As per usual, Legolas and Gimli count their casualties in a competition against each other. However, as opposed to their efforts at Helm’s Deep, their relationship has grown and matured in many ways. They are now linked together stronger than ever in their fight against the common enemy.
Legolas: “Fifteen, sixteen.”
Weak and vulnerable
Whilst the Three Hunters continue their fight side by side with the army of the Dead, a wounded Éowyn searches for Merry. She cannot move but crawls on the ground. Her body is weak and the darkness that has touched her skin is making its way through her system, planting its evil and malice throughout her body.
As if that weren’t enough, Gothmog spots her defenselessness. He comes after her, as she crawls to the next dead body to retrieve a sword that might help her defend herself. Fear of failure to accomplish so small a quest appears as hopelessness upon her face. She knows she cannot outrun him now. She is now a sitting duck.
Éowyn reaches out for a sword that escapes her fingers. This was her last shot. Gothmog stands behind her with his weapon in mid-air about to pound onto her limp body. Thankfully, Aragorn, as he moves from one Orc to another, decapitating and killing all in his path, runs by Gothmog and severs his arm, leaving him kneeling on the ground with one bummed arm left. Gimli comes after him burying his ax in Gothmog’s chest, and in fluid synchronicity, Aragorn and Gimli finish him off.
A never-ending competition
Aragorn warns Legolas of an approaching Mûmakil. In his swift, elegant, ballet-like moves, Legolas climbs onto the Mûmakil ridding it of all its riders and continuously counting his casualties. As one-on-one destruction is taking time, he comes up with an ingenious solution.
Legolas grabs a rope and starts to swing from on the side of the Mûmakil trying to stabilize himself long enough to cut the ropes that tie the wooden structure placed upon the creature. He uses the force of the falling structure to the other side to walk on top of the creature and kill it by firing three arrows in its head, after which the Mûmakil falls to the ground leaving Legolas to surf down its trunk to meet an annoyed Gimli.
It still only counts as one! Come on then! Come on!Gimli
Gimli desperately tries to outkill Legolas by taunting the Orcs to come closer to his ax.
Saved by the Dead
As much as the effort of the Three Hunters has been an invaluable one, they could never reach the numbers that the army of the Dead are capable of killing. They swarm through the fields and up the city, finishing every Orc in their path. Instant victory. With their efforts, both Gandalf and Pippin are now safe from the onslaught that awaited them behind the doors.
A familiar face
On the now almost silent battlefield, Éowyn crawls to her uncle still trapped under his dead horse. She caresses his head in comfort, as he touches her face with his fingers. And as it was when Saruman’s spell was broken, the same words pass Théoden’s lips.
Théoden: “I know your face. Éowyn. My eyes darken.”
Éowyn: “No. No, I am going to save you.”
For all her loss of strength and barely holding herself together, seeing her uncle still alive and speaking to her gives Éowyn great joy, one that raises her hopes of saving him.
You already did. Éowyn, my body is broken. You have to let me go. I go to my fathers in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed.Théoden
As Théoden tells Éowyn of his fate, her expression changes from one of joy to one of sadness. He has accepted his death, she still has not, and at this point, she does not want to let him go.
For Théoden, however, this is the ending he has been hoping for. For all the time he had spent under Saruman’s spell, after which he learned about the state of his realm and the death of his son, and subsequently running and hiding from the enemy in search of safety, he has now found peace.
After all his struggles for which he thought himself weak and cowardly, he has now found peace in knowing that he has done honorably by his people and given his life to protect them and help their allies. Now, he will be welcomed as a hero rather than an embarrassment into the halls of his fathers, an important thing for him.
The last goodbye
Théoden’s last word is her name. His last look is upon her face. His last breath comes to a stop. King Théoden has died, died in the arms of his beloved niece, one who although not said, he is most proud of. Her already tear-filled eyes spill over the brim as she takes in the death of her uncle, one who has been like a father to her in many respects. She places her head on his chest with tears and sobs flowing freely.
Releasing the Dead
All is quiet.
Gandalf emerges on the battlefield among the many bodies lying slain on the ground. He walks the ground in slow motion with a smile of content on his face, seeing the army of the Dead facing Aragorn.
Pippin comes beside him in a state of disbelief. He could not have seen the extent of the damage that was being caused on the battlefield since he spent all his time defending himself within the walls of the city.
Another sight rids him of breath. A green hue of skeletal apparitions stands surrounding their leader who faces Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas.
King of the Dead: “Release us.”
Gimli: “Bad idea. Very handy in a tight spot, these lads, despite the fact they’re dead.”
King of the Dead: “You gave us your word!”
Aragorn: “I hold your oath fulfilled. Go, be at peace.”
Despite Gimli’s humorous comment and a look of annoyance from the King of the Dead, Aragorn keeps his word and releases the army. It is a moment of relief and joy for both parties. The Dead will now finally have the peace they have been searching for, and Aragorn realizes the depth of their need for release.
The anger they were holding for so long, in spite of it being their own fault, has now dissipated thanks to this rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. Aragorn is pleased to have helped them finally achieve the happiness that comes with lifting a curse that has been weighing their existence.
As the King of the Dead closes his eyes in pure joy, his army starts to vanish into thin air, with him as the last one to go with the wind. Seeing this kingly scene unfold before his eyes, Gandalf bows to the new King of Gondor.
Aragorn acknowledges Gandalf’s bow, although he is not one to stand on the ceremony. He accepts it casually, with a humble smirk on his face.
The battle of the Pelennor fields is over, and with as many wounded and killed as they have, the victory is theirs to enjoy. However, there is no joy to be found. An eerie silence roams the fields as the Rohirrim survivors search for others and tend to the wounded.
Pippin looks around in hopes of finding any sign of his friend. There is luck on his side. He sports an Elvish cloak and brooch.
With this discovery he fears the worst, Merry is lost, lying dead somewhere amongst this field of casualties.
With a piercing scream of disbelief, Éomer spots his sister wounded on the ground. He runs towards her.
No matter how many times I have watched the films, this scene breaks my heart every time. The way in which Éomer expresses his grief is beyond realistic. It aches, it burns and a rush of tears is inescapable.
His grief is something I cannot relate to. To think of it, makes my insides hurt. I cannot imagine what Éomer must have been going through. That initial disbelief of finding her here, when he already told her that a battlefield is no place for her, and her taking a risk anyway, must be his worst nightmare realized.
This is his little sister, his blood, the one he was supposed to protect from harm, lying now dead in his arms. There is an inherent bond between siblings, especially big brothers and little sisters that transcends any other bond one might form in life. It is an unwritten code embedded into both of them to care for and protect each other. Finding he had failed his inherent task, is world-shattering. His eyes, his screams, and his face all are proof. An incredible pain, an unimaginable loss.
Following the King of Gondor
Aragorn sees Éowyn in Éomer’s arms, lifeless. He stares at them with tears welling up in his eyes. The woman to whom he could not have returned the same amount of love she showed him, is now no more. A woman whose bravery and intentions would not hold her back from entering the most dangerous of situations has given her life to his cause, to the cause of all Mankind.
He for himself, however, knows that all soldiers rallied to him and his leadership, as well as that of Théoden. Éowyn was the one who followed his lead, in whom she placed all her hope of her most private thoughts and wishes. And he too failed to protect her from death.
For all that he has achieved for the realm of Gondor, seeing her lifeless on the ground and the hurt it has brought upon her brother is more painful than anything he may have experienced himself on the battlefield. She came because of him, and she died for him.
Follow me to the Houses of Healing.
Photo by Europeana on Unsplash.