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Alex Welch

'Rings of Power': One wild Sauron theory reveals the show’s greatest strength

The first season of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has been a mixed bag. The series’ first seven episodes have featured some of the most stunning fantasy visuals ever brought to life on TV, but Season 1 has also been bogged down by its slow pace, disjointed storylines, and unnecessarily drawn-out mysteries.

That said, one storyline has worked surprisingly well from start to finish. It’s worked so well, in fact, that some J.R.R. Tolkien fans have begun to suspect that one seemingly “good” character may secretly be Sauron in disguise.

The theory is admittedly a bit ridiculous, but its existence is proof of just how well The Rings of Power has nailed its exploration of a doomed dwarven kingdom.

The Pursuit of Mithril — Ever since Elrond (Robert Aramayo) journeyed into the dwarven kingdom of Khazad-dûm in Episode 2, his friendship with Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) has stood out as one of the show’s strongest subplots. Durin’s friendship with Elrond being complicated by his discovery of mithril has helped The Rings of Power’s dwarven storyline feel in touch with J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings as well.

In Episode 7, Durin IV’s pursuit of mithril reaches an explosive turning point when his father and king, Durin III (Peter Mullan), orders that all of Khazad-dûm’s mithril mines be shut down. In response, Durin IV’s wife, Disa (Sophia Nomvete), tells her husband that not only is he destined to replace his father as the ruler of Khazad-dûm, but that the kingdom’s mithril belongs to them.

The speech is surprisingly ambitious and even slightly sinister, especially since it comes from Disa, a character defined by her friendly attitude and moral strength. As a result, some fans have begun to suspect that Disa may secretly be none other than the Dark Lord Sauron.

Disa’s Bad Advice — Now, the odds of Disa turning out to be Sauron are so slim that to even entertain this theory seems a bit foolish. However, it speaks to the quality of The Rings of Power’s ongoing mithril storyline that some Tolkien fans have even begun to consider the possibility.

One of the key themes of Tolkien’s work is how greed and unchecked ambition can lead to widespread destruction. That theme is particularly prevalent when it comes to the fate of Khazad-dûm, a powerful dwarven kingdom that’s eventually destroyed from within by its desire to acquire as much mithril as it can.

Throughout his work, Tolkien doesn’t just hammer that theme home by following certain storylines to their natural, cataclysmic conclusions. He also shows how even good people can fall prey to their darkest impulses. Disa’s unwavering desire to mine as much mithril as she can does not, therefore, have to be a hint that she’s secretly a villain like Sauron. It could be just another example of the ways even “good” people can destroy themselves.

After all, in Tolkien’s world, it’s not just the villains who make bad decisions.

The Inverse Analysis — Tolkien fans may very well be on the verge of finally finding out where Sauron has been hiding throughout The Rings of Power’s first seven episodes. While it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Disa will turn out to be Middle-earth’s second Dark Lord, it would be better for The Rings of Power if she isn’t.

Right now, Disa stands alongside iconic characters like Boromir, Isildur, and Frodo as a Tolkien figure whose own goodness doesn’t prevent her from seeking dangerous levels of power. Making her Sauron would erase the character’s current complexity and, in turn, rob The Rings of Power’s best storyline of some of its thematic weight.

New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere Fridays on Prime Video.

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