As the Dwarves board the boats, the town musicians play for their send off as well as for their Master who has come to oversee it personally. In the line of musicians beneath the Master’s podium, there are two cameos: one of Alan Lee and one of John Howe, the two concept artists on both trilogies. It was their time to suit up as Lake-town musicians and be part of the world their pencils created.
The left behinders
Bofur: “By my beard, is that the time?! Ah!”
Master: “Go now with our goodwill and good wishes. And may your return bring good fortune.”
Master: “To all!”
Bofur: “Out of the way! No! No! Ha. So you missed the boat as well?”
Fili: “Kili? Kili!”
And there is Bofur, drunk, sleeping under the table upon which they have celebrated the night before. He takes one last sip of brandy and rushes out the door to catch the boat. Meanwhile, the Master, playing his part as the fulfiller of his people’s dreams, weaves the company goodbye wishing them well. The most important part of them returning to Lake-town and bringing riches with them is the most important part of his message to them.
Bofur misses the boat but finds Kili, Fili, and Óin sitting on the dock. It would have been just a small reunion and a laugh between them for having missed the boat but soon Kili loses consciousness, giving Bofur a greater reason for their stay. Had he gone with the company he would have been a productive member of it, but as it is he will be the productive part of this little group instead.
Braga: “Hey! Get out of there. Go on.”
Alfrid: “Masterfully handled, sire. Your popularity has never been so high. The entire town twittering your name.”
Master: “Yes, it was rather clever. Either our little friends return triumphant in which case I stand to make a pretty penny or old Smaug dines on Dwarf for a day or two. The important thing is, they’re off our hands.”
The Master, his counselor, and the Guards make their way back to the Master’s residence, removing children and elders from their path as they pass. The Master does not even appear to see how the Guards are treating the people of Lake-town, or he is so used to it that it is perfectly normal for him to witness something like that. Or, most probably, he had given the orders for the Guard to behave in such a way, which again gives insight into his character. Being mistreated and disrespected seems to be the way of life in Lake-town.
It is interesting that the writers have decided to use the particular word of “twittering”. In the age of Lake-town there was of course, no social media, so this seems anachronistic, except for the fact that the word is used metaphorically. It is also a nod to our “twittering” way of life which would progress in the same way as theirs if we were at that time in history. (I use the word “history” here because I see both trilogies as part of history that could have existed.)
It is obvious what the Master of Lake-town’s intentions are. He had foreseen two possible outcomes of the quest and taken them in stride. Neither one of them would hurt the position he holds in Lake-town, but his decision to allow them passage put him in favor of his people. If he receives treasure from the Dwarves after they have survived their mission, then it will be all the better. However, the most important thing for him is that the Dwarves have left his town and they can all resume their lives as before.
Fili: “Please, wait! Please. We need your help. My brother is sick.”
Master: “Sick? Is it infectious? Get back. Alfrid, Alfrid don’t let them come any closer.”
Óin: “Please. We need medicine.”
Alfrid: “Do I look like an apothecary? Haven’t we given you enough? The Master’s a busy man. He hasn’t got time to worry about sick Dwarves. Be gone with you. Go on. Clear off.”
The remaining Dwarves catch up with the Master to ask him for his help with Kili. What they encounter is a type of germaphobe whose counselor is there to give them clear, concise and mean retorts to their pleads. It is perfectly clear that they never wanted them here and that they have used their situation to boost their own agenda.
The Dwarves are left in surprise and hurt by the Master’s and the counselor’s treatment of them. They can now also see that they supported the Dwarves only for the promise of riches. Now, that they need help and medicine, they are persona non grata in Lake-town.
Master: “What this town needs, Alfrid, is a good purge. Starting with a certain troublemaker who saw fit to question my authority.”
Alfrid: “A certain bargeman, sire?”
This little conversation between the Master and Alfrid will pay off in the final film, but for now, it sets the stage for what they plan for him. The easiest thing to do in a situation where a leader’s authority is being questioned is to rid their town of such people to keep the status quo. It is only a matter of finding a law and scribbling something down on parchment that would make it all legal. Nothing the Master or Alfrid isn’t capable of doing.
A cry for help
Bard: “No. I’m done with Dwarves. Go away.”
Bofur: “No! No! Please! No one will help us. Kili’s sick. He’s very sick.”
Without a sense of where to go or what to do on their own, the Dwarves seek the help of the one man that had put his freedom on the line for them. However, this time, after having revealed their plans to reclaim the mountain without acknowledging the consequences, Bard is left with his pride, face and reputation ruined. It is perfectly understandable that he does not want the Dwarves in his house any more than he wants to be incarcerated for having questioned authority.
But the Dwarves are desperate and in terrible need of medicine. And as soon as Bard sees Kili’s countenance he sympathizes and lets them in his house, yet again. He may not be able to help cure whatever is ailing him but at least he is not out there on the streets of Lake-town without a safe roof over his head.
The safety of Bard’s house will prove to be less than they thought. Read on in my next post.