The three witches in The Rings of Power
Ben Rothstein—Prime Video
October 14, 2022 9:42 AM EDT

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the season finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Mysterious figures litter the lands of Middle-earth. There are wizards without memories, sketchy kings with hidden backstories, and elves twisted by evil magic hiding in every corner. But the most puzzling characters on Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power—at least to date—may be the three witches in white who are played by Edith Poor, Bridie Sisson, and Kali Kopae.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to call them cultists or evil-doers. But from the minute they appeared, it was clear these creepy characters were up to no good. They’ve been lurking around. Setting fire to stuff. Being witchy. And in the final episode of the first season, they had a showdown with a magical stranger who is definitely a random person and not Gandalf. (Just kidding. That guy with the beard who fell from the sky and loves hanging out with jolly, tiny people is almost certainly the wizard Gandalf.)

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Okay so who are these three pyromaniacs chasing our beloved wizard? The creators of the show offered TIME a hint about their identities earlier this year. When TIME published a cover story on Rings of Power ahead of its premiere, the show’s executive producer Lindsey Weber gave us some backstory on the head witch in charge, who is played by Sisson.

At the time, fans were analyzing trailers for the show and predicting that Sisson’s character was, in fact, Sauron. Because of her close-cropped light hair, some on Twitter even began referring to the character as “Slim Shady Sauron” after the rapper Eminem.

Weber disabused fans of this notion, and—sure enough—it turned out that the brooding Halbrand was Sauron all along. Anyway, Weber did give TIME a big hint about who Sisson was playing: “Her character is traveling from far to the east—from the lands of Rhûn.”

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Rhûn happens to be the old stomping grounds of one evil lord named Sauron. (Dun dun dun). Rhûn is also where a people named the Easterlings resided in the Second and Third Ages. According to Tolkien’s writings, the Dark Lord consolidated power in the East, and gathered soldiers from Rhûn to fight alongside orcs and other men in his armies against the men of the West.

So it makes sense that these witches would be hunting for any hints of Sauron’s return. Unfortunately for them, they zeroed in not on the dark lord but a good wizard. They call him Istar, which refers to a race of wizards called the Istari who were sent to Middle-earth to fight against Sauron. That doesn’t work out so wonderfully for them as the Stranger sends them back to the darkness from whence they came by turning them into nice little butterflies. It sounds like that’s the last we’ll see of those particular witches.

So, then, who is the stranger? The most likely candidates are Gandalf or Saruman, the two wizards who will play a major role in The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf, you may recall, is good and kind and talks to butterflies. Sauron is mean and works for Sauron and murders trees. So far, the Stranger has talked to fireflies and brought a dead tree back to life, both very Gandalf-esque moves. Plus, the Stranger’s affinity for harfoots, ancestors to the hobbits, could explain why he is so fond of Frodo and Bilbo in later years. His line at the end of the finale about following your nose when in doubt of the road was also reminiscent of something Gandalf might say.

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It is worth noting that a group of magical beings called the Blue Wizards were sent East to fight the dark powers there. Gandalf was not one of these wizards—if you recall, he is known as Gandalf the Grey, not Gandalf the Blue. So it’s also possible that the Stranger is one of these blue wizards. It seems like we’ll have to wait until next season to find out.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

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