The Rings Of Power Showrunners Compare Sauron In Season 2 To Breaking Bad's Walter White

Warning: this article contains spoilers for the finale of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

Well, we finally know who Sauron is in "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." The reveal came midway through the eighth episode of the dazzling and deliberately paced prequel series, and it turned out the dark lord wasn't either of the mysterious figures we'd been focusing on all season. No, neither Adar (Joseph Mawle) nor The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) turned out to be the resurrected villain: instead, it was the devilishly handsome dude that Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) found stranded on a raft in the middle of the sea early in the season.

So, Charlie Vickers' Halbrand is actually Sauron. Where do we go from here? According to the series' showrunners, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, the show's big bad won't just be comparable to the Sauron we've seen in Peter Jackson's films, nor in J.R.R. Tolkien's books: he'll also call to mind the prestige cable dramas that have ruled storytelling in the 21st century. "Sauron can now just be Sauron. Like Tony Soprano or Walter White: he's evil, but complexly evil," McKay told The Hollywood Reporter.

The showrunner also name-dropped another zeitgeist-tapping franchise, saying, "We felt like if we did that in season 1, he'd overshadow everything else. So the first season is like 'Batman Begins,' and 'The Dark Knight' is the next movie, with Sauron maneuvering out in the open." So in terms of villainy, it sounds like Sauron, aka Halbrand, is set to take center stage in the second season of "The Rings of Power." So much for the golden age of Middle-earth. We should've known the good times would be over as soon as Mount Doom exploded.

Sauron will go full (complex) villain in season 2

It also sounds like viewers who have gotten restless with the liberties this season has taken with its source material may be more interested in season 2, as the Sauron plot is apparently set to bring "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" closer to the Tolkien narrative. "We're really excited. Season 2 has a canonical story," McKay told THR. "There may well be viewers who are like, 'This is the story we were hoping to get in season 1!' In season 2, we're giving it to them."

In terms of a sneak peek into the villain's psyche, I'm honestly not sure how much the Tony Soprano and Walter White comparisons help us out. The antihero of "The Sopranos" remains largely likeable throughout the series despite his atrocious actions, while the villainous protagonist of "Breaking Bad" is not only almost always insufferable, but he also starts presenting with a distinct Heisenberg persona. I may be reading too much into these comments, but I wonder if the two comparisons mean Sauron will still be functioning in other parts of Middle-earth somewhat under the radar this next season, using the same powers of manipulation that ensnared Galadriel as opposed to openly acting as a tyrant.

Regardless, the promise of a "complexly evil" villain is a great one, and we've already seen how true that descriptor is in a finale that managed to get Galadriel (and probably even some viewers) all turned around in terms of Sauron's true intentions. I'm eager to see what the show does with the dark lord next.

In the meantime, "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" season 1 is now streaming in its entirety on Prime Video.