The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has kept one thing secret and safe for the entirety of its production: Who in the show is playing the role of chief antagonist, the infamous Dark Lord Sauron? And in the show’s third episode, we get another character to toss into the pile of Sauron Potentials.
Now, Rings of Power hasn’t out-and-out said this is Sauron — yet. But here’s what we can say.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for episode 3 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, “Adar.”]
From the very first moments of the episode, the name Adar is on characters’ lips. Arondir and a slew of humans and several elves have been captured and press-ganged into digging orc tunnels, and the orcs seem to report to someone called “Adar.” Arondir’s elf buddies even speculate out loud that Adar is another name for Sauron.
In the episode’s final scene, Arondir is dragged before a figure who seems to be Adar, but is shot in a heavy blur that obscures his features. All we can tell, before the show cuts to black, is that he appears to be elven or human, and is pale with dark hair.
Who is Adar?
We don’t know. It’s just as likely he’s an original character created for Rings of Power as he is Sauron. In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron had intermediaries between himself and orcs on the front lines — generals, captains, Nazgûl, heralds like the Mouth of Sauron — and allies who worked for his aims, like Saruman. Adar could be something similar, a corrupted man of the Southlands.
But yeah, it’s possible that he’s Sauron. At this era in the Second Age, Sauron was building up his first foothold in Mordor, neighbor to the show’s Southlands. He could still take physical form at the time, and used his ability to shapeshift to appear in a fair and friendly manner. Under the name Annatar, he claimed to be an emissary of the gods and convinced Celebrimbor to teach him ringcraft, eventually putting his secret little enchantments on the lesser rings.
Arondir’s companions note that Sauron went by many names, and it could be that in Rings of Power, Adar is one of them. Arondir notes that Adar is an elvish word — it probably means “father” in one of the two elven dialects that Tolkien created, which we know from Tom Bombadil’s elven name, Iarwain Ben-adar, which means “Oldest and Fatherless.”
Could Adar be Sauron under a new name? It’s possible! But probably the biggest tell he won’t be revealed as the Dark Lord himself next week is that Arondir’s elf buds already suggested that part out loud. Hell, maybe he’s Tom Bombadil.