Dinner is Served

Bilbo is wrought with panic. Although he may be small and inconsequential in the Trolls’ eyes, his ability to escape them serves him well. However, this is not the first time their food played hide-and-seek with them. The three Trolls are more than accustomed to having to work for their meal. And anyway, at the end of the runaround, he cannot escape them. 

Dwarves vs. Trolls

Kili: “Drop him!”

William: “You what?”

Kili: “I said drop him.” 

So William throws Bilbo right into Kili. What the Trolls probably reckoned with was having two catches for the price of one. What they didn’t reckon with was a surge of Dwarves coming out of the bushes in defense of their two friends. They attack the Trolls with all their might, leaping in the air, running between their feet, finding various ways to inflict pain upon them.

What is interesting about this particular fight is that Dori the Dwarf throws a set of balls into Bert’s private parts. Both characters are played by Mark Hadlow, so in essence, he has hurt himself in the most private of parts.

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William: “Get the sacks! Stick them in the sacks!” 

Kili: “Come on. Get up! Bilbo!”

Thorin: “Don’t!”

William: “Lay down your arms or we’ll rip his off.”

Though the fight is an entertaining one with a possible slight advantage to the Dwarves, it suddenly turns sour as the Trolls hold Bilbo by his arms and legs. They are threatening the Dwarves with the Hobbit’s dismemberment if they don’t lay down their weapons. It is a tough action to follow knowing how much the Dwarves attach their worth to their superior fighting skills.

However, against the Trolls, they are helpless. They may have come to the other side as winners had Bilbo not been caught and used as a means of an ultimatum. 

Given that Bilbo knows what kind of feelings the Dwarves harbour for him, his dismemberment wasn’t out of the question. It is not as if he could count on the Dwarves to save his life. For all Bilbo knows, the Dwarves don’t want him there just as much as the Trolls want to eat him. His life hangs in the balance as the Trolls dangle him above the fire.

Surprisingly, it is Thorin, the one who initially judged Bilbo for being who he is, who lays down his sword first. There are regret and resentment in his expression, but there is also humanity to him, that not even Bilbo was aware of. 

Taking responsibility

Thorin had clearly stated he would not be responsible for Bilbo’s life. Now, it seems he is. The pride that he had to swallow to have his burglar’s life saved isn’t insignificant. Pride to a Dwarf is as important as water to a fish. So for Thorin to relinquish his pride and face to save a life he himself deemed unworthy, is of great importance to his character and his relationship with Bilbo.

Although he may have done it with regards to Bilbo being a burglar and Thorin needing him afterward, it can also be said that Thorin could have decided to leave this Hobbit here to die and fetch himself another one. 

For all that Gandalf knows and presumes about Bilbo, Thorin does not know anything about him. He knows only what he sees, which is someone inadequate to participate in a quest this dangerous.

A spit and some sacks

Nori: “Oh! That’s hot, that’s hot!”

Tom: “Don’t bother cooking them. Let’s just sit on them and squash them into jelly.”

Bert: “They should be sautéed and grilled with a sprinkle of sage.” 

Balin: “Is this really necessary?”

Tom: “That does sound quite nice.”

Óin: “Untie me, mister.”

Glóin: “Eat someone your own size.” 

William: “Never mind the seasoning. We ain’t got all night. Dawn ain’t far away. Let’s get a move on. I don’t fancy being turned to stone.” 

For this spit segment of the story, Peter Jackson tells us, in the behind-the-scenes footage, that those who ended up on the spit are those with whom he wasn’t that happy about during that particular week of shooting principal photography. So, everyone who acted up, or simply anyone who he found would be interesting to watch spin on a spit, he bolted to a reinforced wooden beam.

Since filming such an elaborate segment takes time, the participants on the spit found the game nauseating. There were even bets placed to see who would be the first to throw up when they let them down. An interesting way to spice up their working days. 

Whilst one part of the Dwarves is stuck on a spit, the others await their verdict stuffed in sacks. One of them is Bilbo, who, as opposed to the Dwarves, pays enough attention to the Trolls, catching William exposing their secret. This secret provides Bilbo with an idea. 


Bilbo: “Wait! You are making a terrible mistake.” 

Dori: “You can’t reason with them. They’re half-wits.” 

Bofur: “Half-wits? What does that make us?” 

Bilbo: “I meant with the seasoning.” 

Bert: “What about the seasoning?”

Bilbo: “Well, have you smelt them? You’re gonna need something stronger than sage before you plate this lot up.” 

