In my original post covering “Barrels Out of Bond” I addressed the anticipated addition of Tauriel and inclusion of Legolas since I expected that it would be at that point where they would make their first appearance. I discussed at length my theories as to how each would be portrayed. My review and reaction to these characters required, in my estimation, a separate post. So, the remainder of what I revisit in this entry will be less than usual since a large portion of it has already been written.
Now that we got to meet the new female Elf and an earlier version of Legolas than we are used to I can go more into how their stories are intertwined with the plot threads already laid out in Tolkien’s book.
So our heroes (sans Bilbo) are imprisoned in their individual cells (though some Dwarves were double-bunked in the film. We find that Tauriel begins to show something of an interest in the youngest Dwarf, Kili. They share a moment while he is behind bars and seem to make an interesting connection. More than simple curiousity, Tauriel and Kili develop a subtle (or perhaps not-so-subtle) attraction to each other. Perhaps it is the fact that they are both less mature than their peers and share a kind of impulsive – and youthful - rashness in how they tend to behave and they recognize this in each other.
I am a little bemused at this plot twist but I think I know where this is headed. For those of us familiar with the book [spoiler alert] we know that one of the outcomes of the Battle of the Five Armies in the story’s climax is that Fili and Kili both die defending their uncle Thorin (who also, alas, does not survive the fighting). Certainly actor Aiden Turner has given us reason enough to feel connected to the character so that we would feel sorrow at his death. But Peter Jackson and his writing team appear to have raised the stakes a bit. Lost life and lost love? Get your handkerchiefs ready. I have no doubt that Tauriel is a major participant in the battle and Kili’s death scene will likely be stirring, perhaps even with his new Elf-boo at his side.
Anyway, I believe the groundwork is being laid here for that future course.
I previously raised the potential inconsistency of having an Elf – in this case Galion – become overcome with intoxication from wine when Legolas in a scene from The Two Towers Extended Edition is seemingly unaltered by massive consumption of alcohol. As such, I wondered if Galion’s passing out and leaving the cell keys unattended would be seen here – but it was. Here’s the likely loophole: Galion is a Silvan Elf, being somewhat inferior in nature to Legolas who is a member of the Sindar race. I’m guessing that, in Jackson’s estimation, Grey Elves (who are “High Elves”, no pun intended) can drink Wood Elves under the table. I’ll be looking for some sort of input from him in the DVD commentary.
Recently, I rewatched the film and I feel I need to make mention of a couple of items that I had forgotten about as they relate to the last chapter. When the Dwarves are captured, they are relieved of all of their weapons and, in the process, Legolas comes across a large locket-type possession of Gloin’s. When he inquires about one of the pictures, Gloin responds that it is “me lad, Gimli.” Cut to Legolas. We know the significance of this even if he does not.
Also, in the interrogation scene, Thorin is made an offer by Thranduil to give him his freedom if he promises to recover certain “white jewels” that he considers to be his. Thorin refuses, however, and is returned to his cell. Balin surmises that a deal was their only hope but Thorin, trusting in the hobbit, believes it isn’t. Now, I recall in the prologue to film one there is a brief scene where Bilbo’s voice-over alludes to a rift between the Dwarves and the Elves. At that moment, Thranduil and his entourage are present before Thrain under the Lonely Mountain and one of his representatives appears to be showing Thranduil a necklace but then closes the box that it is in, thereby turning Thranduil away. I assume this is a veiled reference to the Nauglamir which becomes a source of conflict between the two races back in the First Age of Middle-Earth. I wonder at this point if this unnamed necklace will be used as a bargaining chip in exchange for Arkenstone when it later comes into Thranduil’s possession.
Meanwhile Azog has been summoned to Dol Guldur to appear before the Necromancer who tells him to prepare for war. As a result, he dispatches his son, Bolg, to take a party of orcs and continue the pursuit of the Dwarves. Bolg heads back to Elvish territory in Mirkwood and appears to be aware of the only accessible exit from Thranduil’s lair by which the Dwarves could escape. This is remarkable (and unlikely) hindsight for an Orc but we’ll let that slide. And all this going back and forth from the mountains to the forest to Dol Guldur and such would be a logistical nightmare for anyone familiar with a map of the eastern portion of Middle-Earth. But, again, for purposes of simplification we’ll go along with it.
Anyway, back to Bilbo, who we haven’t addressed yet. Under the cover of invisibility, he manages to enter Thranduil’s realm before the doors close and carries out his escape plan very much the same as it happens in the book. Once the Dwarves get in those empty barrels, however, things get a little crazy. Not only do Legolas and Tauriel pursue them but the Orcs led by Bolg suddenly appear and begin firing poison arrows at Thorin and company. The river is very rough and rapid and Legolas steps from Dwarf head to Dwarf head trying to fend off the attack of the Orcs. It’s a wilder ride than we probably expected. I enjoyed in particular the sequence with Bombur bouncing all over the terrain in his barrel, turning into a dangerous whirling dervish when it breaks and then flopping back into an empty barrel (where did that come from) back in the flowing river.
Before they finally escape (after many an Orc-head has been cleaved clear of its body), Kili is struck by an arrow and we shall see shades of Frodo’s Morgul wound in his coming suffering. And, as was in Frodo’s case, we’re going to need a female Elf to save him. In the interim, however, we have a scene with Legolas, Tauriel and Thranduil interrogating a captured Orc. At the orc’s mention of a dark power rising and his “master”, Thranduil quickly beheads him to Legolas’ dismay. Thranduil simply asserts that there was no more information to be gotten but he clearly seems to be hiding what he knows or suspects about the Necromancer.
Tauriel leaves to follow the dwarves because they also learned from the orc that Kili was pierced by a “morgul” arrow and it is designed to kill him. When Legolas learns she has gone (after Thranduil has ordered the stronghold sealed against anyone coming in or out) he goes after her.
That path will lead them to follow the Dwarves to Laketown. And, as we will see, our introduction to this new setting will deviate quite a bit from Tolkien’s original story.