Is The Rings Of Power’s Meteor Man Supposed To Be Gandalf?

Warning: spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power episodes 1 & 2

If it looks like Gandalf, enchants like Gandalf, and mumbles like Gandalf, is it a Gandalf? The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power dives into the weeds of this very conundrum. A huge mystery from The Rings of Power’s opening two episodes is the identity of Daniel Weyman’s character. Credited as “The Stranger” but more commonly known as Meteor Man, this odd soul falls from the skies of Middle-earth watched by Gil-Galad, Elrond, Celebrimbor, Bronwyn, Arondir, and Nori Brandyfoot, but it’s the young Harfoot who actually finds him. Nori takes Meteor Man into her care with the begrudging help of friend Poppy, then later strikes up a tentative friendship with the enigmatic stranger.

Plenty of theories attempting to unravel The Rings of Power’s Meteor Man mystery have already been proposed. Sauron is obviously a strong contender given The Rings of Power’s focus, and although it’s clear the Stranger possesses magical qualities, there’s still a host of previously unseen Vala and Maia to pick from. Of course, Meteor Man could be an entirely new creation made especially for Amazon, holding no prior The Lord of the Rings connection whatsoever.

Another popular idea is that The Rings of Power will ultimately reveal its Stranger as Gandalf. The wizard does exist during The Rings of Power’s timeline (albeit under the name Olórin), so the theory is at least plausible. The Rings of Power surely also knows what it’s doing by introducing a scruffy sorcerer with a long beard dressed in gray…. who likes Hobbits… and whispers magic instructions to bugs like Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring. Amazon’s The Rings of Power is almost coaxing audiences into assuming Meteor Man is an earlier Gandalf come to nip Sauron in the bud before he becomes a huge problem for Middle-earth, but is Nori really sharing her snails with The Lord of the Rings’ most famous wizard?

Why The Old Man Likely Isn’t Gandalf

According to J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology, Olórin lived with the other Maia in Aman, but always harbored a curiosity regarding the Children of Ilúvatar (Men and Elves), and would sometimes walk among them. In the Third Age, with Sauron launching yet another comeback, Olórin was one of five Maia chosen to visit Middle-earth and aid its inhabitants, adopting the human guise of Gandalf the Grey. While technically possible, the idea of Gandalf landing in Middle-earth during the Second Age to help fend off Sauron raises a whole slew of continuity wrinkles. Why would Olórin arrive via meteor rather than the usual boat? Why would he leave with the job half-finished? Did the Valar send him, or did Olórin come of his own accord? And does reaching Middle-earth so early contradict Tolkien’s version of events, where Olórin needed much convincing before journeying there in the Third Age?

The Rings of Power episodes 1 & 2 also drop major hints that Meteor Man’s true identity is much darker than wholesome dear-old Gandalf. When the Stranger first lands, a leaf falls before Gil-Galad’s feet in Lindon, the underside of which is rotted by black poison. Meteor Man then seems to break Largo Brandyfoot’s ankle when he becomes frustrated, before later killing all the fireflies he enchants. Hurting Harfoots, culling creatures, and fouling flora simply isn’t in Gandalf’s character – not even if those acts are committed subconsciously.

Meteor Man’s physical appearance, general demeanor and use of magic all deliberately point viewers toward the same conclusion, and from a marketing perspective, it’s not hard to see why Amazon would be tempted to include Gandalf in The Rings of Power. Alas, too many details aren’t adding up. Far more likely, The Rings of Power’s Stranger is Sauron, or a different member of the Ainur altogether.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues Thursday/Friday on Prime Video.

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