Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending Explained: Is The Stranger Gandalf?

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The Rings Of Power Season 2
The Stranger

Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending answered many of the questions we had during the course of season 1. It revealed Who Sauron was in The Rings of Power. Who The Strange actually was. And finally, it showed us the forging of the Three Elven Rings Of Power. We will be talking about all three things, going into the original source material for reference and explanation.

Previously, the Stranger was being followed by both his Harfoot allies and a group of mysterious mystics as he made his way toward Greenwood the Great. Galadriel was traveling in their direction with an ailing Halbrand, who had been severely hurt by Mount Doom’s eruption.

At the same time, the Elves were considering how to stop their downfall without access to Moria’s supplies of Mithril. The Nmenórean army of Queen Regent Miriel lost a lot of soldiers and retreated home as the Southlands were being changed into Mordor.

Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending Explained

At the end of Rings Of Power Season 1, we are in Eregion, and there’s an explosion as they continue to attempt to bond the Mithril with other ores. Halbrand suggests that rather than forcing the metals to join, they should be coaxed together, and I honestly have no idea what the difference would be.

In the Lord of the Rings and the appendices, we are told that the smiths of Eregion learned much from him in art and magic. So far, it seems like Sauron has just told Celebrimbor how to combine two metals. Again, not really sure what to make of this approach.

Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending Explained
Explosion while experimenting with Mithril

In the next scene, Halbrand reveals it’s too much power for one object, so they’re making two. And here Galadriel confronts Halbrand – revealing the last king of the Southlands died 1000 years ago with no heir, and Halbrand says he indeed told the truth when he said he found it on a dead man. He says he’s been awake since before the breaking of the first silence, and in that time, he’s had many names.

Galadriel tries to stab him, and he stops her with ease, throwing her down where she falls into her flashback memory in Valinor. This moment is very similar to when Frodo falls in Shelob’s cave and lands in Lorien, where Galadriel helps him up. She meets Finrod, who tells her his task is not to hunt Sauron but to ensure peace, which is Sauron’s task as well. He encourages her to simply let the work of the rings of power proceed and say nothing to the other elves.

Sauron Wants Galadriel To Join Him

Galadriel turns away from this fake Finrod, and Sauron changes the vision to the raft. There, as Halbrand, he says that when Morgoth was defeated, it was like a great, clenched fist had released its grasp on his neck, and at last, he felt the light of The One again. Now The One here refers to Eru Iluvatar, the God of Tolkien’s world.

Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending
Sauron Wants Galadriel To Join Him

They go on to talk about whether or not Sauron could ever be forgiven for his deeds, and on rewatch, and I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that Sauron is truly repenting of his deeds. In fact, I don’t buy it at all. I think he’s just manipulating Galadriel in an effort to get her to join him. At least, that’s my hope – as I’ve said many times, I personally don’t have much interest in a good guy Sauron – perhaps immediately after Morgoth’s defeat, but by this stage in the game – this dude is evil.

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Sauron shows her a vision reflected in the water where we get a somewhat obscured image of Sauron crowned with Galadriel by his side – each in clearly different attire than what they are currently wearing. And here, Halbrand gives his pitch to rule the world side by side together. He says I alone can see your light, and this is the first time I’ve seen Galadriel’s eyes seem to shine with the light of Valinor.

Galadriel Refuses Sauron’s Offer

In this dialogue, we get a couple of references to Galadriel’s later temptation of The One Ring. Sauron says he would make her not a tyrant but a queen – and in a direct quote of Galadriel’s temptation: stronger than the foundations of the earth.

He goes on to say that Galadriel binds him to the light, and he binds her to power. Galadriel refuses, and I think what Sauron is getting at next here is that without his help via the rings of power, the elves will fade, and the shadow will cover all the lands of Middle-earth.

Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending Explained
Galadriel Refuses Sauron’s Offer

And in one of the cooler moments of this exchange, Halbrand gets heated and asks what she will do when she tells the elves that Sauron lives because of her, with his voice going all freaky and veins starting to appear across his face. Galadriel yells back, and Sauron screams as we see his slit pupils appear for the first time – also, I also noticed his teeth are a bit more jagged in this image.

Galadriel goes to stab him but is submerged underwater, as she was in episode 2 before Halbrand saved her. She wakes to Elrond and yells, “Deceiver,” then makes him prove who he is – which is probably a good tactic from here on out. Elrond says they met when he was orphaned and alone, which immediately made me wonder where Elros was at the time.

This also makes me wonder if this rules out that this version of Elrond was raised by Maglor and Maedhros if Galadriel was the first to find them. Hard to believe she would turn the twins over to Sons of Feanor in that case.

Why Make Three Rings Of Power?

Galadriel rushes off to Celebrimbor, and I thought for sure she was going to try to stop the process or she’d be too late, but instead, she says that instead of two rings, they should make three – one would corrupt, two would divide, but three would have balance. She says the powers they forge must be for elves alone, untouched by other hands.

Now, we saw in her vision that Sauron wants the crafting to continue, so I was surprised to see no real conversation or discussion about the potential repercussions here. I suppose her making the demand of 3 rings and the fact that Sauron is not there anymore to take part in forging them is what will make the difference of these rings being untainted by Sauron, but that’s just my best guess at the reasoning here.

Celebrimbor states that he’s determined the purity of the lesser ores is crucial – which like, yeah, dude, you should totally use the good stuff. He says he needs gold and silver from Valinor, repeating his line that true creation requires sacrifice. And it just so happens Galadriel’s got a dagger from Valinor with both.

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Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending
Nori Leaves With The Stranger

Nori Leaves With The Stranger

Back with Nori and The Stranger, he reveals he must go to Rhun to discover more of who he is. He says traveling alone it’s just a journey, but adventures must be shared. Nori said she’d had enough adventure, and for a moment, I thought, oh wow, they’re actually going to segue the Harfoots out of the main story and avoid the wizard making a hobbit go on an adventure trope.

But about 2 minutes later, Nori’s family encourages her to go. But by the time we were saying another goodbye to Poppy, I was pretty ready to get back to the rings. On that note, I was surprised Poppy didn’t tag along as Sam to Nori’s Frodo. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if Season 2 opens with Isildur being rescued by Berek like Aragorn and Brego and Poppy following behind and dropping eaves like Sam.

Is The Stranger Gandalf?

When the Stranger says Nori should lead and she has her Frodo moment saying she doesn’t know which way to go. I thought for a moment the wizard would say “Left” like Gandalf does in Fellowship of the Ring, but instead, he says, “when in doubt, always follow your nose,” as Gandalf tells Merry in Moria, so they mixed the Lord of the Rings references this time.

Now no doubt multitudes of folks will immediately jump to this being concrete proof that this is Gandalf because he said that line that Gandalf says! But I honestly think there’s still a decent chance he’s a blue wizard.

From a practical perspective, I can understand why they would use Gandalf instead of a blue wizard – he’s an iconic character that you can market to casual fans, despite how much it may rub the book nerds like myself the wrong way when you’ve got the blue wizards right there in the canon. However, I think what they’ve done here may actually be them trying to get both in the long run.

Rings Of Power Ending Explained
The Stranger

For now, the news will be spreading that this show has Gandalf in it by people assuming that’s what this line means. But with the heavy focus on Rhun and even the line that adventures are meant to be shared – I still think there’s a decent chance he’s a blue wizard. Gandalf tells us in The Lord of the Rings his name in all the regions of Middle-earth but says, “to the East I go not.”

And the actor Daniel Weyman in an interview that was posted right after the episode dropped, wouldn’t say for certain whom he plays, so I think the idea he is Gandalf is far from a done deal. For now, folks will think he’s Gandalf, and when it’s revealed he isn’t in Season 2, it will cause a new wave of news. It’s just my theory, but I’m still on team Blue Wizard until the proof is definitive.

