Friday, October 14, 2022


 “Season one opens with: Who is Galadriel? Where did she come from? What did she suffer? Why is she driven?” says Payne. “We’re doing the same thing with Sauron in season two. We’ll fill in all the missing pieces.” 

 “Sauron can now just be Sauron,” McKay adds. “Like Tony Soprano or Walter White. He’s evil, but complexly evil. We felt like if we did that in season one, he’d overshadow everything else. So the first season is like Batman Begins, and the The Dark Knight is the next movie, with Sauron maneuvering out in the open. We’re really excited. Season two has a canonical story. There may well be viewers who are like, ‘This is the story we were hoping to get in season one!’ In season two, we’re giving it to them.”

[‘The Rings of Power’ Showrunners: Sauron Will Be Like Walter White in Season 2]

The Scottish Enlightenment philosophers included the sense of morality or the sense of virtue as one of our aesthetic senses, and so much of the art of this day and age is proof that, whatever your own moral character, you really do have to have a sense of how good and evil, virtue and vice, actually work if you're going to make serious art. So often it seems clear that writers don't understand the boundary between heroism and villainy, so we get sociopathic 'heroes' and 'villains' who actually haven't done much wrong.

I'm sure we're not supposed to take the paralleling of Galadriel and Sauron as suggesting that either Galadriel is the villain of Season One or that Sauron is the hero, or at least antihero, of Season Two, but Galadriel has been an awful lot like a villain, and analogizing Sauron's character arc to that of Batman makes me wary of what Season Two could possibly deliver. Speaking just for myself, I actually didn't want a story of Sauron-as-Tony-Soprano in any season.

Needless to say, the fundamental problem with treating Sauron like Walter White, is that Sauron had his 'breaking bad' moment in the dawn of creation and has by this point been villainous for tens of thousands of years. Tolkien does indicate that some think that Sauron might have been partly penitent in the aftermath of the Valar finally coming down on Morgoth like a sledgehammer, but that if this is so, it was more due to the fact that he had thought that the Valar were no longer willing to involve themselves in the affairs of Middle Earth, and was therefore dismayed to discover that he was terribly wrong, than to any fundamental willingness to give up his wicked ways. But even allowing for the fact that the showrunners have messed up the timeline of the Second Age beyond all recognition, we already know that Sauron is back to his old tricks by this point, so there's no point in trying to give him the kind of character arc that any of this comment suggests.