Sauron's Morgoth Moment

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Listening to 2-19 on podcast, and I've been thinking through an idea raised several times during the session. When is Sauron's "Morgoth Moment", his point of no return? We have him, in Season 2, do bad bad things, including creating the werewolves, but we still have him as a contrast to Gothmog and the Balrogs, who have already fallen utterly. What, then, are we thinking will be his final breaking moment? The death of Finrod? Or will we be playing with his possible redemption until Annatar or even the destruction of Numenor?
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
So... Corey talked about this in some detail in session 2-20. But hey, he didn't give a definitive answer, so there!
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
My impression during that conversation was that Prof. Olsen wants the final moment of passing into evil for Sauron to take place at Numenor.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
*Sigh*. You're probably right. I need to go back and re-listen more carefully, I guess. But that's so far away, and we need him to be doing really evil things long before that...
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, he *said* that, but he's going to have to rethink that. Because Sauron forges the One Ring and uses Celebrimbor's dead body as a standard before Numenor happens. ;)

So, yeah, lots of super evil deeds for Sauron to be involved in. What Numenor does is to represent an irrevocable step. Once Sauron loses his body in the flood there, he can never take on his fair-seeming Annatar form again. So, prior to that, he may have been evil, but he had the opportunity to dissemble at least. That is why this equates with Morgoth after the destruction of the Trees or the balrogs after the destruction of the Lamps. But the destruction of Numenor is something that happens to him, and we're going to have to figure out at what moment he passes the point of no return - which choice he makes that demonstrates there's no coming back for him? Probably the human sacrifice in the temple to Morgoth on Numenor will be relevant to that.

We are going to show Sauron repent and sue for pardon to Eonwë at the end of the First Age. This isn't going to be totally fake - though obviously more fear than repentance, or at least a calculated 'let's choose the winning side here.' Sauron is going to experience a crisis when he sees Morgoth lose to the Valar.

That doesn't mean he's a goody two shoes during the First Age. It simply means that he's in the 'expedient evil' path rather than the 'total depravity' path at that time. He's not someone who will destroy others for spite or just to revel in their pain....but he *will* use his cleverness to trick others into doing his bidding or to get what he wants.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Could we even have the decision, shortly after his "repentance", to vanish instead of returning to Valinor for judgment be his Morgoth moment? His pride has certainly reasserted itself there, and pride is a huge part of the fall narratives we've constructed for Morgoth and Feanor. It turns the tables, as it were: the moment that could have been his salvation becomes instead his doom -- kind of like Feanor's refusing to give up the Silmarils, only Sauron would be refusing to give up himself.

A side but related question: when is the moment when Mairon should be last called by his original name? Put another way, when is he always and truly "Sauron"?
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
His conversation with Eonwë is certainly his last chance, stairs-of-Cirith-Ungol moment. But as he can still take on the fair form of Annatar after that, he's not yet 'locked out' of his native Maiar shape-shifting ability.

Since we have Gothmog give him the name Sauron in derision, we should have him use Mairon for himself. Keep in mind that Sauron will not allow any of his servants to speak his name (leaving aside the Mouth of Sauron moniker). He *hates* the name Sauron. But certainly the orcs of Angband should all call him that after his involvement in the SSNOP. I don't know when the *last* time we hear it should be, but probably that conversation with Eonwë? Eonwë would remember him as Mairon, after all.
 

Ray Burns

Active Member
We have to be careful because we run the risk of becoming perilously close to saying that Sauron isn't a bad guy because he was 'just following orders'.

I think that we can reasonably construct an argument that, in his own mind, Sauron does not believe he is evil well into the Second Age. He has very carefully allowed himself to have a measure of 'plausible deniability' when it comes to his deeds. He can say things, to himself, "I only sent that werewolf to rough up the prisoners, I didn't expect that it would kill them!" to rationalize his behavior and still, again in his own mind, remain able to say that he isn't truly evil. This might be another, subtler reason why he doesn't want to appear before the Valar after Eonwe's summons; it would force him to confront his own self-deception.

So, the workaround for this is when does Sauron himself realize that he can no longer rationalize his actions as anything but 'evil'? I think that hanging up Celebrimbor as your battle standard as you wage war might be the place where he can deceive himself no longer.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
We have to be careful because we run the risk of becoming perilously close to saying that Sauron isn't a bad guy because he was 'just following orders'.
Well warned, but I wasn't ever thinking of this as "Mairon's not really evil, just misguided!" but rather that "evil" is a state of being with many levels, like "messy" or "lazy". I would call myself lazy, since my laundry from Saturday is folded, but still in the laundry basket. I'm less lazy, though, then a person who hasn't cleaned their apartment in three years.

