Shire

Back Again

Erebor has been reclaimed. The leader of the Dwarf company along with the last two members of his line have lost their lives. The Dwarves of Erebor are now led by King Dáin Ironfoot of the Iron Hills. The lone Hobbit accompanied by the Wizard responsible for his quest, walks back home to the woods and little rivers of the Shire. 

The borders of the Shire

Gandalf: “Ah, the borders of the Shire. It is here I must leave you.” 

Bilbo: “That’s a shame. I quite liked having a Wizard around. Seems they bring good luck.” 

Gandalf’s knowledge of the Ring is revealed. Though Bilbo tried to play it in favor of Gandalf and his presence for his continual luck on the quest and during the battle. However, Gandalf knows better than to believe this form of flattery. For a moment Bilbo considers refuting Gandalf’s conclusions, but he soon sees that it is futile to do so. Gandalf is right and there is no point in debating the issue that seems all too clear for the both of them. 

Secrecy

Gandalf: “You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck? Magic rings should not be used lightly, Bilbo. Don’t take me for a fool. I know you found one in the Goblin tunnels. And I’ve kept my eye on you ever since.” 

Bilbo: “Well, thank goodness. Farewell, Gandalf.” 

Gandalf: “Farewell.” 

Bilbo: “You, uh… You needn’t worry about that ring. Fell out of my pocket during the battle. I lost it.”

Gandalf: “You’re a very fine person, Mr. Baggins. And I’m very fond of you. But you’re only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all.” 

Why Bilbo chose to lie about having lost the Ring in the battle is not clear from the scene. It could be that he was afraid Gandalf would have wanted to take the Ring for himself, which Bilbo would not have liked, or that he wanted to appear more innocent than he really was. Whatever the reason, the fact remains the same, the Ring is still in his pocket. And a good thing too since without it there would be no need for a Fellowship. 

Gandalf can see through Bilbo’s lies, knowing that the Hobbit is not as skilled in lies as he thinks he is. For all the cunning and the experience he has gained during his quest with the Dwarves, cunningness and deceit have not become the traits of the Hobbit, yet.

As we have seen in the Fellowship of the Ring, he keeps much to himself or fabricates that which he knows to be true. However, for a little while longer he is still the honest little Hobbit we met in “An Unexpected Journey”. 

Presumed dead

Bilbo: “Wait a minute, that’s my mother’s glory box. And that’s my dining chair. Ah… Put that pouf down! What is going on?”

Worrywort: “Hello, Mr. Bilbo. You’re not supposed to be here.” 

Bilbo: “What do you mean?”

Worrywort: “On account of you being presumed dead.” 

Bilbo: “I am not dead. Presumed or otherwise.” 

Worrywort: “I’m not sure that’s permitted. Mr. Bilbo!”

As he walks up the path to his house, Bilbo recognizes his possessions in the hands of people passing him by. He cannot understand what is happening, as no one really seems to register his existence as such. Mr. Worrywort, who we have already met in the Hobbiton marketplace with his tubers and later as the one Hobbit Bilbo addresses before leaving Hobbiton, is puzzled at the sight of Bilbo. 

For all he knows and from all he has been informed about, Bilbo has left over a year ago and not returned, leaving the rest of Hobbiton to presume that he will not be coming back. This, of course, we know not to be true. Though Bilbo did not know if he was ever coming back to the Shire, or he will survive the quest, now that he has the world that he knew seems to have changed for the worst, presuming him dead. 

Auction

Tosser: “Twenty-one! Any advance on 21? Any advance on 21? Ha, ha! Sold to Mrs. Bolger. Somewhere for Fatty to put his feet on. Any bids for this? This is Shire-made. None of your Dwarvish reproductions here.” 

Bilbo: “Stop! Stop! There’s been a mistake!”

Lobelia: “Who are you?” 

Bilbo: “What you mean who am I? You know bloody well who I am Lobelia Sackvill-Baggins. This is my home. And those are my spoons. Thank you very much.” 

Tosser: “This is most irregular.” 

Bilbo: “Excuse me.”

The Hobbits have taken upon themselves to auction off Bilbo’s entire possessions to the highest bidders, leaving him essentially with only a hole in the ground. As he tries to stop the bidding wars, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins acts as if she doesn’t know or even recognize him.

