* The following article contains spoilers for The Rings of Power episode 4 *
After last week's cliffhanger, in episode 4 of LOTR: The Rings of Power, we finally get to meet Adar. The mysterious leader of the orcs clearly has dark purposes, but is he the archvillain of this saga?
Many fans have speculated that Adar — who's played by English actor Joseph Mawle (Benjen Stark in Game of Thrones) — is actually Sauron, but are they right? Let's take a look...
One of the first things we notice about Adar is his ears, which resemble those of an elf and — as Arondir helpfully pointed out in episode 3 — the word "adar" is actually an elvish word that means "father". Sauron was originally one of the Maiar before he fell under the influence of Morgoth and so he would be capable of taking on different forms to suit his purposes.
However, as Tolkien aficionados know, the first Orcs were corrupted elves, so it's also possible that Adar is simply an elf who's fallen into darkness and begun creating an army in a bid to gain power. After all, we know men from the South were loyal to Morgoth during the last war, so maybe some elves were also in league with him.
Towards the end of this week's episode, we also caught a glimpse of Adar's true purpose in the Southlands: the recovery of the black sword hilt that Theo carries with him.
After escaping to the watchtower, Theo is given an ominous warning by the village's innkeeper — who clearly sympathizes with the Dark Lord. They also have both been left with the mark of Sauron on their forearms from their contact with the black sword. He tells Theo that the weapon he carries is no sword but, instead, it's "a power fashioned for our ancestors by his master's own hand. A beautiful servant of he who was lost and shall return."
The innkeeper also says the meteor — or "starfall" — that occurred a few weeks ago is a sign that Sauron is on his way back to Middle Earth. Could this mean that Adar is actually Sauron? Or, if not, what is the connection between Adar, Sauron and the meteor man stranger?
Those who've studied Sauron's backstory will know that he tricked elves into believing he was one of them when he first arrived in Middle-Earth and persuaded the great elven-smith, Celebrimbor, to forge the rings of power.
The Dark Lord might be known as "Sauron the Deceiver" but we think he'd need one hell of a makeover before being able to pull the wool over the elves' eyes. Also, why would he reveal himself to Arondir and then set him free if he planned to infiltrate Lindon?
So, when all the information is considered, we think it's more likely Adar is one of Sauron's lieutenants or simply a corrupted elf trying to ingratiate himself to the Dark Lord by finding the black hilt for him but... time will tell.
New episodes of The Rings of Power arrive on Prime Video every Friday
More LOTR: The Rings of Power
- The Rings of Power: eight burning questions we have for the show
- Who is The Dweller in LOTR: Rings of Power? Could The Dweller be Sauron?
- Who is the Meteor Man?
- Meet the Rings of Power cast
- Morfydd Clark — things you didn’t know about the actress playing Galadriel in The Rings of Power
- The Rings of Power episode 1 review: an intoxicating return to Middle-earth
- LOTR's Sophia Nomvete says the first female dwarf is a 'magical moment' for Tolkien fans
- The best fantasy TV shows
Get the What to Watch Newsletter
The latest updates, reviews and unmissable series to watch and more!
Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for whattowatch.com. He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.