All that aside, I do agree with your larger point, and that using Celebrimbor as a battle standard is a pretty good example of a moment where any intelligent being would have to pause and go: "Huh. I think I might be the baddie?"
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Huh. I think I might be lazy :p

More to the point, if we use Saruman's speech to Gandalf for an indication of what direction Sauron went, we can see how he got there. The point with his story is to take it very gradually; he doesn't have to change all at once.

What's that analogy about boiling a frog slowly, so he doesn't notice and doesn't hop out?
 
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Marielle

Well-Known Member
There are worse faults to have! Lol. I was just using laziness as a particularly benign example of what I was trying to convey: evil has stages. It's not a constant state, nor is the spectrum a single point.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Oh, I just like that my realization that I might be lazy because I am very lax about cleaning my apartment (which I have not lived in for 3 years, by the way, let alone left it go that long without cleaning), is being compared to Sauron's realization that he's evil because he's using his enemy's body as a battle standard - same thing, right? :p

(I also maybe take that evil action of Sauron's particularly personally, since Celebrimbor is a Fëanorean. ;) )
 

dietlbomb

Member
I think it's fine that Sauron could plausibly fake repentance to Eonwë, but I don't think Sauron can be anything other than pure evil starting in Season 2 (when he starts torturing the elves). His methods can be subtle but not his morality. He can trick the other characters, but not the viewers.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I think there is an advantage of having Sauron stick out as very much...not villainous...yet hanging out with the villains, working against the ends of the Valar (and later the elves). This allows him to have a very incongruous and unique motivation. He should stand out in Season 2 Angband like Snape stands out in Hogwarts. He clearly doesn't belong...but that doesn't mean he's not their ally.

Anime loves to play with the idea of a non-villainous villain. I mean, yes, there are plenty of cackling-while-taking-over-the-world-and/or-killing-everyone villains in anime. But there is the occasional bad guy who is...maybe not all that bad? Or not as bad as he seems? OR, waaaaaaaay worse than he seems, because he appears innocent in some way, but is really completely depraved. It just depends. But, 'all is not as it seems' makes for interesting story-telling, and I think we can do something with that without turning this into some sort of apologetics for goodguy!Sauron. Sure, Sauron is a bad guy. But the entire reason he's on Melkor's side in the first place is because he's frustrated with the inefficient and weak leadership of the Valar. He's attracted to Melkor's strength, and he does want to order the world....but as Melkor's lieutenant. He's not a Dark Lord in his own right yet. That's not until the 2nd Age, when his power is stronger. In the 1st Age, his role is a bit shadowy. Sure, he's evil, but what is he up to, really? We have the opportunity to do something with that.

But in Season 2...he hasn't fallen very far yet. Is he torturing the elves? I think we have him trying to 'perfect' them. Torture is Tevildo's shtick, and Sauron isn't in a position to order Tevildo around.


Anime examples:

Scar in Fullmetal Alchemist is a serial killer who spews a lot self-righteous religious zealotry while seeking revenge. His own people tell him he is on a path towards destruction. But, oh yeah, 'his people' were the victims of genocide, and he's trying to get revenge against the soldiers who murdered his family, so....but the first people he killed were the doctors who saved his life, soooooo. In the end, he winds up being a good guy - but only after he gives up on revenge and works with some of the very soldiers who were his intended victims. A serial killer who tries to kill the show's protagonist is not typically someone who winds up being a good guy - so you know there's a story there.


Zeref in Fairy Tail is the closest thing that world has to literally the devil...and this is a world that has demons in it. You first hear about him in the context of 'the Book of Zeref,' which is where demons come from. You find out that such creatures only exist because he created them by magic (and these creatures are depraved kill-all-the-humans and/or strike-them-with-curses demons). Most of the villains are working to revive Zeref or bring him back, and they're all crazed lunatics. And then you meet him. He's an emo teen wandering around the woods horrified that every living thing he touches dies. He is the most powerful wizard ever, but he's accidentally immortal, so he kept creating demons hoping one of them would be powerful enough to finally kill him. No such luck yet.... It would be wrong to say that he's "not evil," but he's certainly...unexpected.

