The flag of the horse masters cracking at the seams, flying off into the air and landing in front of the oncoming company – a metaphor for a Kingdom in ruin. The last standing symbol of this beautiful realm, torn away. Aragorn catches this symbolism as they enter Edoras.
The emotional state of Edoras
Upon entering Edoras the atmosphere immediately catches attention. There is not a smile on people`s faces, the color black prevails their attire. People are naturally distrusting of the newcomers, nevertheless, they remain in their places.
I would say they had given up on any kind of help or hope coming from the outside, but, more importantly, they seem not to fear any harm coming either, for all the harm that can be bestowed upon them, had reached them through the spell of Saruman. The King`s incapacity to govern his own lands has rendered his people numb, miserable and hopeless.
Gimli`s reaction is therefore appropriate when he says: “You`ll find more cheer in a graveyard.”
Among all this non-cheer, there stands Lady Éowyn, dressed in white, a mirage of beauty and innocence among the pain and ugliness of their everyday misery. Aragorn doesn`t believe his eyes, because, in his second glance, her image vanishes. As if she was never there. Want of hope gone as fast as it came. A wishful thought.
A cold welcome
Gandalf upon seeing the Captain of the King`s Guard sighs in relief. He may have found a friendly face in all of this yet. His relief is, however, short-lived.
I cannot allow you before Théoden King so armed, Gandalf Greyhame. By order of Gríma Wormtongue.Háma
As Háma utters these words, it would appear that he would rather not. He utters them formally. But as he reaches the second sentence, the name Gríma Wormtongue doesn`t slide easily through his lips. I reckon he doesn`t like the way that things turned out.
However, as he chose to adhere to the new rule, he must also enforce them. I don`t think Gríma is anyone`s favorite Edoras citizen. Moreover, I think the negativity felt in Edoras focuses primarily on him.
The surrender of weapons is one thing, but to force an “elderly” person to give up his walking aid is simply cruel. Gandalf played that card beautifully. Apart from the guards that enter the Hall of Meduseld with the Fellowship, there are also some unsavory characters moving at the same pace and staring at every move they make. Those might be more reckless guardians of Gríma Wormtongue`s.
Gríma in his usual consiglieri style provides the King with the information of Gandalf`s arrival, making it plain that he is not welcome.
Gríma: “Late is the hour in which this conjurer chooses to appear. Láthspell I name him. Ill news is an ill guest.”
Gandalf: “Be silent. Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm.”
As soon as Gandalf raises his stuff in front of Gríma, all his confidence simply vanishes. Gríma has taken to be a much more important figure than he ought to be. This shows as soon as he cracks in front of Gandalf.
The King`s Guard
He might be a mouthpiece for the King, but without King being able to do anything, a simple sharp argument is enough to break his high spirits. Of course, the staff is a big part of this intimidation. But even without it, Gandalf and the Three Hunters would be able to take him down.
And they do just that, as the sideline crew attacks them. Gandalf is able to walk his path to the King without any hindrance. Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn take care of everyone else in his way.
The interesting thing is, as they attack the newcomers, Gamling standing beside Háma goes to draw his sword and join them. But Háma himself stops him in his intention. He knew Gandalf and his friends were here to help them in some way although he didn`t know exactly how. However, any chance of coming out of this misery is gladly welcomed. Therefore every rebellion from his own men is halted.
In an attack, Gríma is less than useless. He not only cannot fight for himself but his King, whom he “catered to”, he abandons. A foot on his chest from a Dwarf is all it takes for terror and fear to take over.
Gandalf vs. Saruman
Too long have you sat in the Shadows.Gandalf
Gandalf utters this sentence with much sadness and pity in his eyes. He knows exactly what brought on this malice over Edoras and why King Théoden is incapacitated. He grieves for the King that once was, his old friend.
Gandalf: “I release you from the spell.”
Theoden: “You have no power here, Gandalf the Grey.”
