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Who Is The Figure In The Fire In The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Trailer?

Amazon's "Rings of Power" series has been getting a lot of attention in recent weeks. This was particularly true after the series' first trailer dropped during the Super Bowl. The opportunity to see actual footage from the show was exciting, but it also created an endless number of questions.

The show will be covering the Second Age, an era that Tolkien did not write about in detail (at least compared to many of the other eras of his world.) This has left the showrunners to fill in many of the gaps — to the pleasure or dismay of fans, depending on who you're talking to. The trailer already touches on a variety of new topics, from the proto-Hobbit Harfoots to strange beasts and a variety of new landscapes.

One very confusing part of the trailer has to do with a giant fireball flying across the sky. A few seconds later, we see a mostly-naked, bearded man crawling through volcanic-style wreckage, reaching out to the Harfoot girl Nori Brandyfoot (played by Markella Kavenagh).

The identity of this Manish character has left many scratching their heads. We have some thoughts of our own ... along with a strong guess based on comments from the series' showrunners. Let's dive in, shall we?

Is it one of the Blue Wizards?

Our best guess here is that we're seeing one of the members of the Istari, that is, the five wizards of Middle-earth. We already guessed that the wanderers shown throughout the show's promotional material could be somehow connected to the wizards, and now we're starting to wonder if the figure in the fire could actually be one of the wizards — and one of the two Blue Wizards, in particular.

Now, before you start throwing things at your screen at such an outlandish guess, hear us out. We've got our reasons for the speculation. First off, the Blue Wizards are at least briefly mentioned in the source material that the show has access to, which has been confirmed to be "The Lord of the Rings" — including its appendices — and "The Hobbit." So that clears one big hurdle.

In addition, while the official version of the Middle-earth timeline has these two wizards arriving a thousand years into the Third Age, there are two reasons this date could change in the show. The first one is the simple fact that the creators are changing the timeline here. They already made it clear (via Vanity Fair) that the show will be compressing a series of events that take place over thousands of years. On top of that, in the book "The Peoples of Middle-earth," It's shown that in the later version of the Blue Wizard's story, Tolkien had them coming "when matters became very dangerous in the Second Age."

While all of this makes it possible that it could be one of the Blue Wizards, there's one hint, in particular, that really makes us favor this option.

The showrunners make a cryptic comment

In another interview reported by Vanity Fair, "The Rings of Power" showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne answered a series of questions about the show. At one point, they are asked if there will be Wizards in the show. The interviewer specifically refers to the teaser trailer, mentioning the glimpse of a "tall, mysterious man who falls from the sky," naturally connecting the fireball scene in the footage to the fiery man seen later on.

They then clarify that, when asked if the man might be Saurman the White, Radagast the Brown, or Gandalf the Grey, McKay cryptically responded, "Well, I would say those are not the only beings, those names, in that class. So maybe, but maybe not. And the mystery and the journey of it is all of the fun, I would say."

This isn't a clear answer. However, the reference to the fact that the three names inquired about are "not the only beings ... in that class" seems to directly refer to the group known as the five Istari or Wizards of Tolkien's universe. In that world, Tolkien made it clear that his Wizards were not the same as the common magical wizards of other fantasy. They were one of five angelic individuals who are sent to help the Free Peoples of Middle-earth resist Sauron in various ways. Pointing that out and then answering "maybe, but maybe not" to the question of Wizards in the show seems to heavily imply that we may, in fact, be seeing one of the Blue Wizards arriving in Middle-earth.

The question that would naturally follow is whether or not they will be antagonists or protagonists, as their character evolution in Tolkien's various drafts started with the former before ending on the latter.

Could it be Sauron?

Okay, so the character in the fire could be one of the Blue Wizards. If it's not, though, our runner-up selection would be Sauron. Why? Partly because, like the Istari, he's one of the few beings in Middle-earth who can survive being hurled through the sky in a fireball. But that isn't the only reason.

In "The Silmarillion," it explains that after the fall of his master, Morgoth at the end of the Second Age, Sauron "was ashamed, and he was unwilling to return in humiliation...for under Morgoth his power had been great. Therefore ... he hid himself in Middle-earth; and he fell back into evil, for the bonds that Morgoth had laid upon him were very strong." A little later in the text, it describes Sauron's slow rise to power as he realizes that the enemies of Morgoth aren't pursuing him and seem to have lost interest in Middle-earth as a whole. He hates the Elves and fears the Men of Númenor, but it's also noted that "for long he dissembled his mind and concealed the dark designs that he shaped in his heart."

In other words, Sauron doesn't waltz into Middle-earth after Morgoth falls and claim the joint like a powerful warlord. He flees in humiliation and slowly rebuilds his pride and power in secret places. He may be a powerhouse villain later on, but his trajectory early in the Second Age starts at a very low point. This leads us to wonder if we're witnessing a "fleeing Sauron" when the fireball crash lands at an undisclosed location in Middle-earth. It isn't exactly "hiding," per se, but the desperate body language of the man crawling through the fire indicates that it could be a humiliated and terrified Sauron just starting his journey toward the peak of his power.