Warning: spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power episode 6Did Adar really kill Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power? Everybody from Lindon to the Southlands knows Sauron is lurking in The Rings of Power‘s shadows – it’s merely a matter of where he’s hiding, and when he’ll reveal himself. Many naturally assumed The Rings of Power season 1’s big bad (Joseph Mawle’s Adar) was working in league with the Dark Lord, executing Sauron’s evil machinations in his absence.
The Rings of Power episode 6 all but confirms that’s not the case. Captured and interrogated by Galadriel, Adar acknowledges his allegiance to Morgoth, but explains that Sauron’s harsh treatment of Orcs following the War of Wrath upset him. Adar is, after all, the race’s progenitor from way back. Feeling protective over his little bundles of hate, Adar apparently killed Sauron, thus making himself the chief purveyor of Middle-earth misery. Sauron, meanwhile, hasn’t been spotted since… if Adar’s story is to be believed.
The Lord of the Rings fans will, of course, know that Sauron doesn’t die until the One Ring’s destruction in the Third Age (and even then he technically still exists in some metaphysical form). With this in mind, what’s the truth behind Adar’s boastful claim in The Rings of Power episode 6?
Did Adar Really Kill Sauron In The Rings Of Power? Can He?
Before digging into the weeds of his claim, The Rings of Power viewers can at least assume Adar believes what he’s telling Galadriel. No obvious benefit can be gained by lying in this situation, and Adar’s story about wanting to protect the Orcs from Sauron’s cruelty tallies with both Galadriel’s experiment chamber discovery from episode 1, and the promises Adar has repeatedly made about wanting the Southlands to become an Orc haven. Adar, therefore, seems to honestly believe he killed the Dark Lord.
He’s almost certainly mistaken. Sauron is one of the Maiar – angelic and immortal spirits from the beginning of time. Since the Maiar are divine, primordial beings, they don’t die in the traditional sense. Even after the One Ring’s eventual destruction, The Return of the King confirms Sauron still lives as a weakened spirit floating helplessly through the shadows (the same fate implicitly befalls Saruman, although wizards are a slightly special case). Maiar can, through great effort, be diminished to the point of no return, but their essence remains tied to the world.
Nevertheless, physical forms of Maiar aren’t invulnerable to damage. The likes of Lúthien, Gil-galad and Elendil all enjoyed success in battle against Sauron, but the Dark Lord’s spirit survived in each case, renewing its strength, restoring its body, and returning to prominence. Maybe this is what happened between Sauron and Adar in The Rings of Power. Adar might’ve slayed Sauron’s physical body, forcing his spirit away until enough power returned to launch a comeback. At worst, Adar’s betrayal would’ve been an unpleasant inconvenience to Sauron.
How Sauron Could Return To Middle-earth
The Lord of the Rings tells of two ways a Maia can retake physical form following a defeat. One is by the Valar’s grace – as seen when Gandalf dies fighting Moria’s Balrog but returns as Gandalf the White. The second method is going the long way around by renewing over time. After the destruction of Númenor, for example, Sauron’s physical body is gone. Tolkien writes of how the villain’s spirit endures, retreats to Middle-earth, and slowly forges a new shape over many years. This could certainly explain how Sauron defies Adar’s blade in The Rings of Power. Since the Valar are hardly likely to bring him back as “Sauron the Purple,” the Dark Lord could only wait in secret until his strength returned, and the body Adar may or may not have assassinated was replaced with a new form.
Annoyingly, this knowledge doesn’t bring The Rings of Power any closer to explaining where Sauron might be. If Adar vanquished Sauron’s physical form and forced him to spend many centuries recovering, it’s possible the villain would return to Middle-earth as a flaming meteor with no memory of his former self. The theory connecting Sauron to The Rings of Power‘s Stranger, therefore, remains alive. At the same time, Sauron’s enforced exile by Adar sounds suspiciously similar to the fate Halbrand was forced to endure…
Adar’s Story Might Explain A Tolkien Mystery
J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology leaves a big chunk of Sauron’s history unaccounted for. After the War of Wrath ended, Sauron chose to run and hide rather than face the Valar’s judgment. He eventually began making moves 500 years into the Second Age, spent another 500 years redecorating Mordor, then eventually triggered his One Ring masterplan by appearing as Annatar yet another half-century later. Compared to the 100 years (give or take) between Sauron’s body being destroyed on Númenor and his subsequent wars against Gondor, it’s fair to ask why the Dark Lord took 1500 years to make waves after Morgoth’s defeat.
The real answer, of course, is a combination of gathering troops, making plans, building strongholds, and amassing power after a crushing loss. The Rings of Power may be offering an alternative perspective, where Sauron’s Second Age comeback was rudely interrupted by the blade of a supposed ally delaying his glorious return.
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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues Thursday/Friday on Prime Video.