In her hand are the spoons that Bilbo mentions in the Fellowship of the Ring as the ones he caught her leaving with. Now, that Bilbo is presumed dead, she thought she has finally come unto her own, claiming the spoons for herself. She remains upset as Bilbo takes the spoons from her, claiming them as his own. 

The auctioneer, appropriately named Tosser, sees Bilbo coming up the path, not believing his own eyes at the view in front of him. It seems to him as if a mirage has appeared, someone, he certainly wasn’t expecting to see ever again. 

Proving existence

Tosser: “It’s been more than 13 months since the disappearance. If you are in fact Bilbo Baggins and undeceased can you prove it?”

Bilbo: “What?”

Tosser: “Something official with your name on it would suffice.” 

Bilbo: “All right. Right. A contract of employment as a bur… nevermind as what. There. My signature.” 

Tosser: “Yes, well uh… Well, it certainly seems to be in order. Yes. Seems there can be no doubt. Who is this person you pledged your service to? Thorin Oakenshield?” 

Bilbo: “He… He was my friend.” 

The Tosser’s insistence on Bilbo proving his own existence is outrageous to the Hobbit. However, if he only protests verbally without any documentation to prove his point, he might end up living on the path to his hole rather than in it.

Fortunately, the contract that the Dwarves gave him to sign before they left the Shire, he still keeps on his person. His signature on this piece of document proves conclusively that the Hobbit standing right in front of them is the rightful inhabitant of the Hobbit hole in front of which the auction is being held. 

Curiosity leads the Tosser to ask to whom Bilbo has pledged himself, not having heard of Thorin Oakenshield before. At this very moment, before his own door, Bilbo expresses the sentiment that stood in his throat before Erebor, Thorin was his friend, a friend that he has lost. Pain and sorrow show on his face as he claims him for his friend. 

Back in Bag End

Bilbo opens his door and enters. There is nothing left but papers and books thrown on the floor. Apparently, Hobbits don’t have that much interest in reading. However, everything else that wasn’t nailed down has been auctioned off. The Hobbit hole is empty. As Bilbo walks deeper into his home he finds the handkerchief that he has missed on his journey. 

This little handkerchief is the realization of how much he has changed in the last year. It reminds him of who he used to be, and Gandalf’s words from “An Unexpected Journey” when Bilbo asked him if he could promise him that he would come back, “No, and if you do, you will not be the same”. Gandalf’s words seem to echo in Bilbo without having been uttered by him or Gandalf. The handkerchief is enough to remind him of the words. 

The need

The portraits of his mother and father, the portraits of Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson as Hobbits effectively, lie on the floor beneath the fireplace. As the first act of cleaning up, he takes the two portraits and hangs them on the wall above the fireplace, in their rightful place. Bilbo turns to the window with a sense of indecisiveness. His hand reaches for his pocket, but he himself tries to stop it from taking the Ring out of it. He seems to be struggling with himself.

Bilbo feels the Ring in his pocket, closes his eyes as if to shield himself from the need that is pulling his hand toward it. Though we do not see it, he takes the Ring and with only one eye squinty looks at it. The shot cuts to an old hand, the hand of old Bilbo, just before the events of the Lord of the Rings. As old Bilbo looks at the Ring, there is a knock on the door. 

Tie in with the Fellowship of the Ring

Bilbo: “No, thank you! We don’t want any more visitors, well-wishers, or distant relations!”

Gandalf: “And what about very old friends?”

Bilbo: “Gandalf?”

Gandalf: “Bilbo Baggins.” 

Bilbo: “My dear Gandalf! Ha, ha!”

Gandalf: “It’s good to see you. One hundred and 11 years old. Who would believe it?” 

Bilbo: “Come on, come in! Welcome. Welcome.”

Bilbo is irritable and grouchy as his séance with the Ring is interrupted. However, as soon as he hears Gandalf’s voice, he cannot but help himself feel joy over his coming. The scene continues into the one from the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring film, tying in perfectly, leaving the camera to focus on the map of Erebor that he had once followed. 

This concludes our journey through The Hobbit trilogy. 

Featured image by Nikhil Prasad on Unsplash

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