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November 13th, 2013 by Andrew McCarroll 2 Comments

My dad is a huge film fan; He has roughly 600 movies in his collection, however 590 of them are Westerns. This doesn’t stop him from going to the cinema every week or asking me to drop off some DVDs with the warning that they are “proper films, no special computer nonsense”. Unfortunately for me he flat out refuses to learn character names, actor’s names or sometimes even the movie names themselves. So at least once a week I get this call, “What is that film I liked where Bourne Identity is the cop, but he is only pretending and he’s really a prick” (The Departed). Anytime he watches something new he calls me to ask a multitude of questions about the film, so I decided that I have suffered alone long enough and its time other people got to share a glimpse into my suffering as I answer the questions that “Andy’s Dad Asks”

1 – “Why did Magneto pick Watson in the first place when he hadn’t seen him in years?”

As stupid as it sounds [bear in mind that this is a children’s book], it is never explicitly said in the book as to *why* Gandalf chose Bilbo, but a lot of what Gandalf says in Tolkien’s other works [specifically in the ‘Unfinished Tales’], along with what Tolkien himself writes about in narrative exposition, explains his motivation:

Bilbo was of a long line of ‘Tooks’. A family of Hobbits said to be somewhat left-of-the-middle(-earth) and belonging to the ‘Fallohide’ race of Hobbits. The Fallohides were seen as the rarest and most liberally minded of the Hobbit races (Not that they were pro-choice or anything). They were friendly to the Elves and other ‘foreign’ races, learning from them and taking to their culture and languages. Bilbo himself was notorious for this type of curiosity and Gandalf, having noticed this on visits to the Shire when Bilbo was young, was probably led to see later how Bilbo might be a kind of “fixer” on their travels. Bilbo was an adventurous, curious and brave child. He changed with the death of his parents however. Living alone, isolated and becoming quietly respectable. Knowing this, it’s also possible Gandalf wanted to help him find his old self again.

More likely is that Gandalf understood Hobbits were quick-thinkers, keen, nimble and light footed. When Gandalf was faced with the quest for Smaug and Erebor, he happened to visit the Shire next. It’s there where it occurred to him Bilbo’s usefulness. In fact he said outright to Thorin at one point that it was a premonition of their quest’s failure without Bilbo, which made him certain. Whether he said this simply to convince Thorin of Bilbo’s abilities or not, isn’t clear.

2 – “Why does Magneto care about the dwarves?”

Again, it’s never explained in The Hobbit itself. But Tolkien made many revisions of his own texts; later added preluding texts… and also just flat-out changed his bloody mind sometimes. In fact, he pretty much single-handedly invented the fucmking idea of the ‘retcon’.

[I could write (and read) forever on how he got away with altering his works. It’s absolutely genius. He even went so far as to literally blame the characters themselves. When he’d go back and changed exposition and dialogue, he’d pretty much attribute it to them having ‘lied” the first time. He was a fukming lunatic. The alterations made to ‘Riddles In The Dark’ are the best example of this. The book we now know as ‘The Hobbit’ is actually remarkably different to what the original looked like.]

A broad answer is that Gandalf was one of the ‘Maiar’: a race of demi-gods-made-men, some of whom were sent to Earth to shepherd its peoples through the coming trials of the Third Age. Think of them like a Middle-Earth equivalent to the A-Team. They went places and fixed shit, albeit with considerably less guns. And they never had to drug Gandalf to get him onto an eagle.

It’s in a much later posthumous text [again “Unfinished Tales”, edited by Christopher Tolkien whom I’m sure would have been tooootally famous without his Dad that it’s actually explained:

Gandalf ran into Thorin in the ‘Prancing Pony Inn’ in Bree [the same place the Hobbits meet Aragorn in the FOTR] purely by accident [bear in mind they were both wanderers] and Thorin explained of his longing to liberate Erebor from Smaug with nothing less than an all-out, badass, suicide-assault. Gandalf couldn’t let him waste their only chance at defeating Smaug on something so foolish…

Foremost in Gandalf’s mind was the inevitable coming war with Sauron, whom he knew was regrouping. Gandalf feared that one of two things would happen: 1- That Smaug might be left idle to hold Erebor hostage, when Erebor could be an important vantage point in the coming war. Or 2- Sauron himself might somehow gain control of Smaug.

That’s why he got involved.

3 – “Why did the Necromancer look like Sherlock was that supposed to have something to do with the dragon?”

I didn’t notice that. I have no idea what they have planned for the other films but there’s a very good reason why I can’t answer this…

4 – “Is Dracula the necromancer?”

