Archive for the ‘1 – The Taming of Sméagol’ Category

It’s the end of the chapter, so does that mean that Sméagol is tamed?

That seems to be the case, with him being so happy right now. However, that makes Sam even more uneasy. Either way, with the dead of night upon them, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum finally move out. Now quite loquacious, Gollum talks about how there’s only one way through the upcoming marshes, and orcs don’t use it. They go around. How lucky they must be to have taken this road, and how lucky they must also be to have found and befriended Gollum! How else would they get through? They start, with Sam threatening Gollum one more time with the rope.



Today’s Gollum Meter: 51 – “Regardless of Sam’s doubts, you’re back on the good side.”

It seems so easy! Just like that, Gollum is in the fold. I totally expected that most of this chapter would be about negotiating with Gollum to act nice, but that happened pretty quickly. Most of the time was really spent with Frodo and Sam wandering around in the Emyn Muil, which is far less exciting.

In fact, when you crunch the numbers, there are 6 pages on which Frodo and Sam directly interact with Gollum. That, in a 17-page chapter, is very little. And, it’s really more like 5 and a half. I’m being generous.

Don't count on it again, you dodo.

Don’t count on it again, you dodo.

What’s coming up in the next chapter? More walking. Yes, it’s time to cross the marshes. There might be some excitement, but mostly just walking. One of these days, there might be running. But, hold your horses (And, literally, please do. There certainly won’t be any riding), this isn’t Doctor Who. For now, we’re walking. Slow and steady wins the race.

No one dies today.

“Over all the leagues of waste before the gates of Mordor there was a black silence.”

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Will Gollum swear to stop making mischief? Swear to me! SWEAR TO ME!



That he does, upon the ring. Frodo is hesitant to let him do so, when the ring is so well known for binding people to its will. But, Gollum won’t pick anything else. So be it. This brings about a change in Gollum. He seems very honest, all of a sudden, and prances about once Sam takes the rope off him. So there’s that. All is better…now?

Today’s Gollum Meter: 47 – “Hey look! Some honesty. Good for you.”

It’s typical that someone would want to swear on the One Ring. That is its purpose, in one way. It controls minds, in a way that seems wonderful. That’s really what Gollum had been doing all those years in the caves, anyway. The ring had him, and now it’s drawn him back. Worse enough, he’s happy about it. That’s the danger of the ring.

However, something about all this swearing brings Gollum to a good place.

Santa hat included.

Santa hat included.

It’s like breaking a spell, but it’s really more of a spell beginning. Let Gollum think he’s free, but continue to enslave his mind, that’s the ring’s intent. It does this without Gollum feeling bad about it. Fool him once, shame on you. Fool him twice, shame on him. This is fool #2.

I’m bored. No more today. But the chapter ends tomorrow!

No ones dies today.

“He would cringe and flinch, if they…”

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It’s time for some trickery. Trickeration, we’d call it, if this was college football.

In the NFL, the Eagles tried just laying down.

In the NFL, the Eagles tried just laying down.

Frodo and Sam sit on either side of Gollum. This is their “rest” time, and with a look at each other, they have some sort of mental conversation. They close their eyes, appearing to doze off. Gollum notices, looks around, and bolts off. Not so fast, my friend! Frodo and Sam were ready for that, and catch him easily. Thus proving that Gollum is untrustworthy and all-around horrible, they get started on tying him up.

That doesn’t go well, with Gollum screaming in some sort of pain. It seems legitimate. When asked, he implies that elven magic in the rope is hurting him.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 18 – “That’s what you get for trying to run off.”

Let’s call this play…the “Sleep, Peep, and Leap”. If it’s going to be a real trick play, it has to have a silly name, right? Bonus points if it rhymes. I’ll run that by some coaches real quick next chance I get. Except not Coach Fitz. Because I don’t think trick plays are a part of his life.

Anyway, it works! Hooray! This is one of those instances where you can argue that Frodo and Sam are a lot closer than their master-gardener relationship implies. How else would they both understand what the plan is? If not that, then they’ve built up a considerable knowledge of each other in these few months of travel.



Add to that, even the possible un-roping of Gollum seems like a plan. Good cop, bad cop, a bit. By showing him some mercy, they could perhaps tame him to the point of listening in hopes that they don’t put the rope back on again.

HEY! And that’s the chapter title!

No one dies today.

“‘Take it off us! It hurts us.'”

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Is it time for a mental breakdown? Sure!



When presented with the idea of leading Frodo and Sam to Mordor, Gollum falls apart. He’s been there, of course, and he has NO intention of going back. He frets with himself, not talking to Frodo or Sam in particular, back and forth. He curses the sky, the east, and basically everything within reach. He definitively answers that he will not go back to Mordor, and collapses. Frodo yells at him to get up. It doesn’t appear like Gollum has any choice at all, and Frodo asks whether they will travel this night or at dawn.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 37 – “What?”

Naturally, this is Gollum’s war between his two personalities. They aren’t clearly defined yet, and I would assume that they will become easier to understand at about the same rate that Frodo and Sam get a grasp on his insanities. I don’t expect that we’ll ever get much of a glimpse into Gollum’s mind, like we so often have with our heroes.

Although…isn’t everything he says a glimpse into his mind? You could call it thinking aloud, but ALL THE TIME.

