, as the internet originally thought). While he didn’t reveal the character’s name, Weber said she hails from Rune, an eastern territory where Sauron likes to hang out.
In all likelihood, this is one of Sauron’s servants, not Sauron himself, because she seems too obviously evil. My guess is that Sauron will arrive in the guise of a good guy. Which good boy we are about to find out.
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