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The Rings of Power Set Up Its Next Villain For Season 2 (Not Sauron)

The Rings of Power season 1’s finale sets up season 2’s villain, and while thoughts might immediately turn toward Sauron, the honor isn’t his.

Warning: spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power season 1 finale.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has laid the groundwork for season 2’s villain – but we’re not talking about Sauron. Emerging from Amazon‘s The Rings of Power season 1 finale, much of the post-mortem chatter revolves around Galadriel exposing Halbrand as Sauron. The Dark Lord reluctantly reveals himself and is last seen heading toward Mordor’s Mount Doom for a tense reunion with Adar. It’s perfectly clear that Sauron will be playing a significant role in The Rings of Power season 2 now that his veil of anonymity has been lifted.

Between a Sauron surprise, a sorcerers’ showdown, and sinister smithery, The Rings of Power season 1’s finale doesn’t find much time for Númenor. Elendil and Queen Regent Míriel return home, with the latter still adjusting to her blindness, but they’re greeted by a procession of black flags flanking Númenor’s main port, signaling the death of Tar-Palantir. Despite Númenor’s minimal presence in The Rings of Power‘s season 1 ending, the island-set scenes subtly foreshadow a new villain for season 2: the treacherous Pharazôn.

The Rings Of Power Season 1 Finale Sets Up Pharazon As A Villain

The Rings of Power season 1 doesn’t exactly portray Pharazôn as someone you’d trust to hand in a lost wallet, but neither is he depicted as an outright villain across episodes 1 through 7. The Chancellor’s anti-Elf rhetoric and scheme to plunder Middle-earth’s resources are less-than-virtuous, but also pretty ordinary for an ambitious and conniving politician. Pharazôn also never directly undermines the Queen Regent during The Rings of Power season 1, supporting her expedition to the Southlands, and sending guards to the King’s chamber when Galadriel escapes. Anyone with a beard like his will rouse suspicion, but Pharazôn largely stays in his lane.

In The Rings of Power‘s season 1 finale, however, the facade slowly begins to crack. Pharazôn struggles to hold back his excitement while discussing Tar-Palantir’s imminent death to a group of young builders, with Eärien noticeably uneasy during his weirdly intense speech. Stranger still is the brief scene where Pharazôn stands over the King’s corpse staring like a man possessed. There’s no grief, sadness or reverence in his expression – simply greed, ambition and hunger. It’s The Rings of Power‘s biggest indication yet that Pharazôn’s sights are set firmly on Númenor’s throne. Such a sudden change of demeanor would suggest that Pharazôn has been patiently biding his time, waiting for Tar-Palantir to finally kick the bucket before making his move.

In The Rings of Power‘s season 1 finale, however, the facade slowly begins to crack. Pharazôn struggles to hold back his excitement while discussing Tar-Palantir’s imminent death to a group of young builders, with Eärien noticeably uneasy during his weirdly intense speech. Stranger still is the brief scene where Pharazôn stands over the King’s corpse staring like a man possessed. There’s no grief, sadness or reverence in his expression – simply greed, ambition and hunger. It’s The Rings of Power‘s biggest indication yet that Pharazôn’s sights are set firmly on Númenor’s throne. Such a sudden change of demeanor would suggest that Pharazôn has been patiently biding his time, waiting for Tar-Palantir to finally kick the bucket before making his move.

Pharazon Teases A Villain Plan Beyond Numenor

Pharazôn lays his grand ambitions out pretty clearly in The Rings of Power season 1’s finale (see, he’s already doing villain things!) and inadvertently confirms his designs extend far beyond Númenor alone. During the aforementioned speech to Eärien’s class, Pharazôn references immortality “that no man, not even a king, can attain…” Once again, he utters this line with a thousand-yard stare that betrays his innermost thoughts. Pharazôn’s hunger doesn’t just demand the throne of Númenor, but the throne of Númenor forever. He seeks to become an eternal king, possessing the kind of deathlessness Men simply aren’t gifted in Middle-earth.

Pharazôn’s line from the Rings of Power season 1 finale will raise an extra-big red flag for those familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien’s downfall of Númenor story. In the author’s original mythology, Númenóreans become increasingly jealous and resentful that the Valar won’t afford them the same privileges and gifts Elves get. That anger builds for centuries and is amplified by the manipulations of Sauron, culminating when Ar-Pharazôn leads an army to Valinor in search of that coveted immortality. It’s that act of aggression that seals Númenor’s fate and causes the destruction seen in The Rings of Power‘s palantír visions.

Sauron Won’t Necessarily Be Season 2’s Main Villain

Sauron obviously provided The Rings of Power‘s overarching villain in season 1, but by hiding in the shadows, he wasn’t actually the main villain. That honor fell to Adar, who nobly filled antagonist duties in Sauron’s stead. Even though Halbrand’s identity is now exposed, a similar pattern may emerge in The Rings of Power season 2. Thanks to Galadriel’s investigation nous, the Dark Lord is forced to depart Eregion with his task half-finished. The three Elven Rings of Power are forged, but sixteen still remain – the Rings for Dwarves and Men. Rather than “Halbrand,” Sauron could now adopt his traditional “Annatar” disguise, which would mean he’s the overarching villain of The Rings of Power season 2, but once again, not necessarily the main villain, since he’s masquerading as the Elves’ friend.

That leaves a villain vacuum Pharazôn is best placed to fill. Adar’s time as a lead antagonist is over now that Sauron has marched into Mordor, but Pharazôn’s time as the bad guy is only just beginning. Just as The Rings of Power season 1 cast Adar as the open enemy attempting to conquer the Southlands and oppress its population while Sauron pretended to be a charming savoir called Halbrand, The Rings of Power season 2 could cast Pharazôn as the open enemy attempting to conquer Númenor and oppress its population while Sauron pretends to be a charming savior called Annatar. The Númenórean chancellor could rally his supporters, coerce the Queen into transferring power, and incite riots over Míriel’s Elf support. Pharazôn stands poised to cleave a violent divide between the Faithful and the rest of his population.

The Rings Of Power May Be Forced To Change Pharazon’s Villain Arc

A key tenet of Tolkien’s Pharazôn character may have to change in The Rings of Power. As per Númenor’s original mythology, Tar-Palantir dies and is immediately usurped by his nephew, Ar-Pharazôn, who wriggles his way into power by marrying the King’s daughter, Míriel. Pharazôn’s ascension forces Queen Míriel into the background, as he seizes full control of Númenor, but as you might’ve already noticed, Pharazôn and Míriel are actually cousins. Thanks to Game of Thrones, the average TV viewer’s tolerance for onscreen incest is far higher than it used to be, but The Rings of Power may still rather avoid a storyline where one cousin forcibly marries another. The issue could’ve been avoided completely by simply removing the blood relation and making Pharazôn a regular power-hungry politician, but The Rings of Power already confirmed he’s Míriel’s cousin in episode 5, nixing that get-out clause.

Ickiness isn’t the only problem. The Rings of Power has portrayed Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s Míriel as a powerful ruler with a strong mind, whereas the Tolkien character was largely unexplored. Pharazôn marrying his cousin by force and barging her from the throne would risk undermining Míriel’s improved characterization in live-action. If Pharazôn doesn’t usurp the Queen through marriage, however, he must instead rely on violence, force, manipulation and deception – all qualities that make him an obvious main villain for The Rings of Power season 2.

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