The wall

Of Cooperation and Reasoning

The mention of people of Lake-town swarming into Dale has driven Thorin to action, enraged defensive action. All Dwarves are called to the gate of Erebor to participate in building a wall thereby securing their lives, or more importantly, the treasure hoard within the mountain. They are able to defend themselves against all manner of foes, we have seen that. However, they need a solid structure to keep intruders out of the way of their gold. 

Enough gold for all

Bard: “Come on, keep moving.”

Alfrid: “Sire! Sire! Up here! Look, sire! The braziers are lit.” 

Bard: “So, the company of Thorin Oakenshield survived.” 

Alfrid: “Survived? You mean there’s a bunch of Dwarves in there with all that gold?” 

Bard: “I shouldn’t worry, Alfrid. There’s gold enough in that Mountain for all.” 

As opposed to the greed of Men which we have witnessed in the original trilogy, Bard does not seem to possess that weakness. He does neither rush to the Mountain to storm the hoard, nor does he think it fair that it should belong to them exclusively. What does surprise him is the survival of the company he has helped in Lake-town.

It could be said that he was somewhat expecting them not to be since he was planning to go inside the Mountain and collect a fair amount of gold for his people to rebuild their lives. However, now that he sees the lit braziers, he is glad to see they have survived the perilous encounter with the dragon. 

Alfrid has the right idea thinking that the Dwarves are there alone with all that gold, for the character of Dwarves is known far and wide. Ever since the rift between them and the Woodland Realm which the people of Lake-town may have been informed of, possessiveness, jealousy, offensiveness, greed, and overall unpleasantness has become the main characteristics of the Dwarves.

Bard, on the other hand, is secure in his impressions of the Dwarves, as he gave them refuge when they had none and took in Kili when he was about to die and there a bond was created between the two races, one that Thorin will honor as he gave his word to help the people of Lake-town. 

Shelter in Dale

Bard: “Make camp here tonight! Find what shelter you can. Get some fires going.” 

Percy: “Come on, hurry along now.” 

Bard: “Alfrid, take the night watch.” 

The people of Lake-town cannot move into the Mountain just yet. Had the company not survived they would have had the opportunity to do just that. However, with the Dwarves guarding the gates, they have to ask permission to come, much in the same way that the Dwarves came to Bard in search of help crossing the Long Lake.

They have to take shelter in Dale where the remnants of previous inhabitants still exist. It is more of a cemetery than a town where one would want to rebuild one’s life. However, for now, there is nothing else for them to do, as there are no inhabitable towns for miles around. 

More stone to the gate

Bofur: “Up it goes!”

Dwalin: “That’s it!”

Thorin: “I want this fortress made safe by sunup. This Mountain was hard-won. I will not see it taken again.” 

Kili: “The people of Lake-town have nothing. They came to us in need. They have lost everything.” 

Thorin: “Do not tell me what they have lost. I know well enough their hardship. Those who have lived through dragon fire should rejoice. They have much to be grateful for. More stone. Bring more stone to the gate!” 

Dwalin: “That’s it.” 

As Thorin orders the Dwarves to fortify the fortress, Kili’s patience with his leader’s madness runs out as he stands for the people of Lake-town upon whom they have only brought destruction and death. Kili is right in defending the people, especially Bard, who took him in when he needed the most help after he was left behind by his own uncle. 

No compassion or understanding

Thorin, however, does not see the need of the people of Lake-town or takes responsibility for his own actions that made them refugees in the first place. Moreover, he thinks Lake-town people should be grateful for having survived the ordeal he put them through. He identifies with their hardship but without empathy or sympathy. He only perceives his own misery that is now moot since he has achieved what he set out to do.

The only action Thorin finds suitable to their situation is to fortify themselves even more. The higher the stone gate the lesser the probability the people of Lake-town would try and invade. Though the rest of the company sees him descending into madness, apart from Kili, no one says a word about his maniacal behavior of throwing more stone onto the gate. Everyone remains quiet to the madness happening in front of them. 

Meanwhile, Gandalf rides on horseback to the Lonely Mountain to warn the Dwarves about the armies of Orcs heading their way. 

Supplies dwindling

Man1: “These children are starving.”

Man2: “We need food.” 

Man1: “We won’t last three days.”

