The Rings Of Power Showrunners Are A Little Too Coy On Whether The Stranger Is Gandalf

From the moment Daniel Weyman as "The Stranger" came plummeting down to Middle-earth at the end of the series premiere for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," viewers have suspected he's actually Gandalf. And why wouldn't they? Sure, The Stranger is younger-looking than we're used to seeing our favorite pipe weed-smoking wizard, and he's far more uncertain of himself (not to mention tolerant of halfling shenanigans), but it's only to be expected. After all, he's still clearly getting used to the whole being human thing.

The "Rings of Power" season 1 finale seemed to confirm what many of us had assumed all along, affirming that The Stranger is a force for good and an intimidating spell caster when he needs to be — and let us not forget that he, like Gandalf, seems to have a thing for moths (said with no judgment). But no, there's nary a point in the episode where The Stranger or anyone else in his orbit says the G-word. Technically, all that we really know is that he's one of the Istari or "Wizards" in the common tongue of Middle-earth, which means he could very well be Saruman, Radagast, or one of the far more mysterious "Blue Wizards."

But also, c'mon, of course he's Gandalf ... right? The "Rings of Power" has already tried to pull the rug out from under us once by having those three white-hooded evil magic-casters mistake him for Sauron (a reveal that would've made little to no narrative sense, had it stuck). For now, though, it seems "The Rings of Power" showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne are determined to draw out this mystery (well, again, "mystery") as long as they can manage it, for better or for worse.

I am Gandalf and Gandalf means... me?

"The Rings of Power" season 1 ends with The Stranger and Nori (Markella Kavenagh) setting off east in search of Rhûn, with the former advising his Harfoot companion, "Always follow your nose." It's an obvious nod to a virtually identical line Gandalf says to his companions while searching for the way forward in Moria in "The Fellowship of the Ring." Is this also the show's way of indirectly confirming The Stranger's true identity? Not necessarily, McKay told Vanity Fair:

"He and Nori are going east. We know that the Blue Wizards go east. We know that Saruman has spent real time in the east. Certainly, he says some things and does some things that feel very Gandalf-y. So the jury could still be out. This is a journey of discovery, and a name has not been a part of that yet."

Speaking of Nori, The Stranger's relationship with her and the other Harfoots would surely serve to bring deeper emotional meaning to Gandalf's love of The Shire and its inhabitants in "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings," assuming that's who he really is. McKay agreed, noting, "But if it feels by the end of season one like he's a Tolkienian wizard developing a Tolkienian relationship with a Halfling that is akin to Gandalf and Frodo or Gandalf and Bilbo, I think we'd be very delighted."

"And the name, whatever it ends up being, will present itself at the time in which it feels like the wizard has earned it," added Payne. That sound you hear right now is me storming away making annoyed noises like a certain wizard giving Peregrin Took an earful.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" will return for season 2 on Prime Video.