From The Blog

Riddles in the Dark: Episode Eight

Another episode already? We couldn’t resist the CinemaCon controversy, so here’s another Riddles in the Dark!

In Episode 8 of the Mythgard Institute’s Riddles in the Dark podcast, Prof. Corey Olsen and Dave Kale declare an emergency CinemaCon meeting to debate the controversy stoked by the 10 minute Hobbit preview unveiled at CinemaCon April 15-18 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas — and we’re not talking about 48fps, either!  No, they are focused on those most terrible servants of Sauron, the Nine Ringwraiths, and the very strong possibility that they will play some unanticipated role in the upcoming Hobbit films!  Prof. Olsen and Dave pore over the hints and evidence revealed in the CinemaCon footage and consider all the possibilities, from the intriguing to the horrible to the hilarious.  They wrap up by predicting what the Nazgul’s main role in the story will — just in time for Prof. Olsen to rush off to class!

Prediction: What will be the MAIN role of the Nazgûl in the Hobbit films?

A. They are headed to Mordor: preparing for Sauron’s relocation to his old stomping grounds.
B. They are focused on Erebor: aiding Smaug, pursuing the Company, joining the Battle of Five Armies, etc.
C. They are focused on Dol Guldur: opposing the White Council, preparing for an offensive in South Mirkwood, etc.
D. They are seeking for the Ring: dredging the river near Gladden Fields, investigating rumors of the heirs of Isildur, etc.

Before you listen, we suggest you read Quickbeam’s excellent write-up on the footage over at

Download: .mp3 (right click and choose “Save As…” to download)



  1. Michael Lucero May 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    One of the things that really bothers me about this is the idea that Men sealed the Ringwraiths in these tombs. If it were elves, or wizards, then I could reluctantly, begrudgingly accept it. But the idea that men have enough magical power or sorcery to defeat the Nazgul seems to me a ludicrous idea. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s any textual suggestion that Men have anything like magic or spells. And the reports specifically said that men bound them in these tombs using powerful spells or magic.

  2. Brent Sprinkle (sprinks) May 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Regarding this episodes predictions, I don’t think it will be option A (setting up in Mordor for Sauron’s return) because of the very fact that was stated in the podcast. It is hard to speculate and come up with a concrete way to show this in the film. What will they be doing in Mordor? Laying brick? Laying out a red carpet that leads to his tower? This seems to be a hard option to depict on film. Option B (them being focused on Erebor and the Battle of Five Armies) seems likely. There is a reference to a cloud of bats that attack them in the battle. Maybe they will replace this with the Ringwraiths on the Fell Beasts or something. But, when compared to option C (the Ringwraiths focus in Dol Guldur) it pales. I am going with option C because this would be a good enemy for the White Council if indeed we get to see the “avengers” or an army attacking Sauron in Dol Guldur. We don’t really know what is at the fortress in Southern Mirkwood other than pits where Thrain is kept and Sauron. Since we don’t know what form Sauron has while abiding there we can’t really know how much of a threat he actually is. Would he come out and fight them? It would be anti-climatic to be building up to this conflict between the White Council and Sauron only to see Sauron run with his tail between his legs because all that’s there are he and a few Orcs. The Ringwraiths would give him more power and strength at his fortress and also is a good concrete way in showing him gaining power. Because no, we are not going to have a “Necrometer”. Option D is completely ridiculous. They are not going to be searching for the ring in the Anduin with their swimmies on in inner tubes. Given that they are afraid of fire and water that isn’t consistent with Tolkien’s world.
    The Ringwraiths were a very iconic villain in LOTR and believe it is a good way to link the two movies, however far from the book they stray for non-Tolkien fans. While I cringe at the thought of the Ringwraiths being included in the movie, I trust in PJ to not go to the extreme.

    I have also thought of the possibility that the Ringwraiths will not be in the movie at all, but that the White Council will only discuss them and their tombs. It seems hard to justify the reason for making up the tombs part if they will not appear in the movie except for the fact of demonstrating that Sauron is growing in power and was able to break the binding spells on their tombs. They be linking the two fillms together in this more subtle way leaving the viewer to say “Oh, so that’s where they came from and why they show up in LOTR.” It’s hard to tell how PJ will do this seeing that we have no literature to base it off of since this is a novel idea.

  3. Michael Lucero May 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    I think it’s very easy to answer the question of how they would show option A in the film. Scenes of Ringwraiths presiding over the rebuilding of the Dark Tower, the forging of new orc arms, etc., like the similar scenes from Fellowship at Isengard.

