A flood of trailers, interviews and TV spots have raised all sorts of questions over exactly how events will pan out across The Desolation of Smaug. Here, Captain Salt takes a long hard look at the implications for character development among our beardy friends who are so keen to reclaim their heritage, and the lost treasures of Erebor.
Needless to say, lots of speculation and lots of potential movie spoilers. If you’re avoiding these, look away now!
There, and then what? The Dwarves’ development in The Desolation of Smaug (and into There and Back Again)
by Captain Salt
When The Desolation of Smaug comes out next month it will greatly expand the cast of The Hobbit, just as The Two Towers did for the original trilogy in 2002. Yet despite an influx of Wood-elves, Lake-men, and so on, the core company at the center of the trilogy’s narrative remains that of Thorin Oakenshield. While it remains to be seen just how the Dwarves will develop in films two and three, there have been sufficient hints (especially as of late), that can underpin speculation.
It seems that Thorin’s growing madness will be the thrust of the Dwarf drama in The Desolation of Smaug, with the once-and-future King falling to dragon-sickness just as Elrond had feared in the recent An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition. Balin’s comment “I fear for you”, (seemingly aimed at Thorin, and possibly from the same scene as his stern remark: “His name is Bilbo.”), and the would-be King Under the Mountain’s remark that his company will “burn together” would seem to confirm that Thorin is slipping into fanaticism as The Desolation of Smaug progresses (a deteriorating state which according to the recent Empire article is spurred on by the hallucinogenic spores on the air in Mirkwood Forest).
Balin, in particular, seems most concerned about this. But how will the others react? The company still has to trust Thorin enough to follow him into war as Richard Armitage has mentioned that the Dwarves emerge from Erebor wearing elaborate armor for the third film’s Battle of the Five Armies:
“It’s bloody heavy!…But it’s absolutely beautiful to look at. Every time they bring something new out everyone gasps. The armor that the dwarves emerge from the mountain wearing at the end of the film will be the armor of all armor.”
Will there be a rift amongst the Dwarves, and if so, how will it be mended? And how does Dwalin, Thorin’s lieutenant and ostensibly brother figure, react to his elder brother questioning Thorin’s leadership? Both Balin and Thorin are Dwalin’s blood, so with which one will he side?
The Company split at Lake-town
Another pertinent question is, just how and why would Thorin leave his nephews, who are closer to being his sons, and heirs behind? Especially as it seems Kili is in danger of dying after taking an “orc wound” that Bilbo notices in Bard’s boat, a wound which Kili received during the barrel escape and may have been taken while protecting Thorin. Does Kili succumb here to the enemy’s poison darts as Faramir does in the Return of the King novel?
Fili stays behind as well (confirmed by Dean O’Gorman in a recent article), as does the company’s “apothecary”, Oin. As John Callen says in the first of WETA’s guides to An Unexpected Journey:
“Oin’s purpose and indeed his priorities become evident when we get deeper into the story and he has to make a choice between the Quest and his calling. It affirms his role in the group as a healer, and is done in a way that isn’t soppy, but minutes later he’s back in the fray and giving it all he’s got.”
Additionally, it seems that Bofur stays behind as well. Of course, these four will at some time make their way up Erebor to rejoin the rest of the company, something hinted at in a feature on Dean O’Gorman:
“[Dean] O’Gorman and fellow dwarf actors James Nesbitt, John Callen and Aidan Turner were dropped off on a mountain in New Zealand’s South Island. The four actors, in full costume, made their way up a hill while second-unit director Andy Serkis filmed them from a circling helicopter. It was then, O’Gorman said, that the actors began humming the theme from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films.”
So, it seems that Kili, Fili, Oin, and Bofur stay behind in Lake-town after Kili is injured while the others press on. But what would drive Bofur to allow Bifur and Bombur to continue on without him? And why would Gloin leave Oin behind (especially as Peter Hambleton in the An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition features stresses that Gloin realizes his brother’s importance as the company’s soothsayer and strives to protect him)?
Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Gloin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifer and Bombur are accounted for in footage from the end of The Desolation of Smaug, so they must continue on with Thorin.
Does leaving the injured Kili behind fuel the doubts of the other dwarves — and particularly those of Balin? At this point, Thorin’s drive and fixation on reaching the mountain might be impairing his judgement and sense of compassion — something hinted at in An Unexpected Journey. Richard Armitage does specify that Kili is “heroic” and he and Aidan Turner share at least one emotional scene in later in the story. Is this where they’re separated, or perhaps when they’re reunited? And do Kili, and in particular Fili, who according to O’Gorman, “keenly feels Thorin’s expectations”, side with Thorin or Balin as tensions rise between them?