Despite being a major part of this entire first season of The Rings of Power we still don’t have an actual name for the big magic-wielding mystery character. Some call him the meteor man, some call him the shadowy giant, but his official name according to Amazon Studios is the Stranger. From the moment he crashed onto Middle-earth in a ball of fire, audiences have been speculating wildly as to who this might be, but nothing has felt conclusive. And now that the finale has aired and a lot of possibilities have been ruled out, there’s really only five people it could be.
Spoilers ahead if you have no seen the finale!
In a July interview with Screenrant during San Diego Comic-Con, actor Daniel Weyman had the following to say about his time as the Stranger.
“They were pretty clear at the beginning that what they were bringing me was a character who had, at his core, a really deep and primal purpose. He had a need to accomplish something; he had a desire to accomplish this thing. Once I began to tap into that, and feel that deep in the core, then other things flowed out of that.
I think, for me, that was really important. Whether that was costume, or hair and makeup, or dialect and movement — all those things flowed from that very primal, guttural sense of, ‘I know what I need to do here. I know what I’m here for.’ And that’s a joy to have as an actor, because there are some characters who never really know what their purpose is. They never really know what their desires are.
As much as we don’t know about him, I think what we’re going to do — if we can stay with him — is to see that the way that he impacts communities around him is going to be dramatic. We are going to learn and learn and learn, and finding out what exactly is going on might not be so quick.”
We now know for sure that The Stranger is an Istari, or Wizard. Tolkien made it very clear there are only five Wizards who come to Middle-earth, each tasked with helping the people of Middle-earth fight Sauron. Based on what we know so far, that list of five gets narrowed down pretty quickly.
Many have suspected this character was Gandalf from the beginning, for a couple of reasons. The connection between Gandalf and Hobbits is already well documented, and our Stranger is clad in grey to go with the color designation assigned to the Wizard. The season one finale for Rings of Power dropped another big hint, as The Stranger seems lost for a moment and then smells something sweet on the air to use as a guide. He tells Nori “when in doubt, always follow your nose” which is exactly what Gandalf says in Fellowship of the Ring when navigating through Moria.
It’s certainly possible this character is Gandalf, but making it so would be a deviation from Tolkien’s writings. Gandalf isn’t supposed to arrive in Middle-earth from Valinor until after Sauron is defeated the first time at the end of the Second Age and this show is not there yet.
Allatar or Pallando
Gandalf and the other two Wizards aren’t supposed to have sailed to Middle-earth until the Third Age, but there are actually five Wizards of Middle-earth. The other two are most commonly referred to as the Blue Wizards, since Tolkien describes their robes as a sea blue. While these two are equal in power to Gandalf or Radagast when they arrive, their contributions are not well documented by Tolkien. We don’t know a ton about what these Wizards were doing here, only that when Allatar was sent here he asked Pallando to join him and Tolkien described the two as having “had very great influence on the history of the Second and Third Age.”
It’s possible Allatar and Pallando were separated when they first arrived in Middle-earth, and the language barrier between him and Nori could be temporary while he identifies his powers in this new place. But if it’s really one of the Blue Wizards, it’s extremely odd they did not arrive together or clad in blue.
As the leader of the Wizards who later becomes corrupted by Sauron, it’s possible we’re seeing the White Wizard in an early form as The Stranger. This character struggles with darkness, presented to him first by the harm he does with his magic and then more directly as the Rhûn sorcerers try to lure him in. We know Saruman is later tempted by darkness, but that shouldn’t happen for a pretty long time.
Also, like the other two, Saruman is a bit early according to Tolkien’s works. But unlike Gandalf, Saruman did travel to Rhûn at one point to help fight evil.
The animal-obsessed, nature-loving Brown Wizard is truly one of a kind. His abilities are unique, his personality quirky, and none of that is hinted here with this character. Of the Wizards this character could be, I feel Radagast is the least likely by far.
That said, it would be cool to see this character on screen again. Maybe with a little less bird poop on him this time.
Season two of The Rings of Power does not yet have a release date, but it seems likely we’ve not seen the last of this character. Maybe the next time we see him, he’ll have given himself a name.