The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

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The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Stranger Wings »

First of all, great to be back after a nearly decades-long hiatus! I have been posting online about Tolkien for almost two decades now, under many guises and many names. Some of you may know me as the poster formerly known as Gandalf's Mother, and others as Shelob's Appetite. I had to come back. My appetite for Tolkien cannot be satiated. I am doomed to lurk in the lightless pits that are Tolkien messageboards.

Secondly, I want to talk about the Rings of Power. Having been quite a vocal critic of the artistic choices made for the LOTR and Hobbit films (I never thought PJ's heavy-handed style captured the objective tone of Tolkien's work - PJ displays an authorial domination telling us exactly how we're supposed to feel, unlike Tolkien), I am (perhaps surprisingly for others and even myself) quite excited about the potential of the show and the thoughtfulness of the showrunners (who, I know, heresy of heresies, I think have a more nuanced grasp of Tolkien than PJ, Boyens and Walsh).

In particular, before it airs, I wanted to air my theory about one of the most mysterious elements of the show, Meteor Man/ The Stranger, which I first posted about over on the TORN message boards (as "Stranger Wings"). This is based on a number of new bits of both official information, and reliable fan rumors emanating from the SDCC panel-goers.

1. The fire he emits is magic fire - cold to the touch. The hobbit who approaches him is not burnt (based on fan eyewitness of a scene shown during an SDCC panel). The Stranger is later able to produce that fire again.

2. The Stranger is almost completely mute (confirmed by the actor Daniel Weyman and some cast mates).

3. The Stranger may not be Sauron, as some fans who attended SDCC have said their understanding was that Sauron does not appear in any of the trailers (though we may have heard his voice at the end “you have been told many lies of Middle Earth…”).

4. He is likely (IMO) not an Istari, as the showrunners have to adhere to the big events described in canon, and the wizards are not supposed to have arrived until the Third Age (though there’s some ambiguity about the timing of the arrival of the Blue Wizards - in one version Tolkien has them appear in Middle Earth in the Second Age - so there’s a tiny chance it could be one of them…). But he’s almost certainly a Maiar, as the showrunners have noted - when asked if he was Gandalf - that there are others of Gandalf’s “class” out there. Maiar, essentially. (NOTE: I think the blue wizard theory is the most compelling competing theory).

5. According to the actor, the Stranger has deep primal urges. And according to some fans at SDCC, he’s a spellcaster. And we see some of that (very briefly) in the trailer.

6. We know that season one will be depicting the slow reappearance of former Morgoth minions in Middle Earth.

7. Based on both trailer material and fan rumors coming out of SDCC, it looks like part of the above narrative involves the cult of Morgoth laying the groundwork to undermine the thriving kingdoms of Middle Earth and Númenor, including the dwarven kingdom of Khazâd-dûm.

Based on all the above info, and being convinced largely due to the detail of the Stranger’s inability to talk, his spell casting (the balrog is a spellcaster in the book, and he and Gandalf have an earlier confrontation in that vein), the magic fire that emanates from his body, and the confirmation of him as a Maiar, I think it plausible that The Stranger is Durin’s Bane. Flame of Udûn. The balrog that is responsible for the destruction of the great dwarven kingdom of Khazâd-dûm. In which case, we may be witnessing (quite intriguingly and organically, I think) a coherent plan by the evil survivors of the War of Wrath - the very thing Galadriel (in the trailers) keeps saying she’s worried about. Sauron and the balrog acting loosely together to bring down the nations of Arda (Eregion, Lindon, Númenor, Khazad-dûm and I suppose Harad).

If not, wouldn’t it seem a tad random to show a balrog at the end of the trailer? I think that was a coy hint from the showrunners.

If this is what they’re doing, I’m 100% on board. It’s an innovative idea that also strikes me as quite Tolkienian. After all, the balrogs were once benevolent Maiar spirits. And just as Sauron can take a benevolent form, it makes sense that the balrogs could as well. Though perhaps with less control over the whole transformation. My guess is that he slowly morphs back into a deadly spirit of fire and wrath, and unlike Sauron (who’s more powerful), this metamorphosis occurs beyond his control.

In order from most convinced to least convinced, my next two guesses are Blue Wizard and Sauron.