Percy: “Bard, we don’t have enough.”

Bard: “Do what you can, Percy.” 

Percy: “It’ll be alright. Don’t worry.” 

Woman: “We need more water.” 

Bard: “The children, the wounded and the women come first.” 

Man3: “Here you are.” 

The food supplies of the people of Lake-town are dwindling, leaving them with very little to survive on. Though they panic, Bard with a sense of calm urges them to make the best of what they have until he figures out a way for him to arrange for more food and water, or arrange the entrance into the Mountain. Bard knows what the priorities of his community are and who should benefit from it first.

Without having wanted the leadership of his people or having been elected by them, he takes charge of their lives, which to him it comes rather naturally. He is objective as well as rationing which his people need right now.

The army of Wood Elves

Bard: “Morning Alfrid. What news from the night watch?”

Alfrid: “All quiet, sire. Not much to report. Nothing gets past me.” 

Bard: “Except an army of Elves, it would seem.” 

Bard thought he could trust Alfrid to take the night watch and keep an eye on anyone who might come and threaten their existence. Well, he was obviously wrong as he finds the army of Wood Elves on his doorstep. The camera floats over the entire town of Dale to show exactly the amount of Elves that have swarmed into Dale overnight.

With caution and apprehension, Bard moves through the ranks to see if he could find their Captain of the Guard and ask why they were there in the first place. 

Providing aid

Bard: “My Lord Thranduil, we did not look to see you here.” 

Thranduil: “I heard you needed aid.” 

Man1: “Here you go. Pass it back.”

Man2: “Another one.” 

Bard: “You have saved us. I do not know how to thank you.” 

Thranduil: “Your gratitude is misplaced. I did not come on your behalf. I came to reclaim something of mine. There are gems in the Mountain that I, too, desire. White gems of pure starlight.”  

Thorin: “The White Gems of Lasgalen. I know an Elf Lord who will pay a pretty price for these.” 

Thranduil rides into Dale on an elk. Interestingly, the horse they used for Thranduil to ride on was named Moose upon which they superimposed the image of an elk for the film. After Thranduil come two wagons of greens and water bottles for the people of Lake-town.

Thranduil has heard of their desperation and brought them much-needed supplies. The people of Lake-town surround the two wagons while the Elves distribute the supplies to the eagerly waiting hands. 

White Gems

However, aiding the people of Lake-town is not Thranduil’s primary reason for coming. He wants to reclaim the Gems that were once promised to him, fashioned for his wife before she died. Now, they would be a legacy of his people, or rather the legacy of his deceased wife, a constant reminder of his love for her.

At the same time that Thranduil remembers the Gems, Thorin is holding them in his hands, smiling wickedly at the thought of it being a want of someone who he holds as his enemy. 

Thranduil could have just come directly before Erebor and demanded his Gems. There was no need and characteristically no previous history of goodwill toward the race of Men. It is interesting to see that he does have some understanding of empathy and aiding those in need. A side of the character of Thranduil that gives it a bit more depth and variety than the one-dimensionality we have become accustomed to. 

Attempt at reasoning

Bard: “Wait! Please wait! You would go to war over a handful of gems?”

Thranduil: “The heirlooms of my people are not lightly forsaken.” 

Bard: “We are allies in this. My people also have a claim upon the riches in that Mountain. Let me speak with Thorin.” 

Thranduil: “You would try to reason with the Dwarf?”

Bard: “To avoid war? Yes.”

As Thranduil orders his army toward Erebor, Bard pleads for them to halt. An open war against the Dwarves would, in his mind, not bring a resolution to the problem. Since the people of Lake-town have been promised a share in the treasure of Erebor, a more personal and verbal approach would probably benefit both of them more than an attack would.

Bard wants to try and communicate with Thorin and come to terms with his promise before the last resort of war is put into effect by the Wood Elves. 

Thranduil sees this attempt as hollow since he is more than familiar with Thorin’s manner and Dwarves’ interest in compromise and communication in general. However, he is willing to concede that it is an attempt that Bard should take, seeing as of the two of them he is more likely to elicit results and maybe spare his army a fight against the thirteen Dwarves and a Hobbit, a war they would undoubtedly win. 

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Feature image by Mak on Unsplash

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