An Unexpected Journey

Rings of Power Episode 5's weirdest scene may confirm The Stranger's evil, secret identity

The mystery surrounding The Stranger only continues to grow in The Rings of Power.

The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) crouches next to a rock in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Ep...
Prime Video

When it premiered in early September, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was quick to set up several major mysteries within its various, disparate storylines. While plenty of the show’s original mysteries have continued to loom large over the course of its first five episodes, few have remained quite as prominent as the uncertainty surrounding the identity of The Stranger (Daniel Weyman).

Ever since he arrived in Middle-earth via a meteor strike in The Rings of Power Episode 1, The Stranger has been one of the Amazon series’ most enigmatic characters. The show’s more recent episodes haven’t revealed any answers about The Stranger’s identity or the reasons why he fell from the sky in the first place.

Fortunately, while The Stranger’s identity still remains a mystery, The Rings of Power Episode 5 does confirm at least one important detail about the character.

The Harfoots continue their dangerous migration in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Episode 5.

Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

The Stranger’s Magical Powers — The Rings of Power Episode 5 dedicates a large amount of its runtime to further exploring The Stranger’s bonds with his Harfoot companions — namely, Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh). In one key moment, The Stranger even uses his formidable magical powers to save Nori and her companions from a deadly attack in the woods. Unfortunately, The Stranger nearly freezes Nori to serious injury or worse using those same powers later in the episode.

During the scene in question, The Stranger dips his arm into a small pool of water only for it to begin freezing around him. Ice then quickly begins to spread up both his arm and Nori’s after the young Harfoot decides to reach out and touch The Stranger’s forearm. When the spell subsequently comes to an end moments later, the ice is destroyed and Nori is sent hurtling through the air.

It’s a sequence that not only further calls The Stranger’s harmless persona into question, but also seems to shorten the list of possible J.R.R. Tolkien characters that he could be.

Daniel Weyman as The Stranger in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Episode 2.

Prime Video

The Stranger’s Identity — For obvious reasons, the way in which the ice spreads over The Stranger’s arm in The Rings of Power Episode 5 seems very reminiscent of the way the ice crystals formed around Sauron’s mark after Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) poured water on it in the show’s opening prologue. During The Rings of Power’s premiere, Galadriel also notably remarks that evil has a way of negating the warmth of all things — even fire.

It does, therefore, seem fair to wonder whether The Stranger’s icy moment in The Rings of Power Episode 5 is another subtle hint that he is Sauron in disguise. That is, at least, one way of interpreting the newest moment between The Stranger and Nori. One could, however, also see the scene as nothing more than another instance of the Stranger recklessly testing out his magical powers.

If the latter interpretation is the correct one, then it seems fair to assume that The Stranger is, as many Tolkien fans have already theorized, likely one of the five wizards who get sent to Middle-earth throughout the Second and Third Ages.

At this point, it seems like The Stranger has to be either Sauron, a wizard, or a Balrog.

Prime Video

The Inverse Analysis — Regardless of what the explanation is for The Stranger’s magical moments in The Rings of Power Episode 5, the scenes themselves seem to finally confirm, once and for all, that he is a Maia of some kind, which basically makes him one of the lesser divine beings of Tolkien’s fictional world.

Unfortunately, that only slightly narrows down the list of Lord of the Rings characters that he could be. Indeed, we’ll likely have to wait to find out what kind of Maia The Stranger really is — whether he be Sauron, a wizard, or an untransformed Balrog. As of now, all three of those solutions remain legitimate possibilities.

New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere Fridays on Prime Video.

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