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LOTR: The Rings Of Power Episode 8 Recap - Sauron Lets It All Hang Out

Contains spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Season 1, Episode 8

Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" has officially wrapped. The final episode of the eight-part adventure, "Alloyed," aired on October 14, bringing an information-filled, action-packed, interestingly paced conclusion to the first part of the five-season story. While a lot takes place throughout the 72-minute experience, the primary focus of the finale centers on three key storylines.

First, after an eight-hour wait, Sauron (Charlie Vickers) is finally revealed (more on that in a bit). Second, the identity of the Stranger (Daniel Weyman) is at least kind of clarified. Third, we finally get to see some goshdarn Rings of Power being forged, albeit out of a superpowered mithril alloy that off-roads quite a bit from Tolkien canon.

Season 1 has juggled an enormous number of storylines across its 20+ main cast members. It's also introduced multiple mysteries and misdirects. Many of these narrative threads and enigmatic question marks come to a head in the last hour of content, paving the way for a second season that hopefully moves things in a more definitive direction. For now, though, we're left with a complex and slightly overwhelming series of events in the finale, all of which we break down in detail below.

The Stranger faces off against the Mystics

It isn't the biggest, baddest breaking Middle-earth story, and yet the subplot following the Harfoots and their mysterious meteor-man companion has remained charming, alarming, and all-in-all interesting throughout Season 1. During that time, most of what we've seen has focused on the details of Harfoot life, but in the finale, the attention fully shifted to the Stranger in a really big way.

When the episode starts, we see the Wizard in Greenwood (future Mirkwood), where he encounters the three Mystics who have been following him for a while now. They assume that he's Sauron due to the obvious supernatural signs that surround him. Eventually, a posse of Harfoots, including Nori (Markella Kavenagh), Poppy (Megan Richards), Marigold (Sara Zwangobani), and Sadoc (Lenny Henry), arrives and tries to help their Big Folk friend out of his awkward predicament.

Not surprisingly, things go south quickly, with Sadoc taking a knife to the gut and the others nearly being roasted alive, like the 13 troll-captured Dwarves in "The Hobbit." At this point, the Stranger steps up, firmly choosing the side of good and destroying the shadowy perils with his fancy new staff. All in all, the event ends well for the good guys, with the exception of poor old Sadoc, who goes wandering off-trail and joins the missus.

By the end of the episode, the Stranger reveals that his brain fog has cleared a bit, and he remembers that he's an Istar, one of the Wizards. There's more to find out, though, and he and Nori end the season trekking off eastward, toward the mysterious Mannish kingdom of Rhûn, where the stars are strange and the even stranger identity of the Wizard will doubtless crystalize heading into Season 2.

Númenor comes to a crossroads

Tar-Palantir (Ken Blackburn), the far-seeing King of Númenor, is already an old fellow when we first meet him earlier in the season. In the intervening episodes, he has a tangential impact on the show with his prophetic wisdom, especially when he warns his daughter not to go to Middle-earth because only darkness awaits her there. By the time Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) returns from that fateful expedition in Episode 8, her father has shuffled off this mortal coil, leaving Númenor in an immediate crisis.

When the episode first picks up with the Númenor storyline, we see Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle) calling a select number of skilled builders in to capture the king's visage before he dies. Pharazôn's rampant ambition mixed with his growing fear of death is clearly on display in his speech to the artisans. When Eärien (Ema Horvath) gets her chance to be alone with the king, the otherwise docile monarch gets a spurt of manic energy, leading the girl up a flight of stairs, where we last see her facing the palantír that gave Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Míriel heart-palpitating visions of Númenor's destruction.

Eventually, the story loops back around to the continent-bound expedition itself as its survivors, including Míriel, Elendil (Lloyd Owen), and Valandil (Alex Tarrant), slowly sail back home after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time in Mordor. By the time they get back to their island, the harbor is covered in black sails — looks like Míriel is no longer a regent. The question is, what happens next? Does the sightless heir to the throne seamlessly step into the power vacuum, or will her overambitious cousin, Pharazôn, have something to say on the matter?

