As The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power hits the home stretch with only three episodes of its first season remaining, a myriad of questions about the show’s multi-pronged plot and vast crew of characters remain.
Given the extensive lore created by JRR Tolkien and the large time gap between the setting of the series and the beginning of The Hobbit, some fans have gotten very excited at trying to fill in the gaps. With most of the characters already established in the books and Peter Jackson’s two film trilogies not featuring in the show, some viewers of the largely well-received series have come up with elaborate theories that would see some favourites return in a younger form.
To a degree, The Rings Of Power encourages this sort of amateur sleuthing due to its overarching mystery – and the showrunners’ decision to deliberately leave the true identities of two very main characters rather opaque. Five episodes in, we’re still waiting for Sauron’s much-anticipated arrival. So, what’s the internet saying?
Is Sauron disguised as Halbrand?
By far the most popular fan theory circulating the internet is that the dashingly handsome Halbrand is actually the Dark Lord Sauron.
An original creation for the show, Halbrand had a mysterious introduction on The Rings of Power, floating on a raft after leaving the Southlands. With Galadriel discovering that Halbrand is probably the promised King of the Southlands, there’s certainly more to him than he’s revealing.
Lending more credence to the theory is that Sauron is a known shapeshifter. The Dark Lord also has his forces gathering in the Southlands, with many on the web expecting Halbrand to turn out to be the manipulator that brings down Numenor (as Tolkien documented Sauron doing so in The Silmarillion).
Or is Halbrand actually a Nazgûl?
Another fan theory swirling around Halbrand is that he will end up being one of Sauron’s Ringwraiths. As we know from The Lord of the Rings, the Ringwraiths or Nazgûl were originally the nine men granted rings of power by Sauron before becoming completely corrupted by them.
As with the theory that Halbrand is actually Sauron, this one hinges around Halbrand actually being the real King of the Southlands. Each of Sauron’s Nazgûl was a proud king of men, but Tolkien left much of their backstory and identities unwritten so if indeed Halbrand is King of the Southlands by the time Sauron forges the rings, there’s a good chance he ends up being one of the Nazgûl that terrorised Frodo and co.
Is Theo the Witch King?
Theo is just a boy in The Rings of Power but there is support for the theory that by the time the show reaches its conclusion he will become the evil Witch King of Angmar.
Explored in relative detail in Tolkien’s books, the Witch King is the most powerful of the Nazgûl who was slain at the end of Return of the King by Eowyn and Merry, but his human identity was never revealed.
Some fans think Theo may grow up to become the Witch King because of his possession of an unusual black sword he stole in episode one. The sword has a sigil stamped onto it that is the branding Galadriel had been searching for because of its association with Sauron. Of course, anything in Middle-earth that is black and metal usually ends up being associated with the Dark Lord.
Is the Stranger really Gandalf?
A central question at the heart of The Rings of Power revolves around the identity of the mysterious Stranger. A new companion of the Harfoots, we know precious little about him other than he has some pretty devastating powers such as being able to wield fire – an ability usually reserved for wizards.
Which leads us to the theory that this man is actually Gandalf. The Rings of Power has introduced young versions of Elrond and Galadriel so fans have their hopes up that the famed wizard is going to appear at some point. The only issue is that the timeline doesn’t entirely add up as it is documented that Gandalf doesn’t appear in Middle-earth until the Third Age – after Sauron’s initial defeat.
The Stranger is almost certainly a wizard of some description given the abilities he’s displayed and though Gandalf was one of the first sorcerers sent to Middle-earth to combat the growing threat of Sauron, issues regarding the rights to the character mean this theory is unlikely to be correct.