Bilbo is a well-seasoned cook himself, interested in many ways of preparing food and subsequently enjoying it. Though he cannot possibly know how to cook Dwarves, this is nevertheless a topic he could use to distract the Trolls from their goal. If he engages them in a conversation about their cooking, then dawn might break and they would all be saved by the sun.

What he needs to do, however, is seem as if the lives of the Dwarves mean nothing to him. Though he is pretending, his comrades don’t have a single clue as to why he would even try. 

The secret

Thorin: “Traitor!”

William: “What do you know about cooking Dwarf?”

Bert: “Shut up. Let the flurgaburburghobbit talk.” 

Bilbo: “The secret to cooking Dwarf is…”

Bert: “Yes? Come on. Tell us the secret.” 

Bilbo: “It’s uh. Yes, I’m telling you. The secret is to skin them first.” 

Now that he has thought of a secret on cooking Dwarf, he would then probably give detailed instructions on how to handle the meat as well. The Dwarves, not aware of what Bilbo is trying to do, rally against him.

Preparing to skin

Nori: “What? Skin us?”

Bert: “Tom, get me filleting knife.”

Glóin: “I’ll skin you, you little….!”

Dwalin: “I won’t forget that. I won’t forget that.”

William: “What a load of rubbish. I’ve eaten plenty with their skins on. Scarf them, I say boots and all.” 

Tom: “He’s right. Nothing wrong with a bit of raw Dwarf. Nice and crunchy.” 

It transpires that not only do the Dwarves hate him for betraying them, but the Trolls dismiss his advice completely. Though Bert would be interested in continuing the conversation about cooking, the breaking dawn coupled with their need for food leaves them little time to reflect on cooking strategies. 


Bilbo: “No, not that one. He’s infected.”

Tom: “Huh?”

William: “You what?”

Bilbo: “Yeah, he’s got worms in his tubes.” 

Tom: “Eww!”

Bilbo: “In fact they all have. They’re infested with parasites. It’s a terrible business. I wouldn’t risk it. I really wouldn’t.” 

Óin: “Did he say “parasites”?”

Kili: “We don’t have parasites. You have parasites!”

Óin: “What are you talking about, laddie?”

As soon as Tom grabs Bombur by his feet in order to eat him raw, Bilbo screams against it. He has now found another, more effective way to protect the Dwarves. If they are infected then no one in their right mind would eat them, not even the Trolls.

This new strategy works instantly as Tom throws Bombur back onto the pile of Dwarves. However, this particular diagnosis of Bilbo’s does not sit well with the rest of the company. They are insulted that he should say that about them. 

From all of their protesting, and Bilbo’s eye-rolling, Thorin finally realizes what lies behind Bilbo’s diagnosis. He kicks the others with his boot, snapping them out of their complaining and refocusing them on the deceit at hand. However, then it becomes all too obvious, even for the Trolls.  


Óin: “I’ve got parasites as big as my arm.” 

Kili: “Mine are the biggest parasites. I’ve got huge parasites. We’re riddled.”

Ori: “Yes, I’m riddled.”

Dori: “Yes we are, badly.” 

William: “What would you have us do, then? Let them all go?”

Bilbo: “Well…”

William: “You think I don’t know what you’re up to? This little ferret is taking us for fools.”

Bilbo: “Ferret?”

Bert: “Fools?”

Although the Dwarves have successfully managed to understand Bilbo’s intentions, the overselling of their imaginary condition raised alarm with the Trolls. They may be Half-wits and easily distracted, but they understand the basic principles of manipulation. They know when Bilbo is trying to pull a fast one on them. Their denomination of Bilbo leaves him insulted. He really does not appreciate being called a ferret, not after all their fine conversation just a minute ago. 

This all does not matter anymore, now that Bilbo has caught a glimpse of a fast-moving Wizard behind the Trolls. He has done his best to keep the Trolls from devouring his fellow company members but not even he could stay their interest in them forever. 

Gandalf ex machina

Gandalf: “The dawn will take you all.” 

William: “Who’s that?”

Bert: “No idea.”

Tom: “Can we eat him too?”

Dwalin: “Uh, get your foot out of my back!”

And then he appears, vaguely reminiscent of his Helm’s Deep arrival: “Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, look to the east.” Gandalf is obviously one of dramatic entrances and announcements. No matter how brilliant his coming may be now, the Trolls still see him as edible. That is all they are interested in. Given his stature, he would make more than a mouthful. 

Gandalf proclaims dawn, halves the rock he is standing on and the three Trolls turn to stone, just as they feared. The Dwarves and Bilbo remain stunned. They have never seen anything like it before, and to have it happen right in front of their eyes, brings a level of joy that they have not yet experienced. 

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Photo by Tim Cooper on Unsplash

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