For the most part, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has done its best to keep Adar (Joseph Mawle) on the outer edges of its story. That may seem like an odd decision, especially considering that Adar is the closest thing The Rings of Power’s first season has had to a villain up to this point. However, by focusing so little on Adar, the Amazon series has been able to keep up a veil of mystery around the character, in place since The Rings of Power premiere.
The cracks in Adar’s measured façade are, nonetheless, beginning to show. In The Rings of Power Episode 5, for instance, Adar even has one interaction with a would-be follower that calls to mind an important detail about Sauron himself.
Adar or Sauron? The Rings of Power’s fifth episode sees Adar and his army of orcs meet with a group of Southland villagers. The group, led by Waldreg (Geoff Morrell), pledge their fealty to Adar and offer to help him take full control of the Southlands.
Things quickly take an interesting turn, however, when Waldreg directly refers to Adar as Sauron. In response, Adar walks up to the Southlander and promptly throws him to the ground. He then forces Waldreg to eliminate one of his fellow human villagers, telling him that “only blood” is powerful enough to bind them together.
Throughout the whole scene, he, notably, never says out loud whether or not he is Sauron.
A Villain of Many Names — While his angry outburst in The Rings of Power Episode 5 makes it seem like Adar definitely is not Sauron, that isn’t necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, Adar’s enraged reaction to being called Sauron may actually be a hint that he is, indeed, Middle-earth’s second Dark Lord.
After all, in The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien has Aragorn note that Sauron doesn’t “use his right name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken.” It’s a moment that makes it clear that Sauron likely isn’t a fan of his given name and that he makes a point of forbidding his followers from ever writing it or speaking it out loud. It’s not difficult to see why, either.
Not only does restricting his own supporters from referring to him by name only increase his power over them, but it also stops them from further espousing a name that was given to him against his will. Indeed, Sauron was originally known as Mairon, which means "the Admirable.” He only became known as Sauron, which means “the Abhorred,” after he allied himself with Morgoth.
It is notably said that the Dark Lord continued to refer to himself as “Mairon the Admirable” after the events of the First Age, which proves that he likely preferred it over Sauron.
The Inverse Analysis — On the surface, Adar’s reaction to Waldreg’s name drop in The Rings of Power’s latest episode might seem like a way for the show itself to confirm that he is not, in fact, Sauron. That’s not necessarily the case, though, as Tolkien’s own writings prove that Sauron was not a fan of his followers referring to him by his given name.
In other words, while it still seems likely that Adar isn’t Sauron, the door isn’t nearly as closed on that possibility as some Rings of Power viewers might think.
New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere Fridays on Prime Video.