    “While I cringe at the thought of the Ringwraiths being included in the movie, I trust in PJ to not go to the extreme.” Really? I don’t. Not at all. He went to the extreme in basically reinventing Faramir from whole cloth in The Two Towers, without a shred of reference to his character as Tolkien wrote him. The whole point of Faramir was how different he was from his brother, but Jackson decided to just make him Boromir 2.0 in terms of his lust for the Ring and his obsession with pleasing his father.

  4. Brent Sprinkle (sprinks) May 4, 2012 at 12:19 am #

    What I meant by trusting in PJ is that I don’t believe he would go as far as having Ringwraiths throughout the whole movie like in Dol Guldur and the Battle of Five Armies plus trying to hinder Bilbo and the dwarves all at the same time. I don’t think the Ringwraiths will “divide and conquer” as Corey put it in the podcast.

  5. Ali from Italy May 4, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    I going with option C..but as the professor said that Sauron may divide the ring wraith into groups and pairs and have them do different stuff..Here is how i think PJ will do..He will have Sauron send Witch King to Minas Morgul and Mordor to prepare for his arrival..He will then send two ring wraiths in search of the ring..two to the dwarfs in their i believe i read in the lord of the rings where at council of elrond Balin says something about the ring wraiths coming to them with an invitation..i dont know if that fits with the time lines though..and the other three ring wraiths he would use for the defence/offence attack against White Council..

    In the end i just wanted to say that i love hearing your podcast..your knowledge of tolkiens work just amazes me! and Dave is an excellent co host in this podcast and the secrets of the hobbit podcast. keep up the good work and God Speed!

  6. Andrew Higgins May 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Prof Olsen and Dave

    These have been brilliant podcasts which I have really enjoyed. I have “lurked” till now but this scenario is really doing my head in and your podcast and also the sentence mentioned in Quest for Erebor (which I will re-read this weekend along with Smith of Wooten Major for Mythgard) has helped settle this s enviro in my head (the Nazgul riding Smaug though will remain in my nightmares – till the dragons come indeed!). guess I would vote for the C scenario BUT can I point outThe something. The Nazgul are let out of the tomb and are hunting for the Ring Woukd they not detect that Blbo HAS the Ring (even though at this point in The Hobbit, the book, the Ring is not that ring – so how can the Nazgul for searching for a ring that does not yer exist. And if it is that Ring then would not the combined force of the Nazgul detect Bilbo (the Ring calls them) and bring him to Necromancer/Sauron and the game is over! (or are there other forces at work). This it is a tricky business bringing in the Nazgul when no one lows what Bilbos ring is – but if it is the Ring then the Nazgul would be drawn to it. Very confusing but if they do this it will be interesting to see how the retcon it to coincide with Lord of the Rings.

    Best Andy

  7. Bryan May 6, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Reading Quickbeam’s writeup, and on the topic of horrifying notions, let me quote this part of the writeup:

    > This showed Sir Christopher Lee in front of greenscreen, looking at the table where Gandalf has just placed a Morgul blade. Urgent discussion ensues about the nature of the weapon, and a luminous Cate Blanchett gets the lion’s share of the expository dialogue. She explains how the Men of the North once battled against the Witch-King of Angmar, and succeeded in burying him in a spell-protected crypt, “so dark and deeply buried it would never see light again.” Gandalf raises his eyebrows as if to say, “It’s right here, so never say never.” Hugo Weaving provides the deep-voiced “But that’s impossible!” incredulity of the scene while the faintest flicker of wickedness passes across Saruman’s face.

    Specifically, the last bit of that last sentence.

    So now I’m wondering if they might have *Saruman* free the Ringwraiths, part of setting up his fall. That “faintest flicker of wickedness” could be him thinking “dark and deeply buried? Yeah, it was. Heheheh…”

    Which makes me cringe at first thought, although I haven’t thought all the way through the implications.

  8. Brandon Marshall Young May 11, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    Since comments are unavailable for the “emergency” Episode, and not too much has been said of Radagast the Brown, I will comment here, since I know the comment will be read.

    There was little discussion in the latest episode regarding Radagast the Brown, as noted above. Prof. Olsen, said he could (and I pray he does) do a whole show JUST on the mysterious wizard.

    During the talk with Dave, Corey mentioned we know very little of Radagast besides the fact that he is a friend of birds and animals. The movie has apparently let us think he is also a sleigh master only with bunnies, which I know will excite a very special Tolkien fan. That aside, what DO we know? DO we know more? The answer is YES!

