Rings of Power Could’ve Improved Sauron’s Arc


Prime Video The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power ends season 1 with a bang due to the huge reveal that Halbrand has been cheating on Galadriel. He is really the sinister Sauron, stealing information about the forging of the rings at Lindon, which he will use in his own quest to make the One Ring. Admittedly, the idea was not well disguised with quite a few clues acting like breadcrumbs towards the truth.

Interestingly, not everyone was receptive to the way the reveal played out, believing the show forced everything for shock value. Still, the impact of the reveal lies in its execution. Halbrand, being this former disciple of Morgoth, might have handled it better if the show hadn’t been shy about secrecy in the first place. In the process, the rings of power could have created a more tragic Sauron, with the perfect inspiration in the form of from Smallville LexLuthor.

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Smallville humanized Lex Luthor to perfection.

Conceptually, the Superman the movies and cartoons generally depict an evil Lex, with the comics also focusing more on his evil side. Smallville, however, he delved deeper by drawing on old traditions involving his father, Lionel, to shape a Lex who had a lot of light inside him. Sadly, family issues like emotional abuse and the passing of his mother, him and Lana drifting apart, and the Kents, especially Clark, lying to him, all worked to break Lex up.

When Lex finally revealed that he was the villain of the story, doing his best to hurt Kansas City from then on, some loyalists felt sympathy. He really did mean well, but in his corporate kingdom of lying sharks, monsters, and corrupt science, it was hard for him not to become a man seeking the power to fix the world in his distorted image. He therefore, he was heartbreaking when he betrayed Clark, coming off as the brother who chose the wrong path. It is a role that many consider to be the best representation of Lex due to the emotional performances of Michael Rosenbaum.

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Sauron could have benefited from the Lex treatment to feel whole

What Smallville did was make Lex a layered, nuanced, well-rounded character. His performance had pain, love, hate, and everything needed for the audience to connect and sympathize with him. Even as fans watched him go off the rails, they still had hope, all the while knowing where his story would end. Had Halbrand received this treatment, rather than secrecy, his trip would have felt more appealing.

Unfortunately, fans never know why he wants out of Morgoth’s rule, or what exactly happened in the aftermath between him and Adar. More specifically, it is unknown why he wants the orcs to be enslaved and what motivates him to leave the order to find peace. Exploring this would have given Sauron a deeply personal journey, informing why he now wants to “heal” Middle-earth. Instead, the way he fights internally is undeveloped, making Sauron feel like a plot device meant to make Galadriel seem gullible and overconfident.

Showing more of Sauron doing good deeds, perhaps in Númenor, would have made it resonate in a larger sense, away from Galadriel’s quest. Developing his character would have shown his inner conflict and reframed his truths. It would also have given him more of an identity than a spy who quickly became greedy and obsessed with rings in the season 1 finale. In the same way that there was a breaking point in Lex’s adventure that caused catharsis, the twist Sauron’s heel would have similarly felt more organic, with fans rooting for him holding on to both the journey and the final destination.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 is available to stream in its entirety on Prime Video.

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