What Can We Expect To See In The Rings Of Power Season 2?

Warning: spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" season 1 lie ahead.

In discussing the season 1 finale and their season 2 plans, "The Rings of Power" showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have name-dropped Walter White and Tony Soprano and drawn comparisons to everything from "The Dark Knight" to "Paradise Lost" and "Romeo and Juliet." Their ambitions for the Prime Video series, shared in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, are clearly lofty, but some viewers may still be reeling from the revelation of Sauron's identity in the finale and how it reconfigures what they knew about a certain Halbrand (Charlie Vickers).

Though production is already underway on "The Rings of Power" season 2, we may not see it until 2024. In the meantime, fans are left to go back and revisit season 1 along with other Middle-earth lore like the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movie trilogies and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien's original books. Payne and McKay have said "The Rings of Power" season 2 will show Halbrand/Sauron "maneuvering out in the open" and portray him as "complexly evil" while also hewing closer to literary canon than what we've seen on the show thus far.

Halbrand isn't a character in the books, where Sauron is known to have adopted the "fair form" of Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and ingratiated himself into the presence of Celebrimbor (played by Charles Edwards on the show) at Eregion, the realm of Elven-smiths (where the titular Rings of Power are forged). As Mashable points out, the reason for the name change from Annatar to Halbrand may be that "The Rings of Power" only holds the rights to Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" appendices and there's no mention of him or that part of "The Silmarillion" in them.

'You start to see Sauron for who he is'

Payne has said "The Rings of Power" season 2 will "fill in all the missing pieces" on Halbrand/Sauron. This is something that Vickers, the human face of the character, echoed in a separate interview with THR, where he teased that viewers would find out more of Sauron's backstory and how he ended up on that raft in the mist to help fish Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) out of the sea during his first introduction in "The Rings of Power" episode 2.

Was it providence, as Galadriel initially thought (before learning that he was her sworn foe, Sauron), or did Halbrand simply worm his way into a position where he would cross her path? "That question will be answered in due time," Vickers promised. Of season 2, he added:

"I think it's a really exciting season because you start to see Sauron for who he is. We've been seeing him in this period of repentance. We're going to move into this period of watching his plans unfold. You're with him as he moves the pieces on the chessboard. There are parts of the lore that are so rich and so exciting and thrilling and things that I adored reading in 'The Silmarillion' that we're going to see. Those really famous stories are going to unfold next season."

Vickers has spoken elsewhere about Sauron's "repentant phase" as Halbrand, which does have a book precedent (again, minus the name). The actor told Variety that "the question lingers whether that repentance was genuine."

'He has a plan'

Speaking of eyes, the Elven ring forge momentarily burns like the Eye of Sauron in the "Rings of Power" finale, but Vickers said his character "has a way to go, in terms of reaching the power that he gets to in the end." Right now, he's obviously still walking around in human form and hasn't become disembodied yet.

The last image we see in "The Rings of Power" season 1 is Sauron walking into Mordor. After the finale, Vickers explained to Variety:

"He has a plan. Going back into Mordor is the first stage of that plan. I'm not going to spoil it, but it doesn't take long to find out in the second season. We find out pretty quickly. He definitely has a plan, and that's where it begins."

We've seen the Elves forge their three rings now in "The Rings of Power," but in Tolkien's books, this actually happens after the Dwarf-lords have their seven rings forged. There are 20 rings total, with nine going to "Mortal Men doomed to die," and Sauron holding the "One Ring to rule them all." Vickers furthermore teased that the Stranger (Daniel Weyman) poses the most threat to Sauron and that he "would love to share some scenes with the dwarves," who have been "far removed from [his] storyline so far."

King Durin III (Peter Mullan), Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), and the dwarves could have their own fiery Balrog to deal with in season 2, but it's possible Sauron's next step may be adopting another shapeshifting disguise like Halbrand and attempting to subjugate them and/or the race of men with more rings. After all, that's what it says right on the tin of the series title. This is a show about "The Rings of Power," isn't it?

Meanwhile, on the island of Númenor...

The history of Middle-earth — curated in official Tolkien texts and unnecessarily long wikis and explainers, written by pedantic, well-meaning acolytes like yours truly — is filled with unfamiliar and hard-to-pronounce names that can be alienating if you're not the type to source fantasy shows for baby names. (I'm sure we can anticipate a whole new generation of Aegons now, but I digress.)

