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Riddles in the Dark Digest 9: Orcs, the Brown Wizard, and Thror

Orcs, Wizards, and barking dogs on Riddles in the Dark Digest 9

In Riddles in the Dark Digest 9 (covering RITD episodes 16 and 17), Dave and Trish talk about Goblins, Orcs (and Zomborcs), and Radagast, but not before Trish voices a bit of frustration about how the movie seems to be shaping up (and Dave talks her off the ledge). Among other additional things, the new toy figures of Bolg and the “Goblin King” are remarked upon.

Also, a short audio collage of Comic-Con interview excerpts with Richard Armitage is included at the end of the episode for your consideration. The collage gives rise to the conundrum for this episode.

Conundrum 13: Will Thror’s death at Azog’s hands be moved to the great battle between the Dwarves and Orcs?

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

PRODUCTION NOTE: This particular episode was a post-production challenge. Dave’s Skype froze up numerous times, and though most of the glitches were removed, there is still at least one spot where the action is interrupted as Trish and Dave flail to get reconnected. Plus there might be some abrupt shifts in conversation that arose from deleting off-topic technical issues. As a further frustration, Trish’s brand new mic/headset was not working (it has now been replaced), so she was being picked up (unknowingly) by her computer’s mic…which also picked up annoying keystroke sounds and, at one point, a dog barking (even though she thought she was muting herself).  So listening to this digest episode may be an adventure of its own!

  1. Adam October 31, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    I think the death of Azog at ‘the big dwarf and goblin battle’ is pretty certain, in a way as far as we know, its maintaining the balance of the previous sequence of revenge via executions, but shufting them up one.

    Thror at Moria during set up – Azog at Azanulbizar – Bolg and Thorin at 5 armies

    Thror at Azanulbizar – Azog during the films? – Bolg and Thorin at 5 armies

    I actually think this is the ‘best’ way they can conflate it, ideally if Azog dies at ‘Azanulbizar Mk II’ as well it will be great, but I suspect they will delay his death in some way, shape, or form, be it by him not dying, or being ‘wounded/killed’ to ‘reappear’ in the films.

    I can for example imagine seeing him ‘cut down’ by Dain in the fight, but in the confusion his body guard coming in and saving him and dragging him into Moria, of perhaps if this happens in the Moria gate, then fire and shadow coming forth, perhaps as well, (I doubt we will see the balrog, just fire and stuff) and the dwarves retreating back out of the gate. I believe this fits with some of the images and shot from the production video 8 where Thorin is clearly younger, and seen around dwarf warriors/ranks and some big dwarf with a hammer, and some kind of Dwarven architecture.

    These shots could also be Erebor I grant, but they would also fit the above idea pretty easily.

    From memory, the appendices says something along the lines of the dwarves looking into Moria, but they could sense the evil still there, and the majority of the dwarves just came for revenge and they have had it now and want to return home and not recapture Moria. So this could be rolled up into single battle at the gate in some fashion.

    The simplicity of this is that they have a battle at the Gate, which leaves Thror dead, Azog ‘presumed killed’ and the dwarves unable to reenter Moria because of the Balrog in a single fairly quick action sequence.

    What the motivation for the battle is now I don’t know? Perhaps as Dave suggests its just a grudge match now.

  2. David C October 31, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    *Possible spoiler?* I am pretty sure that Saruman will be a good guy through out the hobbit movies. I base that on an interview with Christopjer Lee I found a while back on Youtube in which he says “I am happy to say that I have done the two hobbit films, done my bits and pieces,… when he IS a good man”.

    This quote may sound a little odd taken out of context, here is the full video:

  3. Trish October 31, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Very interesting David, thanks for sharing that. This makes me wonder if we will even see a hint of Saruman starting to go bad…seems like there should be a least a little something so that when we seem in FoTR it makes sense. Perhaps it will be something as simple as him looking into the palantir for the first time, innocently and with “good” in his heart.

