Two battles occurring simultaneously, Legolas struggles to move faster through the Orc mass in order to help Aragorn fight a troll, and Frodo walks with as much fury and anger towards Gollum who is enjoying his victory dance over the repossession of the Ring.
Precious! Precious! Precious!Gollum
Frodo’s face expresses the same murderous glance he had to endure from Gollum not so long ago. The loss of blood coupled with his already weakened state of mind and body bring him slowly stumbling forwards to Gollum. With his last ounces of strength, he lunges at Gollum.
What ensues is a push-and-pull game between Frodo and Gollum. At this particular moment in time, the two are at the same wave-length, enjoying the same malicious influence of the Ring. In their own way, they both wish to save the Ring from destruction and take possession of it.
Meanwhile, Legolas does not manage to reach Aragorn in time as the troll stomps on the future King. The troll presses his foot onto Aragorn’s chest making it impossible for him to move or even breathe. Thankfully, with as much strength and consciousness left, Aragorn draws out his dagger and stabs the troll in the foot. Although a stab at this particular place would prove completely incapacitating to any other humanoid creature, for a troll, it is merely an annoying prick.
Falling to death
Frodo and Gollum’s struggle continues on the ledge. As they move ever closer to the edge of the ledge, there is only so much space they can use to overcome each other. Without ever thinking of their personal safety, the possession of the Ring being the only goal worthwhile, they tumble over the edge.
Gollum falls towards the flowing river of lava, without a second thought of the danger in which he now finds himself. His mind is on the Ring that he has managed to repossess after so many years of separation. This joyous thought brings a wide smile on his face. He cradles the Ring whilst falling to his death.
There is a feeling of calm that washes over him, peace and satisfaction at finally being able to enjoy the Ring without fear of anyone interfering. As he hits the lava, his body burns up quickly part for part. Whilst he burns, he holds the Ring in his palm above the molten lava. His eyes never leave the Ring. It is the last thing he sees in this world. He wouldn’t want to have it any other way anyway.
His facial expression tells a different story to that which he had while falling. It switched almost instantly as soon as his body touched the lava. For all the joy the Ring had brought him just moments before has now turned into disappointment and betrayal. The Ring has betrayed him. It had led him to fall over the ledge and into his death. It had taken over all his thought processes and none-existent self-preservation mechanisms. He had lost himself completely, rejoicing over the Ring’s retrieval, leaving him blind to everything else surrounding him.
Neither Frodo nor Gollum would have stopped at any point until one of them had the Ring in their possession.
Gollum and the Ring
The One Ring, although seemingly inanimate, draws its victims into its web of lies and deceit, thereby presenting itself as a reliable, safe traveling companion that would never betray its carrier, or so the carriers thought. The only purpose of its miserable existence is the return to its master. Who, or what, brings it to him is of less importance. Those lives are insignificant as is the destruction of those lives over a long period of time.
Although the Ring tortured Gollum for the longest time, being separated from it brought him as much mental and psychological pain as physical. It was an unyielding urge, a craving for its repossession no matter the cost to anyone else involved. He had thought the Ring his, having so strongly identified with it, that it caused him to develop another personality altogether. Granted, he may have been susceptible to that kind of psychological change before the Ring ever came to him, but it was certainly exacerbated by its possession.
Gollum hated and loved the Ring, as Gandalf pointed out, and it was precisely this discrepancy in his behavior toward it that made it impossible for him to think of the Ring as something inherently evil. It brought him pain for over 500 years, of which Gollum was excruciatingly aware. However, it also brought him a sense of purpose, meaning and ultimately joy.
He had spent his life looking under rocks, exploring what mysteries caves may hold, trying to find something under the surface. Before the Ring was his, his life revolved around a search, a search for the unseen, untold, something other than encountered on the surface. Finding the Ring curved that enthusiasm and curiosity, bringing him to the Holy Grail of his search for meaning.
I am almost positive that had he known in advance what the Ring would make of him and his life, he would have taken it for himself anyway. There was no way to resist the allure of something as powerful and as precious as that.
Sam’s helping hand
Gollum has been burned alive, without a sound of agony escaping his lips. The Ring, however, was left suspended on ash just above the fire.
Frodo meanwhile hangs on to the side of the ledge. Sam, having witnessed the struggle between him and Gollum and losing them out of his sight, rushes to his aid.
Give me your hand!Sam
Sam cannot reach Frodo’s hand unless he himself endangers his life by falling into the molten lava himself. Frodo will have to make the effort and reach for Sam’s hand.
Under Frodo’s feet, the Ring still floating on the ash atop the lava shows once again its inscription. The last, and only time we have ever seen it, was in Bag End when Gandalf was still holding onto hope that it might not be the One Ring after all. Now, as it nears its destruction, and floating over the fire, the presentation of its inscription is inevitable.
The inscription’s context, however, has changed. The Eye and the Nazgul, the “surviving” ones, are all focusing on the Ring at this very moment. They have located it, and are making their way towards it. The Eye does not leave sight of the location of the Ring. So, the Ring had found and brought them all together, bound them all in the nearest possible proximity of its master, and in the land of Mordor. Therefore, the chanting characteristic of the writing has come true in a slightly different context than the maker would have wanted.
The Ring was intended to take over control of the other 19 rings given to Dwarves, Men, and Elves. Now it lies on its own point of destruction. It will never succeed in its purpose of ensnaring other kingdoms. The only kingdom it can control is its own.
Additionally, the Ring does not possess as much weight and power as it did only moments ago. Without its carrier, it is only a gold band floating lifelessly atop ash in its birthplace. There is no one now who could take it to its maker, no one whose life it can destroy. It is helpless.
Take my hand!Sam
Frodo swings his arm to reach for Sam but fails. His bloodied hand, as well as the rest of his body, does not possess enough strength. Without his finger to claw into Sam’s hand, and with blood making it slippery, the simple task to accomplish seems almost impossible. But there is something else.
No! Don’t you let go! Don’t let go. Reach!Sam
The look in Frodo’s eyes reveals a will to let go. He has been through so much already, that he could not see a successful way out of this. Gollum’s behavior proved to him that a comeback is not an option. It is now clear to him that he too will not be able to come back from this. He will never be the same, and he realizes it now.
The expression in his eyes tells Sam that he is ready to let go, ready to end it all here and now which is why Sam pleads with him to reach for his hand.
This scene is reminiscent of another scene. When the Fellowship broke off in the first film, and Frodo decides to go ahead with the quest alone, Sam follows his boat in the water. Knowing that Sam cannot swim, Frodo’s concern for his friend’s life grows rapidly as he sees him entering deep water. Sam disappears underwater without any ability to help himself. Frodo reaches an arm into the water grabbing his hand. He pulls Sam out of the river and onto the boat after which point the two continue the journey together. A journey that has led them to a change in roles but a similar situation nonetheless.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. It may sound cliché, but in the context of this trilogy, it certainly proves true.
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