From The Blog

Riddles in the Dark 2.05: In Thranduil’s Hall

Time to visit the Elven King’s dungeons and climb into a barrel on Riddles in the Dark!

In this episode, Tolkien Professor Corey Olsen, Trish Lambert, and Dave Kale mull over how the Hall of the Elven King and the barrel escape will be portrayed in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

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

Riddle: How is the escape by barrel arranged?

A.  By Bilbo, “alone and unaided.”  (Book answer)

B.  In co-operation with at least one dwarvish collaborator.

C.  With the knowing consent or assistance of at least one Elven sympathizer.

D.  With the help of magical intervention from some outside (i.e. non-Ring) source, such as Gandalf, Radagast, Galadriel, or similar. (The second-phase manuscript Plot Notes A answer!)


Many thanks to the Lonely Mountain Band for allowing our use of their wonderful music to accompany the episodes. Season 2 sees excerpts from their new album “Songs of the Dwarves.” Intro: Battle of Azanulbizar; Outro: The Sevenfold Meeting.

  1. Murray April 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    I thought Corey’s argument compelling, but I vote C (no sucking up this time), with it probably being Tauriel, who turns more of a deliberate blind eye than actively helps.

    On a couple of other items: what chance is there that Bilbo will be shown going in and out of the caves via the main gate? Or will that be eliminated? If it is shown, perhaps the passage of the few weeks could be shown by leaves in the woods turning…

    Regarding alcohol’s effects on the elves, I agree PJ boxed himself in a bit with that silly drinking scene (which wasn’t in the theater version, as I recall). That said, might it be that it is Legolas’ status as a Prince that lessens its affect on him? Remember the comment in the book about the wine being intended for the tables of the King (and, presumably, his son), and not for butlers and jailers.

  2. Feorhund April 3, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    I find it fascinating that Prof. Olsen remembers Thranduil “kneeling” before Thror in the film. He doesn’t do that at all! He tilts his head down and to the left in a half nod. Hardly a posture of fealty. I think the use of “homage” was unfortunate, but I don’t know if they even meant to imply what it would actually mean to us. I think they were simply going for one king recognizing another’s vast power. I think they did this to play up the “Return of The King” aspect to Thorin’s return as “King Under the Mountain”. I’m very interested to see how they handle the legends and songs that the people of Lake Town have formed around the King’s return.

    I’m assuming this was recorded before the sneak peak since the idea of the differences between groups of elves was addressed by Jackson (I’m hoping for an episode covering the special soon. That goes for Fr. Roderick’s podcast too). We also got a little bit more on Legolas and Tauriel.
    It’s interesting to note that in the behind the scenes blogs, and in the new preview, we see Legolas wearing and using Orcrist!

    I have to disagree somewhat with the idea that the LOTR films didn’t distinguish between the groups of elves. I always thought Legolas seemed visually “lower” than the Rivendell elves; and the Lothlórien elves were clearly different (more ethereal) than any other elves. Even Legolas seems in awe of them (as he does most things in the films: “Death? What’s that?!”). My brother never read the books, yet he had the same impression.

  3. Feorhund April 3, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    I don’t think Jackson put himself in a corner with the drinking at all. I’ve never understood that criticism from Tolkien readers as it fits with what Tolkien said in the Hobbit. He just needs go with the book:

    “It must be potent wine to make a wood-elf drowsy; but this wine, it would seem, was the heady vintage of the great gardens of Dorwinion, not meant for his soldiers or his servants, but for the king’s feasts only, and for smaller bowls not for the butler’s great flagons.”

    All he has to do is say that this is special wine strong enough to get even a wood-elf drunk. He could even have them drinking copious amounts of other wine already – with no sign of it affecting them – before they bring out the Dorwinion vintage.

  4. Murray April 3, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Agreed on the fealty/homage thing. Seems like the Perfesser misinterpreted early on and now can’t change?

  5. Feorhund April 3, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    If Tauriel takes over the role of the “chief guard”, we might have some hints from the book as to her character.

    (Quote with added gender change – and a special addition to the end – for emphasis)
    “They passed a door through which the chief guard and the butler could be seen still happily snoring with smiles upon their faces. The wine of Dorwinion brings deep and pleasant dreams. There would be a different expression on the face of the chief guard next day, even though Bilbo, before they went on, stole in and kindheartedly put the keys back on her belt.
    ‘That will save her some of the trouble she is in for,’ said Mr. Baggins to himself. “She wasn’t a bad lady, and quite decent to the prisoners [,especially Kili].”

  6. Feorhund April 3, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    To address what they said in this episode, I personally never thought Legolas was ignorant of liqueur in the film; I always saw it as a joke on Gimli, which could be reinforced in the next film. That’s how I read Legolas’s look when Gimli passed out.

  7. Chris Stevens April 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    I have to agree with the above about the scene between Tranduil and Thror. I just watched the throne room scene…..Thranduil doesn’t kneel. I interpreted his very modest head nod as to a peer and not an overlord.

    I think you need to watch again Corey. :-)

  8. Chris Stevens April 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    As much as I would prefer the A answer, I think C is most likely. And I think it could work well.

  9. Carolyn April 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Dear Corey, I think you will want to “revisit” your impressions of the relationship between Thranduil in the 1st Hobbit movie and Thror…no kneeling at 4:14 into the film…only a half nod while standing….The elven king struck me as considering himself a peer…carefully reserved, dangerous and closely held.

  10. Denis April 11, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    After watching the movie two preview, Tauriel looked to me like a soldier, not a butler or wine cellar attendant.I predict she will be involved in the fights with spiders and orcs, rather than Bilbo’s escape.

    I think the answer will be A.

    Here’s how it will go down:
    Dwarves captuired (all at once), questioned and imprisoned. They will probably be put into a single cell, as splitting them up is an unnecessary detail and too hard to show on screen in a timely manner. Bilbo will follow them and thus will know where they are. He will sneak around, find the cellar (whilst looking for food). I do not think he will speak to the dwarves until he appears at their cell door with the keys that he has lifted. During a feast (i.e the place is empty) they will sneak into the cellar and escape.

    Major time compression. Bilbo will spend no more than 1 day in the elven cave.
    He will not speak or consult with the dwarves, or elves
    The drunken elves is unnecessary and can be skipped.
    Tauriel and Leggy will be out shield surfing or at the feast and bilbo will not interact with them.


  11. Murray April 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I haven’t seen the trailer for #2 yet, but that sounds plausible, Denis. Nicely done. Still, I’m staying with C.

  12. Feorhund April 12, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    “Tauriel looked to me like a soldier, not a butler or wine cellar attendant.”

    What about the chief guard? Or is that who you are referring to as “wine cellar attendant”. I would say those are two very different jobs.

  13. Halstein October 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Another C. And as many others have said, the elf in question will be Tauriel. Letting the dwarves go, will be her chance to show her quality. Bilbo must have help with the barrel, and as the dwarves now has their heads out of the barrels, he can’t get the unknowing help of the elves.



  1. Riddles in the Dark: Year 2 Answers | Mythgard Institute - December 22, 2013

    […] Riddle 2.05 – A […]

Leave a Reply