What say you?
Last edited by Stranger Wings on Sun Jul 31, 2022 12:13 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by narya »

But does he have wings?
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I think that the Balrog that they show at the end of the trailer is from the First Age flashbacks, but I could be wrong. Certainly the extreme similarity in look to the Jackson's Balrog would suggest that you may be right. When I first saw the suggestion that the Stranger might be Durin's Bane (made by some odd person named Stranger Wings at TORN ;) ), I was cool to the idea but it is growing on me. I still think it is more likely that the Stranger will turn out to be one of the Istari (there actually is some support in Tolkien's writings that some of the Istari came earlier than the Third Age), but you make a good argument.

And welcome back! It is good to have you here. :)
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Stranger Wings »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Sat Jul 30, 2022 5:11 pm I think that the Balrog that they show at the end of the trailer is from the First Age flashbacks, but I could be wrong. Certainly the extreme similarity in look to the Jackson's Balrog would suggest that you may be right. When I first saw the suggestion that the Stranger might be Durin's Bane (made by some odd person named Stranger Wings at TORN ;) ), I was cool to the idea but it is growing on me. I still think it is more likely that the Stranger will turn out to be one of the Istari (there actually is some support in Tolkien's writings that some of the Istari came earlier than the Third Age), but you make a good argument.

And welcome back! It is good to have you here. :)
Oh, I don't think the balrog in the trailer is Durin's Bane. I suspect that one's from the War of Wrath prologue/ flashback. Indeed, I don't think Durin's Bane will be revealed as a balrog this season. I just suspect that the Stranger will slowly evolve into a balrog, and then slink into the Misty Mountains.

I note that Daniel Weyman, the actor playing the Stranger, has been saying lately that the Stranger has a "deep" and primal purpose.

I mean, come on!

ETA: And thanks for the welcome, Vor. It's been a while and it's good to be back!
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

In a Fellowship of Friends tweet last October about the role that Weyman would be playing they say:
curious, childlike, and very out of place from his surroundings but with a deep and primal sense of purpose that drives him underneath it all.
Underneath it all.
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Stranger Wings »

Daniel Weyman's pablum answer is actually a hugely specific spoiler!
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Dave_LF »

Sounds like a pretty convincing case. And welcome back, SA/GM!
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Stranger Wings »

Dave! How are you? I'm ten years older, thanks for asking.

Great to be back, and looking forward to discussing the show with you.
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Inanna »

I like the case you’ve built, stranger wings! Hello!
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Eldy »

As I said on TORn, this is not my belief, but I admire the effort you put into this argument. It's certainly more than I've done on this topic! Out of curiosity, do you have an opinion on why and how the Balrog!Stranger would have ended up in/on a Meteor? I don't mean this as a criticism of your theory, since I don't think anyone else has adequately explained this either (and I doubt anyone can, since it will presumably hinge on ideas invented by the showrunners rather than anything in Tolkien), but I was wondering if this is something you've thought about. I know some Sauron!Stranger theorists have suggested that show!Sauron might have been taken to Valinor for judgment and then sent back to Middle-earth by Meteor, which makes about as much sense as anything else concerning the Stranger, but is a bit much for my taste. :P
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I won't say that I am sold on the theory, but I am certainly intrigued by it, and I think it is more likely than that the Stranger is Sauron.
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Stranger Wings »

Eldy wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 3:51 am As I said on TORn, this is not my belief, but I admire the effort you put into this argument. It's certainly more than I've done on this topic! Out of curiosity, do you have an opinion on why and how the Balrog!Stranger would have ended up in/on a Meteor? I don't mean this as a criticism of your theory, since I don't think anyone else has adequately explained this either (and I doubt anyone can, since it will presumably hinge on ideas invented by the showrunners rather than anything in Tolkien), but I was wondering if this is something you've thought about. I know some Sauron!Stranger theorists have suggested that show!Sauron might have been taken to Valinor for judgment and then sent back to Middle-earth by Meteor, which makes about as much sense as anything else concerning the Stranger, but is a bit much for my taste. :P
Thanks! My answer to your question is one of the reasons why I’ve recently been convinced of this possibility. It’s not a meteor. We’ve been calling him Meteor Man for so long, and understandably, because he seems to fall to Middle Earth like a meteor. But the lucky folks inside Hall H that have been kind enough (or foolish enough) to report back to us have confirmed that the fire emanates from the body of The Stranger, and is not external to him. Specifically, it looks like when he sleeps he is wreathed in fire, and when he wakes the fire dissipates. And the fire is not a burning one, allowing a harfoot to walk in it. So it’s a magic fire that has nothing to do with the physical phenomenon of an object burning up due to atmospheric re-entry from space.

