The first season of Amazon Studios' The Rings of Power is now fully out for everyone to enjoy, and the final episode quickly revealed one of the biggest secrets to date. Sauron, the big bad of just about every age of Middle-earth, has been hiding in plain site since the second episode. If you don't want the finale for The Rings of Power spoiled, I suggest you watch first and come read this article after.
Everyone else, let's get into it.
Who is Sauron in The Rings of Power? Halbrand
Little hints about Halbrand being Sauron have been dropped throughout this show, if you know enough about the character to spot them. Halbrand is cunning, charismatic, attractive and talks his way out of everything. He's also an impossibly good fighter, there's no way a normal "low man" could take on four Númenórean men, and even Galadriel called out his weapon flourish at one point.
Things get a lot less subtle once we get to Eregion and meet Celebrimbor. Suddenly everyone is talking about The Unseen World, and Celebrimbor wants to make something circular and made of Mithril, which is all very Sauron. In Tolkien's writings this all happened while Sauron was in disguise as an Elf named Annatar and not a human, but it's widely suspected there was some issue with the Tolkien Estate in using that name.
One cool detail about Halbrand being Sauron? The actor himself wasn't told until after they'd filmed the first two episodes. Here's a snippet from a great interview Charlie Vickers did with The Hollywood Reporter:
I didn't know for sure until the beginning of the third episode. We filmed the first two episodes and then the show went on hiatus because of COVID. Towards the end of the hiatus, the showrunners sat me down and told me. I filmed that that sequence on the raft not knowing. I filmed it as Halbrand wholeheartedly. But I did have an inkling, if I'm honest with you. My last two auditions [were reading lines from] Richard III and we know he's not the greatest guy in the world. And then the other [audition lines were] from Paradise Lost, where you're literally giving the speech as Satan. So that gave me an inkling there was something up. So I was definitely suspicious, but it wasn't confirmed until right before we started filming the third episode.
Also included in that interview is confirmation that Vickers will be back as Sauron in the second season, and he says the season will be heavily focused on the newly revealed Dark Lord. Which makes sense; he's got a lot of rings to make and hand out.