The Creation Of The Three Elven Ring

Back in Eregion, we get the melting down of Galadriel’s dagger, and Elrond drops in the Mithril, which causes the molten metal to look like the eye of Sauron for a moment. And finally, we get some forging of Rings of Power! I love the glimpses of the rings being crafted and really wish we would’ve gotten more of such things in this show.

The rings themselves look awesome, there’s no mistaking Nenya, Narya, and Vilya, and even though they don’t look like their film counterparts, they look great. I think the music here fits wonderfully with the creation of the rings, as there’s a bit of an undertone of darkness within.

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Rings Of Power Ending Explained
The Creation Of The Three Elven Ring

What isn’t clear here is whether the nine and the seven rings have already been created. By the books, they would have been created before Sauron departed. And the way Galadriel says, “the powers we craft here today,” it sounds like there’s possibly been powers crafted prior. I guess we will find out, perhaps in season 2.

The Sauron Twist

Elrond holds the scroll after playing Sherlock for a moment, so he’s finally wise to the fact that Halbrand is definitely not who he claimed to be. As Celebrimbor looks proudly upon his creation, we transition to the physical eye of Halbrand – back to a non-slit pupil as he looks upon Mount Doom with a bit of a smirk.

He starts his walk toward the mountain of fire, presumably to forge his one ring to rule them all as we fade to black. This shot reminds me of the final shot of the Two Towers, where the camera pans up to Mordor, with lighting and fell beasts circling around the lands. We also got an end credits song on this one, which reminded me of the song that ends the two towers – Gollum’s song.

They feel pretty similar in tone and tempo. This was the first time I’d heard the track, and I was not immediately a fan of it. We’ll see if I like it anymore, hearing it a couple more times, but my initial reaction was the melancholy feel felt less dark and menacing than I’d expect from the ring verse.

Rings Of Power Ending Explained
The Sauron Twist

I’m really curious to see how this show holds up under a repeat viewing now that season 1 is over – especially the Halbrand stuff, which I think will raise more eyebrows under repeat viewing as to why he would act the way he does.

One theory that’s been going around is that Sauron didn’t assume the form of Halbrand until after the eruption of Mount Doom and that someone like Isildur will stumble upon Halbrand’s dead body. I gotta admit, that would be kind of a clever and interesting twist if Sauron posed as different people throughout the season, but I honestly haven’t had much evidence the show is that clever.

Thoughts On Rings Of Power Season 1 Ending

I’ve mentioned some of the things I enjoy throughout, to which I’d also add off the top of my head that I really like Charles Edwards as Celebrimbor. He isn’t what I envisioned when he was first revealed, but I really liked his performance. He embodies that blind ambition I hoped to see in the character.

I thought the Halbrand/Sauron revelation – despite the fact I didn’t want Halbrand to be Sauron was done well in terms of how they presented it and especially how Charlie Vickers played it. I think I would’ve really enjoyed him bringing more of this undercurrent of evil to Eregion in the form of more screen time there.

That being said, I feel let down by how brief the creation of the rings of power was in the show. I said going into the show, that it would be important to me that they nail the big canon moments, specifically mentioning the creation of the Rings of Power, the War of the Elves and Sauron, the Fall of Numenor, and the War of the Last Alliance.

Sadly, the first of that list felt crammed into about 15 minutes of a finale episode, and while the forging of the three rings, I thought, turned out well, it just seemed like a disappointment that we saw nothing of the other 16. It’s hard not to look at this and feel that a potential Annatar in the Eregion storyline was cast aside so that we could play mystery man with Sauron.

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By Mohsin Nakade

Yo, I'm Mohsin from Mumbai. Here I like to write about Movies, TV Shows, and mostly Superhero stuff. I love movies (Spiderman), Series (GOT), Anime (AOT), and Music (Zayn & One Direction). If you are the same then we can be Besto Friendo and you can reach out to me at mohsin.nakade1@gmail.com.

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