Warning! This article contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. If you're not yet caught up with the show, turn back now.
For the entirety of the Rings of Power's first season, The Stranger's true identity was kept a secret – and even now, it's not 100% certain he's who we all think he is. Fans speculated as to whether he was Sauron across the eight episodes, but the finale suggested otherwise: he's Gandalf.
One thing we do know for sure is that he's an Istari. Simply put, he's a wizard, which suggests he's either Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, or one of the Blue Wizards mentioned throughout J. R. R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. His otherworldly capabilities were the biggest indicator of this but it turns out, his clothes also hinted at him being a magic wielder – a clue Stranger actor Daniel Weyman claims not many viewers have noticed.
"The costume changes slightly over the course of the season," he recently told TV Line. "The fact that they were surrounding The Stranger meant that they subtly changed and altered themselves. It's like they all got pulled in, and so it goes from being a very big, wild costume to being more of a costume of an Istari."
Towards the very end of the last episode of season 1, titled 'Alloyed', The Stranger and Nori set off east to find Rhûn, a place where the former will supposedly be able to hone his skills. "I haven't an inkling which way to go," Nori says, before The Stranger replies: "There's a sweet smell on the air this way. When in doubt, Eleanor Brandyfoot, always follow your nose."
The same line is also spoken by Gandalf in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, when Ian McKellen's version of the character is talking to Frodo Baggins' pal Merry Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan). There's also the fact that we meet Weyman's version and grow to trust him through watching his relationship with the Harfoots; a friendship that echoes Gandalf's bond with the Hobbits.
"His relationship with Nori, certainly in the beginning, is as if she is an energy of this world that he comes into," Weyman went on to explain. "I didn't really think about those overtones of the later work or all of that, but it's lovely if people get resonances. When you get that moment of 'Follow your nose,' that's a moment of almost putting their arms around each other just going, 'This is our adventure. This is us going off and doing this together.' It's a great place to leave it."
While we think it's safe to say that The Stranger and Gandalf are one and the same, there's always a chance he could be Saruman. It's believed that Saruman was the first wizard sent to Middle-earth by god Eru Ilúvatar to help the Free Peoples fight Sauron – and The Stranger does seem to be the only one of his kind about at the minute. Hopefully, things will become more clear in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 is available to stream on Prime Video now. If fantasy's not your thing, then check out our guide to the best shows on Amazon Prime for some viewing inspiration.