The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power's finale featured the big reveal Charlie Vickers' Halbrand is, in fact, Sauron. We still don't know what led to him being lost at sea - or how he came to be essentially powerless - but that story is one we anticipate being further explored in season 2.
In the final few moments of "Alloyed," Halbrand revealed his true self to Galadriel and made his way to the newly created Mordor, clearly looking to regain the status he lost when Morgoth was defeated. While the character quickly emerged as a fan-favourite candidate for the show's Sauron, there were clues scattered throughout The Rings of Power earlier than we thought.
Talking to Vanity Fair (via SFFGazette.com), showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay confirmed they started laying the groundwork for the big Sauron as soon as Halbrand's first appearance.
"Yes, in his very first shot, he's looking over his shoulder with one eye. And in episode two, he says, 'The tides of fate are flowing. Yours may be heading out,'" Payne explains. "That’s the line that Galadriel says to Frodo when the ring comes into her orbit. She’s repeating the first thing he ever said to her."
"She asks on the raft, 'What kind of man would leave his companions to die?' He says, 'The kind of man that knows how to survive.'"
As The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continued, both Galadriel and viewers were fooled into thinking Halbrand might be the heroic King of the Southlands. Instead, Sauron was just inspired to try and regain his power, with all signs now pointing to him bringing a new reign of terror to Middle-earth.
Did you guys spot any early Sauron clues in the show? Let us know your thoughts on that in the usual place.