Bilbo has reappeared, said his peace and now they are all finally on the same page. What they want is not the gold, or the treasure hidden inside the Lonely Mountain, they want a place they can call home, a place they could belong to. Thorin may have done everything in his power to provide for his people after the exile, however, the feeling of home they all long for he couldn’t emulate. They couldn’t find their place in the world of Men where they labored, for that is not their world.
Escaping the Orcs
Azog: “Run them down! Tear them to pieces!”
Thorin: “Out of the frying pan.”
Gandalf: “And into the fire. Run. Run!”
And the chase is on again. Just when they thought they escaped a fatal fate, their hunters caught up with them, driving them down the slope, through the trees into eventual capture. Although they manage to stay ahead of the pack of Orcs, it is not without self-defense. They escape by a thin margin.
Bilbo’s first kill
Bilbo kills his first creature right up on that slope. A Warg headed for him encounters the tip of his sword right between his eyes. Bilbo did not even need to exert any strength at all, he just had to stand and let the Warg come close enough to hurt itself. The other reason why he didn’t move a muscle was the fear that projected out of his eyes. As he saw the beast running towards him, fear paralyzed him. He couldn’t move or do anything other than stand and hope for the best.
As the sword went through the beast’s skull, having delivered the first fatal blow to another living creature in his life, he remained standing as the beast fell. It was sheer incredulity that kept his feet planted firmly. Only when all the Dwarves suddenly disappeared into the trees and the Orc pack stood before him did he snap out of his daze and move. The problem came then to extract the sword from the beast’s head.
Gandalf: “Up into the trees. All of you! Come on. Climb! Bilbo, climb!”
Thorin: “Quickly! They’re coming!”
Bofur: “Hang on!”
Glóin: “Hold on, brothers!”
Bilbo pulled and pulled but with little luck, only when his panic levels soared did he forcefully retake his sword and climb into the trees himself. While everyone is holding onto dear life amongst the trees, Gandalf takes action, action only he can take. A moth flies to him almost as if he had heard Gandalf’s call for help. Gandalf then instructs it in whispers. As we know from the Lord of the Rings, those instructions are to have him summon the Great Eagles, who are now their only way out of this mess.
While Gandalf whispers the already known theme from the first trilogy plays in this part as well, Nature’s Reclamation, The March of the Ents. It ties in perfectly given that the same composition was used when a moth flew over Isengard armories and into the hand of Gandalf while he was held prisoner in Orthanc.
Azog: “Do you smell it? The scent of fear? I remember your father reeked of it, Thorin, son of Thrain.”
Thorin: “It cannot be.”
Azog: “That one is mine. Kill the others! Drink their blood!”
Thorin, not having believed anyone that Azog ist alive, now looks right upon him, his old enemy, an enemy fierce and relentless. What makes him threatening to Thorin as opposed to any other large Orc is his sole mission in life to wipe out the line of Durin of which Thorin, Fili, and Kili are the last ones alive. Azog’s life revolves around his want and will to destroy any remaining heirs of Thrór who he himself decapitated at the battle of Azanulbizar.
Falling for dear life
Dwalin: “It’s going!”
Gandalf: “Fili! No.”
Ori: “Oh, no!”
Dori: “Mr. Gandalf! Hold on, Ori!”
As a source of defense for the company hiding in the trees, Gandalf comes up with a simple yet very effective idea. He lights a pinecone and throws it into the pack of Wargs eagerly awaiting the “fruits” to fall off the trees. He sees the Wargs retreating as the fire from the pinecone spreads onto the dry leaves and grass on the ground.
Seeing his success, he lightens the other pinecones throwing them to the Dwarves to throw themselves. It works like a charm, the Wargs fear fire and move away from it, creating space between the Dwarves and themselves. Azog becomes frustrated seeing the Dwarves find a way to attack his pack.
It is not a long-lived solution given the fact that they are still standing on tree branches holding on for their lives. Then, suddenly, the branches begin to give way and break under their feet. The first ones to experience it are Dori and Ori. They first hold onto the branch they stood on, but as it gives way, they grab hold of Gandalf’s staff. Now, he cannot do anything else but help these two Dwarves not fall into their deaths.
Honoring Mr. Serkis
Seeing this, Thorin decides to take action, alone. He stands on the fallen tree trunk facing his foe. With sword in hand and his oaken branch as shield he charges toward Azog.
This scene was shot with the second unit director on The Hobbit, Andy Serkis. It wouldn’t mean that much knowing that he had been involved in directing as well as acting in Peter Jackson’s productions ever since the original trilogy. However, for Richard Armitage or Thorin, this was a monumental scene for two reasons: firstly, it was incredibly hot on the set because the scene was shot indoors with flames placed strategically around the path which Richard Armitage had to run through.
Secondly, Richard Armitage admires and respects Andy Serkis not only as a director but as an actor as well. He admires his stamina and acting capabilities when it came to emulating Gollum. He knew from the original trilogy how difficult it was for Andy Serkis to develop his character and maintain not only its mental incapabilities but physical as well.
