Warning: the following may contain spoilers for The Rings of PowerThe Stranger’s identity in The Rings of Power is still a mystery, but the flower he made in episode 7, “The Eye,” could be a major hint about his true origin. As one of the more mysterious characters from the first season of The Rings of Power, popular theories say The Stranger’s true identity is Sauron or Gandalf or another wizard, yet none of his story has explicitly confirmed who he is or where he came from, but a few big hints help narrow down the options.
After The Stranger’s magic appears to have backfired while he’s trying to revive a dead apple tree for the Harfoots, a small yellow flower sprouts from the trunk, revealing The Stranger’s magic actually restored the tree, which is found thriving the next morning. The mysterious character, The Dweller, comes along later, apparently tracking down The Stranger and takes particular interest in the flower on the tree, possibly serving as a big clue of where both characters originated.
The Stranger Probably Isn’t From Middle Earth
It’s entirely possible The Stranger is from another part of Middle Earth, since nothing in the show has revealed information totally ruling Middle Earth out, but a number of big hints suggest he came from somewhere else entirely. First, the fact that he arrived in, on, or as a meteor is a pretty big indicator he came from somewhere far away. To be fair, The Rings of Power revealed molten rocks from volcanoes can still reach the Harfoots from other regions, so it’s possible there was an off-screen volcanic eruption related to The Stranger’s arrival several episodes before Adar trigger’s Mount Doom’s eruption, but the way it’s presented is way more consistent with a meteor coming out of the sky than a rock hurled by a volcano.
Second, The Stranger can’t identify the stars. Sadoc Burrows says the constellation The Stranger is seeking hasn’t been seen for thousands of years, so The Stranger either came from a place where that constellation is still visible, he’s been unconscious that whole time, or he’s a time traveler. Time travel feels far too sci-fi to fit with the version of Tolkien’s show, and The Stranger’s disorientation and language barrier don’t seem to suggest he’s been in Middle Earth before.
Tolkien’s map outside of Middle Earth isn’t nearly as well established, but the only other place in all of Arda (the Earth) that gets much attention is Valinor and the Undying Lands. The Stranger’s arrival came at the same time as the pathway to Valinor was opened for the Elves in the first episode. The other option is he could literally come from the stars, but most of the creatures who have ever become stars (other than Elrond’s father, Eärendil) originally lived in Valinor.
The Stranger’s Flower Looks a Lot Like Elanor
The flower that grows from the tree after The Stranger heals it is a small yellow flower Tolkien described as being star-shaped in The Lord of The Rings and in one of his letters he calls it “a pimpernel (perhaps a little enlarged)” which matches many of the characteristics of the flower The Stranger creates in The Rings of Power. Artist depictions of elanor tend to give the flower five petals, consistent with a yellow pimpernel, and The Stranger’s flower has six petals, but the size, shape, and color are similar enough to any details explicitly described by Tolkien for it to be a fair possibility.
Elanor is only mentioned a few times in The Lord of the Rings, but it’s always given special significance, particularly because Samwise Gamgee falls in love with it during their time in the woods of Lothlórien and eventually names his daughter elanor. She eventually inherits the Red Book of Westmarch, which is the story chronicled by the Ringbearers, Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam, making her a sort of heir to the Ringbearers and guardian of the stories we know as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
The earliest reference to Valinor in the timeline is a reference to Elves from Tol Eressëa, in the Undying Lands, gifting elanor to the island of Númenor during the Second Age. Tol Eressëa was originally part of Middle Earth, but it was moved off the west coast of Valinor, so it would make sense for their flowers to come from Middle Earth, but in Appendix A at the end of Return of the King it’s specified that after the Elves went to the Undying Lands and Lothlórien deteriorated “elanor and niphredil bloom no more east of the Sea.” If the flower is indeed Elanor, and Lothlórien has yet to be created by Galadriel, that means The Stranger would only be familiar with it if he were also from the Undying Lands in the west.
The Stranger’s Elanor Flower is More Evidence He’s a Blue Wizard
If The Stranger’s magic is producing flowers from Tol Eressëa, the only beings who would be familiar with those flowers (prior to the remainder of the Fellowship retiring to the Undying Lands at the end of Return of the King), are either Valar or Maiar, basically higher level angels and the spirits made to help them. The Valar are too mighty to make sense, so it’s fair to assume The Stranger is a Maia.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t actually narrow down his actual identity beyond the popular theories about the Stranger’s Identity already out there, since Balrogs, Istari (wizards), and even Sauron himself are all Maiar. Fortunately, The Stranger seems less and less of a likely candidate for Sauron every week, and he’s certainly not a Balrog, meaning the Istari are the best bet. This means there’s a strong chance he’s one of the Blue Wizards, the first two Istari to go to Middle Earth around the time of the forging of the rings of power – which is when the show takes place. Conveniently, another mysterious character, The Dweller, seems to share a history or connection with The Stranger, taking particular notice of his flower while following The Stranger’s trail.
Tolkien wrote very little about the Blue Wizards, Allatar and Pallando, and wasn’t entirely sure of their origin or history himself, but he did write in The History of Middle Earth “I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults and “magic” traditions…” which would seem to make sense with The Dweller’s depiction so far. Tolkien said they were sent to “circumvent Sauron: to bring help to the few tribes of Men that had rebelled from Melkor-worship,” which ties perfectly into what’s going on in The Southlands in The Rings of Power.
There’s been a lot of theories about The Stranger, and the character’s true identity could be any number of personas, but if the flower he makes in Episode 7, “The Eye,” is truly elanor, suggesting he came from the Undying Lands, the odds of him being a Blue Wizard (and The Dweller being the other Blue Wizard) greatly increase. With The Rings of Power‘s finale approaching, it’s not clear how many mysteries will be resolved and how many will remain for season 2, but with things coming to a head in The Stranger’s journey, the finale could finally include a big identity reveal everyone’s waiting for.