The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has kept one thing secret and certain for the entirety of its production: Who on the show plays the role of the main antagonist, the infamous Dark Lord Sauron? In the third episode of the show, we have another character to throw into Sauron’s Potentials pile. And then in the fifth episode, that theory was spoken out loud.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for episodes 3 and 5 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.]
From the first moments of the third episode, Adar’s name is on the characters’ lips. Arondir and a large number of humans and various elves have been captured and forced to dig orc tunnels, and the orcs appear to report to someone named “Adar”. Arondir’s eleven friends even speculate aloud that Adar is another name for Sauron.
In the episode’s final scene, Arondir is dragged before a figure that appears to be Adar, but is shot in a heavy blur that obscures his features. In the fourth episode, the two have a conversation that only makes Adar’s origins more mysterious.
Who is Adar?
we don’t know. He’s just as likely to be an original character created for power rings as he is Sauron, although that particular theory took a hit in the fifth episode (more on that in a second). In The Lord of the ringsSauron had intermediaries between him and the orcs on the front lines (generals, captains, Nazgûl, heralds like the Mouth of Sauron) and allies working for his goals, like Saruman. Adar could be something similar, a corrupt man from the Southlands.
Episode 5 made the possibility of him being Sauron that much murkier. When a group of men travel to Adar and his band of orcs to pledge allegiance and beg for mercy, one of them assumes that Adar is Sauron and even asks, “You are Sauron, aren’t you?” This greatly infuriates Adar, who does not respond directly, instead grabbing the man by the throat and demanding a sacrifice.
Even with that angry lack of response, it’s technically possible that it’s Sauron, although we can safely file it as “unlikely”. In this Second Age era, Sauron was building his first foothold in Mordor, neighbor to the show’s Southlands. He was still able to take physical form at the time and used his shapeshifting ability to appear in a fair and friendly manner. Under the name of Annatar, he claimed to be an emissary of the gods and convinced Celebrimbor to teach him the ringcraft, eventually putting his secret little enchantments on the lesser rings.
Arondir’s companions note that Sauron had many names, and it may be that in power Ring, Adam is one of them. Arondir points out that Adar is an Elvish word; it probably means “father” in one of the two Elvish dialects Tolkien created, which we know by Tom Bombadil’s Elvish name Iarwain Ben-adar, meaning “the oldest and the orphan.”
Could Adar be Sauron with a new name? Probably not. Halbrand still seems like the most likely Sauron candidate of the characters we’ve met. And probably the biggest tells Adar No being revealed as the Dark Lord himself is that the eleven assholes of Arondir already suggested that part out loud. Hell, maybe it’s Tom Bombadil.