Always crouching or running on all fours took its toll on the actor’s physique. Nevertheless, he persevered in his choice of physical behavior even when his acting capabilities weren’t being acknowledged.
Because of all of this, the shooting of that scene lasted the entire day with Richard Armitage charging down the path between flames of fire. He did it to honor Andy Serkis as an actor and director and a man of great endurance and strength.
In the jaws of a Warg
Dwalin: “Thorin! No!”
Azog: “Bring me the Dwarf’s head.”
Thorin charges Azog without a single sword swish. His efforts are cut short as Azog’s white Warg jumps him, pinning him to the ground. The Warg catches Thorin in its mouth, shoving its teeth into his flesh. With a swing of his sword across the Warg’s nose, Thorin manages to release himself from its jaws and is thrown to the side, hitting rocks while landing.
Thorin remains breathless as the air is pushed out of his lungs with the impact on his back. Dwalin wants to help but as he tries to stand on his branch it gives way and he ends up dangling on the side of the tree.
From all his warrior Dwarves, Bilbo is the one to stand and make his way toward Thorin. As an Orc is about to execute orders of his master by cutting off Thorin’s head, Bilbo charges him, fatally injuring him, making it his second kill of the day. He then stands before Thorin’s unmoving body trying to protect him from any more harm. He does so by swinging his sword in the air as a means of a threat to all those who may come close.
Azog: “Kill him.”
As other Orcs move toward Thorin, the Dwarves come to his aid, doing as much damage as possible to the pack. The messenger moth flies back to Gandalf at which point Dori and Ori slip off his staff and onto the back of an Eagle. The Eagles fly in ridding the burning area of Wargs. As they clear the sight, they turn to take the Dwarves onto their backs.
Gwaihir gently envelops Thorin in his claws, his oaken shield falls to the ground. A symbol of transformation. He is leaving the Oakenshield name behind, leaving room for his role as King to take shape.
Gandalf: “Thorin! Thorin.”
The Eagles land on the Carrock which when viewed from another perspective resembles the skin-changer Beorn. The rock is a sign stating that beyond that point the territory is his to protect.
Gandalf hurries to Thorin as he is placed on the ground. Thorin isn’t moving or responding, so Gandalf places his hand above Thorin’s face. With one move of his hand, Thorin awakens. The Wizard, being the servant of the Secret Fire, or the Power of Creation, as well as the wielder of the flame of the sun, he may be in possession of healing powers that restore life.
This is not the first time he used his powers to help those either under a spell or clinging to life. There was Pippin who took to the Palantír curiously, and Thrain who we have yet to meet.
Gratitde and acceptance
Thorin: “The Halfling?”
Gandalf: “It’s alright. Bilbo is here. He’s quite safe.”
Thorin: “You! What were you doing? You nearly got yourself killed. Did I not say that you would be a burden? That you would not survive in the Wild? That you had no place amongst us? I have never been so wrong in all my life. I am sorry I doubted you.”
Bilbo: “I would have doubted me to. I’m not a hero or a warrior. Not even a burglar.”
After regaining consciousness, Thorin’s first thought flew to Bilbo. Incredibly, he was worried as to what happened to the Hobbit when he charged the Orc. Bilbo’s incredible act of bravery gave way for Thorin’s concern. He could have gotten himself killed fighting a race double his strength and body volume. It wasn’t safe for him to do what he did, and for all its worth it gave Thorin cause to worry about him, the first time on the journey.
What Thorin really expresses with his longish rhetorical questions and statements is gratitude toward a member of his company that has shown courage beyond any expectations. Thorin is not only thankful but apologetic. All that he had said about Bilbo’s character is now moot. With an embrace, Thorin shows his feelings toward the Hobbit in a way he hadn’t done to anyone on this quest until now. Bilbo is finally acknowledged and accepted by the company.
Bilbo: “Is that what I think it is?”
Gandalf: “Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, the last of the great Dwarf kingdoms of Middle-Earth.”
Thorin: “Our home.”
The Eagles leave. As Thorin looks out into the distance, across the plains, he can see the solitary peak of the Lonely Mountain, his expression changes from gratitude towards Bilbo to nostalgia. But not nostalgia in any sad way. He can see his own home in the distance, and although still far away he can feel the presence of warmth and comfort.
Thorin is pleased and happy to be within the eyesight of his home. To gaze upon it is to remember the sense of belonging it still holds for him. A strong feeling he wants to reignite within him.
Óin: “A raven. The birds are returning to the mountain.”
Gandalf: “That my dear Óin is a thrush.”
Thorin: “We’ll take it as a sign. A good omen.”
Bilbo: “You’re right. I do believe the worst is behind us.”
A positive sign and a symbol of hope flies in front of the company and across the plains to the Lonely Mountain, knocking a snail shell against the rockface, disturbing the only living resident of the kingdom.
Follow me to my next post.