… or this.

5 – “If the dead king was dead/ghost/cursed how was Dr Who able to take his sword?”

This isn’t really a big deal. It stands to reason that if a sword has to hurt someone, it has to be a real-corporeal blade. It’s a Morgul-Blade. Similar to the one that later stabs Frodo at Weathertop. Aragorn went sword to sword with a similar blade and it wasn’t a “ghost-sword”.

6 – “If the ring causes more damage depending on the power that the person has (that’s why you said Veronica Guerin can’t take it) why does Magneto not just give it to one of Dr Who’s hedgehogs?”

There are many magic rings in this world and none of them should be used lightly! You may have missed a trick or two:

A: During the events of ‘The Hobbit’ Gandalf doesn’t yet know that this is the ‘One Ring’.

B: During the events of ‘The Fellowship…’ he of course *does* know. But giving the Ring to something as innocuous as a “hedgehog” would mean Sauron could find it. Having Frodo carry it and having a Fellowship tasked with his protection is the best strategy. Think of him like the Quarterback protecting the ‘One Ball’ and the Fellowship are the blockers. Now that I mention the ‘One Ball’; doesn’t ‘Lance Armstrong’ sound like a LOTR character?

And stop asking mad questions like that. I just spent the last twenty minutes imagining what if the animal managed to put the ring on and how would someone find an invisible, tyrannical, all-powerful, hedgehog-emperor.

7 – “Is dwarf Aragon related to big Aragon?”

No. Very, very, no.

But I bet you’d already thought about who’d-have-to-shag-who to make that happen.

8 – “How small are the Hobbits supposed to be that they can crouch down and no one sees them?”

They’re supposed to be stealthy. That’s what they do. They ‘stealth’.

Plus: being small and stealthy isn’t really a big challenge when you’re smaller than everyone and everything else.

9 – “Why does Bilbo’s sword only glow blue sometimes when he is fighting orcs?”

Look… The sword thing might be a continuity failure in the film, but intentionally so. They’re pretty much constantly around orcs/goblins for the second half of the film so having a Hobbit carry what is tantamount to a f@*ing lightsaber for 90+ minutes may have kind of, sort of, slightly detracted from the experience more than it added. Let it go, the sword was blue for a while and glowed when it mattered.

These kinds of things are the exception that proves the rule. Han, for instance bragged about doing the Kessel Run “… in less than twelve parsecs”. What the f@*k?! That’s like me saying I ran a 5k route in 3k. So he either cheated, or he’s just wrong. That’s a whole other Q&A which, before you even f@*king ASK… I refuse to do.

10 – “Who killed all the Goblins with the blade and why was all the Elves weaponry in the troll cave?”

Both of these are the same issue really:

The sword you’re talking about is ‘Orcrist’, a sister-sword to Gandalf’s ‘Glamdring’. It, ‘Glamdring’ and ‘Sting’ were made by the elves at the height of the First Age (i.e. “bleedin’ aaaaages ago”).

The protagonists find ‘Sting’, ‘Glamdring’ and ‘Orcrist’ together in the Troll Cave. Gandalf takes Glamdring, Bilbo gets Sting and Thorin the Dwarf Leader takes Orcrist.

It’s not openly recorded in Middle-Earth’s own records who exactly Orcrist belonged to, but by deduction of facts and timeline of events, the owner is widely believed to be “Ecthelion”, an Elf-Lord of the First Age. (Not to be confused with “Ecthelion” the former Steward of Gondor OR the tower of his namesake… Haha! Of course! *pushes imaginary glasses up nose*). This is because the sword was made at a particular point in Middle-Earth’s History, made for an Elf-Lord, of which there were many BUT… the other Elf-Lord’s weapons are apparently all accounted for, leaving him as the likely possessor.

Circumstance too may give this idea ‘credence’… ‘clear’ the ‘waters’ of speculation as it were… perhaps give this possible argument a ‘revival’:

You see, be it by accident or design; just as Glamdring was used by Gandalf to slay the Balrog ‘Durin’s Bane’ in Khazad-dûm during the events of ‘The Fellowship…’, Ecthelion *too* slayed a Balrog. ‘The’ Balrog actually. ‘Gothmog: The Lord Of Balrogs’. (Now that you mention it, I never actually realised how often Tolkien just put ‘Lord’ next to shit to make it sound important.) The idea that Glamdring was used to kill a Balrog, and that Ecthelion too slayed one, may mean that swords of Elven forge are a Balrog’s Achilles Heel, if they even have one. If so, this was likely the sword he used to kill it.

