Volcano crater

Before the Cracks of Doom

Frodo’s strength has failed him, he cannot fend or even move. The physical strain this quest has had on his ill-nourished body leaves him collapsed, clawing for breath. He now exists in the Void, fully unaware of his surroundings, seeing, hearing and sensing the presence of Sauron. Even the state of his inner world is second to that of his physical body. 

An end in sight

Sam is the only chance Frodo has of completing his mission. With Frodo on his shoulders, Sam climbs slowly and carefully up the slopes of Mount Doom. He spots a passage into the Chambers of Fire. 

Look, Mister Frodo. A doorway! We’re almost there.


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Gollum reappears

Sam’s focus is directed at the goal in front of him. What they both did not count on, was encountering their once guide to this God-forsaken place. As it is, Gollum appears from behind a rock above the Hobbits’ heads. 

Clever Hobbits, to climb so high!


Gollum jumps from the rock onto Sam’s back throwing Frodo on the ground. Within the same movement, Gollum starts strangling Frodo. In that moment of instant consciousness, after having collapsed and having been carried all this way, Frodo is not only shocked by Gollum’s action but also experiences terror at this development. Having no air to breathe, his eyes become ever wider. Catching his breath is impossible. He can only release the air he already had.

Gollum: “Mustn’t go that way! Mustn’t hurt the precious!”

Frodo: “You swore! You swore on the precious! Sméagol promised!”

In full maniacal murderous mode and a psychopathic expression on his face, Gollum’s fingers close around Frodo’s neck in a tight noose, leaving Frodo to beg. 

As Gollum rationally, in his own way, exclaims Frodo should not continue on his path to the entrance to Mount Doom, Frodo cannot but remind Gollum of his promise when he was first captured. 


Frodo knew the Ring was treacherous, and still, he took Gollum’s word on bringing the two Hobbits to their destination. Not only was the Ring treacherous, but Gollum was as well, otherwise he would never have made the promise in the first place.

Frodo experienced it firsthand when Gollum initially attacked them and then sought to evoke pity for his miserable existence. It is almost as if the loophole was there right in front of him, but in an effort to spare Gollum’s life, through Frodo’s pity for the creature, he believed Gollum’s promise. Now that they have reached their destination, their guide has turned against them.

Frodo is desperate for Gollum to stop strangling him. So he holds on to the most sacred thing Gollum had done, his promise. In a situation this dire, one would do anything, think of anything positive or reassuring to make the assailant cease the attack. 

One-track mind

The assailant, in this case, cares not what his victim has to say. He is not able to look beyond his own need for the Ring, his one-track mind cannot conceive of something as simple as guilt. Gollum cannot sense betrayal in a way he would if he were a more sentient being. It is not his fault, he has to take these drastic measures to keep his precious from being destroyed. It is also not his fault what this dependency had done to him, he never stood a chance. 

As much as Frodo is being drained emotionally, mentally and physically in this land of Shadow, Gollum seems to thrive under its constant darkness. The one thing he cares about in his whole miserable existence is this golden band around Frodo’s neck, and by whatever means possible, he will retrieve it and live another 500 years in solitude. 

Pleading for Sméagol

Frodo’s pleads to Gollum’s Sméagol self. It, however, does not sway Gollum from his purpose. In the more recent past, before Frodo “betrayed” Gollum by letting him be captured by Faramir’s men, addressing Gollum as Sméagol would have made Gollum switch to his other persona. However, after that incident in Ithilien, there is nothing more Frodo could say to gain Gollum’s trust, and so Sméagol had to cease to exist. 

That situation, combined with torture and restraints all the way to Osgiliath made Sméagol’s existence unbearable, vulnerable and emotionally raw. He had to protect himself, and as a result of his defense mechanism, Gollum stepped in. This is not to say that Sméagol had died, he still lives inside of Gollum. However, Gollum had to resurface in order to protect Sméagol from harm. 

Frodo manages to move Gollum’s hand from his throat, leaving just the one hand around his neck. The other one is pinning Frodo’s hand to the ground. As Frodo struggles to free himself, Gollum grins at him for even suggesting he stand by his promise and simply says: 

Sméagol lied.


Intact integrity

Sam, after having stumbled down after the initial attack, gains his bearings, grabs a rock and throws it at Gollum’s head, thereby knocking Gollum off of Frodo. Finally, Frodo can take a breath instructively, regaining whatever strength he has left. He does not move to hurt Gollum though. It is an interesting fact. For all the trouble Gollum had caused Frodo, Frodo never raised a hand to him. If he did, it would have been only in self-defense.  

Having this creature jump out of nowhere and begin strangling him with the sole purpose of killing him, Frodo still remains non-violent towards him. This is a testament to Frodo’s respect for life, no matter how vicious it is. Despite his descent into darkness, the core values of “do not harm or kill” are still there. They may be buried beneath the newly-induced thought processes, but they emerge in moments that matter the most. 

His sense of self is therefore not lost on him, and certainly not lost forever. There is still a clear mind with which he can make choices for himself and for those around him. He may also still believe that Gollum is capable of change and that his life is worth saving, only to prove to himself that he too is able to come back from this. 

However, given the situation and the actions performed by Gollum, there seems to be no way back for him. Saving him may be a lost cause. 

A successful diversion

Meanwhile, as the company is fighting the Mordor Orc army before the Black Gate, the Nine fly overhead astride their fell-beasts. 

There now seems to be no way out of this situation. The distraction had worked wonders, giving Frodo and Sam time to reach Mount Doom. However, the army may not be as lucky to come out of their plan alive. Although death is what they knew would await them, they still fight for their lives, engaging the enemy, making him blind of everything else that moves inside his Gate. 

Their sacrifice had worked and it continues to be a resource of extended time for the two Hobbits. 

Seizing the moment

Sam may have released Frodo from Gollum’s tight grip, but now he has to struggle with Gollum himself. As an answer to Gollum’s bite, Sam slices Gollum across the chest. With a continuous murderous expression on his face, Gollum falls back. Sam turns to look for Frodo. 



While Sam and Gollum struggled, Frodo made his way forward toward the opening into Mount Doom. He seems to be re-energized, seizing the moment of Gollum’s distraction to run for it. He still stumbles with weakness but his determination is unyielding. 

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Photo credit to skeeze on Pixabay

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