[Warning: The following contains spoilers from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finale. Read at your own risk!]
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finale is here, and it answered the biggest question we've had all season long: Who is Sauron? As many fans have suspected, the Dark Lord is none other than Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) — the pretend King of the Southlands who is a character created for Amazon Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings prequel series. The show has dropped many clues about Halbrand's true identity throughout this season, from his immediate interest in becoming a blacksmith in Numenor to his early words about how "appearances can be deceptive." Unfortunately for Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), she not only missed the clues, but helped save the life of her sworn enemy.
Clark told TV Guide that, before the events of Episode 8, Galadriel did not suspect Halbrand to be Sauron at all. "She is totally blindsided," Clark said. "Embarrassing is too small a word, it's more than embarrassing." The actor says that Galadriel — who has dedicated her life to defeating Sauron ever since her brother Finrod died — has been entirely deceived by Halbrand. "Her deception involves terrible things for the whole of Middle-earth," Clark explained. "For her to reckon with that, it's going to be huge."
When exactly did Galadriel start to suspect that her traveling companion is not who he says he is? Clark said it was one particular moment in The Rings of Power finale. "When Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) mentions 'the power over flesh,' and she's only ever heard Adar (Joseph Mawle) mention that before," Clark said. "This is dark stuff that shouldn't be entering the Elven Kingdom Eregion, and then she starts to suspect that he heard it from Halbrand." Galadriel soon discovers from a genealogy scroll that there is no King of the Southlands, and confronts Halbrand. Up until then, the Elf believed that he was the King of the Southlands. "It was convenient for her narrative — because she wants to go and fight in Middle-earth," Clark explained. "She was not seeing things as clearly as she could have."
"She needed something to fit, make the puzzle work, to make the Numenoreans go to Middle-earth," Clark continued. "He was a bit of that, and so she was open to be deceived." The blow is particularly painful to Galadriel because of the bond that she has formed with Halbrand. "I think he's the only person that's managed to kind of penetrate her guards," Clark said. Not to mention, after Halbrand was wounded it was Galadriel who brought him to Eregion so that he could be treated with Elvish medicine. "She's helped to save him," Clark said. "She's also inspired him, and she'll always know that."
After Galadriel makes it clear to Halbrand that she knows he is Sauron, he makes a pitch for her to join him. Halbrand says Galadriel can become his queen, and that she will bind him to light while he will bind her to power. Galadriel does not agree to this proposal, though Clark said her character was "tempted enough." "But also it's kind of like, would that have been a better option? Maybe she could have bound him to the light." Clark said. "To have been deceived by him in the first place shows that they are more aligned than she realizes."
Their confrontation ends with Halbrand trapping Galadriel in a series of visions. When she wakes up, Galadriel returns to Celebrimbor's workshop to help finish what the master smith has started — with the guidance of Halbrand. Galadriel gives up her sword so that its melted parts could become part of the rings that Celebrimbor is trying to create. Sure enough, his plan works and the Three Rings are forged.
"[Galadriel's] faced with this being that she knows is terrifying and powerful," Clark said of Halbrand. "But then she actually faces him and he is more terrifying and powerful." That's why even though she knew Halbrand had a hand in Celebrimbor's project — he was the one who proposed that the smith make something circular — she wanted to help. "She feels that the only thing that can fight him is power. And she feels those rings need to be made to defeat him," Clark explained. "But once again, doesn't mean that she's right."
Clark also said that by the end of Season 1, Galadriel's motivations have shifted — she is part of a bigger cause now. "It's the whole of Middle-earth. It's not about her avenging her brother any longer," Clark said. "Through partly her own doing, it's so much bigger than that now. the least she can do is put up her sword in terms of her own agenda."
Up until this point, Galadriel's actions have been driven by both her desire to avenge her brother and her hope to protect Middle-earth from evil. "It wasn't healthy for it to be both," Clark explained. "It wasn't that she didn't care at all about Middle-earth — she did very much so. But she weighed her own kind of vengeance as an equal measure to that." That has changed after the recent events, from Southlanders and Numenoreans dying because of the volcano eruption to her being deceived by Halbrand. "It's about protecting everyone now instead of fulfilling her own vendetta," Clark said.
According to the actor, Galadriel now has a different mindset when it comes to the role she will play in the fight against Sauron. "I feel like she's going into next season determined to be helpful and a force for good, but not to lead," Clark said.
And while the whereabouts of Sauron have finally been revealed, there may be another mystery ahead for Galadriel. Namely, one about her husband Celebrimbor who Galadriel believes is dead. "Galadriel still doesn't know where Celeborn is," Clark said when asked about any burning questions she has going into The Rings of Power Season 2. "Where is Celeborn?"
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 is available to stream. Season 2 has been ordered, but it might be a while before it is released.