Why Sauron Had To Take The Form He Did In The Rings Of Power

Spoilers follow for the eighth episode of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

The season finale of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" tackled the big twist fans (and ourselves) have been theorizing about since the very first episode — Halbrand's true identity as the Dark Lord Sauron. And while the result was not that shocking, it was the logical conclusion to the groundwork laid out in the seven episodes before it. Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), the lonely Southlander that helped Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) in the Sundering Seas, turned out to be the very enemy she sought out in Middle-earth. The shapeshifting entity took the form of a lowly human for more reasons than one, but all to service the development of the intertwined characters.

Halbrand *ahem* Sauron was right under our noses the entire time, and the signs were so obvious (for geeks like us) it almost seemed impossible that "The Rings of Power" was going for the easy twist. However, the reveal itself was not only intense and terrifying, but it spoke to the importance of his character arc throughout the season. It was more about the journey, not the destination. If his Sauron was to be so tied to Galadriel's personal story, it had to connect in a believable fashion every step of the way.

An enemy in disguise

In an interview with Esquire, co-showrunner J.D. Payne discussed the creative process of introducing Sauron. According to Payne, the end result came after deciding to latch onto the idea of Galadriel having a history with the Dark Lord:

"All of these things spoke to a long history with darkness, and more specifically with Sauron. So we asked: would we like to figure out some kind of relationship between them? If you could do it in a way where she meets him without knowing who he is, which feels fair given that he's a deceiver and shapeshifter, we felt like there was this opportunity. From there, we started backfilling. What kind of person would he have to be? How would they meet?"

Sauron's slow ascent to relevancy after defeat in the First Age is aptly paired with Galadriel's thirst for vengeance. That unquenchable desire is a part of what makes her relationship with Halbrand so fascinating and, most importantly, believable. Galadriel is sympathetic towards Halbrand and his perceived guilt due to her own past. He knowingly deceives Galadriel, but there is truth to what he tells her.

There is no doubt that Sauron is evil, a temptation that Galadriel ultimately refuses. However, "The Rings of Power" understands that in order to come to that conclusion (present in the film trilogy), they had to set up Sauron as someone not that far off from Galadriel herself.

Darkness and light

For a villain so well-regarded as Sauron, he is not exactly the most developed character from the source material. However, J.R.R. Tolkien consistently infused the idea in his work that redemption is possible, even in the most guilty of parties. It's alluded to in "The Silmarillion" that Sauron might have felt remorse after the war in the First Age: "And some hold that this was not at first falsely done, but that Sauron in truth repented." Yet, he refused to face his crimes and receive judgment from Manwë. Instead, Sauron did not redeem himself in any way. But the option seemed to have been in place for it to occur, which gave "The Rings of Power" a starting point to build on.

The creation of the Halbrand identity seemingly served as a way for Sauron to start a new life in Middle-earth. Meeting Galadriel kicked his ambitions back into gear, but he was pretty hesitant along the way. There were a few times when he nearly stayed in Númenor instead of staking his claim as the "rightful ruler" of the Southlands. However, it was the balance of his darkness and the light Galadriel provided that made the relationship so motivating and damaging at the same time. The development of Sauron, despite his tendency for evil, was key to making us (and Galadriel) believe he was actually just a regular dude. Most importantly, he was someone truly looking to turn a new leaf, even in his own twisted way.

All episodes of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" are available on Amazon Prime Video.