The Rings of Power may only be a few episodes in, but the internet has been ablaze with theories about who's actually who. Plenty of attention has been paid to Sauron's threat – and who could be playing him. But another theory suggests a different key Lord of the Rings antagonist may have already been introduced.
The theory focuses on the human boy Theo, who lives in the Southlands with his mother Bronwyn, and his potential link to the Witch-king of Angmar. Also known by the title the Lord of the Nazgûl (who are the Ringwraiths), the Witch-king was Sauron’s second-in-command in the Second and Third Age.
J.R.R. Tolkien never revealed his full identity in his The Lord of the Rings novels, but there was an implication he was one of the lords of Númenor corrupted by the rings of power. As the legend goes, nine rings were forged for mortal men, but these were corrupted by Sauron. Each man who held one was doomed to become the Nazgûl.
In The Rings of Power, we’re still a way off from the forging of the rings, but given what Celebrimbor is up to, it seems like this will likely be covered in the show. So could Theo be one of these future men and become the brutal antagonist? Some fans think so.
The main evidence stems from the mysterious blade that the young boy finds hidden in a barn in the first episode. This broken black sword is just a hilt that contains Sauron’s mark on it. It also has some unusual attributes, including how it ignites when Theo looks at it. We’ve already taken a deep dive into what this could be, but a lot points to it being a Morgul Blade.
In particular, some fans think it’s the same Morgul Blade that the Witch-king wields in the Third Age of Middle-earth. Looking at images of both blades, one in the Rings of Power and one in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, there are definitely a fair few similarities, given they’re both black and have the power to ignite into flames.
As well as this, the series has put a lot of focus on the sword, so it seems likely it will have some importance. Perhaps, it may be a source of corruption for Theo given its dark links to Sauron as well as the creepy moment at the end of episode two when it drew his blood to the blade.
One theory on Reddit suggests that Theo may be drawn to the dark side if he keeps using the sword. "I guess Theo's and Bronwyn’s lives will continue to be threatened by orcs, and he'll use the power of the sword to protect his mother," speculated the fan. "This power will continue to corrupt him. Bronwyn will be killed at some point (not sure by whom) and anger will push Theo over the edge to evil."
It’s certainly an intriguing idea, but not everyone is so convinced by the theory just yet. Currently, Theo is just a young boy from the Southlands, rather than one of the chosen men to receive the rings in Númenor. While he’ll certainly have some character growth ahead of him, it also seems quite a journey to transition into one of the chosen few.
We’ll just have to wait and see how the series unfolds over the rest of the Rings of Power episodes, and the wider five-season plan the showrunners have in mind. In the meantime, check out our guides to the Prime Video show, from a breakdown of the Rings of Power characters to our best guess about who the Stranger actually is.