In the last episode of “The Rings of Power,” we saw that the allegiance of Numenor was somewhat changing. The island, which was gifted to men by the Valar, now wanted to wage war against the beliefs of their own ancestors. When Elendil and Miriel returned from the Southlands after witnessing their worst horrors, black flags were seen fluttering as if telling them about the impending doom. So, let’s see what Tar-Palantir had prophesied and how the end of Season 1 corroborated it and told us that the downfall of the great kingdom was near.
The Prophecy Of Tar-Palantir
Queen Regent Miriel was totally against helping Galadriel in her quest to save the Southlands from the wrath of Sauron. Miriel portrayed that she was astonished by the audacity of the Elf to enter Numenor when it was clear that they were against the Valar for many generations and the elves were not allowed to step onto their lands. But you sense that more than being annoyed, Miriel was scared. Anticipatory anxiety could be sensed by just looking at her face. It was as if she feared the happening of an event, and somewhere it was related to the arrival of the Elf on their lands. Galadriel went to the tower where Miriel’s father, Tar-Palantir, used to stay. Galadriel knew that Tar-Palantir was loyal to the elves. He supported the faithful secretly (the people who believed in elvish ways), and he also talked about renewing relations between Numenor and the elves. The white tree of Numenor (Nimloth) was sacred to him. He knew that the fate of the descendants of Tar-Minyatur was tied to the holy white tree of Numenor.
The people of Numenor didn’t like the bona fide intentions of their king. They had been brainwashed for generations. They believed that the Ban of Valar was unfair. There was a lot of resentment and anger in the kingdom, and the king was accused of honoring the ways and means of Eru Iluvatar. Eventually, Tar-Palantir was forced to step down from the throne. Miriel became the queen after him (according to the series “The Rings of Power”), and it was then that Tar-Palantir revealed to her a secret. In a Palantir, he showed Miriel the downfall of Numenor. Though not everything shown by a Palantir always turns true, Tar-Palantir believed that if they didn’t restore the old ways, they wouldn’t be able to stop the vision from becoming a reality. He had foreseen that one day, the darkness of the night would overshadow the light of the sun. He feared that one day the red banners of Numenor would be replaced by black flags supporting the cause of evil. He had seen that one day, the light of Earendil would be enveloped in darkness. He had seen that the Nimloth would be destroyed, and with it, Numenor, too, would meet its fateful end.
Miriel was too scared to accept the reality. She still harbored a feeling of contempt for the elves. She believed that the path of her father had almost destroyed them. Because the Palantir had shown that the doom of Numenor would begin with the arrival of an Elf on their lands, Queen Regent was even more desperate to send Galadriel away, as she thought that by doing so, she could change what was destined to be. She didn’t know that Galadriel had come up with a solution and that the downfall of Numenor would only be brought by men, their short-sightedness, and their greed.
What Did The Black Flags Of Numenor Suggest? Was Pharazon Manipulated By Sauron?
According to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Pharazon defeated the Dark Lord and then brought him to Numenor as a prisoner. But Sauron was a manipulative and shrewd contemplator. Miraculously, the prisoner rose to the position of an advisor and misled the king into believing that his race had been tricked by the Valar and that they should have shared the boon of immortality with the men too. But the narrative of “The Rings of Power” is a bit altered and tweaked. Sauron had come to Numenor, disguised as Halbrand, together with Galadriel. We speculate that Sauron was, in all probability, corrupting the mind of Pharazon (though “The Rings of Power” doesn’t give us any strong scenes or confrontation to establish the same).
Pharazon was quite aware about what he needed to do to have a strong hold on the empire. We credit this awareness to the presence of Sauron in the kingdom, as maybe he had started acting behind the veil without being seen or noticed by Galadriel and others. Pharazon says that statecraft is the art of attending to small matters. He knew that if he wanted to strengthen his hold on the kingdom, he needed the common folks to be on his side. He needed to win their trust, and, most importantly, he needed to have his ears to the ground. Pharazon didn’t want to be a victim of an unforeseen rebellion, and that is why he started laying the foundations of evil very carefully. He gained the trust of the Numenoreans by assuring them that as long as he was alive, Numenor would remain a kingdom of men. Pharazon was of the opinion that cleverness only gave short-term gratifications, but it was wisdom that changed the course of things forever. More than being clever he wanted to be wise.
Towards the end of the first season of “The Rings of Power,” we saw that Pharazon had completely taken over the state of affairs in the absence of Queen Miriel and Elendil. He talked about making a tomb for Tar-Palantir after his death. Tar-Palantir was still alive, but it seemed like Pharazon was in a bit of a hurry. When the fleet of ships returned from the Southlands, Elendil noticed the black flags hoisted all across Numenor. Elendil was a wise man, and he understood what had happened in their absence. The black flags signified the beginning of the downfall of Numenor. Black could symbolize many other things too. It stands for evilness and death. It could be used to convey authority. Maybe Pharazon wanted to tell the others that he was in charge now. He, maybe, didn’t appreciate that Miriel went to Southlands and fought alongside an Elf. Maybe he felt that she had blatantly violated years of traditions. He had always seen the elves with a lot of disdain, and now his queen was siding with the enemy of the state, and he didn’t like it. Black also represented the darkness that Tar-Palantir had seen in his visions. It signified that an evil power was rising in the lands of Mordor. The smoke from Mount Doom had covered the sky, and darkness had spread throughout the Southlands. In the War of the Wrath, the men of Southlands had sided with Morgoth. But the ancestors of the Numenoreans had fought alongside the elves and Valar. Black signified betrayal, and it told us that the Numenoreans were headed toward their doom under the leadership of Pharazon.
Maybe in season 2 of “The Rings of Power,” Elendil and the other faithfuls would try to bring down the black banner and once again resort to old ways. But as it is said that once darkness seeps inside the cracks of one’s conscience, once the seed of evilness is sown in the hearts of men, and once people are captivated by greed, it becomes very difficult to save them from their own fate.