Though even if Ecthelion *did* carry Orcrist… At some point between the First Age, when it was used, and the Third Age where it was found in the Troll Cave… it must have been lost. Possibly at the point of ‘The Fall of Gondolin’, a time of decline in Elven history and civilisation after a great war. No-one knows (or at least not me) who found it or how many kept it through the Ages.

Whomsoever carried it would have been lucky enough to have had what was tantamount to an “Orc Detector”. The fact that the sword glows blue (Yes, I know, this one was supposed to glow too… Don’t fuking start with me) means they would have never been caught unawares by Orcs/Goblins. Swords that glowed blue would have had a reputation with any Orcs surviving an attack on it’s owner. It’s possible that whoever came across the sword lived close to Erebor at the time of the Goblin occupation and had to defend themselves to the point of infamy amongst the Goblin King’s people before falling prey to the trolls. Hence its’ infamy amongst the Goblins.

This isn’t a stretch to assume since Glamdring too had her own reputation amongst the Orcs, earning it the nickname “Beater” [They called Orcrist “Biter”], making it clear at least that the Orcs could differentiate between the swords. Chances are they took legendary ‘bayyyytings’ from the two.

So… In answer to “Who carried Orcrist”? The very fact that the sword herself has a reputation rather than her bearers… A lot of people probably. She got around.

And in answer to “Why were the weapons there”?

I’ve no fuking idea.

11 – “Were the Orcs not made by Sauran and why are they fighting everyone when its peace time?”

It’s not peace time. Bear in mind, “Sauran” is looking for the Ring at this point. He’s re-grouping and preparing for war. It might not make sense yet but, he’s around. And he’s causing devilment of all sorts, lemme tell ye. Trust me.

In so far as Sauron’s creation of the Orcs: No. Orcs were around *long* before Sauron ever showed his face. Or… didn’t show his face. Whatever. (He’s kind of like ‘Wilson’ from “Home Improvement” now that I think of it. That probably makes Gandalf Tim Taylor. Man I’d watch the shit out of a Lord Of The Rings made with them. It’d be like “Galaxy Quest”. What were we talking about…? Oh! Yeah….)

You’re probably thinking of the Uruk-hai. Those were the psycho, kamikaze ‘Super-Orcs’ Saruman (sorry… Dracula) created in ‘The Fellowship…’ I’m sure that Sauron *did* create Orcs at some point. But he wasn’t the first to do it.

As it stands, there’s no real single origin story for the Orcs from what I’ve read. In fact, there are many:

– Demons sent to Earth

– Tortured and enslaved Elves/Men

– Highly evolved wild beasts

– A failed experiment in multiple cross-breeding

– An excuse by George Lucas to sell action figures (sorry, wrong film)

The truth is, he never committed himself wholly to one, making the term “Orc” less of a precise nomenclature and somewhat more of a colloquialism. It’s like the way we say “Hoover” when we really mean “Vacuum Cleaner”. Or when we say “Rancid, Bottom-Feeding Arsehole” when we really mean “Derek Acorah”. The word is used somewhat outside its’ true definition.

The origins, as far as I can see, aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s quite possible that Tolkien only wanted one true origin, but he never got the chance to go back and make a change to the mythology before his death. He may well have planned it. But as it is, all these origins can co-exist for the story’s sake. In fact, they may even serve to explain all the different races of ‘Orc’, ‘Goblin’, ‘Imp’ etc. It’s not really a problem.

I don’t know, I never thought about it. It makes my brain break.

12 – “Can Veronica Guerin not read Draculas mind and see that he’s up to something? And how is Dracula able to talk to Sauran if he has been gone for 400 years?”

Again, same issue:

With regard to reading his mind: it’s true, she was able to do this to the Fellowship, yes. But it might make sense that she [an Elf-Queen] might not be able to do that to someone more powerful like Saruman [a ‘Maiar’ Demi-god like Gandalf].

I’m a bit fuzzy (poor choice of words, let me finish…) on this but I’m not even sure if he’s turned evil yet. Lemme read up.


Okay, I read up.

He *was* given the keys to Orthanc in 2759, Third Age. That means he had access to, and may have been using, the Palantír ‘Seeing Stone’ to speak with Sauron for a decent 200ish years before the scene you mention was set, mid-2941, Third Age.

