Have We Already Seen Gandalf In The Rings Of Power? Here's What We Think

Spoilers follow for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power"

The first two episodes of "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" have debuted on Prime Video and we're already seeing close ties to the source material and Peter Jackson's original trilogy. Not only has the visual language been carried over to the big-budget streaming series, but beloved characters from J. R. R. Tolkien's work have been recontextualized for a new generation. "The Rings of Power" features the return of staple figures like Galadriel and Elrond, but it may also include an iconic wizard in the form of The Stranger (Daniel Weyman), who makes his presence known at the end of the first episode. If our theory serves correctly, Gandalf could already be a major part of "The Rings of Power."

As far as we can tell, "The Rings of Power" is not afraid to deviate from the strict rule set of the books (or films). Taking place during the Second Age, the show intends to tell a vast saga that encapsulates the rise of Dark Lord Sauron and the subsequent last alliance between Elves and Men. If Gandalf has indeed found himself in the middle of that conflict, his inclusion could uproot the canon in a big way.

A stranger falls from the sky...

The first episode of "The Rings of Power" takes its time developing the ins and outs of the dense realm of Middle-earth. A part of that is setting up the impending return of evil in the form of Sauron, with several major indicators pointing towards the entity born to stop him. One of which is the arrival of a man who lands like a meteor in the home of the Harfoots (a distant relative to the Hobbits we know and love). Officially dubbed the Stranger, he is found by Elanor 'Nori' Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh), whose immense stature leads the Harfoot to believe he is a giant. However, he boasts an ambiguous but dangerous power to transform the environment around him, which he seems to not be able to control. Nevertheless, Brandyfoot helps the mostly-silent man recover from his great fall when the second episode rolls around.

Despite his fiery arrival, the Stranger does not seem to pose a direct threat to Middle-earth. In fact, I'd argue his true identity implies that he is here to help fight the impending war against the evil darkness that awaits the protagonists. 

Why he is likely Gandalf

In order to properly judge the Stranger's true identity, we have to take a look back at the context of Gandalf's role in the "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit." Canonically, the great wizard first made his way to Middle-earth in the Third Age and arrived to aid those who battled evil (a weakened, but still deadly Sauron) for the fate of the realm. Gandalf was a very powerful, heavenly being and one of five Maiar spirits sent to earth to be an Istar (an old man wizard). Although he does not have anything to do with the Second Age, "The Rings of Power" may be trying to push up the timeline of his arrival and involve him in the first major battles against a fully-intact Sauron.

In the second episode, the Stranger begins an unlikely friendship with Brandyfoot. During one of their interactions, he attempts to show her his home by gathering fireflies to map out the stars. Not only is it clear he is not originally from this world, but his distinctive bearded look and height certainly point towards Gandalf. Weyman has the physical appearance down, and I don't think it is a mistake that his first interaction with any being is a distant ancestor of the Hobbits. If it is him, he is clearly not in tune with his abilities or purpose, but I assume "The Rings of Power" will map out that origin unlike we've ever seen before.

Gandalf's introduction would mark a major deviation from the source material that clouds over this pretty justifiable speculation. However, I think it's exciting that Prime Video trying to push the boundaries of the source material, even if it leads them away from it.