Of Meteors and Madness: Another Amazon Leak

Today we’ve got one of the stranger Second Age rumours. So strange that the redoubtable Fellowship of Fans is emphasising its unconfirmed nature. But a bit of unfounded speculation never hurt anyone, so I thought I’d give my reading of it.

The rumour in question being:

  • A character falls to earth on a meteor/comet, and is found by the Harfoots.
  • Aforementioned character has significant memory problems on arrival.
  • There’s also a third leak, about a horse-chase on a beach, but that isn’t what concerns us today. I think it’s probably Galadriel, for what it’s worth.

Anyway, I have an idea about the identity of this Meteor Traveller, and I suspect Tolkien Purists are not going to like it. We’ll get to that shortly. For now, the Fellowship of Fans panel discussion offers up some speculative possibilities of their own:

  • Glorfindel
  • Sauron
  • Ithryn Luin, the Blue Wizards

Glorfindel is out, to my mind. Unless they really play up his role in the First Age Prologue-Summary, there is no story relevance for introducing him in this grand manner. He wasn’t in Jackson, after all, so average non-book readers – the sort of people Amazon will be catering to – won’t know who he is. Moreover, he’s too damned Epic for “loss of memory” shenanigans or hanging out with proto-hobbits, while being insufficiently alien to arrive from space. He’s still an Elf, even if he is re-embodied.

Sauron is more viable – he’s both alien and recognisable to casual audiences. Alternatively, he too is far too Epic in nature to fit this criteria. The Dark Lord with amnesia, who hangs out with hobbits? That’s not the Sauron we know, and introduces some out of place comedy. Besides, Sauron’s already in Middle-earth – no need to introduce him like this.

The Blue Wizards? Now we’re onto something. You see, whereas Tolkien initially imagined the Blue Wizards (Alatar and Pallando) arriving with Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast in the Third Age, in his very late conception, he imagined them (renamed Morinehtar and Rómestámo) arriving with Glorfindel in the Second Age. Perfect timing for this setting, and casual viewers love themselves some Tolkien wizards. The objection raised by the panel is that the Meteor Traveller is a singular person… though there’s no particular reason the show couldn’t just merge the two wizards into a single character.

So a Blue Wizard – alien and mysterious enough to arrive in this unconventional manner, yet also the sort to suffer some memory loss, and to hang out with hobbits? A memory loss that completely obscures their actual origins? That would work. It’s just that unless they give our Blue Wizard a quite distinct personality, they’re going to come across as essentially a Second Age Gandalf the Grey.

And therein lies my actual uneducated guess, dear reader. I think this is Gandalf, moved back to the Second Age. Why have a Blue-tinged Facsimile of Tolkien’s most famous wizard, when you can have the real thing? Audiences know and love him, the meteor-arrival establishes him as being something quite alien, and he’s renowned for his fondness for the little people. Unlike Glorfindel or Sauron, his credibility as a character would not be dented via making him amnesiac and part of the Harfoot story-line. There might even be a perverse appropriateness to keeping these Third Age invaders quarantined in their own plot, and away from everyone else.

The biggest obstacle is that at this point we are seeing direct contradiction of Tolkien’s own material. Hitherto, the conventional wisdom is that the Second Age adaptation can invent new material (indeed it has to), but it cannot engage in outright contradiction of the text. Moving Gandalf from the Third Age to the Second would say some interesting things about the show… and not in a way that Purists would like. It also raises the further question of whether Saruman is also being moved back, or whether he is still Third Age only. In that sense, a singular Blue Wizard who sets the scene for Gandalf, and who occupies a Gandalf role in caring for hobbits, might actually be the easiest solution after all. It would just be interesting to see how the show goes about making Not-Gandalf into Not Gandalf, so to speak.

Addendum: As bizarre as it sounds, there seems to be method to this meteor madness. A twitter user called theHigherGeometer has pointed out a quote from Tolkien’s poem, The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon (http://www.councilofelrond.com/poem/the-man-in-the-moon-came-down-too-soon/).

A playful allusion to an obscure piece of work, whereby a character falls like a meteor just before Christmas? Very well done. It actually suggests Amazon might have let this one out deliberately, as an extremely geeky in-joke.

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