Warning: spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power episode 4Theo’s black sword hilt in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is generating no small amount of intrigue – here’s everything we know after episode 4, including the weapon’s connection to villains Sauron and Adar. The broken hilt of a dark blade featured prominently in Amazon’s The Rings of Power marketing campaign, but with no obvious parallel in J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings, even fans familiar with the author’s extensive lore were left largely stumped by its significance.
In The Rings of Power‘s premiere, a young Southlander named Theo found the sword buried beneath the floorboards of a barn owned by local Tirharad tavern owner, Waldreg. Theo has held it tightly ever since, and quickly discovered a magical blade of fire forms where the weapon’s sharpened metal edge should be. Nevertheless, Theo has still no clue as to the hilt’s true purpose, carrying the trinket around like a child proud after finding a good, solid stick in the woods. The Rings of Power leaves audiences similarly in the dark, but episode 4 (“The Great Wave”) sprinkles a few additional breadcrumbs along that path.
For the first time in The Rings of Power, Theo’s sword is noticed by both Adar’s orc soldiers and Waldreg, and both seem to understand the weapon’s value more than its current owner. Here’s everything we know about the sword’s purpose, its Sauron link, and why Adar is seeking it so desperately.
Neither Sauron nor Morgoth are traditionally famous for wielding swords, magical or otherwise. These two Lord of the Rings villains are more often depicted carrying blunt instruments such as maces into battle. It’s unlikely, therefore, that Theo’s sword hilt is Sauron’s personal weapon, patiently waiting for the Dark Lord to return and reclaim it.
Theo’s stolen hilt is emblazoned with the symbol Galadriel recently learned refers to the Southlands – an area of Middle-earth that will later become known as Mordor. The symbol’s presence suggests this dark weapon was a gift from Sauron to his loyal followers as part of the contingency plan hatched in case Morgoth lost the War of Wrath. Waldreg echoes these sentiments during his creepy conversation with Theo, describing the hilt almost like an evil blessing to be wielded by Sauron’s acolytes when the appointed time comes.
The Rings of Power episode 4 also reveals for the first time that Joseph Mawle’s Adar – father to the Southlands’ orc invaders – is hunting down the black sword hilt. An orc spots Theo brandishing the relic, tries desperately to reclaim it, then later reports back to Adar that a young boy possesses the blade they seek. Alas, The Rings of Power neglects to mention exactly why Adar needs a sword without a sharp edge. One explanation is that the hilt contains part of Sauron’s essence, and Adar needs it to resurrect his master. That may land a little too close to the One Ring, however, and if this were true you’d also expect Adar’s orcs to be as feverish about capturing Theo as The Lord of the Rings‘ Ringwraiths were with Frodo, which isn’t the case in The Rings of Power episode 4.
More likely, Adar’s intentions for the black hilt are given away by a curious line Joseph Mawle’s character utters in “The Great Wave.” Adar admits that he does not “yet” possess the power of a god, heavily implying plans are in motion to change that. Maybe Adar knows the secret to unlocking this weapon’s true power, and when he finally gets his evil fingers around that hilt, he’ll become imbued with great strength courtesy of Sauron – similar to the gifts bestowed upon those wearing Rings of Power. Perhaps it’s this destructive capability that will allow Adar to clear the Southlands for good and make way for Mordor’s construction.
Thanks to custodians like Waldreg, The Rings of Power‘s mysterious sword hilt has survived hidden for centuries in Middle-earth – so where does the weapon go during The Lord of the Rings? While it’s entirely possible that the hilt will be destroyed or merged into something else in a future The Rings of Power scene, it’s also plausible that the blade does appear in The Lord of the Rings.
The Nazgûl are nine great lords and kings who received Rings of Power from Sauron and transformed into his dreaded, hopelessly loyal Ringwraith servants. The Rings of Power is already driving speculation as to which characters could potentially wind up becoming Nazgûl, and Halbrand currently tops the list of candidates. Since the Nazgûl are known for carrying magical blades, Theo’s hilt could be destined to end up in the hands of a future Ringwraith once the Nine begin falling under Sauron’s influence. That could mean Halbrand at some point takes ownership of the mystic artifact, or with Bronwyn now seemingly the Southerlanders’ leader, Theo himself may be one of the nine lords corrupted into dark servitude.
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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues Thursday/Friday on Prime Video.