Spoilers and potential spoilers ahead
The Film & Spirit boys have a little bet going on now concerning the identity of The Stranger in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. One of the bigger mysteries of the show so far is just who this guy is. He fell from the sky and speaks a lot of nonsense but clearly, the show is making this guy out to be a big deal. So, who do we think he is?
Fred Says He’s Any Wizard
I base my prediction purely on what I have seen in previous movies from The Lord of the Rings universe, as I am not a reader of Tolkien’s work. There’s a specific scene in The Two Towers (2002) where Gandalf explains to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli how he actually came back to Middle-Earth after he fell to his death after defeating the Balrog in the last entry, The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). We see a nice little montage of Gandalf’s consciousness going through space, stars and galaxies before he actually feels life going back into his body. This might actually tell us that Wizards from Gandalf or Saruman’s order actually come from the sky, receiving orders from a higher divine entity.
Now, we have this stranger who actually fell from the sky, similar to how Gandalf the Grey actually came back to Middle-Earth as Gandalf the White. Although I do agree that the fire-burning crater formed by his fall seems pretty glum and points out to many evil symbols, the comparison to Gandalf (also taking into account his beard and human form) is pretty compelling. He does not speak the common tongue and he seems like a child who has just been born, which could mean that he needs to learn about the world before he becomes a fully-grown and wise Wizard-much like how Gandalf didn’t recognize his name when he returned as The White. Also, like Gandalf, he can speak to insects, who in turn help him form the constellation/map.
I do not have a Palantir to predict the future, but I remain optimistic that this Stranger landed near the home of the Harfoots for a bigger purpose to assist in the future war against Sauron. I do not want to bet that this potential Wizard might be Gandalf or Saruman, that would be too good to be true. But it could very well be one of the two Blue Wizards, Alatar or Pallando. The Blue Wizards were sent specifically to try and slow Sauron down. When asked if The Stranger could be one of the three named Wizards in The Hobbit films, showrunner Patrick McKay said “I would say those are not the only beings, those names, in that class.”That being said, I think his goal will be similar. Let’s see what happens.
Sean Says He’s Sauron or an Uncorrupted Balrog
There are plenty of clues suggesting that The Stranger is a sinister being and that he could very well be Sauron. The Dark Lord is a shapeshifter, so he could easily assume the identity of a wise but amnesiac wizard in order to manipulate those around them. He’s already gotten the trust of the Harfoot Nori, one can only imagine the trouble if their migration crosses paths with the elves.
There are a few clues in the show as well. The big red flag for me is the music. When we first see the Stranger lying in the crater, we distinctly hear Bear McCreary’s theme for Sauron play. This could be a red herring, as The Stranger has his own less sinister sounding themes on the score, but the first sound byte associated with him is that of Sauron.
Then there’s the visual and reactive clues. The big one is that the crater looks an awful lot like an eye wreathed in flame, the symbol most associated with Sauron. Nori falls into this crater, and remarks that the flames are cool, something that an elf mentions in the first episode when visiting a location Sauron once used as a base. He’s told that Sauron was so evil that it drained the warmth from the place, leaving it cold and desolate. Finally, when The Stranger uses the fireflies to map out a constellation, they all die after they’ve served their purpose. In other words, they were tools and of no further use, so they were disposable.
Another fun theory is that he’s actually a Balrog who’s yet to take on a monstrous form. We know that Balrogs are Maiar just like the Wizards and Sauron are, but we don’t know much about their origins. Perhaps this man will become a Balrog, as he seems to have quite a penance for fire and may yet transform into the fire demon we saw in the SDCC trailer. This one does seem more unlikely than a Wizard or Sauron, but it’s not totally impossible-I’ll take this on in my bet. Likewise, it’s also totally plausible that Halbrand turns out to be Sauron. But I’m not taking that bet (a future potential Nazgûl is a different story though).
The direction of The Stranger’s travels will be a big indicator of who he is. If he goes South or East, he’s most likely a Wizard. If he goes North or West, the signs will point to Sauron. Hopefully, the show doesn’t leave us in suspense for too long!