The Rings Of Power Has Finally Come To A Decision On Where The Stranger Stands

The age of men is over, the time of spoilers has come. Read no further if you're not caught up on the latest episode of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power."

Throughout its first season, "The Rings of Power" has carefully built up an air of mystery around several of its central storylines. Who exactly is Adar (Joseph Mawle) and why does he inspire so much reverence among the orcs? Where is the Dark Lord Sauron hiding and is it possible we've already met him in the guise of someone else? And, perhaps most pressingly of all, just what is the deal with the enigmatic Stranger (Daniel Weyman)? Theories surrounding who this bearded and shaggy figure actually is abound from the wizard Gandalf to Sauron himself to — hear us out — the merry fellow whose boots are yellow, Tom Bombadil.

But in a welcome change of pace, the Stranger's true identity finally seems less important compared to whether or not he genuinely has good intentions at heart.

The latest episode of "The Rings of Power" puts an even greater emphasis on his morality than previous hours already have. The inadvertent death of all those fireflies, his subsequent conversation with Nori (Markella Kavenagh) about "perils" and his guilt that he himself might represent the danger she speaks of, and the frightening display of ice powers that almost consumed the young harfoot all represented troubling omens. But the final straw comes when he's asked to help heal the fruit trees in the grove and instead seems to make things worse, putting the close-knit clan in the impossible position of sending him away.

But a late reveal seems to indicate that, perhaps, the harfoots were a bit too hasty. Finally, we have proof of where the Stranger's allegiances lie.

Not all who wander are lost

For several episodes, "The Rings of Power" has been content to stay vague over whether the mysterious Stranger is the almost childlike amnesiac without much control over his powers that he seems to be, or a malevolent entity fallen from the skies with only the darkest intentions. Viewers seemed split over whether his blatantly dangerous powers meant that this was a case of Occam's Razor — that the simplest explanation for his dark powers is that he himself is a servant of darkness — or that it must indicate a red herring of sorts. Episode 7 may have just tipped its hand, however, and the writers seem to have chosen the most interesting possibility yet.

When the harfoots arrive at the grove, the endpoint of their migration, they're shocked to find out that what was supposed to be an idyllic paradise has been turned into a desolate and barren land. This in itself is interpreted by Sadoc (Sir Lenny Henry) and the other village elders as a foreboding sign, promptly blamed on the outsider in their midst. When his attempts to heal a tree of its affliction instead cracks a heavy branch and puts Nori and her sister in mortal danger, his fate is all but sealed ... until Nori wakes up the next day to a blossoming garden, a result that can only be attributed to the Stranger's healing powers having a delayed reaction.

When Nori confronts the scary-looking hooded figures hunting for the Stranger, the writers appear to be using her unwavering conscience as a signpost of how we ought to view the recently banished character. With his potential for good now established and the quartet of harfoots tracking him down, we'll see how next week's finale wraps up this storyline.