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Why Sauron Looks Different In The Rings Of Power Season 2 Teaser Trailer

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is emerging from a hiatus that lasted over a year and a half. For the first time since October 2022, we have new footage thanks to a nearly 2-minute long teaser trailer — and a surprising percentage of that footage focuses not just on the Rings of Power themselves but on the mastermind behind their creation: the Dark Lord Sauron (Charlie Vickers).

At this point in Sauron's story arc, he isn't the terrifying Dark Lord that we all know so well from "The Lord of the Rings." Amazon Studios' show is set during the Second Age, when Sauron is still finding his way to the top, and the trailer introduces a new form of the villain that looks different from anything we've seen before.

The Second Age is the era when Sauron steps into the shoes of the previous Dark Lord Morgoth (who is defeated at the end of the First Age). That means "The Rings of Power" is chronicling the rise of Sauron, a process that involves the Dark Lord taking on several different personas and forms. The Halbrand persona of Season 1 was completely made up for the show and Human in form. This new, long-haired, pointy-eared iteration of the antagonist that we see in the teaser ditches the mortal appearance for one that is more in line with an Elf. It is more book-accurate, too.

Why does Sauron look like an Elf in Rings of Power Season 2?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that Sauron's new look screams Elf. His human form in Season 1 has a shorter hairdo, scruffy facial hair, a weather-beaten appearance, and gruff manners. He even spends most of the season dressed in the rough, practical garb of Men. The opening shot of the new teaser shows us this version of the Dark Lord one last time before all of those mortal attributes fade away, replaced by something that is much more Elvish in nature.

Throughout the rest of the teaser, Sauron has long, flowing blonde hair, a smooth, clean-shaven face, regal garments, and those trademark pointy ears. To put it simply, Sauron looks like an Elf now. The question is, why?

The simplest answer is that, in Tolkien's world, the Dark Lord is famous for his ability to shapeshift — something that makes it easy for the Amazon series to debut a second Sauron in Season 2. Sauron is particularly good at this earlier in his life. For instance, over the course of a single fight in "The Silmarillion" (long before "The Rings of Power" story), he turns into a wolf, a serpent, a monster, and then his normal self.

While that explains the "how," though, it doesn't quite answer the why. Why would Sauron look like an Elf? The most likely answer is that, well, he isn't masquerading as an Elf at all. Instead, what we're likely looking at is the Dark Lord in a form that Tolkien calls "Annatar, Lord of Gifts."

Who is Annatar, Lord of Gifts?

During the Second Age, Sauron spends a lot of time trying to persuade the various races of Middle-earth to align with his domineering agenda. This is ultimately why he tries using Rings of Power to exert control and bring several Dwarf, Elf, and Human leaders under his sway.

Before he resorts to Rings, though, he tries other means of persuasion. For instance, he finds that Men are very easy to corrupt. However, his real target for a long time is Elves, due to the inherent superiority that comes with perpetual existence. "The Silmarillion" says, "long he sought to persuade the Elves to his service, for he knew that the Firstborn had the greater power; and he went far and wide among them, and his hue was still that of one both fair and wise." Shortly after this, it adds, "for Sauron took to himself the name Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and they had at first much profit from his friendship."

The book "Unfinished Tales" gives us more details, saying, "In Eregion Sauron posed as an emissary of the Valar." These are the spiritual guardians of Middle-earth, the same folks that send the Wizards to help resist Sauron later on. This gives Annatar a "Wizard-esque" feel, allowing him to pose as a spiritual guide and counselor.

The text adds that, in this persona, he works in secret, specifically avoiding Galadriel, who doesn't know who he is but who sees through the fakery and scorns his help. Of course, in "The Rings of Power," Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is absolutely aware that Charlie Vickers' character is Sauron by the end of Season 1, which changes the Tolkien timeline a bit. Either way, though, it looks like we're getting some form of Annatar for Season 2.

Why doesn't Sauron keep his Elf look in The Lord of the Rings?

If Sauron can take on an Angelic form, an obvious follow-up question is why he doesn't keep that form during "The Lord of the Rings." Why does he don the black armor of Peter Jackson's prologue, become the Necromancer of Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, and then ultimately inhabit a flaming eyeball atop a tower during the War of the Ring? The first thing to clarify is that, while Jackson's interpretations are generally spot on, Sauron existing as a glowing eyeball is not canon — and is one of the most confusing elements of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

While Tolkien is less specific about Sauron's appearance in "The Silmarillion," he does make it clear that by the end of the Third Age (when "The Lord of the Rings" takes place), Sauron cannot take on an attractive form again. This begins later in the Second Age, when Sauron loses much of his shapeshifting power. At one point, he loses his physical form entirely (he's an incarnate spirit inhabiting a body, after all), and needs to take on a new one. The book says that he returns to Mordor and, "There now he brooded in the dark, until he had wrought for himself a new shape; and it was terrible, for his fair semblance had departed for ever."

So, while Sauron is able to shapeshift into pleasant forms during the part of Middle-earth history when "The Rings of Power" is set, he won't retain that ability forever. Still, it's fun to see the show utilize this option, especially in a way that moves away from the made-up Halbrand persona and focuses on a more canon version of the Dark Lord.