This leads me to believe that he’s a balrog that was either defeated recently and is fleeing (I assume a made up event, unless they’re seriously compressing the timing of the War of Wrath - but for example, it could potentially be fleeing after a confrontation with Galadriel and crew), or who is somehow sent by a Sauron who is returning. My inclination is to think that we’ve been tricked into thinking the Stranger arrives comet-like early on in the show. But I think the sequence could be:

1. Galadriel and party hunt Morgoth remnants in the far north/ in Utumno (or wherever that dark tower is)

2. Galadriel and party find a balrog and fight him (and this balrog is responsible for the destruction of that town - the red ash scene)

3. Galadriel defeats him and he hurtles off as a ball of flame and contracts amnesia

Now, I am not hugely convinced of this second element of the theory. But I do think the perception of the Stranger as being inside a meteor is the thing we’ll need to drop in order to get closer to the right answer on this guy. He’s a spirit of fire. I’m sure of that. And given that we’re getting an entire Khazad-dûm plot, I suspect he’s THAT spirit of fire.

Plus, “deep purpose” and “drives him underneath it all.” :shock:

Ai ai!
Last edited by Stranger Wings on Mon Aug 01, 2022 10:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

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narya wrote: Sat Jul 30, 2022 4:29 pm But does he have wings?
Yes. Butterfly wings.
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Stranger Wings »

If this interview doesn't scream balrog, what does? ;)

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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Inanna »

Def does not have a fav food!?!

What do balrogs eat?
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Eldy »

Thanks for the explanation, Stranger Wings! Consider me even more intrigued by your theory. I can't think of anything offhand to prove the "meteor" is, in fact, a meteor, though I'm not able to rewatch the trailer right now. I suppose I'd assumed the identity of the Stranger would be kept secret from the audience, perhaps because of how secretive the entire production has been so far, but I wouldn't complain about the show letting us know more than its characters. Fewer mystery boxes, more dramatic irony from seeing an amnesiac Balrog/Hobbit (?)friendship, even if we know it must end poorly.
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

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Eldy wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 7:18 pm Thanks for the explanation, Stranger Wings! Consider me even more intrigued by your theory. I can't think of anything offhand to prove the "meteor" is, in fact, a meteor, though I'm not able to rewatch the trailer right now. I suppose I'd assumed the identity of the Stranger would be kept secret from the audience, perhaps because of how secretive the entire production has been so far, but I wouldn't complain about the show letting us know more than its characters. Fewer mystery boxes, more dramatic irony from seeing an amnesiac Balrog/Hobbit (?)friendship, even if we know it must end poorly.
One thing’s for certain: An unlikely hobbit/ balrog friendship is not something anyone expected. But then again, they both end up living in holes in the ground, so…
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Eldy »

:rofl:
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Eldy »

Stranger Wings wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 3:04 pmIf this interview doesn't scream balrog, what does? ;)
Had a chance to watch this video now that I'm back home, and I'm (reluctantly) starting to come around on your theory. :P

"A character who had at its core" could be a telling Freudian slip. :D
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Re: The Stranger of Udûn? - New Info and the Identity of Meteor Man

Post by Stranger Wings »

Eldy wrote: Mon Aug 01, 2022 3:53 am
Stranger Wings wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 3:04 pmIf this interview doesn't scream balrog, what does? ;)
Had a chance to watch this video now that I'm back home, and I'm (reluctantly) starting to come around on your theory. :P

"A character who had at its core" could be a telling Freudian slip. :D
:toast:

Think about it! The actors playing the harfoots have gone on at length about how they haven’t found their home yet, and are searching for such a place after many years of wandering. Then this guy falls from the sky. And Daniel Weyman tells us that this guy has a deep and primal purpose.

What if the thing that thematically connects these characters is their desire to find a home?

The harfoots are seeking a home free of people, and so is the balrog.

Harfoots are destined to live in holes under hills, and the balrog is destined to live in holes under mountains.

It. Just. Might. Work!

ETA: And by the way, Weyman also keeps using the word "guttural" in sentences like "The character has a deep and guttural purpose." Which to me is a strange thing to say unless you are cheekily hinting at the balrog's very guttural vocal emissions!
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