The biggest season one mystery of The Rings of Power Season 2 has been revealed: The Dark Lord, Sauron, has been masquerading as Halbrand, the Aragorn-like nomad who convinced Galadriel that he was the lost ruler of the Southlands.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay explained why they decided to introduce the Dark Lord as a likable “low man” and hinted at what fans can expect from the character in Season 2.
McKay explains that the evil depicted in “The Lord of the Rings” books is so potent that it may cause widespread fear without requiring a physical manifestation. “In [Peter Jackson’s] The Lord of the Rings films, he represents an eye; specifically, the eye atop the tower. When we first envisioned the story, we knew that Sauron needed to have his own identity.
To potentially reward audiences for sticking with him as he evolves into The Dark Lord, we set out to investigate the currents within him. You have gained familiarity with him as more than just the moniker “Sauron.” We considered writing an “origins narrative” for Sauron. The thought of Sauron as a deceiver who may fool certain viewers is fascinating to us, but we didn’t want to develop a show about finding him.
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Also, Payne says, “There’s something that Milton did in Paradise Lost that we talked about a lot. A place where he succeeds in making Satan interesting. Somewhat uniquely, he is the first antihero who is so interesting that you can’t take your eyes off of him. Milton intended for you to make the same mistake that Adam and Eve did. He intends for Satan to be so convincing that you, the reader, are subtly won over and come to see your own sinfulness and the urgency of your need for salvation.
Payne continues, “Sauron is a liar in Tolkien, and we know that in the Second Age he appears in ‘fair form.'” What if someone approaches you insidiously, gains your sympathy and support, and then has you where he wants you by the time you figure out who he really is? Therefore, it’s not as simple as saying, “This person is bad, I’m going to step away,” because you’ve developed feelings for him. Is it possible to transport the viewers into the same experience?
The showrunners say they are happy with the fact that many viewers had suspected Halbrand was really Sauron all along; the point wasn’t to surprise anyone.
As Payne puts it, “emotional engagement” occurs “if you have a sneaking notion throughout the course of a full season, and then that assumption is ultimately proven.” When it comes to art, tragedy is at the pinnacle. You may already be familiar with the tragic ending of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but that hasn’t stopped many theatres from staging productions of the play. A one-time watching is the only viewing that will pay off with a surprise.
McKay hopes that people would rewatch the entire season after the finale airs because “it’s now a different experience.” We’re crossing our fingers that Season 2 will make people appreciate Season 1 all the more by allowing them to view it through a fresh lens.
The producers of the Prime Video series have hinted that Sauron will play a significant role in the upcoming season as he develops into an antihero in the mold of some classic TV characters, despite the fact that filming for the new season has already begun, the new season is not expected to premiere until sometime in 2024.
What is Galadriel’s identity in the first episode of Season 1? The question remains, “Where did she come from?” When did she get hurt? Payne questions her motivation, asking why she is so focused. As for Sauron in Season Two, he will undergo the same treatment. We’ll fill in all the blanks.”
With this, “Sauron can now just be Sauron,” as McKay puts it. To paraphrase Tony Soprano or Walter White: He’s a bad guy, but a complicated bad guy. Including him in the first season would have made him too prominent, we thought.
In this analogy, the first season would be similar to “Batman Begins,” while the second, “The Dark Knight,” would be like “Open Season” for Sauron. The anticipation is at an all-time high. There is a canonical plotline in season two. Potential viewers may be thinking, “This is the story we were hoping to get in season one!” They’re getting it in season two.
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