No figure has loomed larger in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power than Sauron. The villain’s inevitable return to Middle-earth has plagued Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) since The Rings of Power premiered, and it’s clear that the Amazon series is doing a lot right now to set the stage for Sauron’s forthcoming arrival. Of course, The Rings of Power has also done that without actually introducing the character on-screen or revealing his current whereabouts in Middle-earth.
Sauron’s absence has, therefore, been a constant topic of discussion among Rings of Power viewers. While many have begun to believe that characters like The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) or Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) will turn out to be Sauron in disguise, there are some J.R.R. Tolkien book readers who think that Sauron’s actual reemergence will be handled differently in The Rings of Power than most viewers expect.
Lurking in the Shadows — In The Rings of Power Episode 2, Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) tells Elrond (Robert Aramayo) that he wants to build a powerful forge in his Elven kingdom of Eregion as quickly as possible. It’s this mission that leads Elrond to seek out Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur) and the dwarves of Khazad-dûm, and it’s revealed in The Rings of Power’s fourth episode that work has already begun on Celebrimbor’s forge.
For many Tolkien fans, this storyline has been seen as nothing more than pure setup for the moment when Celebrimbor is eventually [SPOILER ALERT] approached by Sauron about forging the Rings of Power. However, there are other Tolkien book readers who suspect not only that Sauron is already in Eregion in The Rings of Power, but that it was his meeting with Middle-earth’s second Dark Lord that gave Celebrimbor the idea to build his new forge in the first place.
Introducing Annatar — In Tolkien’s books, Sauron waits over a thousand years following Morgoth’s defeat to officially reemerge in Middle-earth. When he does, he puts on a fair form, begins calling himself Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and claims that he has been sent by the Valar, who are essentially the angels of Tolkien’s fictional world. In doing so, Sauron is able to deceive Celebrimbor and the other Elven smiths of Eregion into helping him forge the Rings of Power.
Taking all of that into account, many Lord of the Rings fans have long believed that Sauron’s first “official” scene in The Rings of Power will show him arriving in Eregion for the first time as Annatar. While it’s still possible that will be exactly what happens, this theory imagines Sauron’s long-awaited debut in a very different way.
If this theory is correct, Sauron’s first major scene in The Rings of Power may not revolve around his arrival in Eregion. It may, instead, reveal that he has not only been in Eregion for some time, but that he is already working with Celebrimbor on forging the Rings of Power.
The Inverse Analysis — It’s a credit to how well The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has handled Sauron’s growing presence in Middle-earth that it’s still unclear exactly how the character’s official return will be depicted in the show. Indeed, while fans have plenty of theories about Sauron’s future in The Rings of Power, no one seems to be totally certain about who will play the character or how his official return to Middle-earth will be shown.
For what it’s worth, though, this theory does offer one way The Rings of Power could handle its legendary villain’s debut that would not only be largely in keeping with its source material but would also seriously subvert fans’ current expectations.
New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere Fridays on Prime Video.