Warning: spoilers are ahead for the first two episodes of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has finally arrived on Amazon Prime after many millions of dollars, lots of hype, and nearly five years since its announcement. Although the series is set thousands of years ahead of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels and doesn’t share the same universe as the Peter Jackson films, viewers are coming up with detailed theories about the identity of The Stranger, who arrived in Middle-earth via meteor. This “Meteor Man” is played by Daniel Weyman, but viewers can only guess about who he really is. And there are already plenty of guesses!
The Stranger arrived toward the end of the first episode, in a moment that was teased in the trailer footage. Eagle-eyed viewers who had watched the previews knew that this Meteor Man was coming, but don’t have any more information than Nori the Harfoot does at this point. He doesn’t seem to speak any recognizable language or know how to eat snails in the Harfoot way, seems to have elemental powers, and mostly failed to communicate before he manipulated the fireflies to form a constellation to show Nori and her friend Poppy.
The magical moment with the fireflies was soured a bit when those fireflies promptly died after he was finished with them, but the first two episodes (which both released on the same night) set up a pretty epic mystery with this Stranger. In the hours following the premiere, fans had lots of theories, ranging from some of the best-known names from any Lord of the Rings media to some comparatively more obscure figures in the Tolkien lore. The most popular guess? Gandalf.
me when the meteor man lands and it's immediately clear he's gandalf pic.twitter.com/EZtvgOf3r2August 27, 2022
Gandalf is arguably the most well-known and iconic character from the Lord of the Rings films and books, so he makes sense as a guess for the mysterious Stranger. I got some Gandalf vibes myself when he started speaking to the fireflies, which was reminiscent of a scene of Gandalf talking to a moth in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, although the show and films are separate. Another poster on Twitter pointed out some specific similarities:
That said, if The Rings of Power is sticking to Tolkien lore, the timeline might not work for this mystery character to be an early version of Gandalf. One person acknowledged the parallels but pointed out a problem:
Everything about the Meteor man/Stranger screams Olôrin/Gandalf but he doesn't come to middle Earth till Sauron is defeated. Who is it? 🤔🤔🤔#TheRingsOfPowerSeptember 2, 2022
Gandalf isn’t the only well-known iconic figure from the Lord of the Rings universe, and some viewers already believe that Sauron is the one who emerged from the meteor crater rather than anybody good. The Stranger has already caused a fair amount of trouble for Nori and the Harfoots, but is he really Sauron himself? One person acknowledged that the theory is a little wild:
My wild theory is that the meteor man is Sauron. Having him look so Gandalf -y (up to and including befriending proto-hobbits) is a fake out.September 2, 2022
Another person on Twitter found some lore to back up the idea that The Stranger could be Sauron, but also dismissed it as not entirely likely in light of the timeline of events in Tolkien’s source material. They wrote:
Another theory that seems to have a fair amount of support is that Daniel Weyman is Tom Bombadil, a well-known character in the Fellowship of the Ring novel but who didn’t make the cut in the Peter Jackson adaptation. He’s a mysterious figure who interacted with the hobbits in the book, so it tracks that he’s seen as a candidate for this Rings of Power character:
Calling it now: the Stranger (Meteor Man) is Tom BombadilSeptember 2, 2022
For another person on Twitter, there are two possibilities: Tom Bombadil and Radagast. In Tolkien’s writings, Radagast is a wizard known as Radagast the Brown, and would allow The Rings of Power to introduce a wizard without going all out and including Gandalf:
Meteor man is either radagast or Tom Bombadil and i will not be entertaining any other opinions at the pointSeptember 2, 2022
Of course, there’s always the chance that The Stranger will turn out to be an entirely original character whose name nobody could possibly know at this stage, but I doubt it. Would The Rings of Power have gone to the trouble of referring to him in promotional material as “The Stranger” if there’s not going to be a major reveal about his identity?
For now, we can only wait and watch to see what comes next for Daniel Weyman’s character. New episodes of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power release for Amazon Prime subscribers on Fridays at 12 a.m. ET on Amazon in the 2022 TV schedule.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).