The Stranger’s “Always Follow Your Nose” Comment Explained

The Rings of Power’s season finale seemingly answers a lot of burning questions from the show’s first season, including some about the Stranger.

Warning! This article contains spoilers for The Rings of Power’s season finale.The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s first season has come to a close, with the season finale seemingly answering some big questions about the Stranger by having him following his nose. The Rings of Power episode 8 picks up with a cold open, a rare occurrence for the show, which follows Daniel Weyman’s Stranger being chased down by the cloaked figures who have been following him. In what seems like a big revelation, the strange group refers to the Stranger as Sauron and attempts to coax the Dark Lord out of the confused wanderer.

However, the following 70 minutes of The Rings of Power reveal that the Stranger is not Sauron at all and that he just may be a certain gray wizard that fans of Tolkien’s work have come to know and love. This is hinted at mainly through one specific line of dialogue that the Stranger utters towards his newfound friend Nori at the end of the episode as they head off into the world in search of answers about his identity. This line is “When in doubt, Elanor Brandyfoot, always follow your nose”. This is almost an exact copy of an iconic Gandalf line from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: “If in doubt, Meriadoc, always follow your nose”.

Does This Mean The Stranger Is Gandalf?

This, along with a few other hints from the season finale and the season as a whole, all but confirm the Stranger’s true identity in The Rings of Power as Gandalf. While there is still a tiny amount of wiggle room should the writers decide to go a different route, as they have not come out and overtly said Gandalf’s name or any of the others he has been known by, it is highly likely that the Stranger being Gandalf is the route they are going. This line is evidence of that, with the almost exact wording obviously being used to draw direct comparisons with Gandalf. As the Stranger and Nori are heading off to Rhûn, a land far to the east of Middle-earth, to find out the truth about the Stranger’s powers, it is likely more will be revealed in season 2. With that being said, however, this line all but confirm that Gandalf the Gray is indeed part of The Rings of Power season 1, albeit in another form.

How Gandalf Can Appear In Rings Of Power Without Breaking LOTR Canon

This other form is how Gandalf’s appearance in The Rings of Power can be explained without breaking canon. While it is believed that Gandalf and the other Maiar were sent to Middle-earth in the Third Age to help with the rise of Sauron, J.R.R. Tolkien actually hinted that some of the Maiar may have been to Middle-earth before this point. In the book The History of Middle-earth, it is mentioned that a being named Olorin, Gandalf’s actual name, became acquainted with elves and men before the events of the Third Age.

It is entirely possible that the Stranger’s name is revealed as Olorin, and the show ends with him returning to Lord of the Rings’ Valar, before being sent to Middle-earth once again as Gandalf in the Third Age. Regardless, the writers at Amazon are clearly taking liberties with the works of Tolkien, taking elements from the source material and weaving them with the right amount of originality and inference to create a story worth telling with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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