Is The Meteor Man (or ‘The Stranger’ to the Harfoots) Gandalf or perhaps one of the Istari? Maybe it could be the dark Lord Sauron himself in The Rings of Power?
The big problem with The Rings of Power is the showrunners literally have the rights to ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Specifically, that’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, ‘The Two Towers’ and ‘Return of the King’. Any references to things such as ‘The Silmarillion’ or ‘The Unfinished Tales’ will land Amazon in the fires of Mount Doom for sure.
Let’s dig into the lore a bit further and try to eliminate some obvious options. We’ve got a couple of surprises up our sleeves, so let’s go through who we don’t think The Stranger is, finishing up with who we do think the Meteor Man is and why.
Gandalf: Is The Meteor Man An Istari?
Let’s get the Grey Pilgrim out of the way, it’s not him. This must be a shock, so feel free to have a sit-down and pop the kettle on for this one.
The problem with Gandalf is that he didn’t arrive in Middle Earth until the Third Age, and he certainly didn’t come crashing down from the heavens. Tolkien briefly mentioned in a page not linked to The Lord of the Rings trilogy that the Istari sailed from the west, meaning that they didn’t want the whole of Middle Earth gazing at a Meteor landing.
Known as Olórin amongst the Maiar, his kin, Gandalf is merely a form that he took once on Middle Earth. Created by Ilúvatar at the beginning of time and before the Music of the Ainur, he served the following Valier:
He would mostly follow the footsteps of Varda, being natural akin to light and fire as we see in the Peter Jackson films. He also followed Nienna’s example of trying to draw despair from the hearts of the Children of Illúvatar, originally walking unseen or disguised amongst Elves, sending them the fair vision to lift their spirits.
Saruman: Rings of Power – The Stranger
Although Saurman was the original Istari to Land on Middle Earth, he still arrived in the Third Age in the Valar’s revolt against the rising power in the East.
We all know how Saruman turned out, but he was the first chosen by the Valar to unite the realms of Men and Elves following the battle of the Last Alliance that kicked off the Third Age (The battle we see in the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring).
Known as Curumo as a Maia (like Gandalf), he had a strong persuasion to smithing and serving under the Valar. The leader of the Valar, known as Manwë chose Curumo to lead the Istari from the Grey Havens and into Middle Earth.
Although being defined as a leader from the offset, it would be Ganfals who would receive the Ring of Fire known as ‘Narya’, which only amplified Gandalf’s alliance with light and fire. Saurman would hold this grudge until his eventual turn to darkness years later.
Radagast: Rings of Power – The Meteor Man
Originally known as the Maia Aiwendil, he served under the Valar Yavannia, known as Queen of the Earth. He also arrived in Middle Earth at the same time as Gandalf and the rest of the Istari, which also means he isn’t the Meteor Man.
Although serving as one of the Five Istari wizards, he was only brought along after begging Curumo (Saurman) for the spot. The Istari were sent as “Might peers of Sauron, yet forgo might and clothe themselves in flesh.”
After landing on middle Earth with Olórin (Gandalf), Aiwendil soon took the name of Radagast which was gifted to him by the Ñoldor. He became well-known for protecting the great forest and animals of Middle Earth and cared little for the affairs of Men and Elves.
The Blue Wizards – Alatar and Pallando
Only mentioned in the Silmarillion ‘Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age’ and in Unfinished tales briefly, Alatar and Pallando are not heard about much in Tolkien, only mentioned. Unfortunately, this also means The Rings of Power doesn’t have the rights to them either.
They journeyed to the East as missionaries of the light, aiming to turn the enemies of Elves and Men into allies against the growing darkness there. We’re not talking about marching into Mordor expecting to turn Orcs, we’re talking about the alliances of men faithful to Sauron.
Sadly this is all we know, but Tolkien didn’t think that they succeeded in their quest, and instead gave way to the dark arts for these tribes of men to exploit:
“I think that they went as emissaries to distant regions, east and south… Missionaries to enemy-occupied lands as it were. What success they had I do not know; but 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 that outlasted the fall of Sauron.“
Is The Stranger Sauron?
Known as the star student of the Vala Aulë and exceptional in crafting power weapons and items, Sauron wasn’t always the big bad guy he ended up being. Melkor, the first of the Valar and the one who introduced discord into the great music of the Ainór, corrupted Sauron into his service as he took the mantle of the Great King Morgoth.
After an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Lúthien Sauron hid as Morgoth was sent into the Timeless void, he pleaded with Eönwë before fleeing to Middle Earth to escape judgement from the gods.
What’s interesting about Sauron is he didn’t reappear until around SA 1000 when he established himself in the land of Mordor. At the time of writing, Mount Doom has just erupted to signal the birth of Mordor and the takeover of the southeast.
SA 1500 marked the rough time when Sauron chose to corrupt Elves into his service and began to craft the Rings of Power with Celebrimbor, master craftsmen and descendants of Fëanor. Sauron took the guise of Annatar, The Lord of Gifts, to trick the Elves into making the Rings so he could craft his own in secret. One ring to rule them all.
Sauron, The Meteor Man?
Everything that we have spoken about so far is 100% canon but is all content pulled from other Tolkien works that aren’t The Lord of the Rings. However, if the trilogy mentions any events linked to past law, that’s all good and can also work for the showrunners to celebrate things a little. If the story still hits the same beats, who cares if the path towards said beats wanders a little?
The Meteor Man is actually from a poem from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, which is delivered as a collection of canon legends known by the peoples of Middle Earth. ‘The Man in the Moon Who Came Down Too Soon’ goes like this:
“He twinkled his feet, as he thought of the meat,
of pepper, and punch galore;
And he tripped unaware on his slanting stair,
and like a meteor,
A star in flight, ere Yule one night
flickering down he fell
From his laddery path to a foaming bath
in the windy Bay of Bel.”
“And like a meteor” sounds familiar right? Whilst this poem isn’t from The Lord of the Rings, but we do read Frodo singing a song penned by his Uncle Bilbo entitled ‘The Man In The Moon Stayed Up Too Late’. According to Tolkien, it would follow the tune of the nursery rhyme ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ and goes as follows:
“There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
One night to drink his fill.
“The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he runs his bow,
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
Now sawing in the middle.
“The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there’s good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
And laughs until he chokes.
“They also keep a hornéd cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.
“And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there’s a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.
“The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced,
and the little dog chased his tail.
“The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.
“Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
‘The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master’s been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun’ll be rising soon!’
“So the cat on his fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
‘It’s after three!’ he said.
“They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.
“Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.
“With a ping and a pong the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.
“The round Moon rolled behind the hill
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!“
This doesn’t sound like our Meteor man at all, but it is clear to see where Bilbo Baggins got the inspiration. Could It be that the showrunners of The Rings of Power are using this daft tavern song to canonically introduce a new character? The time gap is there and so is the legend. It’s also common knowledge in Middle Earth and beyond that the Gods are real, so why not?
Now, what if the showrunners have decided to blend a canon legend into the origins of Sauron’s appearance in the second age? Maybe he has been shunned by the Valar themselves and sent down in flames to Middle Earth as punishment for following Morgoths lead? It happened to Lucifer after all.
Whilst the latter end of this article has been pure speculation, its good speculation. The Rings of Power needs to tread the line of canon and what’s legally possible carefully, but we think we’ll get the key story beats in the end.