The Harfoots finally learn the truth about the Stranger and we get the first forging of the great weapons as Season 1 of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" wraps.
There's been a battle of epic fantasy sagas playing out on television these past two months, but one is bowing out after an epic finale filled with shocking reveals and tragic death.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is a massively ambitious project over on Amazon's Prime Video, with a five-season commitment and $1 billion price tag. So far, it's proven a worthwhile gamble, as the show has regularly topped streaming charts.
In last week's penultimate episode, fans got a glimpse of the dark turning point in The Southlands as even the digital chyron changed to reveal its new identity -- Mordor.
With the dark land to the South branded, the next big question was where Sauron was. Galadriel has been chasing him for centuries, convinced that he wasn't gone -- and she was right!
Even more startling, it's someone we've been following for quite awhile now on the show.
The most likely culprit all along has been the Stranger, the mysterious "big folk" who fell from the sky near the Harfoots -- nomadic precursors to Hobbits -- before their latest migration.
The Stranger has shown signs of some magical ability, but also a more dangerous side with dying fireflies and whatever was going on with his arm turning black after a shockwave and healing by freezing water (and Nori's hand).
He's also shown tremendous kindness and support, as well as concern that he might be a "peril" to the Harfoots. He did his part to help Nori's family keep up during their great migration, but there has been fear from the superstitious small folk that he's to blame for hardships they've endured.
Most recently, the creepy group of mystics caught up to them at their latest stopping point after the Stranger had brought the fruit-bearing trees back to life. They did manage to coax him into their trap, but they weren't trying to harm or kill him.
As it turns out, like many fans speculating online, they also believed he may be the Dark Lord Sauron, returned to Middle-earth. A rescue attempt by the Harfoots saw the Stranger revealing even more power, as well as the realization by the mystics that he wasn't Sauron, after all.
That's not to say he isn't important, as it turns out he is an Istari, or a wizard. That puts him on a level with the likes of Gandalf, Saruman and Radagast -- or could he be one of them?
While the Stranger and the Harfoots were able to ultimately banish the mystics, it didn't come without a price. The gruff Sadoc, the elder who has led the group throughout the season, succumbed to his injuries.
In the end, The Stranger again decided that he needed to leave as he's still seeking the constellation. Only this time, Nori was definitely going with him. And so, after a sad farewell, the unlikely duo followed a "sweet" smell, per the Stranger.
On the other side of things, Galadriel finally made her way back to her kind, with the injured Halbrand in tow. She was back just in time for King Gil-Galad say that time was up and now all of the Elves needed to leave Middle-earth or die.
Celebrimbor wasn't ready to give up, and found an unlkely ally in his efforts to work the mithril. Halbrand told him that he, too, was a blacksmith and so they worked for weeks.
Ever suspicious of anything and everything, Galadriel pored through old records and discovered that the king of the Southlands had died a thousand years ago, but that there had been no heirs of any kind. His line died with him.
So if the Southlands king was dead, then there's no way that Halbrand could be the heir to the throne back to save his people. That's true enough, with Halbrand admitting as such when confronted.
He wasn't the king of the Southlands back to save his people, but he was the intended future king of Mordor, Sauron himself. Halbrand was the second most likely candidate among as Sauron.
A battle took place within their minds, with Sauron trying trickery, lies and temptation to twist Galadriel.
She was able to resist him as she did the One Ring many, many years later, but not without nearly losing her life. By the time Elrond found her, Halbrand was gone with the weapon he had created in secret.
And so, Celebrimbor and Galadriel went to work creating the three rings for the elves, including the one she would wear, Nenya. As for Halbrand, our final scene for this season was him looking at his new home on the horizon.
While some fans may have had a bead on Halbrand all along as the possible Dark Lord, the actor who portrayed him admits that even he didn't know right away the true role he was playing.
Charlie Vickers said that it was before returning from a Covid-induced hiatus following filming of the first two episodes that producers sat him down and filled him in on what his true story was going to be.
"I filmed it as Halbrand wholeheartedly," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "But I did have an inkling, if I'm honest with you."
Looking ahead to Season 2, Vickers said that Sauron will continue to play a major role as he begins to slowly rebuild and work toward reclaiming his power. "We're going to move into this period of watching his plans unfold," he told THR. "You're with him as he moves the pieces on the chessboard."
"There are parts of the lore that are so rich and so exciting and thrilling and things that I adored reading in 'The Silmarillion' that we're going to see," Vickers continued. "Those really famous stories are going to unfold next season."
The entire first season of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is streaming now on Amazon's Prime Video.