Generic clipart man is a pro at this.

Generic clipart man is a pro at this.

Quick note: when Gollum refers to the ring as his “precious”, it’s always capitalized. To him, it’s a person. Maybe that’s also him recognizing it as the creator of his second persona. Whatever it is, the capitalization defines the different way that Gollum sees the ring. Frodo and Sam don’t speak of it in such terms.

Not that you can tell a capitalized word from someone speaking it, but still.

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Do you ever stop and wonder: “Is he still going at that blog?” Yes, yes I am.

No one dies today.

“‘Then sit down,’ said Frodo, ‘and don’t move!'”


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This was a decision I thought would take a little more time, but within this page, Frodo has already decided to spare Gollum’s life, in exchange for some help. Of course, Gollum whines at the prospect of being tied up, and Frodo agrees that that would kill him indirectly. If they want to kill him, Frodo suggests that he and Sam do it themselves. That’s what Sam wants to do.

This is a change from the typically demure Samwise.

This is a change from the typically demure Samwise.

Somehow, the words of Gandalf jump back into Frodo’s mind. “Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them?” Perhaps he should pity Gollum. In fact, he does. Frodo calls so forcefully for Gollum’s life that Sam can’t even argue.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 40 – “Helping? That’s good. But, there’s something in your eyes…”

Here’s a connection that totally surfaced today: remember how Gandalf didn’t want to kill Saruman, but offered him the choice to aid his efforts? Yes, that seems to be a perfect parallel to Frodo’s treatment of Gollum. It’s even more apparent when you consider Gandalf’s advice that Frodo replays. That advice is certainly rubbing off right now, and we can contrast Gollum’s acceptance with Saruman’s mockery. Oddly enough, it’s the student, Frodo, who has more success than the teacher, Gandalf.

They grow up fast, don't they?

They grow up fast, don’t they?

Meanwhile, Sam is less than impressed with this turn of events. But, he’s Sam. Is he going to say much at all right now? No. Until he proves himself further, he isn’t confident enough to speak up for himself, and ends up getting walked all over.

In the end, he’s right about this. Well, right and wrong. But mostly right. GOLLUM IS COMPLICATED, OKAY?

No one dies today.

“Frodo looked straight into Gollum’s eyes which flinched and…”

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There’s something satisfying about watching Gollum plummet to the ground. He does that, as he loses his grip on the cliff. However, what is head-slappingly unsatisfying is watching Sam leap at the sprawled creature, hoping to bring him to justice, maybe? This fails horribly. Even though he’s been a bit stunned by the fall, Gollum still has the upper hand on Sam, and nearly chokes the life right out of him before Frodo runs up, brandishing Sting.

SAM! Now you've upset the bunny.

SAM! Now you’ve upset the bunny.

This leaves Gollum wailing on the ground, and Frodo and Sam now have to decide what to do with him.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 31 – “Extra points for always being on your creepy, creepy toes.”

Did Sam not listen to Frodo saying earlier that Gollum is probably stronger than he thinks? True fact. Remember, this is a dude who’s been hunting orcs in dark caves for generations. An unwary hobbit is nothing to him. Especially one that he’s been hunting already. Sam even blows their cover a little bit by talking right before Gollum falls. He knows they’re close. He’s ready. It’s not that hard for him to expect some sort of attack.

Not to mention, this is Sam attacking. It’s not exactly going to be vicious.

I'm terrified.

I’m terrified.

Instead, Sam goes and nearly gets himself killed. AGAIN. When will he learn? If it’s not soon, it’s going to start being a stretch that he remains alive for this whole journey. We can’t get too in love with Sam’s ruralisms to forget that he’s mortal. With this many mistakes mounting up, he would be ripe to be killed off if we didn’t already know that he makes it to the end. So much for tension.

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What, that isn’t the proper plural form of “mice”? Lame.

No one dies today.

“‘Tie it up, so as it can’t come sneaking after us no more, I say.'”

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Here he is! Crawling down the cliff, we see Gollum. Frodo and Sam watch him, wondering how he’s been following them. It’s too dark to see the elven cloaks, so it must be a combination of smell and sound. Naturally, they’ve been talking much too loudly. Sam, somewhat dumbly, wants to have words with Gollum, but Frodo stops that just yet. They hide behind a rock and watch and listen as the strange figure inches closer to the ground.

And…we get to hear Gollum’s speech for the first time.

That's how I feel, too.

That’s how I feel, too.

He’s addled, somewhat, cursing Frodo and Sam for stealing the ring, and the moon for being bright. Everything is hissed, making for a carnival of red underlines on my screen. Sounds like fun!

Today’s Gollum Meter: 28 – “Okay, I’m actually adding points because I think the way you speak is funny.”

You have to be impressed at his persistence, right? How many months has Gollum tracked the ring through field, cave, forest, mountains…or anything, really? I know that I would certainly have given up by now. Well, maybe I would at least start considering other options. Perhaps straight-up stalking isn’t working too well. Is it time to try something new? Apparently, not yet, especially now that he’s finally caught up with Frodo and Sam. So, in the end, his stubbornness pays off.



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You should be sensing a pattern here. Basically, if you’re Gollum, everything has an extra “s”. Especially “nassty”. That’s my favorite.


No one dies today.

“‘Where are they with my Precious? Curse them! We hates them.'”

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