Amazon Prime’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is the target of unceasing fan theories, as viewers work to parse the show’s carefully laid hints to determine the purpose behind each of its subtle reveals.
Rings is letting its story unfurl slowly, dropping careful clues and tiny indicators to lead viewers to the proper conclusions. At its core, however, the show is about exactly what it claims: the rings of power. The 20 rings created by Sauron to enslave the races of Middle-earth, none of which have yet been crafted but remain a quiet threat in the background of each scene. This is at the forefront of a recent fan theory, which proposes that the series is introducing viewers to each of the eventual ring bearers one by one.
Posted to Reddit’s official Rings of Power sub, user TheMediocreCritic explains that, leaning on the idea that the show’s main focus is introducing the ring bearers as they were before Sauron’s corruption, one character’s identity becomes far clearer. Characters like Galadriel are well known ring bearers, but the majority of the other ring bearers are far less known. We do know, however, that on top of the three rings given to the elves, seven rings were gifted to the dwarves and nine were given to the kings of men. We’ve seen the show take on clear angles from the elven and dwarven perspectives, but men have yet to receive the same treatment.
Or so many assume.
TheMediocreCritic has another idea, one that separates Halbrand from the many theories already posed about him, and instead places him at the core of another. A number of theories propose different fates for Galadriel’s human companion, floating him as a number of eventual characters, from Sauron himself to the king under the mountain. The latest theory agrees with the idea that Halbrand’s impact on the story has yet to reveal itself, but this time places him in a new role: that of a Nazgul.
TheMediocreCritic believes that Halbrand will eventually become one of the nine human ring bearers, a tragic future that will eventually lead him to become a Nazgul. We know, by this point in the series, that he is a vital king of the southlands, and his status as a “king of men” makes him a perfect candidate. Leaning on the post’s assertion that “the series is showing us representatives from each group that gets rings from Sauron,” it makes a good amount of sense. The show currently orients itself around several vital perspectives, showcasing the current status of each of Middle-earth’s major groups: except for humans. One can argue that the Numenorian storyline is providing the human perspective, but even this story retains Halbrand at its core.
The idea that Halbrand is fated for a future as a Nazgul is thoroughly unappealing for a number of viewers, but TheMediocreCritic is correct in their assertion that the theory makes sense. Its not the only explanation for why Rings is taking its current approach to storytelling, but it’s a good one.
Commenters can’t help but agree, littering TheMediocreCritic’s post with praise and their own theories about Halbrand’s eventual fate. Many feel that Halbrand as a Nazgul makes more sense than Halbrand as Sauron, but that isn’t stopping fans of the latter theory from attempting to reinforce their points. None make as solid an argument as TheMediocreCritic, however, who notes that the show’s thematic structure seems to be carefully providing representatives from each of the ring bearing groups. Halbrand’s consistent presence as a main character is certainly suspect when framed in such a way.
The final episode of Rings of Power season one is all but guaranteed to clear up at least some of the confusion regarding the ring bearers and Halbrand, but it’s still several weeks from airing. Once it rolls around on Oct. 14, viewers might just get the answers they’re searching for. If not, they’ll have quite the wait until season two rolls around.