The Stranger is a stranger no more in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, but what does his shocking true identity mean? Since The Rings of Power‘s very first episode, a veil of mystery has been cast over Daniel Weyman’s character, the Stranger. Falling from the sky in a ball of flame, Middle-earth’s naked newcomer quickly befriended the local Harfoots, but couldn’t help hurting them (repeatedly) with his powerful and uncontrolled magic.
The Rings of Power tried very hard to convince audiences the Stranger could be Sauron, and season 1’s finale goes so far as to call him by that name. The Dweller, Nomad and Ascetic finally catch up to the man they’ve been pursuing and worship him as Sauron. Only after spending some time with their “master” do the trio realize they’ve made a terrible mistake. The Rings of Power never actually reveals the Stranger’s name explicitly – only by the title of his order, Istar. In The Lord of the Rings, the Istari are the five wizards who come to Middle-earth and aid in fighting Sauron – but The Rings of Power goes further, subtly telling the audience precisely which Istar Daniel Weyman has been playing.
The Rings Of Power’s Stranger Is Gandalf Confirmed
Audiences had long theorized the Stranger could be The Rings of Power‘s version of Gandalf. Visually, the long gray hair and wild beard vaguely resembled Ian McKellen in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies, and the gray clothes provided by the Harfoots further added to the physical Gandalf-isms. Moreover, the Stranger’s friendship with the Harfoots could’ve been a prelude to Gandalf’s affinity for Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. Throw in the powerful use of magic, the desire to help, whispering to insects, and the fact that Gandalf is by far the most marketable character alive during The Rings of Power‘s Second Age era, and no one could say the signs weren’t there.
After the Dweller and her people confirm the Stranger is an Istar, the Meteor Man still doesn’t remember much of his name or life before arriving in Middle-earth. The line that confirms his identity comes at the very end of The Rings of Power episode 8 during a conversation with Nori, when the Stranger advises, “Always follow your nose.” Gandalf uses the very same line in The Lord of the Rings when speaking to Merry, leaving absolutely no doubt that he and the Stranger are one and the same.
Why Is Gandalf In Middle-earth? Who Sent Him?
Since the Stranger’s memory remains patchy, he still isn’t sure of his purpose in Middle-earth, nor from whence he originally came, but based upon established Tolkien mythology, viewers can take a pretty good guess. Tolkien’s Istar was sent to Middle-earth by the Valar when Sauron began growing powerful. Their purpose was to not oppose the villain directly, but to guide and assist the various peoples of Middle-earth toward victory. The Stranger, therefore, is very likely on a mission to bring down Sauron on the Valar’s behalf… even if he doesn’t remember it. This would explain his innate instinct to investigate Rhûn in The Rings of Power season 2 – learning more about Sauron’s plans and movements, since there’s obvious a connection between the Dark Lord and the eastern realm of Men.
The Stranger being revealed as an Istar accounts for his memory loss. When Gandalf and the other wizards appear in The Lord of the Rings, they’ve already been present in Middle-earth for centuries, and have gained great wisdom. When they first arrived at mortal shores, however, Tolkien depicted them almost as newborns learning everything for the first time – very similar to how The Ring of Power has depicted its Stranger. The memory loss is, therefore, an unfortunate side effect of a wizard making the trip from Valinor to Middle-earth.
Does The Rings Of Power’s Gandalf Reveal Break Canon?
Gandalf appearing in The Rings of Power isn’t especially kind to J.R.R. Tolkien’s original canon. Amazon’s TV series is set during the Second Age of Middle-earth, although the timeline is greatly compressed (Isildur isn’t born for over 1000 years after the Rings of Power are made, for example). Gandalf and the other wizards, however, didn’t appear in Middle-earth until the Third Age. Not only is there no record of Istari during earlier periods, but Tolkien described how Gandalf (or Olórin, as he was originally known) needed convincing to fight Sauron in Middle-earth, and didn’t initially want to get involved. Maybe if the Stranger was Olórin in his original Maia form, The Rings of Power could avoid contradiction, but the Istari are Maia incarnated in human bodies as wizards for the purpose of fighting darkness. Reconciling those details with Gandalf’s Middle-earth appearance in the Second Age will certainly take some explaining in The Rings of Power season 2.
Why The Three Robed Followers Believed Gandalf Was Sauron
The Rings of Power doesn’t offer anywhere near enough detail to deduce how the Dweller, Nomad and Ascetic are so knowledgeable about divine matters, and why they were so convinced the man who fell from the sky was Sauron. These questions will perhaps become clear once Nori and Gandalf reach Rhûn in The Rings of Power season 2. The three zealots were, however, reasonably close in their estimation of who Meteor Man was. Despite turning toward evil, Sauron is a Maia, meaning he belongs to the same order as Gandalf. Istari are slightly different in that they lose their memories and their powers are limited by the Valar but, in essence, Gandalf and Sauron are kin from a certain point of view. Perhaps the Dweller and her cohorts could only divine the arrival of a Maia and merely assumed it would be Sauron, since they knew he’d return eventually.
Can More Wizards Appear In The Rings Of Power Season 2?
Given how Gandalf’s arrival was witnessed in the Southlands and as far away as Lindon, it seems unlikely that any other wizards could’ve arrived alongside him unnoticed. Fortunately for magic fans, that doesn’t mean more won’t arrive in The Rings of Power season 2. When Tolkien originally described the Istari’s arrival in Middle-earth, their respective entrances were staggered over a period of time. Gandalf may be the first wizard to land in Amazon’s The Rings of Power, but the others may well be following behind him soon enough.