Warning: spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power episode 6After weeks of anticipation, teases and speculation, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finally unveils the full, ugly origin of Joseph Mawle’s Adar. Though Sauron is Middle-earth’s primary scourge throughout the Second Age, The Lord of the Rings’ iconic baddie hasn’t yet returned when Amazon’s The Rings of Power begins. Villainous duties fall instead to Adar – commander of an Orc army that suddenly began assaulting the Southlands.
The Rings of Power revealed precious little about Adar across its first five episodes. His conversation with Arondir mentioned time spent in Beleriand before its destruction, the Orc soldiers refer to him as « father, » and his despicable goal appears to be transforming the Southlands into a permanent home where Orcs can settle. These few details aside, Adar’s past was brimming with mystery and unanswered questions before The Rings of Power episode 6 came along.
Captured by Galadriel and Halbrand, Adar suddenly finds himself in a more talkative mood, and offers up a full account (thanks in part to a few savvy deductions by Galadriel) of his long history. Here’s Adar’s origin finally explained in full.
The answer to whether Adar is an Orc or an Elf is simultaneously « both » and « neither. » The Rings of Power episode 6 confirms that, in the beginning, Adar was originally an Elf. His true name isn’t revealed (it can’t be « Adar, » since this is only relevant to his Orc followers), but at some point during his free existence, Adar was taken prisoner by Morgoth. Galadriel mentions hearing stories of captured Elves when she was a child, and as The Rings of Power’s opening sequence showed, Galadriel’s childhood was during the Years of the Trees, which means Adar is very old, and has served Morgoth for a very long time.
The Rings of Power hasn’t yet mentioned it, but the war against Morgoth shown in episode 1’s history lesson sequence was actually his second attempt at conquering Middle-earth. The first came centuries prior, before the Elven race had even awoken in Middle-earth. Morgoth was simply content to dominate and spoil the land at this point, but when he later noticed the Elves emerging, he captured an unlucky few. Once the Valar realized, they intervened on the Elves’ behalf, dragging Morgoth back to Valinor never to return until the infamous « Two Trees » incident. If Adar was an Elf captured by Morgoth, he must’ve been one of the earliest Elves to awaken in Middle-earth.
As the Enemy’s prisoner, Adar and his fellow captives would’ve been tortured, twisted and corrupted into the very first Orcs. Morgoth did this as a means of insulting Eru Ilúvatar, who loved the Elves dearly. One assumes Morgoth bred the wider Orc race from these original « Uruks, » which explains why the foul creatures possess select Elvish traits, but are ostensibly very different. J.R.R. Tolkien never explicitly details how the Orcs were created, but descending from Elves captured by Morgoth is one of several versions offered by the author’s legendarium. It’s also arguably the most widely-held backstory, since even Morgoth shouldn’t be able to create life anew. The Rings of Power’s Adar leans fully into that theory.
As an Uruk, Adar straddles the line between Elf and Orc, so what powers, abilities and characteristics does he possess? That Adar is still alive after being captured by Morgoth thousands of years ago proves his Elven immortality remains very much intact, and when the Númenórean cavalry is approaching the battlefield at Tirharad, Adar and Arondir are the first to hear it. Despite Morgoth’s meddling, therefore, Adar seems to possess all the genetic benefits of being an Elf, even if he’s something quite different by the time The Rings of Power begins. Carrying out the Elven pre-battle seed ritual at the beginning of The Rings of Power episode 6 serves as further proof that Adar still feels deeply connected to his original heritage, which explains the difference between Uruks and regular Orcs.
The difference between Uruks and Elves is less obvious. Though the former can be visually discerned by their « rained-on middle-aged goth » appearance, the more important distinction hides inside. Just as Orcs are bred for subservience to Morgoth’s will, the Uruks are stripped of their traditional Elven grace, mercy, and love of nature. These traits are corrupted to reflect Morgoth’s hatred, violence, and urge to destroy beauty.
Morgoth definitely would’ve captured more than one Elf, and Adar speaks of his kind with a plural (« We prefer ‘Uruk' ») when Galadriel insults him by using « Sons of the Dark. » Adar was not the only one of his kind, therefore. Morgoth corrupted multiple Elves into his first generation of Orcs, and these Uruks would’ve served him both before and during the First Age. The more important question is whether any other Uruks are still alive, or whether Adar is the last one standing. The Rings of Power episode 6 doesn’t answer this question definitively, and if Adar can hide alongside his Orcs for centuries without the Elves of Middle-earth noticing, other Uruks could feasibly do the same.
Nevertheless, the chances of other Uruks surviving the War of Wrath seems desperately unlikely. The corrupted Elves are so rare in The Lord of the Rings, only rumors of their existence remain. Even in The Rings of Power’s Second Age era, Galadriel has merely heard stories of these Sons of the Dark. Such incredible scarcity means The Rings of Power viewers can probably assume the vast majority of the Uruks – if not all Uruks – died during the War of Wrath like most of Morgoth’s soldiers. This is further implied by Adar’s account of what happened after Morgoth’s defeat. He describes regrouping with Sauron and the remaining Orcs, as well as the arcane experiments that followed. If other Uruks still existed, they surely would’ve banded together with Adar and joined his mission in the Southlands. If Adar dies in The Rings of Power (and you can be pretty sure he will), Middle-earth’s original Orc breed will die with him.
Thanks to Galadriel’s interrogation skills, The Rings of Power confirms Adar’s Elven origins and tragic downfall. We can assume he loyally served Morgoth as an Orc commander up to and during the War of Wrath, but what came next? The Rings of Power episode 6 offers some hints.
Adar explains that Sauron found a new mission after Morgoth’s downfall – engineering mastery over flesh. The captured villain describes remnants of Morgoth’s army heading north, and this would be Forodwaith – the icy cavern Galadriel uncovered back in The Rings of Power episode 1. Sauron’s mission to gain power over flesh, meanwhile, neatly sets up his eventual forging of the One Ring, which was designed to dominate the hearts and minds of mortals. These Orc experiments appear to represent the very first step on Sauron’s long road to the Ring. Sick of watching his « children » die, Adar claims he assassinated Sauron, although it’s inevitable the Dark Lord isn’t truly dead.
The rest of Adar’s story can be found in The Rings of Power episode 6’s opening scene. Addressing his army, the Uruk mentions how the Orcs « cast off [their] shackles » in reference to overthrowing Sauron. He then name-drops both « Eren Mithrin » and « Ephel Arnen. » These locations denote the Grey Mountains and the Ephel Dúath range that surrounds Mordor, giving a broad idea of how Adar’s army traveled all the way from Forodwaith to the Southlands. They would’ve passed to the mountains immediately south, then either down through Mirkwood or East Rhovanion before coming to what Adar calls Ephel Arnen (probably Tolkien’s Emyn Arnen). Upon crossing this second range, the Orcs would’ve found themselves in the Southlands, which The Rings of Power already explained was the contingency plan in case Morgoth should lose.
In one last twist, Adar’s intentions in The Rings of Power aren’t quite as far-reaching as Sauron and Morgoth’s. His sole aim appears to be giving the Orcs a home, without any sign of a thirst for dominating Middle-earth as a whole. Adar also seems to have stepped away from Morgoth’s ways by refusing to treat Orcs as nameless slaves destined to die in battle.
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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues Thursday/Friday on Prime Video.