Is Saruman The Stranger In The Rings of Power?

credit: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The most real villain in The Lord of the Rings series is Saruman the White. He wasn’t the main antagonist of the book or film series, but he was just beneath Sauron, the faceless big bad of the franchise. The book version portrayed him more as a scheming underling of Sauron, who secretly desired to seize all the power for himself. In the movies, he was far more loyal to Sauron and was more than willing to serve under him. This led to his demise in The Return of the King, but in The Two Towers, he was essentially the main antagonist. He used his dark magic to poison the mind of King Theoden and nearly decimate the people of Rohan. His army of Uruk Hai almost seized the castle of Helm’s Deep, and if it weren’t for the last-minute arrival of Gandalf and Eomer, they would have succeeded.

This was the final heinous act from the turncoat Saruman, and the subsequent fall of Isengard marked the end of his betrayal. When Gandalf and his company arrived, his former mentor rejected an offer to redeem himself and was literally stabbed in the back by his own spy, Grima Wormtongue. The betrayal and death of Saruman were meant to represent many themes as intended by J.R.R. Tolkien. Take it as the pursuit of power, the price of betrayal, and allying yourself with others who are just as deceitful. They all sum up the characterization of Saruman. He was once the greatest of all the wizards, but he gave in to the temptation of Sauron and abandoned reason for madness. Hey, you got to expect a Gandalf quote at some point.

The Hobbit movies showed us what Saruman was like before his heel turn, but at that point, we were more used to seeing him as the villain. Sure, we could understand why Gandalf held him in such high esteem, but everyone already saw what was coming. As one of the very few Lord of the Rings villains with an actual human face, it’s hard to not see him as a villain.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Now if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you must have watched the Rings of Power series on Amazon Prime. If you have, you probably spent the entire first season wondering about the identity of the mysterious Stranger who literally fell from the sky. He gave us little hints as to who he was, but everyone had their theories. In the season finale, he was mistaken as a reincarnation of Sauron and pursued by a cult of the dark lord’s followers. However, it was soon proven that this wasn’t the case. By the end of the episode, the Stranger himself confirmed that he is a member of the Istari. If you’re unfamiliar with the lore, the Istari is another name for the wizards who were sent to Middle-Earth in the form of men during the Third Age.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote them as angelic beings with the mission of guiding and instilling knowledge for the races of Middle-Earth. Five Istari were sent to Middle-Earth in the form of men, with Saruman the White being the head of the White Council. He was considered to be the wisest and most powerful of them all. Speaking of which, let’s recall how the Stranger came to Middle-Earth. He literally fell from the sky, but that couldn’t have been a coincidence. It’s very likely he was sent to Middle-Earth by the Maiar because they were aware of the growing presence of Sauron and the dark forces that followed him. If this is the case, then the Stranger could have an even more significant purpose than we realized.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Now most fans believe the Stranger is actually Gandalf. They could very well be correct. On the other hand, what if this is a misdirection and his true identity is actually Saruman? Let’s put aside the character’s time as a villain and remember how respected he was before his betrayal. He was held in such high esteem by many characters for a reason. Even when the Stranger was confused, he showed incredible power and was capable of giving life to dying lands.

That kind of power would earn a wizard the respect of just about anyone. And why did that mysterious cult of Sauron followers initially believe he was a reincarnation of the dark lord? Were they drawn to the Stranger because maybe they sensed the darkness in him? That kind of darkness and susceptibility to corruption was probably already a part of Saruman, and perhaps that’s why they believed he was Sauron.

What are your thoughts, Lord of the Rings fans? This theory is a stretch, but it would be a big twist. We’ll have to wait for season 2 to find out.

 

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