A 'Lord Of The Rings: Rings Of Power' Theory Could Fix A Big Story Problem
This article contains potential spoilers for The Lord Of The Rings: Rings Of Power
The third episode of The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power (which, despite its title, still has yet to feature even a single goddamn ring) finds Galadriel and her new human pal Halbrand being taken to the island of Numenor; meanwhile the elf Arondir is busy working in a forced labor camp run by Orcs – which, other than the fact that Orcs aren’t ‘80s Russians, only strengthens our “Rings of Power = Stranger Things” interpretation.
Of course, this being a mainstream TV show in the age of the internet, there are obviously a number of fan theories circulating online; the most popular and intriguing of which involves Halbrand being not just some scruffily handsome rando, but Sauron himself. Why? Well, for one thing, Halbrand pointedly tells Galadriel when they first meet that: “Looks can be deceiving.”
While this twist would perhaps take some liberties from Tolkien’s text, it would honor others (Sauron is a shape-shifter with a penchant for false identities). Plus, Halbrand is an invention of the show, not a character with any ties to the source material. This week’s episode threw plenty of bones to believers of this theory, including a scene where Halbrand takes a conspicuous interest in Numenor’s forge – perhaps foreshadowing (or rather, forgeshadowing) his creation of the One Ring. And when one of the locals asks him his name, he answers, “depends.”
Also, The Lord of the Rings is obviously full of Christian themes (e.g., a magical bearded dude gets resurrected), and Sauron is, arguably, a Satanic figure, while The Shire is an “unspoiled paradise” like Eden – making it potentially ominous that Halbrand refers to Numenor as a “Paradise ripe with opportunity,” since, in Tolkien’s writings, Sauron eventually corrupts and destroys the island.
Halbrand’s mysterious identity is called out at the end of episode three by Galadriel – but not because she believes that he’s Sauron, but rather, she accuses him of being a rightful King, slumming it as a commoner just like Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.
Which could, on its surface, set up a very familiar dynamic; a secret human King who’s too afraid to lead his people, with an elvish romance on the side no less. But if the Sauron theory holds any weight, the show might be using the trappings of reboot culture to trick audiences, making us think that the show is wallowing in its own nostalgia by repeating boilerplate plot points from The Lord of the Rings – all while slyly laying the groundwork for a killer twist.
Such a reveal would also finally infuse a live-action version of Sauron with some actual personality since, up until now, he’s only been represented as either a faceless dude in wacky armor who looks like he could be fronting a Danish black metal band or as a giant flaming eye with about as much character as the “before” graphic in a Visine commercial.
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