The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power recently added more than a dozen actors to its cast ahead of the upcoming second season. The new cast members’ characters were not revealed, with the exception of Sam Hazeldine, who was confirmed to be replacing Season 1 star Joseph Mawle as the villain Adar. While recasts are almost always noticeable, this one is ideally timed to be as unobtrusive as possible. Some major plot twists from the end of Season 1 suggest that Adar’s story will be radically different going forward so the character having a new face might not be as distracting as it would be otherwise.
Adar was the leader of the Orcs, or Uruk, as he prefers them to be called, who attempted to conquer the Southlands during Season 1. At the beginning of the series, he was also portrayed as one of several suspects who viewers were made to suspect could actually be the Dark Lord Sauron. However, the later part of the season confirmed that this was not the case, with the man believed to be Southland King Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) revealing himself as Sauron to Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) in the season finale.
Adar vs. Sauron
It turned out that not only are Sauron and Adar separate beings, they are also bitter enemies. Adar even tried to kill Sauron at some point in the past and believed he was successful. This led to one of the major hints to Halbrand’s identity, as he and Galadriel were responsible for capturing Adar during the battle between the Southlander/Númenórean alliance and the Orcs. Galadriel had to talk Halbrand down from executing Adar after he was captured.
Despite his capture Adar was ultimately successful in his goal of creating a home for the Orcs where they would not be harmed by sunlight, after his servant, Waldreg (Geoff Morrell), triggered a volcanic eruption that destroyed the Southlands, turning them into the dark realm of Mordor. This means that the character is in need of a new purpose and his feud with Sauron could lead to a few unexpected developments.
Sauron was last shown entering Mordor himself, which almost certainly means Adar is in for some kind of trouble. Given the much greater power Sauron possesses it wouldn’t have necessarily been surprising if Season 2 revealed that he dispatched Adar offscreen. The fact that the latter is still set to be a part of the show despite fulfilling his original role and Mawle’s departure suggests that the creators have a significant story planned for him in the future. One possibility for what this could be is a civil war over control of Mordor. Tolkien’s novels and the films they’re based on depict Mordor as the dominion of Sauron and the Orcs as his loyal followers, so ultimately Adar’s leadership position won’t last, but that doesn’t mean he’ll go down without a fight. The Orcs under Adar’s leadership in Season 1 did follow him with religious fanaticism, referring to him as “Lord Father,” and treating him as if he was a kind of god, so it’s possible that a faction of them will refuse to turn on him for Sauron. Or perhaps they all stand with Adar and Sauron wipes them out completely and simply creates his own Orcs later on. That said, Sauron did ironically stop Galadriel from executing Adar when she was interrogating him, so he may have a more elaborate plan in mind than simply killing his old enemy.
Will There Be Redemption For Adar?
Adar is one of the first Uruk, who were elves that were transformed into the darker creatures through torturous abuse at the hands of Sauron’s master, Morgoth. The description of this treatment and his goal of protecting his people earned Adar an unexpected amount of sympathy from viewers and Season 2 could also build on this by placing him in more of an anti-hero role. Sauron is a threat to all of them, so it’s possible he may have to forge an alliance with the elves, men, and or dwarves to ensure their mutual survival. A twist like this would open up several interesting story possibilities. During the interrogation, Galadriel went on a disturbing rant about her cruel plans to eradicate the Orcs following her history of warring with them, with Adar noting the similarities between the two of them and that they had both been “transformed by darkness.” Adar and or other Orcs being forced to work alongside the Southlanders and Númenóreans following the conflict between them would also create interesting dramatic tension and allow the series to continue exploring the themes of prejudice it introduced with the dynamic between the elves and men in Season 1.
Whatever form Adar’s Season 2 role takes, it’s safe to say it will be almost nothing like his previous arc. Because of this, while having Mawle continue in the role would have been ideal for consistency’s sake, Hazeldine’s debut won’t necessarily detract from the series’ quality, as it is somewhat fitting for the character’s current trajectory.