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Has Gandalf Already Appeared In The Rings Of Power?

Contains spoilers for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" Episodes 1 and 2

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" hasn't left us with questions but has given us the answers we already had before this trip back to Middle-earth. Things are in motion that cannot be undone, and we've seen how much of it will end. With locations like Khazad-dûm being visited and appearances from Elrond and Galadriel (Robert Aramayo and Morfydd Clark), there's plenty to find that tease the impending adventures led by heroic Hobbits. However, one part of this sprawling fantasy will no doubt have viewers scratching their heads. A new face in a foreign land might have some wondering if he'll become the legendary wizard and guardian of Middle-earth, Gandalf.

We are, of course, referring to The Stranger (David Weyman), that flew in at the end of the show's first episode and landed in the path of adventurous Harfoot, Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh). While the character hasn't revealed their name, our first look at him hints at all the essential physical attributes. Towering over the brave little halfling that is a descendant of Hobbits, his tall frame works perfectly under the long grey cloak he's been given. There's also what looks to be the essential facial feature that makes Gandalf who he is — a great big bushy beard! Looking past the physical details, though, a few more character traits are on display, hinting that this might be the wizard we know and love, and he's arrived precisely when he meant to.

A big entrance and a confused look may confirm that The Stranger is Gandalf The Grey

For those that don't know about Gandalf beyond the one that looks like Magneto from "X-Men," the wise hero of Middle-earth is more than just a wizard but an ancient and ethereal being. Before blowing smoke with laid-back Hobbits, Gandalf The Grey began as a Maiar, a member of angelic creatures that made up one-half of the Ainur, spirit-like beings that existed before the world's creation. Some of the Ainur, including Gandalf, were sent by the Valar (the other half of the Maiar) to help elves and men battle against Sauron in The Third Age. This group was called Istari, the elvish for the term for "wizard.'"

This duty came with a catch, though, as these supernatural saviors would be sent in human form not to freak out the locals (our words, not Tolkien's). According to the author in "Unfinished Tales," this transformation led to "dimming their wisdom and knowledge, and confusing them with fears, cares, and weariness coming from the flesh." After only meeting The Stranger recently, it seems safe to say that he's so far meeting all of the above, but it's the kind of skills he displays that hint this might be Gandalf, specifically.

It's a kind of magic The Stranger has that hints he might be Gandalf The Grey

While The Stranger's entrance might be an unfamiliar way to appear for the more casual fans of Middle-earth's historical events, his skills on show are reminiscent of the future Fellowship's most stoic member. When Nori (Markella Kavenagh) tries to communicate with this man from beyond the stars, the sky turns black, and the trees buckle under his booming voice. His bellows echo a similar note to Gandalf (Ian McKellen) when he advises Bilbo (Ian Holm) not to take him for "some conjurer of cheap tricks" in "The Fellowship of the Ring," with Nori being just as shocked.

Going from one side of the volume levels to the other, we also see The Stranger whispering to the fireflies to help show the constellation of stars he's been scribbling into the ground. It's the same method Gandalf uses when he asks a moth to go and get The Eagles to aid him in breaking free of Saruman's (previously played by Christopher Lee) grasp. Both instances feel like a particular set of skills crossing over the gray areas in all the right ways. That said, could this assumption be a total set-up, given the time we've returned to Middle-earth and before the One Ring ruined everything?

Gandalf isn't the only wizard to have been in Middle Earth

As much as Amazon is making creative adjustments in Tolkien's massive world for "The Rings of Power," one significant alteration could also see them playing around with the timeline of Middle-earth. When it comes to Gandalf's activities and arrival, he doesn't roll into town until The Third Age (which begins after Sauron's demise at the hand of Isildur), so this potential Mr. Grey is appearing far too early by Tolkien's count. Then again, given that Durin IV could be digging himself a dangerous hole in Khazad-dûm, which could lead to the Balrog, might the show tamper with the history books of Hobbits and the like on a grander scale than anticipated? 

If such actions are being taken, then there's every chance that the minds behind "Rings of Power" might be intentionally toying with our knowledge of this fantastic world and eventually reveal The Stranger to be a different wizard altogether. Perhaps one of the five Istari that ultimately becomes corrupted by Sauron's power in the centuries to come. Let's not forget that anything Gandalf can do, Saruman can do just as well and was originally on the side of good before being caught in the gaze of Sauron's evil eye. Could this man of mystery be a wizard that eventually goes bad? We can only wait and see as "The Rings of Power" continues on Amazon Prime.