A barren wasteland, ashy, grey and uninviting with its Black Gate sealing it off from the rest of Middle-Earth. The last time we saw Mordor’s Gate was with Sam, Frodo, and Gollum. Although unwelcoming, Frodo’s desire to accomplish his mission by entering said land overcame his instinctive fear of this place. As the Gate closed on him, there was a certain sense of this being his last chance of entering Mordor.
Therefore, the Gate almost seemed to present hope in one fleeting moment. Frodo was willing and ready to enter, to do what he can to save the Shire and the rest of Middle-Earth. However, the Black Gate is no longer a path to quest accomplishment. It is the enemy’s threshold, one that has shown its destructive power just a couple of days ago. Its mere presence emanates malevolence.
At the Black Gate
Aragorn and his troops arrive at the Gate. With all its evil power proven, one would think Sauron would have his army at the doors already rearing to exit. But there is no one in sight. The entrance to the most malicious place in MIddle-Earth appears deserted.
Where are they?Pippin
Éomer, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli ride their horses towards the Black Gate. Although we the audience know the place is far from being deserted, we also know why. The Eye is focusing on Frodo having located him on his land. Aragorn and his troops are unaware of this development.
If they were only there to secure their own freedom, they would have perhaps left this place as soon as possible. However, given the danger their friends find themselves in, their diversion of Sauron is of great importance.
Frodo has not regained himself and is still lying on the ground.
A sight of horror
Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth! Let justice be done upon him!Aragorn
The Black Gate creaks open. Upon a dark horse, there sits a single rider. Upon seeing him, the company retreat a couple of feet backward. Their behavior is not a strange one, given the character that now approaches them. The rider is clothed in black, fully armored with a helmet that covers his entire face, leaving only his mouth free to communicate.
The mouth is something out of a horror film. His teeth are large and pointy, his lips are cracked with wounds opening wide as he smiles grotesquely. As words leave his lips so does black blood flood his mouth as if to hydrate it. The black blood covers his teeth in a way that it leaves a disgusted look on the company’s face.
Presentation of proof
Mouth of Sauron: “My master, Sauron the Great, bids thee welcome. Is there any in this route with the authority to treat with me?”
Gandalf: “We do not come to treat with Sauron, faithless and accursed. Tell your master this: The armies of Mordor must disband. He is to depart these lands, never to return.”
Mouth of Sauron: “Old Greybeard. I have a token I was bidden to show thee.”
Gandalf gets right to the point. The message for his master is simple, he must leave Mordor and let the rest of Middle-Earth be at peace. Sauron’s representative, however, has another point to make. He presents Frodo’s mithril vest, subsequently throwing it to Gandalf.
As the vest is presented to the company, a wave of sadness strikes at everyone present. The older more experienced warriors let their eyes betray their composure. Merry and Pippin, however, express their feelings verbally. Gandalf silences them in an attempt to appear as unhurt as possible. If they all were to show just how devastating it is to see that Mithril vest now in the hands of the enemy, their entire trip would have been for nothing.
They would not have been able to restrain themselves and grief and agony would take hold. They need to stay strong not just to not appear weak in front of their enemy, but because if they are to strike and attack what lies beyond the Black Gate, they need to stay in control of their emotions. There is always a time to grieve, but this is not that moment. There still might be a way of conquering the enemy even if Frodo and Sam were dead.
The Halfling was dear to thee, I see. Know that he suffered greatly at the hands of his host. Who would’ve thought one so small could endure so much pain? And he did, Gandalf. He did.Mouth of Sauron
As the Mouth of Sauron sadistically explains what Frodo endured, Gandalf’s eyes fill with tears. There is no point in holding them back anymore. He had sent a dear friend of his to his death. All the guilt he felt for allowing Frodo to join the quest has now turned into grief over his apparent death. And truthfully, nothing else was expected to happen. The wisest of the Council knew what fate awaited Frodo if he entered Mordor, and now it is fulfilled. The Hobbit is gone.
Death by decapitation
With Gandalf and the rest of the company grieving, Aragorn takes it upon himself to approach this character further. While the Mouth of Sauron laughs wickedly, Aragorn rides casually around to his side.
And who is this? Isildur’s heir? It takes more to make a king than a broken Elvish blade.Mouth of Sauron
And those were his last words. With a quick, hard slice of Andúril, Aragorn cuts the Mouth of Sauron’s head off in one fell swoop. Everyone in his company is taken aback by this sudden act of violence.
Gimli: “I guess that concludes negotiations.”
Aragorn: “I do not believe it. I will not.”
Aragorn does not believe this messenger’s message. They have gone through a lot to be discouraged now. There is no reason to trust him until proven otherwise. Therefore, there is no place for tears yet. Not until they have given their all for Frodo. And anyway, if Sauron already had the Ring, he would have not sent his representative to negotiate. He would never negotiate. He would have begun overtaking Middle-Earth instead of wasting time discussing some Hobbit’s fate.
The fact that the Mouth of Sauron tries to invoke sadness through an explanation of Frodo’s death, gives a hint to it not being true. He is trying to convince Gandalf of the torture Frodo endured but goes about it in a way that is not believable. The evidence proves nothing.
The Mouth of Sauron wanted to inflict pain upon those who loved Frodo, and this he achieved. However, to convince someone of Frodo’s death by producing the vest he was wearing does not make it credible. He has presented himself as superior to all, whilst simultaneously being afraid of them. There is no doubt of Sauron’s fear of Aragorn. He had avoided him for a reason. And this charade with his representative only enhances that fear.
If one is powerful one need not convince others of it or exude arrogance and sadism to prove one’s point. The only reason Sauron would do that is to exert dominance over the company, which hasn’t worked very well, seeing as how the head of his representative is missing.
Black Gate opens
With Aragorn’s action, the Eye of Sauron turns away from Frodo and searches for the culprit to the beheading. The Black Gate creaks open again revealing an army of marching Orcs. The Eye has found Aragorn and is now focusing on him.
Pull back! Pull back!Aragorn
Aragorn and his company return to join their troops.
Back on the plains of Gorgoroth, with the Eye of Sauron now on Aragorn, Sam reaches Frodo, helping him stand and move on.
It’s gone, Mister Frodo. The light’s passed on, away towards the North. Something’s drawn its gaze.Sam
The diversion has worked, the Eye does not follow them anymore. They are safe to continue their journey towards Orodrúin. They don’t know what drew the Eye away from them, but they are grateful nonetheless.
Aragorn’s army prepares for an attack. Read on in my next post.