In so far as “HOW did Saruman talk to Sauron”: The Palantír were a set of crystal-balls made for seeing and communicating over great distances. At different stages throughout the history of Tolkien’s bullshit, they were used by the Lords of various races, probably to govern together. Sort of like the ‘U.N. of Snowglobes’. More powerful beings however, were capable of using them to manipulate and influence what the other stones [and those using them] saw and understood. Sauron took control of one and used it to influence Saruman into betraying the order of Wizards [The ‘Itsari’. Wait for it, relax. I know, you asked about them too.] and the rest of Middle-Earth to help Sauron. Hey may or may not have already done this by the time the events of ‘The Hobbit’ had transpired.

But even if he had, there’s no assurance Galadriel was capable of reading his mind or that he had no way of selectively preventing her from doing so. He may have gone all ‘tinfoil-hat’ on that bitch. Either way, the very fact that she didn’t say anything openly means she either *knew* but believed in some kind of ‘purposeful serendipity’ to his evil [like Gandalf saw in Gollum] or that she just couldn’t see his thoughts altogether. Or she could have just been hungover. It happens.

13 – “Why did the Elves not help the dwarves?”

You might think I’m ‘Tolkien out my arse’ (No? Nothing? Fine…) but I can’t remember the reason [if any] they gave in the films, and it’s not much clearer in the book. Again, it’s all about the background:

Behind all other reasons [just as in LOTR] there’s the fact that the Elves know they’re leaving Middle Earth soon. They’re the oldest and wisest of the civilised peoples and they’re trying not to get involved with the matters of the other races because, sooner or later, those races are going to have to fend for themselves anyway once the Elves are gone.

Much more specifically than that though, there were instances of rivalry between various individuals, Elf and Dwarf, relating to the capture of Dwarves and the theft of Elven treasure. Petty bickering. These spanned the ages and considering how rarely the two races may have encountered each other, they may have been enough to help cause a rift of sorts.

Stating the obvious, it doesn’t look hard: Their cultures are contradictory. The Elves live in harmony with nature, live in the trees and are deeply spiritual. And they’re probably jealous of the Dwarves because they can’t grow beards. Not even a silly little one like yours Andy. Then, there’s the Dwarves: a ‘hammer-and-anvil’ industrious race that live underground and worship shiny stuff. They’re like chalk and cheese, isn’t is just a riot? You can’t make this shit up! Well, I guess you can but… I lost my train of thought.

The main reason, the… *ahem* ‘Oliphant in the room’ if you will… (You are ffffuking hard work you know that?) is that the Dwarves mined Moria with reckless abandon to the point of waking an old foe of the Elves, The Balrog “Durin’s Bane”. As I said already, Ecthelion killed one, sacrificing his life in the process. It’s like when your Mam cleaned the gaff when you were a kid and then you just went and wrecked it again. The Elves were pissed that just because the Dwarves couldn’t stop fuking digging for bling, they went and woke up the most powerful demon of the First Age. And a demon that is a purpose-built Elf-murderer at that.

That’s what I reckon anyway.

14 – “Where are the other two wizards that Magneto was on about and what do they do?”

As a group, they’re called the ‘Itsari’. And like I said, they were sent to Middle-Earth not reeeeeally to kick ass in the traditional sense, but more as kind of cheerleading, consultant-doctors to help the world survive Sauron’s evil.

The three we know of [Saruman the White, Gandalf the Grey and Radagast the Brown] take part in the tale of Western Middle-Earth, of course.

The other two really never featured significantly in Tolkien’s texts, in fact: almost everything we know about them is from fan-letter responses which surfaced over the years (He must have gotten soooo much groupy-ass. Think about it, a veteran of a world war and a bestselling author immortalised in a Led Zeppelin song). I remember asking the same thing after I first saw ‘The Fellowship…’

All I could manage to find [credibly] was that they were called Morinehtar [“Darkness Slayer”] and Rómestámo [“East Helper”]. They arrived on Earth a few hundred years before the others and were dispatched to the almost-uncharted eastern world beyond Mordor to tour the lands and incite rebellion against Morgoth. Kind of like door-to-door salesmen but, I like to think they sold pure, uncut, whoop-ass. One version of their origin says Saruman led them there, but he was the only one to return. Meaning he may have betrayed them or he was just the only one to survive. They really have no part in the story.

You can tell by now that Tolkien refers to lots of stuff that he never really fleshed out the details for. This is kind of one of the reasons why the Middle-Earth mythology is considered so huge. It is *literally* too big to fuking explain.

15 – “If Sauran is gone why is the ring still messing up Andy Serkis?”