What leads up to that scene (in English, though)
 
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Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
The Morgoth Moment for Sauron is an interesting question. I kind of assumed before this project started that he was like a psychopath, and that's what he seems to be like in the PubSil, but the story we're telling demands something else of course. I still think though that he shares one significant trait with most psychopaths (and I will stop using that term as a reference now because it's boring) and that is that he is a manipulator.
I think of a quote from Swedish author Hjalmar Söderberg: "People want to be loved; failing that admired; failing that feared; failing that hated and despised. They want to evoke some sort of sentiment. The soul shudders before oblivion and seeks connection at any price" I think that describes Mairon-Sauron's fall rather well. In the Third Age, all Sauron can do is instill fear. Before that, he is admired and revered. Perhaps he is never really loved. Anyway, the reason I mentioned the quote is that Sauron, although he is a master smith and a necromancer, is also very much into feelings and emotions. He manipulates emotions. He explores them and uses them. This could also mean that he explores his own emotions and tries out different sets of emoitions in his efforts to manipulate others. And in doing so, he might lose himself. He might be morally unstable. He would lack moral core, if you will. This would mean that he might be honest when he repents, and then not agree with himself at all the next day and run away and hide. This line of reasoning could mean that it will be harder to say when he falls, when the Morgoth Moment is, since his path downward won't be straight.
On a side note, this would fit well with his association with vampires and werewolves. Also, we could actually show him appear not only as Annatar but as Thû and in other incarnations.
 
I think, unless we're willing to undertake major revision of the original conception, Sauron's point-of-no-return MUST happen before the fall of Numenor. It must happen when (or before) he makes/first uses the one ring.
Tolkien himself describes the ring as altogether evil. If you consider the purpose, the making, and the effect of the one ring (or of the nine and the seven, for that matter), it cannot come from one who is not yet fallen. If it did, there would have been the possibility (however remote) of it being used for good.

I simply do not think that we can conceive of Sauron making the one, uttering that incantation, and first putting it on for the purpose of total world domination, unless he is already at his point of no return. In other words, making the ring is either (1) a direct consequence of his ultimate fall, or (2) the direct cause of his ultimate fall. The two are inextricably linked.

Sauron can still appear attractive to the Numenoreans (evil can appear attractive) but there can be no question about his actual motives or the possibility of him turning back. The story of his interaction with the Numenoreans is not really the story of Sauron's fall. It is the story of how a fallen figure deceived a great people until they became complicit in their own fall. It is still a very powerful story - in some ways MORE powerful, if we don't mix it up with possibly conflicting motives on Sauron's part. He is sure of both his means and his ends, and they are not. The changing of his appearance at the drowning is a consequence of his diverting his power into the ring, setting it aside, and then over-reaching. It doesn't necessarily have to be an exact parallel to what happened with the Balrogs, where ugliness is the instant consequence of going too far.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Excellent reasoning Michael, I absolutely agree! So we're actually closer to the Moment now. It's somewhere between Morgoth's return and the beginning of the Second Age. We have a few episodes there that could signal parts of his fall (the death of Finrod for example) but I agree with Marielle's idea that his Moment is close to his repentance. Something should happen just after that.

What would that be? Something external like the destruction of Beleriand? He could react to that, feelings of hate erupting. Morgoth being taken away again? If this happens after Sauron has repented he could feel the Valar are treating their enemies harshly and he will regret his repentance and hide. Both of these things could be relevant.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I would say that Melkor has committed himself to evil and rebellion against the Valar long before the destruction of the Trees. The point is that, until that moment, he still had a doorway open to repent, should he have wanted to. Afterwards, there really was no chance he would come back from that path. Also at that time, he loses his ability to shift into his fair form (or at all, really - his body is locked in place, and he can be maimed and scarred in it).

Sauron's fall is much more gradual and incremental than Morgoth's. He retains his fair form long after he commits horrific deeds. Yet, even though he tricks Gorlim into a betrayal the way he does, even though he murders Finrod (what else would you call killing a prisoner in chains?), he still has that door open to repent, which (unlike Morgoth) he nearly *does*. Morgoth only pretended to be on good behavior, the better to carry out his revenge against the Valar. Sauron sues for pardon with at least some sincerity.

So, if a way was open for Melkor to repent during his probation in Valinor, then there is also a way open for Sauron at the end of the First Age. But his irrevocable decision to reject that way happens long before Numenor, I think. It is simply that until his body is attacked/killed, he doesn't lose the nifty shapeshifting trait.

So, when discussing a 'Morgoth Moment' - which moment do we mean? Presumably, we are trying to identify a decision he makes to commit to a path of taking over the world and ruling everything according to his own will. No longer mess around with the banished Morgoth, but be a Dark Lord in his own right. I agree with Michael that such a decision comes before he makes the One Ring. That's tricky, though, because the Annatar guise is assumed for deceit, but not necessarily for ruling the world - that comes after he makes himself the Ring and musters an army. And even in Numenor, he has the people worshipping Morgoth and preparing for his return from the Void.

The entire 2nd Age (which is thousands of years long) is where this plays out. It's not really a single moment, but an entire trajectory that he follows.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
i agree. still on numenor saurin was still a follower and servant, but later he himself wants to be a god, and one in a monotheist cult, not some sort of lesser deity.
 
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