The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power's finale saw Charlie Vickers' Halbrand revealed as Sauron. We still don't know what led to him being lost at sea - or how he lost his power - but that story is one we anticipate being explored in season 2.
In the closing moments of that final episode, Halbrand revealed his true self to Galadriel and made his way to Mordor, clearly looking to regain the power he lost when Morgoth was defeated. While the character quickly emerged as a strong possibility for the show's Sauron, there were clues scattered throughout The Rings of Power earlier than we thought.
Talking to Vanity Fair, showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay confirmed that they laid the groundwork for the big Sauron reveal much sooner than expected.
"Yes, in his very first shot, he's looking over his shoulder with one eye. And in episode two, he says, 'The tides of fate are flowing. Yours may be heading out,'" Payne explains. "That’s the line that Galadriel says to Frodo when the ring comes into her orbit. She’s repeating the first thing he ever said to her."
"She asks on the raft, 'What kind of man would leave his companions to die?' He says, 'The kind of man that knows how to survive.'"
As The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continued, both Galadriel and viewers were fooled into thinking Halbrand might be King of the Southlands. Instead, Sauron was just inspired to try and regain his power, with all signs now pointing to him bringing a new reign of terror to Middle-earth.
Did you guys spot any early Sauron clues in the show? It certainly feels like it may be worth going back to rewatch the series, anyway!