Title: To Understand a King
Summary: "Circumstances cause us to act the way we do. We should always bear this in mind before judging the actions of others."—Thor Heyerdahl. Here followss deeper delve and exploration into the motives and actions of Thranduil in the last movie as seen from the perspective of Bilbo.
Authors Note: I recently watched the BOTFA movie and I found it a little lacking. That's not to say I still didn't like it there were just something's missing that I feel were important to the overall meaning and message that Tolkien instilled his text with. The main thing that left me cringing a little was the way in which the writers wrote Thranduils' character (I had no problem with who portrayed him just how he was portrayed). One of the lines I remember most from the book is when Thranduil says: "Long will I tarry ere I begin this war for gold." However the way he came off in the movie (overall) seems to contradict the Thranduil from the book. He was able to slightly redeem himself at the end, but I thought it was too little too late. So here is my attempt to reconcile the movie Thranduil to the book Thranduil (at least in my humble and probably unimportant opinion). Reviews, comments and critiques are always welcomed! Sorry about the long rant but hope you enjoy!
As Bilbo sat silently, his tears having been spent, by Thorin's still form on the unforgiving ice he felt as if he were being watched. He waited for them to callout to him, thinking maybe it was Dwalin. However when no one approached him, he turned quickly in case it was a surviving orc intent in killing him. Though as he turned he was not met by the snarling face of an orc but instead was pierced by the cold gaze of the Elvenking.
The King continued to watch him, his face unreadable as ever but for a brief moment when the elf King's eyes drifted to Thorin's still form than back to him. He could have sworn he saw something other than disinterest and contempt within that ageless visage.
The moment however was gone in the blink of an eye as Thranduil turned away all together from Bilbo and moved towards the impaled form of Azog.
Bilbo could not help but wonder what the King was doing here. After all he had heard the heated argument between Gandalf and King Thranduil back in the ruins of Dale. Bilbo had thought that he would have been long gone by now with what was left of his people. But yet here he stood looking down in disgust at the corpse of Azog the Defiler.
The hobbit watched him intently, elves still intrigued and captivated him even this one. It would be unkind to say that he did not particularly like the Elvenking, as it was he barely even knew him. But the King's words and his refusal to help further still stung the poor hobbit. All of this, he thought sadly, might have been averted had Thranduil agreed to aid the dwarves on Ravenhill. Yet as he observed the King pull the sword that he now recognized as Orcrist from Azog and clean it none too gently on the cloth hanging from Azog he began to understand maybe some of the King's reasoning. And he found he could not entirely fault him for his choice.
It was as Thranduil had said to Gandalf: "I have spent enough elvish blood in defense of this accursed land. No more!" and as he recalled the King's words Bilbo knew that if the elves had come to help more would have died and they may not have been able to stop his friends from dying either.
Thranduil was a King first and foremost, and he was only looking after his own as any good King should. Besides Bilbo now knew the pain of losing people you care about, was it so hard to imagine that that was the pain the King was feeling even in this moment?
He still wondered though what the Elvenking was doing here alone. He stared as Thranduil avidly inspected the weapon he held. After a moment he seemed to not find what he was looking far and turned his careful inspection to his surroundings. The King looked all around him, his gaze briefly skimming over Bilbo before continuing on their apparent search. And a search it was Bilbo realized with a jolt.
The King was not up here to just retrieve a sword; he was looking for something or someone.
Then with sudden clarity Bilbo realized in whose possession he had last seen Orcrist. The elf Gandalf had identified as Legolas had been the one to take the sword from Thorin back in Mirkwood when they had been captured.
Upon further recollection he had seen the sword on Legolas as he had ridden into Dale. However as to how the sword had found its way up still puzzled Bilbo. Perhaps that was who the Elvenking was looking for, this elf Legolas. Maybe he was in trouble for coming up here since Bilbo clearly knew Thranduil wanted none of his people on Ravenhill.
It was feasible that Legolas had disobeyed his King, but as Bilbo watched Thranduil move towards the edge of the frozen falls he did not get the impression that the King was mad. Even if he was wouldn't it have made more sense to send some of his guard to find and retrieve the wayward elf?
No, Bilbo thought, there was more going on. There was no anger in the face of the King as he scanned the wastes below. Rather there was more of an uneasiness lingering in his immortal face, not so much worry yet but probably as close to it as this carefully controlled King would allow himself to get.
It intrigued Bilbo and offered him a distraction from his grief as he observed the King's broad shoulders stiffen as he finally spotted something. Without a word or a look at the hobbit Thranduil turned quickly and made his way towards the ruins of a tower that stood close by.
Bilbo looked sadly back down at Thorin. He was gone to a place beyond Bilbo's or anyone else's help. Though he knew that Thorin and the dwarves had little love for the Elves he could not think that Thorin would want him to sit idly by if he could be of some help somewhere else.
He knew nothing of the Elvenking than what their few brief interactions together had shown him and his mother had always told him never to judge a person based on first appearances. Besides he was not one to stand by either if someone needed his help and perhaps if he could offer the King assistance it might go a long way in mending the bridge between elves and dwarves. Or in the very least help him amend for taking advantage of the hospitality of the Elves without their knowledge and his deceit in the dungeons.
With that his mind was made up. With a last look at Thorin, Bilbo hurried after the Elvenking as the elf disappeared beneath one of the crumbling archways.