Tolkien fans and Lord of the Rings can finally see the forge of the Rings of Power in the series amazon. The first three, for the elven kings, were created at the end of the show’s first season. And the moment was beautiful, impactful and important for the development of the show and its characters.
In the epic season 1 finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Powertrue identities are revealed and seismic events previously mentioned only in the books unfold before us.
While there are a few breaks in the canon that purists disagree with, that doesn’t stop the show from accomplishing its goal: telling the story about the Rings of Power and how they were forged in the Second Age.
As Rings of Power drops several narrative bombs, we’ve separated the most important revelations. Of course, there are spoilers.
Who is the Stranger?
The mysterious giant who fell from the sky and became known simply as “The Stranger” (Daniel Weyman) is finally unmasked.
The ending begins with the mysterious white witches who, when we last saw the trio, bullied the poor Harfoots by burning their crops. They’ve been after the Stranger for some time and finally corner him at the end.
They reveal themselves to be servants of Sauron and identify the Stranger as their master. Knowing that Sauron would not be at full strength or even fully aware of his identity, the witches offer to take the Stranger under their wing. This “revelation” hangs over the episode for most of its time, as other narrative threads are unraveled.
The Stranger is first revealed as Sauron. But as the episode unfolds, we discover that he may be someone much wiser. So, later, the witches discover that they were wrong. With encouragement from the gentle Harfoot, Nori (Markella Kavenagh), the Stranger discovers that he is not destined to be the embodiment of evil. Nobody is forced to be who others say they are. With these words, the Stranger learns to properly harness his magical powers and fight witches.
At the end of the episode, The Rings of Power suggests that the Stranger is none other than GANDALF.
There are two big hints that the Stranger’s identity is Gandalf, or that he is at least a wizard. The first is the pronunciation of the word “Istar,” which the Stranger identifies as an Elvish word meaning “sage,” or wizard.
The second is a reference to Peter Jackson’s films. When the Stranger and Nori embark on their own journey, they are confused about where to go next. With a sniff in the air, the Stranger finds a fruity scent. He tells Nori that when in doubt, he always follows his nose, which is the advice Gandalf gave in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Is the Stranger really Gandalf?
What makes these hints confusing is that Gandalf, according to Tolkien’s writing, is not present in the Second Age. Most mages aren’t, actually. Tolkien is contradictory here, but the two little-discussed Blue Wizards, according to some of his works, appear in the Second Age. Anyway, Gandalf is one of the last mages to arrive in the Third Age, landing in the Havens of Mithlond.
The Stranger obviously arrived in the Second Age. Nor did he fall in an elven harbor, but in a Harfoot field. The Stranger may be a wizard who is part of Gandalf’s order, but not Gandalf himself. At the same time, the story of Gandalf has only been told in broad strokes, which gives the rings of power wiggle room to reinterpret events or find loopholes to sneak the beloved wizard into his series, even if it doesn’t quite fit into Tolkien’s established canon.
Who is Halbrand?
The handsome stranger Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), who meets Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) at sea, is also hiding a secret.
As revealed in the closing moments of Season 1, Halbrand isn’t really the King of the Southlands. After Galadriel digs through the archives, the beautiful elf discovers that Halbrand’s supposed bloodline ended thousands of years ago. Viewers soon discover the truth: HALBRAND IS SAURON, having taken the form of a dead man to enchant and manipulate the elves.
Halbrand’s story mainly follows what Tolkien wrote about Sauron during the Second Age. The difference is that Sauron took the form of Annatar, or “Lord of Gifts”. Halbrand has been bringing gifts in the form of advanced blacksmithing knowledge, which forces the elves to forge dwarven mithril in the Three Rings.
If there were feelings between Galadriel and Halbrand, they were one-sided, as “Halbrand” was only trying to get closer to the elves. And with Galadriel knowing that her “friend” is actually Sauron, her steely exterior has only grown stronger. Maybe she’ll never let herself get that close to a stranger again.
Unlike Strange, The Rings of Power is unambiguous about Halbrand’s true identity. He is Sauron, case closed. You can tell by the way he just walks into Mordor.
The Forge of the Rings
The end of the first season of The Rings of Power breaks Tolkien’s canon in a huge way.
With the mithril obtained from Prince Durin IV’s mines, the elves’ skill, and Halbrand/Sauron’s quick tips, the elves forge the first set of the 20 Rings of Power: The Three Rings, given to the elven kings under heaven.
The tricolor rings of Narya, Nenya, and Vilya are distributed among the elves Gil-galad, Elrond, and Galadriel. Oddly, the rings were originally going to be forged into a crown, but everyone decided it would be inconvenient to make one on a tight deadline. The form of rings, then, was the most logical way out.
Although Halbrand/Sauron’s influence allowed the Three Rings to be forged, they are not directly under his control.
Tolkien fans know that the Three Rings are the last Rings of Power to be made before Sauron forged his One Ring. They are also still tied to the One Ring’s influence because of Sauron’s semi-direct involvement, but are free from Sauron’s direct control.
this is where The Rings of Power diverge from Tolkien’s canon, as the Three Rings are now the first to be forged. The dwarves have not yet received their seven, and the leaders of Men have not yet received their nine (and become the Nazgûl).
Purists might be annoyed, but for the story the show is telling, it still works as a monumental turning point. Heroes and villains have been revealed, and incredible power is among them. The Rings of Power they are just warming up.