All the compassion on Gandalf`s face is gone as Théoden laughs in his face for trying to break the spell. What his face expresses then are anger and spite.
One`s practiced ability or belief is something that builds confidence and self-esteem. Therefore, expressing the said ability or belief one wants to be taken seriously. However, if laughed at, the emotions of spite and anger surge to the surface. You want to make them see you as a serious contender and not something laughable.
If, however, your self-esteem is low or non-existent, then your reaction might be to bend your head and leave the room because shame would flood your body in an instant.
In this particular instance, Gandalf is there because of his abilities. He was sent back to Middle-Earth to finish his task. When he opens his grey robe and flashes all in white, the effect of the action takes center stage.
Gandalf: “I will draw you Saruman, as poison is drawn from a wound.”
Saruman: “If I go, Théoden dies.”
Gandalf: “You did not kill me, you will not kill him.”
Saruman: “Rohan is mine.”
Gandalf: “Be gone.”
The King’s transformation
With the final stroke of his staff, Saruman is overturned, lying on the floor of Orthanc bleeding from his eyes. King Théoden, on the other hand, starts his miraculous transformation. An incredible effort by the Weta workshop creatives, who managed to make this transition seamless.
As King Théoden`s eyes brighten, so does the beautiful smile of Éowyn welcome him back. She has been taking care of him through this whole ordeal with Saruman, never leaving his side. Now, that he is well again, it is only appropriate that he should see her face first.
Dark have been my dreams of late.Théoden
Kind Théoden takes his time adjusting to this new (or rather old) state of mind. He is still weak but rises from his throne, with all the people gathered there bowing their heads in reverence to their King.
Your finger would remember their own strength better, if they grasped your sword.Gandalf
The relationship between a man and his sword is almost a sacred one. In any battle situation, the sword is their defense, their shield. It is an extension of themselves. It represents them in the way the sword is forged and ornate. As it has been King Théoden`s chosen weapon through many battles, it is the one thing that could resuscitate his long lost strength.
And sure enough, it does. It is a monumental moment, him claiming once again Lordship over his own lands. Coming once more into his own after long days of darkness.
Once he feels his sword in his hand and remembers his own strength as King and Horse-Lord, his gaze turns immediately to Gríma. For he is now aware of the culprit. He blames Gríma for letting him wither away like that, for taking away all that he once was, and making him a vegetable, in essence. Although Gríma, is here only a messenger of evil, not the perpetrator himself, he has enforced the slow decay of the King.
The fact that King Théoden`s first response after such a long “absence” is anger, is not that surprising. His own feelings have been dormant for a long while. They were numbed in order for Saruman to take hold. After such a long time, feelings have a much more potent impact, as they otherwise would have had.
The body has to adjust to feeling them again. And with a rush of anger such as this, there is no form of control to stop them. Controlling one`s feelings is hard enough when in a normal state of mind. Théoden`s reaction, therefore, is quite understandable.
I`ve only ever served you, my lord. Send me not from your sight.Gríma
Gríma`s statement of serving him is not off the mark. He has only served King Théoden. The fact that it had been under the command and rule of Saruman to keep the King disabled, is another matter entirely. As much as he knows he is in the wrong here, trying to talk his way from certain banishment is unnecessary.
Enough blood has been spilled on his account.Aragorn
King`s rage comes to its highest peak as he prepares to strike Gríma with his sword. Aragorn holds him back. Théoden looks then at Aragorn, with an almost childlike expression of apology. He trusts Aragorn at this moment with his sanity, because the argument is a solid one.
Aragorn being a “good sport” offers a hand to Gríma, but gets spit on. Nevertheless, Gríma rides a horse out of Edoras, without any need for banishment.
All hail Théoden King!Man of Edoras
Everyone knees before the King or bow their heads to him. As Théoden looks around, he notices someone missing.
Where is Théodred? Where is my son?Théoden
Read on in my next post.
Featured image by Ana Segota.