    I take for my evidence Lord of the Rings (the book), AND, as has been now added to the Cannon, the game War in the North.

    First, Exhibit A: LOTR: Does not Saruman judge Radagast to be a fool? And it is wondered whether or not he was traitorous, as a lure for Gandalf? Now, this evidence begs the question: why would Saruman, though corrupted by Sauron and his quest for occult knowledge for power but an extremely KNOWLEDGEABLE powerful wizard in his own right, call Radagast a fool? We must take this as evidence too, albeit from Saruman and his corrupted aesthetics.

    Exhibit B: War in the North:
    This game stems from one sentence in LOTR but is very consistent in its “filling in the gaps,” although perhaps not with Dwarves, but let’s put that aside for now. In this game, you travel to Mirkwood where we know the Necromancer corrupted even the squirrels of that forest during his time there.

    As one travels with the Fellowship (an Elf-Maiden LoreMaster, Gimli’s cousin and a Ranger) you discover a giant Shelob-like spider has woven poor Radagast and spun him into a trance. After slaying this demon Spider, you rescue Radagast who is still alive though under a trance. He doesn’t remember anything until you give him his lost staff. And when he holds it, it’s like a Theoden (yes! “add to dictionary!”) moment; he remembers who he is, and what happened.

    The recovered Radagast is immediately barraged by the fellowship with questions about Againdour (spelling off, I know) the Super Evil Numeanorean King who is half wraith, half magician, very tall. (SPOILER ALERT: You fight and defeat him in the end.)

    Now, how Radagast answers questions seems very ambiguous at best. At one point, a sparrow flies to his finger. and he talks to it, and, as comic relief says “Now you know!” However, he is compelled to show what he knows. So, (SPOILERS) in a very cool Galadriel-ish moment, brings the Fellowship to a pond where they see what the little bird saw (SPOLIER) which is Againdour’s making of a pact with the dragon to side with him and Sauron, his Master. Bird flies away, the Fellowship now knows they need to go to Urgost’s (the dragon’s) Lair.

    What I gathered from these two or three pieces of evidence is this: First, Radagast maybe the most eccentric of the Astari (we don’t know) but not in a bad way. He’s almost like Merlin if he’d remained in the Wild. Saruman would think him foolish because his knowledge is a very innocent one, a trusting one, like the Deer in Japan that have never had contact with humans and are frightened easily and may speak oddly and have Nothingness as a goal. This would be foolish to Saruman. So this whole “Is Radagast a fool?” question is another thing we know about Radagast.

    As a silly, Primary World example, Hitler would have called Emerson or Thoreau a fool for retreating, turning the cheek, not taking sides, not using your “Will to Power” and being an Ubermench; a Nietzschean “Superman.” But I suspect God, or Illuvatar would have a different view.

    Anyway, that’s it. Not only is he Brown and friends with animals, he also represents pacifism, non-violent resistance, following his bliss, generally being innocent and indifferent ALMOST like Ents and Nature, though even Nature can be independently Evil, think Radagast is indifferently good. He’s very fragile and probably retreats. And that raises the question of non-violent resistance or indifference vs. taking a side for Good (or Evil) in Tolkien, and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The literary treatment Radagast gets by Tolkien leads me to think Tolkien thinks discernment of Good and Evil and, as Sam says, “That there is some good in the world and it’s worth fighting for” (Movie, Osgilliath scene?)

    Perhaps this mysterious Wizard will be explored more in the next Episode and I would like to see that.

    Sincerely Yours,

  9. Bre May 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Before the Cinemacon news, I had assumed they weren’t going to make an appearance in the the films at all.

    I feel like they’d be too big of a distraction, and their presence would make too big of a deal out of the ring, which, while an important link to the trilogy, needs to be downplayed in order to focus on the story at hand. Having the Nazgul involved in other events, like the business with Smaug would create too many problems from a writing perspective (it would throw off the already present balance of powers), so I’m going to have to go with A.

  10. Robagast the Green May 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Secrete option number Q

    O.K. horrifying thought. What if the reason why Thorin is so young is because he has a ring of power and a not so sub plot of the movie will be that the Necromancer is using Azog/Bolg (and perhaps a Nazgul or two) throughout the movie to try and get Thorin’s ring because Sauron believes that Thorin’s ring is the One ring. Azog will get the ring from Thorin at the battle of five armies, give it to a messenger who brings it to the Necromancer who kills the messenger when he realizes that this is not the one ring. He is so mad in fact that it causes him to burst into a huge eye of fire.

    Just a horrifying thought.



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