The identity of the Stranger remains elusive till the finality of The Rings of Power season 1 when the shabby wizard finally gives a key hint about himself away.
Season 1 of The Rings of Power focuses on quite a large slate of characters, some adapted from Tolkien lore and some wholly original.
With the large ensemble also came a lot of mystery surrounding certain key characters.
One such big character is that of the man who fell from the sky like a meteorite. This character is referred to as “The Stranger” for the entirety of the premiere season’s run.
A lot of speculations were instantly on the fence when The Stranger entered the screen and fascinated viewers with his infantile sense of wonder and a contrasting stature bearing striking resemblance to a famous Tolkien wizard.
The early contradictory signs
When The Stranger first fell onto Middle-earth, near a Harfoot settlement, many fans theorized him to be Gandalf the Gray.
However, these theories were soon attenuated with counterarguments, positing that he must be Sauron since the Dark Lord was in Middle-earth for a lot of time during the second age.
What’s more, is that Gandalf wasn’t sent to Arda until the start of the third age. So the meteor man being him would make little sense.
Then there were these ominous signs surrounding him as well; while his intentions seemed innocently pure and lacking malice, his actions would often lead to some freak accident of sorts.
The Stranger’s advice to Nori
In the final episode of The Rings of Power season 1, Nori says her goodbyes to the rest of the Harfoots and accompanies The Stranger on a new journey.
They’re headed east, to Rhûn. However, the quandary for Nori lies in the confusion she has about which way to go. She asks the big guy as much.
And that’s when he gives her a piece of advice. “When in doubt, Elanor Brandyfoot, always follow your nose.” This comes off as a huge giveaway because this is exactly what Gandalf said to Merry in The Fellowship of the Ring.
It’s also in the way he says the full name of the Harfoot Nori, like how he calls Merry by his full name, Meriadoc.
“If in doubt, Meriadoc, always follows your nose” might not be a word-for-word duplicate of The Stranger’s advice, but it’s pretty evident that both sentences are essentially one and the same.
What does it imply?
Most likely that The Stranger is Gandalf. There are just too many similarities that both characters share to dismiss what everyone’s thinking and now believing to be true.
There are some hints still, that entail this to not be true. It could be that this is one of the two other wizards that were never involved in Middle-earth affairs in the Third Age.
Instead, these two wizards went to Rhûn and played an important role in spoiling Sauron’s plans there, eventually helping the good guys in Middle-earth during the momentous battles against the Dark Lord.
It could be that this advice gets passed on to the actual Gandalf later on by Harfoots themselves, now that they’ve learnt it from another wizard.
So suffice it to say that The Stranger is most probably Gandalf, and his advice to Nori is a sure-fire giveaway planned and inserted very deliberately by showrunners of The Rings of Power.
If not, well, since the show has made it clear he’s an Istar, he could very well be one of the other four wizards sent to the Middle-earth.