Yes, fellow Middle-Earthers, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 8 just did two big, huge reveals. They were both, admittedly, somewhat obvious (more one than the other).
And while the second reveal wasn't hyped by the series itself — Rings of Power spent the entire season asking "is Sauron here?" and "if he is, who is he?" — it's the kind of forehead-slapping moment that at least one TG staffer felt like he saw coming a mile away.
But, the specifics of both of these reveals are big enough where I'm not going to spoil them all above the spoiler warning below, as you'll probably want to watch the Rings of Power finale before you dive in. Unless, of course, you're not enjoying the Rings of Power. One of our team declared "It's time to admit that Rings of Power is just fan fiction," and I'm wondering if he's even going to finish season one, and just read the explainers instead.
Anyway, the following portion of this article contains spoilers for Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 8!
Rings of Power episode 8 unmasked Sauron
All it took was a conversation and a history lesson. Yes, mid-way through the Rings of Power episode 8 finale, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) asked the same question Adar did: who exactly is Halbrand (Charlie Vickers)? But unlike the fallen Orc, Galadriel actually got the answer.
As my colleague Malcolm McMillan wrote, "This is all happening because Halbrand is probably Sauron." Galadriel figured out something was wrong when she discovered that there is no king of the Southlands, something we now realize she should have looked up before.
The message here is simple: do not trust tragic people just because you feel sorry for them. Halbrand/Sauron then tried to put seeds of self-doubt into Galadriel's mind, saying that she told him that he's not bound to his past. That they can rule Middle-earth for the better of all, together.
Galadriel, in many more words, said "not today, Satan," which sent her into a series of mind-melting moments, where she was first tempted by a vision of her dead brother who was alive, and then drowning underwater. By the end of it all, we see Halbrand in Mordor, smiling, and I thought to myself, "of course they made him attractive. Stupid sexy Sauron."
And, now that Halbrand/Sauron put self-doubt and shame into Galadriel's mind and heart — she was his ally — she argued that Celebrimbor make not two, but three rings of power. This way, the power would be more evenly distributed, and less likely to all fall into Sauron's clutches.
Rings of Power episode 8 teased a huge LOTR character — but don't bet on it
And since The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) is now confirmed to not be Sauron, we got a new name for him: Istar. Well, that's not his name, but what he is. An Istar, is one of the Istari: the five wizards sent to Middle-earth.
We got this name from the witches who were attacking The Stranger during the finale, when one yelled "He’s the other one!" and named him "Istar." And later The Stranger, in a lovely voice, says that "Istar" means "wizard."
But, just because you might associate a good and kind wizard with Gandalf doesn't mean The Stranger is actually Gandalf. There are still the other four Istar wizards: Saruman, Radagast and two Blue Wizards.
On top of that, the canon of Lord of the Rings says that Gandalf wouldn't even be here on Middle-earth yet. Both he and Saruman arrived in Middle-earth later on in the chronology, during the Third Age. Rings of Power takes place in the Second Age.
Outlook: How will Rings of Power season 2 toy with canon further?
As you may know, Amazon wasn't able to acquire all of the rights to all of the Tolkien books. So, while lore tells us Gandalf and Saruman shouldn't be in Rings of Power, there's no reason to assume that this show will stick to the scripts.
That said, I'd kind of love it if Amazon would actually give us a new look at some of the other wizards. The less it has to play a game of "What can we actually do without annoying the lore-first crowd," the more Rings of Power has a chance at being unique and interesting.
Editor's note: Now that the whole season is aired, check out our guide to Rings of Power season 2 when you're ready.