  4. Jacob October 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    I’m with you Trish, even though I’m excited about the film it seems the main storyline is getting buried under all the white council/dol guldor side story. There hasn’t really been two words spoken about Smaug and he is the main antagonist in the book.

    Maybe they could conflate the sack of Erebor and azanulbizar. Smaug could bring an army of orcs with him to sack Erebor and thats how Azog could be introduced in the movie. It would roll both the Smaug and Azog plots into one and would simplify the story instead of doing the battle of azanulbizar as a seperate entity. Then there could be some sort of orc discussion (possibly not in the first movie) about Smaug running them out after the battle and how they want to take erebor for themselves.

    Also there is a problem with the archive of episodes. The link stops at digest episode 7 and ritd ep 16 & 17 are not showing, so as more episodes get posted on the main page older ones will drop off and become inaccesible. (unless its just on my end)

    Mythmoot sounds like so much fun.

  5. Michael Lucero November 1, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    I have to strenuously object to something Dave said in this episode, and that is that Thorin as written in The Hobbit is not an interesting character. I have a feeling Professor Olsen would disagree as well, not only with this opinion of the character but of this whole way of reading the books with information funnelled in from LoTR and Unfinished Tales in order to make him more interesting in the reader’s mind. Not that there’s anything wrong with making the reading experience a richer experience because of what we know from these works; but it seems that what Dave was saying isn’t that he finds the Thorin of The Hobbit more interesting because of what else he knows about him, but rather that he finds the Thorin of The Hobbit not very interesting at all, and has to borrow this extra information to try to mentally make him interesting in the first place. This may seem like a minor distinction, but to me it’s a very big one. It’s the difference between making an already good-tasting meal better by adding a few extra spices here and there to enhance its already existing flavor; and having to add extra ingredients to a meal that is at first mostly bland, unappealing, and tasteless, and deriving all one’s enjoyment of the meal from those added ingredients. So I guess I’m criticizing not only this way of reading The Hobbit, but also the view that Thorin isn’t that interesting as Tolkien writes him in The Hobbit.

    As for conflation and providing more simplistic explanations for things… This isn’t as big of a criticism as the last, but I do think it’s worth mentioning. I think both Trish and Dave were discussing it as though it were an entirely valid and acceptable thing to do in adapting films. To an extent things like this have to happen, I suppose, but it’s always a necessary evil, and never a necessary good. It never ends up improving or enrichening the story, and always ends up impoverishing it. People like simple explanations for things too much already (for an example of how this simplifying tendency contributes to historical ignorance, at the very least, see here:, and one thing books do is to offset this tendency; while, if the assumptions of Peter Jackson and all those who see this method of adaptation as valid are true, then one of the things films do is to exacerbate and exaggerate this human tendency. I like a good movie as much as anyone, but it is possible to have films that expand people’s mental perception and/or comprehension rather than contract it; or at the very least, not alter it at all.

    I hope I’m not being understood as not having enjoyed this episode, which I did very much. Just trying to provide a more critical viewpoint that I haven’t so far heard voiced.

  6. Jordan November 1, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    About the dwarves singing
    In your discussion of the armitage quotes you caught a reference he made to the dwarves singing other songs besides the “misty mountains” song. I recently viewed the production videos and caught what, I think, the other song they sing will be: it is the “man in the moon” song that frodo sings in tfotr. You can hear bombur practicing this song in one of the production videos (I can’t remember which one at the moment). If this raises the question of when the song would appear, I think the most appropriate time would be at the unexpected party. The song could serve as a kind of replacement for the dish cleaning song that appears in the book. Any thoughts on this possibility? Maybe you guys will address songs in a later riddles episode and I can bring this topic up again at that time. Thanks!

  7. Trish November 1, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Michael…no misunderstanding at all! The fact that you took the time to write a well-thought-out set of observations points to your enjoyment of the episode. I mean, this IS under the umbrella of the Mythgard Institute….sparking considered conversation and accommodating differing points of view is part of the critical literary experience!

