The Latest Rings Of Power Episode Has A Game Of Thrones Connection

You may have heard that there's a war currently brewing between two polar opposite fantasy juggernauts. Though (mercifully) airing new episodes on two different days of the week, "House of the Dragon" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" have been duking out for the last few weeks over the ongoing pop culture conversation. As much as some may draw interesting parallels between the two, many others can't help but focus on how one series is approaching its material far differently than the other. Genre fans enjoying both shows in equal measure get the last laugh here, but there's at least one other party serving as a bridge between both properties.

In addition to acting as prequels to much more well-known media, both share yet another indirect connection in the form of actor Joseph Mawle.

Initially cast back in the first season of the original "Game of Thrones," Mawle portrayed the brother of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) and the uncle of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Benjen Stark. Missing and presumed dead after disappearing on a ranging north of the wall, the actor made a surprise return in seasons 6 and 7 as, uh, his frozen, fire-wielding, and not-quite-dead "corpse" ... before ending up dead anyway in the final season. It was weird! Fans were intrigued, then, when it was first announced that the actor would be crossing streams to play a significant villain in "The Rings of Power." As of the last episode of the series, we've finally seen his character Adar up close and personal.

In other words, sheath your swords, nerds! Mawle proves that there's room for both properties to coexist.

An exclusive club

For those who may have found that Joseph Mawle's Benjen Stark was sorely underused in "Game of Thrones" — granted, his fate didn't end up nearly as bad as some of the main characters who stuck around the whole time — we've been granted a second chance with his casting in "The Rings of Power." Speculation is already flying fast surrounding the exact identity and motivations of his newly created character,  Adar, despite the fact that he's only just arrived on the scene. (Technically we caught a fuzzy, out-of-focus glimpse of him in the waning moments of the previous episode, but that hardly counts!) Whether you believe the apparently corrupted elf is Sauron himself, an ambitious lieutenant and possible rival of Sauron, or someone with his own agenda altogether, we're expecting to see plenty more of Mawle's creepy, casually sinister Adar in the weeks ahead.

Though not quite as prolific as actor Jed Brophy's history with "The Lord of the Rings" franchise, Mawle joins an exclusive club of performers who've dabbled in both the "Game of Thrones" and "The Lord of the Rings" franchises. "The Rings of Power" already boasts Robert Aramayo as Elrond, who also portrayed a young Ned Stark in seasons 6 and 7 of "Game of Thrones." And, of course, any discussion of the most well-known star to play major roles in both properties begins and ends with Sean Bean, who died unforgettable deaths as Boromir in "The Fellowship of the Ring" and Ned Stark in the first season of "Game of Thrones."

New episodes of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" stream every Thursday night on Prime Video.