The opening episodes of the highly expensive The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power have already proved a smash hit.


The Amazon Prime Video fantasy show is based on the much-loved book series The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien and its appendices and has already earned its streaming service 25 million views.

Set thousands of years before the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the series begins with the Elf warrior Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) on a mission to prove that the evil of Sauron remains on Middle-Earth despite the defeat of his old master, the dark lord Morgoth.

Elsewhere, elf Elrond (Robert Aramayo) goes on a secret mission of his own, while the Southlands see a new danger emerge for a village of humans.

However, a central story follows the nomadic rural creatures the Harfoots, including the curious Elanor 'Nori' Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh), who comes across a mysterious figure after a comet crash lands near her community.

Officially, Amazon is calling this enigmatic person 'The Stranger', but who is this individual in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

Who is The Stranger in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

Nori and The Stranger in The Rings of Power being engulfed by flames amid the comet crash
Nori and The Stranger in The Rings of Power. YouTube/Amazon Studios

The Stranger is an enigmatic and magical character who crashed to Middle-earth in a fiery red comet.

The red comet, which is visible to many across Middle-earth in the opening episode, crashes in the land of Rhovanion near a community of Harfoots.

The adventurous Harfoot named Nori approaches the site of the crash and sees The Stranger lying in the fiery crater.

In the aftermath, the second episode sees Nori and her friend Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) hide The Stranger, with the former feeling destined to have met him.

After hiding him, Nori goes to The Stranger the next day and finds him studying strange markings before startling him, causing him to scream. Shadow and wind emerge, indicating that he is a magical being.

Daniel Weyman as The Stranger in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
Daniel Weyman as The Stranger in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Amazon Studios

Managing to calm him, Nori provides him with some food and it's clear that The Stranger appears to be unaware of his identity and is trying to communicate something to Nori through symbols - appearing to be a warning.

Nori and Poppy visit The Stranger again later and find him staring up at a starry sky, and Nori notes that the next Harfoot migration is coming - as they are nomadic people.

However, The Stranger instead notes the fireflies in their lanterns and breaks one, causing the fireflies to emerge and him to communicate with them before sending them away and appearing to match a constellation of stars - suggesting he wants to show the Harfoots the way to something.

After this, The Stranger appears exhausted by his actions and collapses, prompting Nori and Poppy to note that the fireflies have died.

Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot), Markella Kavenagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot), Beau Cassidy, Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfoot), Megan Richards (Poppy Proudfellow)
Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot), Markella Kavenagh (Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot), Beau Cassidy, Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfoot), Megan Richards (Poppy Proudfellow) Ben Rothstein/Amazon Studios

In the third episode, titled Adar, The Stranger attempts to decipher some star maps and accidentally exposes his existence to the Harfoot community on the eve of their next migration.

Despite anger at Nori for helping this enigmatic figure, the Harfoots allow the Brandyfoot community to stay in the caravan - albeit at the back.

As Nori's father Largo struggles with their belongings due to an injured ankle, The Stranger helps to move the cart and appears to earn his place in the Harfoot community.

Who could The Stranger be? Theories explained

Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. New Line Productions, Inc.

The chief suspect as to the identity of The Stranger is none other than the iconic Lord of the Rings wizard Gandalf.

In J R R Tolkien's lore, Gandalf was one of the Maiar of Valinor, angelic beings who took human form and was originally named Olórin.

Olórin came to Middle-earth in the Third Age, landing in the Havens of Mithlond as he was sent by the deity known as the Creator (Eru) to aid those in the land against the threat of Sauron, taking the form of an old man as a sign of humility and to be more trusted by the peoples there.

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Gandalf the Grey was the form that Olórin took and was one of five wizards who arrived in Middle-earth with this mission, alongside him being the chief of their order, Saruman the White.

It should be noted that Gandalf arrived a long time after the events of this series when compared to the books' timeline and the details in Tolkien lore.

However, actor Daniel Weyman's British roots, his raggedy appearance, his magical powers, his ability to communicate with small insects, and his relationship with the small creatures and Hobbit forebearers known as Harfoots only add credence to the idea that The Stranger is an adapted version of Gandalf's origins for the television series.

Markella Kavenagh as Nori Brandyfoot
Markella Kavenagh as Nori Brandyfoot in The Rings of Power Amazon Studios

He would have arrived on Middle-earth from another land entirely and with a clear mission - to help in the fight against Sauron.

The character's appearance is also in line with the wandering appearance of the Norse god Odin, to whom Gandalf has long been compared.

However, perhaps The Stranger could be a different wizard - perhaps Saruman the White himself or Radagast the Brown.

Alternatively, could The Stranger be a returned Sauron himself? The possibility remains that Sauron has taken on this form as a way to weasel his way into the hearts of innocent creatures on Middle-earth, but the Harfoots do not appear to be a good, strategic place to start.

Sauron also began his existence as one of the Maiar, serving the One before turning to evil and serving Morgoth.

However, if Sauron already dwells somewhere in Middle-Earth, why would he need to crash land in a comet?

Finally, there is a chance that The Stranger could be an entirely new creation or another wizard of Gandalf's order with similar origins, as either one of the Maiar or their more powerful counterparts, the Valar.

We shall have to wait and see in the coming weeks!

Who plays The Stranger in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

British actor Daniel Weyman poses on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the Global Premiere of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, central London, on August 30, 2022
Daniel Weyman at the Global Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images

The Stranger is portrayed in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power by English actor Daniel Weyman.

Having played numerous roles on stage and screen, Weyman has appeared in television series such as Colditz, BBC series Dunkirk, Van Gough, Foyle's' War, Midsomer Murders, and Poirot episode Dead Man's Folly.

Weyman is perhaps best known for his role as Max Thorndyke in the BBC crime drama Silent Witness in which he portrayed the husband of regular character Clarissa Mullery, played by Liz Carr.

Speaking about his role as The Stranger in The Rings of Power, Weyman told Entertainment Tonight: “I would think, hopefully, people will have as much fun watching his story as I had filming it.

"And I suppose the best thing to say is that while we were working, I, at each point in the story, knew exactly where the character was and who he was and what he was going through.

"So, from my point of view, it was quite an easy task to follow that through."

Read more on The Rings of Power:

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episodes 1 and 2 arrive on Amazon Prime Video in the UK on Friday 2nd September 2022 – you can sign up now for a free 30-day Prime Video trial.

If you’re looking for something else to watch in the meantime, check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Fantasy hub.


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