Full spoilers follow for The Rings of Power episode 8, aka Alloyed.
The Rings of Power's showrunners have revealed that Sauron's big reveal was nearly spoiled by a specific creative decision taken during episode 2's development.
Speaking at a preview screening for The Rings of Power episode 8, which TechRadar attended, co-creators J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay explained that the identity of Lord of the Rings' principal antagonist was almost ruined in a much earlier episode. The reason? A specific shot of the high-fantasy Prime Video series, filmed by episode 2 director J.A. Bayona, very nearly gave the game away.
Major spoilers are incoming. Turn back now if you're not caught up on The Rings of Power's latest episode!
As viewers will have learned by now, Charlie Vickers' Halbrand was an alias of Sauron's all along. The Dark Lord himself had been masquerading as the so-called King of the Southlands since the moment he met Galadriel, with the pair first crossing paths on a raft in The Rings of Power episode 2.
However, as Payne and McKay reminded us, the first shot we see of Halbrand is Vickers, who has his back to the camera, turning his head to cast a glance at Galadriel as she asks to board the temporary sea vessel. According to the duo, Bayona filmed that brief scene in such a way so that only one of Halbrand's eyes are visible to viewers.
It's a shot that acts as a clear call back to the Eye of Sauron, which is the only part of the Dark Lord's essence that remains – in Middle-earth's Third Age – following his defeat at the hands of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Payne and McKay, though, were worried that Bayona's creative choice would ruin the big surprise surrounding Halbrand's real identity. So much so, in fact, that they asked Bayona to shoot a different version of Halbrand's introduction.
"We were freaking out that people were going to see it and work it [Halbrand's real identity] out," Payne said. "We asked J.A. to change it, but he said 'Nobody's going to notice!' Thankfully, they didn't."
As Payne noted, very few – if any – Rings of Power viewers noticed the obvious reference to Halbrand's true form. So, while fans have had their suspicions about Halbrand really being Sauron for a long time, it made his eventual reveal all the more shocking in The Rings of Power's season 1 finale.
The release of episode 8 has come as a major relief to the hit Prime Video show's cast, too. With filming on season 1 beginning back in February 2020, the series' major stars have had to hold onto this secret for over two and a half years, as Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) and Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo) exclusively told us in early October.
For Vickers, Clark, and Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor), that specific Sauron burden has finally been lifted. And, speaking exclusively to TechRadar ahead of episode 8's release, the trio were notably much more relaxed about the whole ordeal.
"It's nice!" Vickers calmly told us. "But it's a strange feeling. When you do press, you get so used to talking about the subject in a certain way. Obviously you have to be careful about what you're saying. Halbrand manifested itself into something very real in my discussions, but it's nice to talk about everything beneath that now."
"I had my suspicions from the beginning!" Clark said. "And I know Charlie did, too, as he was asked to read something that was basically like a speech from the devil. So it's like 'Hmm, that seems quite evil'. I think Charlie has done a wonderful job to put on a performance during press, which I don't know how he's done. I'd be terrified if I had a secret that big."
"It feels really weird [to discuss Sauron]," Edwards added. "You know, we've had to carry this weight on our shoulders for so long. It's a blessing to finally have it out there in the world."
For more exclusive Rings of Power content, find out when Vickers learned he would be playing Sauron, or learn all about that Stranger reveal from the show's cast.
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