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Did the Stranger just create the Shire in ‘Rings of Power?’

That lush landscape looks familiar.

Nori - The Stranger
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Quite a bit went down over the last few episodes of Amazon Prime’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Episode seven, titled “The Eye,” detailed the aftermath of the creation of Mount Doom. It largely followed the survivors from Tirharad, a nearby town that was utterly demolished by the volcano’s eruption, but Bronwyn’s people weren’t the only Middle-earth favorites to be affected. 

The fallout from Mount Doom’s creation reached as far as the wandering Harfoots, who stumbled upon the burning remains of a once-verdant hillside. Their despair at seeing such destruction from a seemingly invisible force is clear, and prompts the Stranger to attempt aid. His efforts at first seem unsuccessful, but by the time the mysterious wanderer departs their camp the Harfoots discover the literal fruits of his labor. The powerful outsider’s efforts pay off in the form of a suddenly thriving and overgrown landscape, rife with food and comfort for the struggling Harfoots. 

The unexpected shift from lifeless to vibrant reminded some viewers of a certain Hobbit haven, and inspired a wave of theories. Could Rings of Power viewers have just witnessed the birth of the Shire?

Did the Stranger create the Shire?

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

The sudden abundance provided to the Harfoots in Rings of Power‘s latest episode certainly is reminiscent of the Shire we know from Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films. Given the Harfoots’ presence as ancestors to the Hobbits, it would make sense to see the wandering people retire their carts and walking sticks to settle down in a safe and secluded land, far from the dangers of the wider world.

With that in mind, we have absolutely no confirmation that the Shire was just birthed in Rings of Power. The location at which the Harfoots are currently (unwillingly) camped seems a bit far from the Shire’s location in Middle-earth, based on the fallout it experienced in the wake of Mount Doom’s eruption. Volcanoes can hurtle debris over miles and miles, but probably not quite far enough to reach Eriador, to the far north of Middle-earth. Mordor and Eriador are pretty much as far from each other as they can possibly be, so it feels pretty unlikely that even a massive eruption would affect a land so far away.

All that being said, this is a fantasy series. Viewers shouldn’t expect blatant realism in a show about elves, dwarves, and magical accessories – in fact, realism would ruin the experience. This makes the idea of a cataclysm on the scale of Mount Doom’s birth reaching every corner of the world pretty believable.

Pair this with the destruction of the Harfoots’ only mode of transportation and the suddenly verdant nature of their current campgrounds, and the inception of the Shire starts to make sense. Part of the reason the Harfoots maintain their nomadic nature is because the world is too dangerous to settle down. They are always threatened by something, whether it be big people, deadly creatures, of a lack of resources. If this recently barren, but suddenly lush land presents the safety and abundance they need to survive, why would they leave?

This plot line would work particularly well if theories about the Stranger’s true identity are proven correct. A number of fans are growing increasingly convinced that the grey-haired outsider is none other than Mithrandir himself. If the Stranger really is Gandalf in his early years, his contributions to the birth of the Shire and his origins alongside Nori would well explain his love for her people’s distant descendants.

Nahila Bonfiglio
About the author

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila carefully obsesses over all things geekdom and gaming, bringing her embarrassingly expansive expertise to the team at We Got This Covered. She is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor with a focus on comics, video games, and most importantly 'Lord of the Rings,' putting her Bachelors from the University of Texas at Austin to good use. Her work has been featured alongside the greats at NPR, the Daily Dot, and Nautilus Magazine.