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Rings of Power episode 8 recap: Sauron and the Stranger

Rings of Power: Episode 8 recap. The first season of Rings of Power has come to an end. So what actually happened, and who was Sauron?

Rings of Power episode 8 recap: Halbrand

Our Verdict

The Rings of Power season finale had some big reveals, but they were predictable, underwhelming, and inevitable.

Rings of Power: episode 8 recap. The season finale of the Middle-earth fantasy series starts as all good episodes of television do: with an old man in a dressing gown stumbling around a forest.

This isn’t just any forest, though. This is Greenwood the Great, and the stranger is skirting around it after his exile from the Harfoots. As he’s fumbling around the moss and branches, he notices that he’s not alone. The Stranger is being followed, and he even gets his apple stolen from him. Oh no!

It turns out that finally, those dastardly white cloak cultists have caught up with him. After cornering him, they reveal their belief that he’s Sauron, and pledge their allegiance to him.

Meanwhile, Galadriel and Halbrand have ridden across Middle-earth – and we mean the entirety of Middle-earth – from Mordor to Lindon, in between episodes. The King of the Southlands, who was so close to dying, travelled the span of Middle-earth on horseback on the edge of death. After some good old-fashioned Elven medicine, he’s back to his old self. Is there anything this man can’t do (no, seriously, he seems to have taken a course in indestructibility from Michael Myers) ?

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Celebrimbor discovers Halbrand wandering around Lindon, after he stumbles into Celebrimor’s workshop. He spots three sparkly gemstones (which just seem to look like they might just fit into three rings), before convincing Celebrimbor that the use of an alloy might mean that the small amount of Mithril can be crafted – the thought of which makes Celebrimbor’s eyes light up.

Celebrimbor suggests that the Mithril could be used to save the Elves by turning it into a small round object. No, not a ring – a crown for Gil-Galad. Celebrimbor believes that creating a crown out of Mithril can harness the power of the unseen world and restore the power of the Elves. Hmmmm. Rather suspicious, if you ask me.

This new idea, and Halbrand’s role in it, coincides with the start of Galadriel’s suspicions about Halbrand. He’s had a particularly charming influence on the old Elven master smith, and he’s beginning to seem a little bit more sly, and confident.

Rings of Power episode 8 recap: Cultists

Back in Greenwood, the cultists are convincing the Stranger that he is, in fact Sauron. They want to take him to Rhûn – that’s where his star map points to. His power bubbles over again, blasting everyone back. They tie him up to prevent any more ‘outbursts’ of his uncontrolled power. However, little do the cultists know, Sadoc Burrows has been stalking the Stranger and the cultists, along with Nori and Poppy.

The Hobbits watch the cultists’ dealings with the Stranger in fear, before attempting to cut the Stranger down from his bonds. Unfortunately, they’re interrupted and Sadoc gets a knife to the chest. Gasp! In defence of the Harfoots, the Stranger wields his power to blast away the cultists. A battle of magic ensues – and the cultists do a number on the Stranger – almost killing him.

The pesky Harfoots are back at it again though, and they’re determined to stop the cultists. In turn, the cultists respond with a fiery response, burning down the surrounding area in an attempt to settle things once and for all. Finally, the cultists have the Harfoots cornered and are ready to dispatch them once and for all.

Rings of Power episode 8 recap: the stranger

But, bad luck cultists. The Stranger finally harnesses the full extent of his powers, using a staff to blast the cultists into oblivion – but not before they tell him that he is an Istar. So, that’s the end of the white cloak gang. They thought the Stranger was Sauron, and they were wrong.

Not everyone lives, though. Unlike Halbrand, or Bronwyn, Sadoc Burrows can’t survive being impaled. He manages to cling on for as long as the plot demands, before finally succumbing to his wound. He dies like Mike in Breaking Bad, sat on a log, watching his surroundings.

Back in Lindon, the crafting of the crown isn’t going so well. Mithril is proving to be tough to work with. Halbrand is back with all the answers, pointing Celebrimbor in the right direction. Apparently, Mithril needs delicate hands, not strong ones, to be properly crafted. Celebrimbor decides to split the Mithril into two rings instead of one crown.

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Halbrand’s input is the final straw for Galadriel, who searches up his lineage based on her suspicions. She then confronts him, telling him that there is no King of the Southlands. He tells Galadriel that he has had many names – one them being Sauron. Well there we have it: Halbrand is Sauron. Who could have guessed! (Editors note: we did!)

Galadriel threatens to stab him with Finrod’s dagger, but he puts Galadriel to sleep, and she flashes back to moments in her history. First, she imagines that she’s back with Finrod, who tells her that Sauron wanted to heal middle-earth, not destroy it. A bit suspect, if you ask me, but that’s because Sauron has infiltrated her mind in order to convince her that he might not be too bad afterall.

Then, she’s back on the raft with Halbrand. He tries to convince her that when Morgoth was defeated he turned good, actually. This doesn’t work, though. So instead, Sauron’s final gambit is trying to persuade her to join him as his tyrant queen – appealing to her aggression, anger, and stubbornness.

Rings of Power episode 8 recap: Galadriel

Of course, Galadriel refuses and Sauron dumps her in the nearby river, still asleep. She awakes from her visions when Elrond pulls her from the water. Sauron has fled from Lindon, now that Galadriel knows his identity. Without hesitation, she dashes to interrupt Celebrimbor from finishing the creation of the two rings.

But she doesn’t want to stop them being crafted altogether. Instead, she wants the creation of three magic rings, not two, to give them power over Sauron should he return. So, that’s one ring for her, one for Elrond, and one for Celebrimbor. Three rings for the Elven-kings.

Away from all the ring making, and back in Greenwood, the stranger reveals that Istar means wizard, and that he wants to go to Rhûn as the cultists suggested. In another, not particularly surprising surprise, the stranger is one of the five wizards. Theoretically, he could be any of: Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast, or one of the two blue wizards. But let’s be honest, he’s probably Gandalf. Nori gets sent with Gand – I mean, ‘the wizard’, and away from the Harfoots for her next adventure. After a very long goodbye, the unlikely duo set off for Rhûn.

Rings of Power episode 8 recap: Nori

Finally, as the episode draws to a close, the forging of the three rings is completed, and Sauron has travelled back to Mordor. Now, Mount Doom has a swirling lightning storm raging above it. Very moody.

And, that’s that. The episode had some big reveals, but not any that we couldn’t have already guessed. It all felt very… inevitable in the end. Halbrand is Sauron, the Stranger is a wizard – most likely Gandalf – and the three elven rings are forged. For anyone who was watching for the signs, this was all rather obvious.

Season 2 will no doubt explore the wizard’s backstory more, finally giving him a name. We’ll get to witness his adventures with Nori in Rhûn, while Galadriel deals with the fallout of Sauron’s identity. Oh, and things will probably happen in Númenor, too.

So long, Rings of Power season one. You were fun while you lasted! And when I say fun, I mean mostly drawn out, meandering, predictable, and dull.