Warning: The following contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 7! Turn back now if you have not seen the latest installment in Amazon’s epic series.
Who is The Stranger who fell from the sky? That’s one of the central questions posited in the first season of The Rings of Power. Despite being available seven episodes down, we still don’t know who the mystery meteor man is, and, according to the showrunners, that shouldn’t really matter.
During a Q&A session following a screening of The Rings of Power, Total Film asked J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay whether The Stranger was Gandalf.
“Keep waiting,” they said.
How about Saruman? “Keep waiting,” they replied again.
One of the blue wizards? Sauron? Radagast? The duo would not budge on a definite answer, but they did reveal the surprise inspiration behind the character.
“We were really attracted to the idea of this relationship between a young woman who has her eye on the horizon, in that sort of archetypal Luke Skywalker way, and the horizon landing in her backyard,” McKay said. “And maybe the horizon isn’t all good. The negotiation and the friendship and the relationship that could come out of that, maybe it’s dangerous. We talked about the Iron Giant, we talked about E.T., we talked about the Terminator.
“We reckon that it’s an emotionally satisfying and engaging story to tell regardless of the name of the person. And somewhere down the road, when the person maybe has a name, hopefully you don’t even care anymore, because the relationship and the journey has been so engaging, that it’s not a guessing game of who it is. It’s about a story that you, no matter who he is, would be satisfying.”
The showrunner then added, jokingly: “But also he’s Sauron.”
To look a little more at those comparisons: in the Iron Giant, a gigantic metallic beast falls from the sky and befriends a young kid, while causing some trouble due to being a giant robot. A similar thing happens in E.T., where a bunch of teens meet a harmless alien and help get him home. Terminator’s a little more violent, but the sequel, T2, sees the adolescent John Connor meet Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, who’s sent back in time to protect John. They all have that fish-out-of-water narrative, and they’re all classics.
Hopefully, the adventures of Nori, the Harfoot, and The Stranger will rank among them. For some more speculation on what’s to come in The Rings of Power, here’s our piece on the true identity of Sauron.