In the interest of keeping this accessible to the vast world of eyeballs outside Tolkien scholars, I'll try to put things in layman's terms as we proceed from Mordor to the island kingdom of Númenor and the Eastlands, or Lands of Rhûn. Númenor seems like a good place to start, since we've spent some time there already in "The Rings of Power."

As we've previously discussed, the raising of black flags in place of ship sails in Númenor's harbor in the "Rings of Power" season finale bodes ill for the kingdom's future. There's a whole book entitled "The Fall of Númenor," and it wasn't written because this place has a happy ending. In the finale, we saw the king die, while Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) has lost her sight. She's got Captain Elendil (Lloyd Owen) by her side, but we've also seen her anti-elf cousin, that salt-and-pepper-bearded crowd leader, Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle), conspiring in the shadows, "Game of Thrones"-style.

Sauron has been to Númenor in his guise as Halbrand, and without delving too much into book spoilers, it's enough to say: we have reason to believe he may reappear there next season or further down the line somewhere in "The Rings of Power." Again, he'll be looking to corrupt the hearts of men, and Númenor is fast becoming vulnerable to such influences.

To the Lands of Rhûn with #MaybeNotGandalf

In the "Lord of the Rings" movies, Númenor has long since fallen, its blood "all but spent," proving Queen Regent Míriel's dreams of Atlantis-like doom via a "great wave" right (metaphorically, if not literally). And though Captain Elendil is not named, "Fellowship of the Ring" flashbacks show an older version of him and his son, Isildur, on the frontlines in battle against Sauron. Currently, Isildur (Maxim Baldry) is presumed dead on "The Rings of Power," but you can probably expect him to return next season unless the show decides to deviate radically from book lore.

As for the aforementioned Lands of Rhûn in the East, that's where the Stranger and his faithful harfoot traveling companion, Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh), are headed in "The Rings of Power" season 2. Reports of the Stranger being the one and only Gandalf the Grey may have been greatly exaggerated, as the show hasn't officially confirmed his identity yet, just that he's an Istar, meaning a "Wise One," or wizard.

Online, taking for granted he's Gandalf and calling him that has already caught on, much like calling Grogu "Baby Yoda" did on "The Mandalorian." It's possible, though, that the Stranger — despite insisting, "I am good!" — could be one of two Blue Wizards or even Saruman the White, the (future evil) character played by "Dracula" legend Christopher Lee in "The Lord of the Rings." Though the book timeline is fuzzy as to when they're there, it does establish that Saruman and the Blue Wizards were in the East, which could mean the Stranger is now getting moved into place to meet his destiny as one of them.

Or not? The moral of the story is: don't count your Gandalfs until they've hatched in season 2.

Galadriel's dark side

Finally, to bring it back home to Galadriel, in "The Fellowship of the Ring," she's characterized as a "great sorceress" and "elf-witch of terrible power." Following her prologue narration, she doesn't come back in until the last 45 minutes of the movie, after the fellowship has faced off against the relentless orc hordes and a fiery Balrog in the Mines of Moria, losing Gandalf in the process.

In the woods of Lothlórien, Galadriel almost comes off as untrustworthy at first, susceptible to Sauron's influence, like Saruman. "The Rings of Power" deliberately echoes a line Cate Blanchett made famous — about becoming "stronger than the foundations of the earth" — when she was being tempted and having her green, power-mad freak-out in Frodo's face. We've seen Sauron tempting the young Galadriel on "The Rings of Power" now as well, and the betrayal of him gaining her confidence and manipulating her will surely add an even more personal edge to her quest to save Middle-earth from him in season 2.

In a 1954 letter, Tolkien described Galadriel as "the last remaining of the Great among the High Elves" in Middle-earth's Third Age. Some have inferred from this that she will develop, as Collider puts it, into "the one person Sauron must have feared most among all his enemies." Now that the Elves have their three rings, there may also be some added tension between Galadriel and Elrond (Robert Aramayo), since she chose not to share the world-shattering information about Halbrand's true identity — leaving Elrond to discover it by chance after finding the genealogy scroll she dropped in the water. What's clear is that Galadriel is a being of light who also has a dark side, and we may see more of that in "The Rings of Power" season 2.