The Rings Of Power Showrunners Have A Very Vague Answer About Whether The Three Witches Are Actually Dead

This post contains spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

The incredible, bombastic season finale of "The Rings of Power," which aired a few weeks back, has left a Middle-earth-shaped void in the hearts of fans. Due to the compelling nature of the episode's reveals, and a culmination of everything the show has been building up to, folks (that would be me) are excited to see more of the sprawling saga. Moreover, a lot of questions remain unanswered. Now that the Balrog is awakened, are the dwarves of Khazad-dûm in imminent danger? What happened to Isildur (Maxim Baldry) in Mordor, and is the dude okay? While these questions can only be answered in future installments of the show, the fate of the Three Witches, who could be a part of the Cult of Melkor, still remains unanswered.

"Rings of Power" showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay spoke to Vanity Fair about whether the Three Witches are truly dead, and the duo gave extremely vague answers to this question, adding fuel to fan speculation. Payne said:

"There are glimpses into the unseen world where the true form of something is revealed. You're seeing what is underneath the form that they've been presenting. Were they [the witches] defeated, or were they just temporarily vanquished? I think that's a story point that people can be thinking about."

What does Payne mean when he talks about "the true form of something revealed?" Clearly, the showrunners want to keep this storyline open-ended and urge viewers to come up with their own theories as to whether there's more than meets the eye. Let us try and understand what this might mean.

The Three Witches will return (maybe)

The Witches pursue The Stranger as they believe he's their master, Sauron. Their sole mission is to help their master regain a sense of who he truly is and guide him in the right direction. As a result, the Witches ask The Stranger to travel to Rhûn, where Sauron eventually rallies the Easterlings, according to canon. However, they are clearly mistaken in their assumption that The Stranger is Sauron — he is Ishtar, which translates to "magician." He is none other than the Gandalf we know and love.

When Gandalf uses his powers to defeat the three witches, the trio dissipates, revealing ethereal skeletal forms underneath. The beings turn into ghostly moths and scatter into the air, which can be interpreted as them dying. However, Payne's comment about the "Unseen World" adds layers to the scene: just like Frodo was able to see the Ringwraiths' true forms after he put on the One Ring, we are given a glimpse of the Witches' true forms when they dissipate. Are they beings that look similar to Ringwraiths? Is this a foreshadowing for the creation of Sauron's Black Riders or Nazgûl? It is too early to speculate at this point.

In the same interview linked above, McKay talks about taking inspiration from the "visual language" of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings," which leads to an exploration into the idea of "different forms of magic." He also heavily suggests that the true form of the Witches are "hideous," but the raw power of Gandalf's light makes them seem beautiful. Although they're bested by the powerful wizard in this instance, they might return again, in a different form, sometime in the future. All we have to do is wait and see.