    Interesting input re: Thorin. In my discussion group that is part of Corey’s Story of The Hobbit course this semester, the majority of people didn’t just find Thorin (of the book) uninteresting–they cordially disliked him!!! Personally, I find him something of a negative character for most of the book…he gets more interesting toward the end, but mainly because the dragon sickness increase some of the less attractive aspects of his character. I suspect that of all the characters of the book, Thorin is the one that there is the most widely divergent opinion about.

    The second half of your note interests me greatly, because my big paper this semester is tracking the story’s evolution from spoken tale to book to film. I’ve been researching film adapation of novels, and find the advice from experts to wanna-be script writers pretty dismal. This is by no means a valid reference for my paper, nor does it have a lot of weight credibility-wise, but my eyebrows raised when I read this eHow article (, particularly items 13-16. Another article I read (can’t put my finger on it at the moment) talks about the need to cut characters out of the novel, which made me cringe.

    From what I’m seeing so far, I don’t know that Jackson is simplifying the story. If anything, by adding in links to LoTR, he’s making it more complex–at least as far as the environment in which the story takes place. What I’ve seen so far, though, gives me the impression that he is “flattening” the story by accommodating certain movie tropes that audiences will readily recognize and that will appeal across multiple demographics (Disney did much the same with the game-changer called “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in the 1930s). Today I’m feeling optimistic, and hope that he will at least retain the essential core of the story in spite of all the other stuff being thrown in.

  8. Trish November 1, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Jordan, Thanks for mentioning this bit of the Armitage collage. I had intended to say something about this, because I found it very interesting. And your forensics make it even more interesting–how fun to see them sing the “man in the moon” song!!!

    I have a “Song and Poems” topic on the RITD episode list…I’ll see if I can get Corey and Dave thinking in that direction…

  9. eoghan November 2, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    i was there, Christopher lee is a legend, and i was thinking the same thing, great spot!

  10. Halstein November 2, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Hi. Have been following this great series, but have not had time to make any comments until now. So this will be more general, rather than very specific to digest #9.

    First I will comment on the general theme of changes made Peter Jackson et. al. I don’t think they automatically make the film worse. Sometimes showing a persons actions, might function as well as dialogue on film. And also if we get some great acting, and some stunning scenery, I can live with some unnecessary changes.

    As to the split into three, instead of two movies, I’m a bit skeptical. After all, Jackson’s “King Kong” was an hour to long in my opinion. Hope we don’t get the same here. They have to put in a lot more, than only “The Hobbit”.

    I might be too optimistic, hoping that Jackson is making three films partly because he enjoy working with Tolkien’s stuff, and not only out of greed.

    To get more in-line with the current digest, I hope Radagast isn’t cast as some sort of villain. It would be more acceptable to have him as a good guy. I don’t think Sauron would fool him, but if Sarumann is already gone bad, he might use Radagast.

    As Dwarf-fan, I hope the Dwarfs get a chance to shine in this movies. Not entirely happy with how they were portrayed in the LotR movies.

    Lastly I wonder if you have to have a Facebook-account to participate in the riddles game. I don’t have one, and when I read their privacy policy (when invited a couple of years ago), I swore a Fëanor-like oat, to be found dead before I was found on fb.

  11. Trish November 2, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Welcome to the conversation Halstein!

    Regarding the riddles game, let’s do this: At the end of this round’s game (which will be in a couple of episodes, I believe), send me your list of answers to all the riddles and conundra (and your name, laugh!) to me at I’ll get them to Stephen, who is the keeper of the “riddle roll” for the listeners.

  12. Halstein November 4, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Thanks, I’ll do that. Also I forgot to suggest that the third film should be renamed to “The battle of the Bolg”, to boost sale of Bolg-figurines.

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