The big revelation at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s first season was the fact that Halbrand had been deceiving everyone all along because he was actually Sauron in the form of a Man. But no one in the series ever thought that he was actually Sauron, as Halbrand did a great job at keeping himself hidden in Halbrand’s shape and form. So, how exactly did Sauron trick the Elves, and why didn’t Galadriel and the other Elves know who he was?
Sauron has always been the greatest deceiver and manipulator in the history of Middle-Earth, and his cunning ways were so great that he was able to trick the Elves into believing that he was a harmless Man. Of course, because he is a shape-shifter, Sauron could assume any form to fool just about anyone.
The thing about Sauron is that, other than the fact that he was known for his armor-clad form, none of the characters in Middle-Earth actually know what he looks like, and that was what allowed him to fool the Elves. On top of that, he was always the best at deceiving people, and we saw that in how sincere Halbrand initially seemed to be. So, with that said, let’s look at how Sauron was able to fool the Elves.
How Did Sauron Trick Galadriel And The Elves?
The season 1 finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power didn’t make us wait a few more years before revealing who Sauron actually was. After making us think that the Stranger was Sauron, the finale threw clues that pointed to the fact that Halbrand was the dark lord. And it was eventually revealed that Halbrand was Sauron when Galadriel, through her research, discovered that the line of Southlands kings had been broken a thousand years ago.
However, it was clear from the very start that no one in the series suspected Halbrand at all. The audience, of course, saw subtle hints and clues here and there. But the point was that Galadriel never even had any doubts in relation to Halbrand’s possible connection to Sauron, as she believed that her enemy was still out there somewhere in the world. She didn’t realize that Sauron was with her the entire time, and all that she needed to do was actually just kill him.
Of course, it was also clear that none of the other Elves even doubted who Halbrand was, as they all believed him to be who Galadriel said he was. They treated him like an honored guest in Eregion, as he was said to be the long-lost king of the Southlands. As such, both Elrond and Celebrimbor accepted his assistance in the matter regarding the mithril that they wanted to fuse with other alloys so that they could make the most out of its powers. And Halbrand was more than willing to help them in their endeavor, as he was starstruck by the fact that he found himself in Celebrimbor’s workshop.
In that regard, it is safe to say that Sauron did a damn good job at keeping his identity hidden the entire time. He was so good at it that it was only during the final moments of the season that Galadriel began to suspect him. So, how did Sauron trick the Elves?
Simply put, Sauron was able to trick the Elves because of the fact that he was great at what he did—shapeshifting and deception. He was so good at those that not even the Elves, who had the keenest eyes in Middle-Earth, could see past his new form and deceptive ways.
Sauron’s ability to shapeshift allowed him to take the form of a Man that not even the Orcs or his former underling, Adar, was able to recognize. In that regard, it is safe to say that Sauron’s former shape, the one that Adar said he split open, didn’t look a thing like his new form as a handsome Man.
But Sauron’s deception took it to an entirely new level. When Galadriel met Halbrand, there wasn’t a hint of evil and malice in him as he was simply a Man that was trying to get away from Middle-Earth. In a way, he was probably really trying to get away from Middle-Earth but was quick to pounce on the opportunity to regain his power when he realized that Galadriel was quite adamant about returning to Middle-Earth with an armed force of Númenoreans that she could use to defeat the Orcs there.
Of course, because Halbrand was always Sauron, he knew that the one that was in command of the Orcs was Adar, who betrayed him before the events of the series. Initially, he didn’t want to return to the Southlands in Middle-Earth because he wanted to get away from those lands. But when he realized that he had the opportunity to defeat a common enemy, he decided to use that opportunity.
Halbrand also played into the emotions of Galadriel, who was blinded by her quest for revenge. He knew this because Galadriel admitted that what was fueling her was her desire to get back at Sauron for killing her brother. She didn’t know any other purpose in life, and that was why she wanted to return to Middle-Earth to finish what her brother had started. And because Halbrand was aware that Galadriel, at that point, was so narrow-sighted, he knew that she wasn’t going to suspect that he was Sauron unless there were clear hints.
Because of that, Halbrand’s sincerity in helping the people of the Southlands allowed him to deceive Galadriel into thinking that he was indeed who he said he was. He also made sure that he used Galadriel’s own narrow-sightedness against her. This was seen in their conversation in Eregion:
Galadriel: On the raft, you saved me.
Halbrand: No. On the raft, YOU saved me.
Galadriel: You convinced Míriel to save the men of Middle-Earth.
Halbrand: You convinced her. I wanted to remain in Númenor.
Galadriel: You fought beside me.
Halbrand: Against your enemy. And mine.
So, as seen from that conversation, it was clear that Halbrand used Galadriel’s own obsession against her as he simply played along with what she wanted to happen. He never outrightly deceived Galadriel as he simply let things play along so that he could use Galadriel for his own desire to get back what was always rightfully his.
Why Didn’t The Elves Know Who Sauron Was?
Of course, there is also the fact that Sauron was able to deceive Galadriel and the Elves because none of them knew what he looked like. He was associated with the image of an armor-clad sorcerer. But it was clear that no one actually knew that he could take the form of Halbrand. Not even the Orcs or Adar knew that Halbrand was Sauron, as the dark lord probably had a different appearance before Adar destroyed that shape when he “killed” him.
If Adar and the Orcs didn’t even know that Halbrand was Sauron, then there would be no reason why the Elves would know that their enemy had been with them the entire time that Halbrand was in Eregion.
There is also the fact that, among the Elves, Galadriel was the only one who knew a few things about Sauron, as all of the other Elves that spent their entire lives searching for him were given the opportunity to go to Valinor. In that regard, Gil-galad, Elrond, and Celebrimbor didn’t know anything about Sauron.
This seems to be consistent with JRR Tolkien’s writings, as none of the Elves knew that Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, was actually Sauron the entire time. Galadriel suspected him of being evil because, lore-wise, she had the ability to see through the heart of people. However, not even she knew that Annatar was the dark lord the entire time.
As such, Sauron played his cards perfectly when he was deceiving the people of Middle-Earth. It was only that fatal mistake of teaching Celebrimbor about a power not of the flesh but over flesh that gave his identity away, as Galadriel heard this from Adar when he was talking about Sauron. Had Sauron not mentioned that to Celebrimbor, he would have still remained hidden in the form of Halbrand, the rightful king of the Southlands.