Amazon Studios The Rings of Power is here. We want all Spoilerites to have the best viewing experience possible and have the widest knowledge base about the Second Age of Middle-Earth. This is a weekly Let’s Get Nerdy article series highlighting a different piece of Tolkien I think you need to know about!
In past articles I have answered the question:
- What Are the Rings of Power?
- What is Númenor?
- What is the Second Age?
- Who are the Harfoots?
- Who is Prince Durin IV?
- What is Khazad-dûm?
- Who is Celebrimbor?
- What is the Last Alliance of Men and Elves?
- Who is Elendil?
- New Pics! Who are Bronwyn and Theo?
- What is Rivendell?
- The Rings of Power First Reactions Are In!
- What is Lindon?
- What are the Nine Human Rings?
- Empire Magazine’s The Rings of Power Covers
- New Character Pictures
- Will Wizards Appear in The Rings of Power?
- New Promo for The Rings of Power
- What is Eregion?
- Leaked! Rings of Power Trailer Breakdown
- The Rings of Power Teaser Breakdown
- New EW Rings of Power Pictures
- SDCC Rings of Power Trailer Breakdown
- Who is Isildur?
- The Rings of Power is Here! Read the Reactions
At the end of The Rings of Power pilot episode we met a character known only to the internet as “The Stranger”. While that’s fun and evocative and thought provoking it doesn’t leave a whole lot for us to go on in future episodes. By the time the second episode rolled around The Stranger (played by actor Daniel Weyman), became a pretty prominent figure in the Harfoot/Nori Brandyfoot storyline.
Fans online immediately had questions surrounding “Who is the Stranger?”
Over … and over … and over … and over …
… to the point where I made an entire TikTok about it:
To tease you as to the core of my theory I’ll remind you a while back I wrote a feature for this very series called Will Wizards Appear in the Rings Of Power which may be helpful in this very instance!
I’m not going to go terribly much into the history of the Istari, how they came to Middle-Earth, or when exactly during The Second Age that happened. Sufficeth to state, this is very close to the book-canon time period when they arrive. Weyman is quite a tall, lanky actor with a shaggy beard and hair combo all of which fits the overall aesthetic established by Peter Jackson for what J.R.R. Tolkien’s specific brand of wizards look like.
Personally, I have who I believe The Stranger will turn out to be and I have the who I hope The Stranger will be based on all the evidence as laid out by the first two episodes of The Rings of Power. I’ll begin with what I think will happen:
I think The Stranger is going to turn out to be Gandalf The Grey. As with many characters, Gandalf has approximately a billion names including: The Grey, The White, Olórin, Mithrandir, Incánus, Tharkûn, The White Rider, Greyhame, Stormcrow, Old Grey Beard, Big Grey Beard, The White Pilgrim, Láthspell.
Many of these names you are probably familiar with from The Lord of the Rings original trilogy of films.
If I were penning his introduction into The Rings of Power (and I mean this statement and speculation with complete respect and not to tell the actual writers of the show how to do their job), I would likely saddle him with a moniker the viewers only/most familiar with The Lord of the Rings trilogy would not recognize. Probably “Olórin”. If this name in particular is spoken in a upcoming episode I want you adequately equipped to know what it means. It’s well known enough amongst the book geek community to be Google-able, but not widely known enough they couldn’t obfuscate The Stranger’s identity from some viewers who aren’t as familiar with The Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales.
Context clues? His hair and beard, of course, his height. The Istari are known to be extremely tall. His age.
Istari were flung to Middle-Earth already in old age. Gandalf states as much throughout The Lord of the Rings, often complaining about the mortal ache and pains of his body.
Less obvious context clues: the way The Stranger speaks to the fireflies. Although, mild spoiler alert, the fireflies meet a rather sad end, the language and phraseology The Stranger uses when speaking to the creatures is highly evocative of the language Gandalf whispers to the moth during his imprisonment at Isengard at the hands of Saruman (a fellow Istari), during The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring. It’s not unreasonable to assume he brushed up on his communication and perfected his magic between the Second and the Third Age of Middle-Earth.
Further: the introduction of The Stranger in the Harfoot storyline also points me toward the conclusion of him being Gandalf. Harfoots are direct ancestors of the Hobbits (particularly the Hobbits who are central to the events of The Lord of the Rings). For more on Harfoots check out my Who are the Harfoots? feature from earlier in this very series! Gandalf the Grey is well-known for his affinity for the Hobbits and his belief in their agency in the face of entire races of fantasy creatures who write them off as silly innocents. This storyline would be original (dare I evoke the word “retcon”?), but could be a reasonable way to establish just why Gandalf has such affinity for the halflings of Middle-Earth. If the Harfoots took him in when he was The Stranger, showed him kindness, and helped him get his feet under himself when he first fell to Middle-Earth it makes complete sense he would turn to them with trust and respect when the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings get underway decades later.
TL;DR who I want The Stranger to be is one of the two characters I evoked in my feature on Will Wizards Appear in The Rings of Power? Either of the Blue Wizards. They’re the only two we haven’t seen thus far in live action. Featuring Alatar and Pallando expands the world of The Rings of Power rather than making The Lord of the Rings fall to small universe syndrome as we’ve seen so often in this nostalgia bait pop culture climate we currently reside.
I would love to read alternate theories in the comments! Drop your thoughts below!