Everything goes down in Eregion

The Harfoot and Númenor storylines are interesting and important to address before the show wrapped up for the season. But really, they're sideshows to the real focus of the finale, which takes place in Eregion. There, we see an Elven crossing of ways as Elrond (Robert Aramayo), Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards), Galadriel, and Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker) all come together for the first time. Everyone is brought up to speed on the unfortunate fact that they can't get any more miracle mithril from the Dwarves, and Gil-galad officially makes the call. They're pulling the plug on the whole "mithril saturation" idea, and the Elves are going home.

At the last second, though, Elrond manages to convince the high king to give them a few more months to try to come up with a plan. That's helpful, but it doesn't change the fact that the uninspired master smith Celebrimbor is still stuck in first gear. Things seem pretty hopeless — that is, until Halbrand shows up out of nowhere with some inspiring ideas about amplifying the mithril's inherent power or some such non-Tolkienian concept made up for the show.

In the end, Halbrand's true identity is revealed, and he makes a run for it. Desperate to find a way to resist the rising Dark Lord, Galadriel steers into the skid, giving up her ultrapure gold and silver Valinorian dagger to bind it with the mithril. This creates an alloy that makes not one, not two, but three supernaturally powered rings. (Where the other 16 are, we have no idea at this point.) All we know is that the finale's events in Eregion set the stage for one of the most important moments in all of Middle-earth history: the forging of the One Ring to rule them all.

Halbrand is revealed as Sauron

We come to it at last: the great reveal of Season 1. From the get-go, everyone has wondered where and when Sauron would pop up. Some early rumors indicated that he wouldn't be revealed in Season 1 at all. Now we know that the rumor, while close to accurate, ultimately proved to be untrue. Halbrand is Sauron, folks. A lot of fans guessed it, and the finale confirmed it. The Dark Lord that Galadriel was pursuing with a slightly insane degree of intensity was ultimately by her side the entire time.

The future Lady of Lórien starts to have a hunch that something's not right with her Southlander friend when he shows newly invigorated interest in Celebrimbor's smithcraft upon his arrival in Eregion, and the growing distrust leads her to ask the local Elven scholars to scour the catacombs for any information they might have on the history of Halbrand's claim to his nifty new throne. When they do dig up an ancient chronicle, it reveals that the last King of the Southlands died without an heir over a thousand years ago. When Galadriel confronts Halbrand on the issue, it all comes out.

The twist of having the scrappy Halbrand be Sauron himself is an interesting one. The fact that he's masquerading around Middle-earth as a Man makes it a bit harder to believe that he could randomly step in and help the Elves make the Rings of Power, though. In the source material, Sauron does help out, but he does it in his more refined Annatar persona. Reinventing this character in the form of the "mortal" Halbrand was a gutsy take on the story. Whether it worked or not is a question for future seasons to answer.

When does The Rings of Power Season 2, Episode 1 air?

Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" was a wild ride. After years of top-secret production, the marketing picked up with a Super Bowl ad in early 2022 and intensified over the following summer. The eight-episode season lasted into the fall, playing out over September and October. After so many months of growing momentum, the question now is, what happens next? It's an inquiry that can at least be partially answered, even as Season 1 officially draws to a close.

As far as production is concerned, Season 2 is already off to the races. The Hollywood Reporter announced in early October that Season 2 was already in production. After a dramatic move across the globe from its original filming locations in New Zealand, the next season will be filmed primarily in the United Kingdom — an economically based shift that hopefully won't have any negative repercussions on the quality of the show's sets and visuals (some of its biggest strengths thus far).

In another article from The Hollywood Reporter, it was revealed that a Season 2 debut may be multiple years away. After noting that the production speed has significantly increased since the early days of the pandemic (when most of Season 1 was filmed), the pub quotes showrunner Patrick McKay as saying they expect to work on Season 2 for "another couple [of] years." This lengthy production schedule gives fans plenty of time to digest the first eight hours of Second Age Middle-earth storytelling. It also gives the creators time to hear feedback, refine their approach, and hopefully take things to the next level with a risky Middle-earth gamble that has, thus far, both impressed and upset a polarized Tolkien fan base.