16 – “Is the ring still dangerous if Sauran is gone or does it just give you Harry Potter cloak powers?”

He’s like The Rock: He’s never truly ‘gone’ as long as the Ring exists.

Gollum’s tripping out is basically a cold-turkey brain-fart from having had the Ring for squajillions of years. If anything, the only time he’s okay is when he *has* the Ring. That’s why he goes all ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ when Frodo and Sam capture him later. He only co-operates with his captors in the hope that they’ll help keep him safe and that he’ll maybe get the chance to nick the Ring back.

Is the Ring still dangerous? Yeah, well… It offer’s certain powers [Invisibility, Immortality and Mind-Reading though few seem to notice the last one other than Galadriel] and Sauron’s kind of stored inside it, or an analog of him at least. As much as it can empower, the Ring also manipulates people to do evil things, so it’s always still a threat I guess.

But if you’re asking me if the Ring is dangerous “after Sauron’s dead”… That doesn’t really make sense because he can only be dead after the Ring is destroyed, which makes the question void.

I refuse to answer your question about Harry Potter. What do you take me for? Some kind of nerd?

17 – “Did Magneto ever bang Veronica Guerin? The hand holding was a bit lingering.”

What? No! Were you *horny* watching this movie or something? I don’t know what you saw but this isn’t ‘Sex & The Citadel’

18 – “Are V for Vendetta and Veronica Guerin not Aerosmith’s parents?”

Not quite.

Arwen’s parents are Elrond and Celebrían.

Galadriel and Celeborn are Celebrían’s parents.

So Galadriel is Arwen’s grandmother and Elrond’s Mother-In-Law.

Christmas dinner with the in-laws must be fuking hilarious. I smell a sitcom!

19 – “Why was the CGI so poxy in some scenes?”

The production for this film seemed more splintered than the LoTR. I bet they had the luxury of outsourcing some of the effects to other studios. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. They obviously aren’t as good as Weta. LoTR would have had fewer working on it. Probably went to making it a bit more ‘autueristic’. “Too many cooks…” etc.

20 – “Is the fellowship not supposed to be 13 not 14?”

There are 13 Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf. That’s fifteen.

21 – “Why does the ring not have any writing on it like it did in the other films?”

It does. The letters are invisible until it’s exposed to fire/intense heat. That might happen in ‘The Hobbit’ book, it might not.

Either way, I’m not telling you.

Because I can’t remember.

22 – “Why does Magneto let Watson keep the ring when he knows the damage it can cause?”

Again… He doesn’t know. All he knows is that it’s *a* magic ring. Not the ‘One Ring’. He doesn’t learn so until much, much later…

Once he begins to have his suspicions, he travels to Gondor. There he finds Isildur’s first-hand account of when he cut the Ring from Sauron’s hand. When Isildur did so, it was molten hot and had fiery letters on it which eventually faded, albeit not before he managed to transcribe them. Gandalf learned of this and raced back to burn Bilbo’s Ring (*snigger*) and revealed that it was actually the One Ring. It’s only then that posits a plan to destroy it.

23 – “Why didn’t Watson turn into Andy Serkis when he had the ring for so long?”

– Sméagol found the Ring in 2463 [Third Age].

– Bilbo took it from him in 2941 [Third Age].

– Bilbo relinquished it to Gandalf in about 3018 [Third Age].

That means Gollum held the Ring for approx. 478 years.

Bilbo held it for approx. 77 years.

Taking that into account… Scientific research has shown that periods of time expressed in larger numbers are considered to be what is called: “Longer”. I may need to spellcheck that word, I’m no scientician.

The Ring didn’t have quite the same soul-sucking effect on Bilbo as it did on Gollum. In fact, during the events of ‘The Fellowship…’ Bilbo starts to complain of how he’s *only now* beginning to feel the effects of the Ring and he relinquishes it almost immediately. He probably used some kind of Nicorette patch or something he bought from the Hobbiton store. Gollum lived in a cave. There wasn’t a Centra for f@*kin’ miles I bet.

24 – “Why did the eagles not bring them all the way to the mountain?”


Because f@*k you. That’s why.


Andrew McCarroll never quite built on the dizzying career heights that he hit at 6 years old, when as a member of the “Ghostbusters” he would charge his neighbours to remove any unwanted spectres. Now retired from slaying spooks, he spends his time obsessing over superheroes (especially Batman) and devouring shows like Dexter, Game of Thrones and Archer in a manner that would make Galactus proud. You can follow his rants on twitter @andymc1983