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Headscratchers / The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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     Any reason why Gandalf loses several centimeters of beard when transformed into Gandalf the White? 
  • What the Hell? The longer the beard, the better.
    • The same reason his hair turns white and he gets greater magical powers.
    • In this case, I think we can safely assume, A Wizard Did It.
    • It makes him look younger and more warrior-like.
    • Long answer: Gandalf is an Ainu. The Ainur are a race of spirits/angelic beings that can shape-shift at will. When he was brought back to live he made himself a new physical form with a shorter beard. Short answer: Because he wanted to.
    • An Elven hairdresser in Valinor (come on - they must have them) offered him the first beard-trim he'd had in simply Ages?
    • The last time we saw him as The Grey, he was fighting a demon of shadow and flame. Odds are, some of it was burnt off. The hairdresser kindly got rid of the burnt bits till attached.
    • He wasn't playing up the "scruffy old vagabond conjurer" image he'd used to set common folks like the hobbits at their ease anymore. Being the harbinger and recruiting agent for a massive war demands a more dignified, well-groomed look.
    • The instinct I always had was that when you see him first reopen his eyes after being 'reborn', he's been lying there a good long while recovering from the immense trauma before awakening. So I always pictured him being returned not only naked but hairless (or, at least, much shorter-haired than he was), and the moderate-length hair and beard we see is where it's grown back to in the first instance.
      • The timeline of events in the book appendices states that it took nearly three weeks for Gandalf to be "sent back" after he passed away in the aftermath of slaying the Balrog, and several more additional days before Gwaihir found him on the peak of Zirakzigil and brought him to Lorien (missing the Fellowship's departure by only a day).

     What idiot designed the fortress of Hornburg? 
  • A long wall that forces the defenders to spread their forces thin while protecting...nothing at all. Flimsy gates that open inwards. No moat. No second line of fortifications. No war machines. No boiling tar. No people assigned with pushing ladders off the wall. A HUGE opening in the wall (what was its purpose anyway? Because if it as a water way, its the dumbest idea ever since it's just asking the invaders to block or poison it).
    • The opening is necessary because if you built a big wall there without any drainage, you'd get a dam. The lack of war machines or boiling tar is a side effect of Rohan not having prepared for war until the last second, due to Théoden's Saruman-induced "inactivity". The other objections are valid.
    • A long wall that forces the defenders to spread their forces thin while protecting...nothing at all. The wall prevents attackers from surrounding the keep and attacking it from multiple directions. The area beyond the wall also likely serves as a mustering point for massing troops; there doesn't appear to be much room inside the keep for horsemen or camping troops. The wall also provides a wide firing point for archers to rain arrows on attackers; if they'd all been restricted to the keep there wouldn't have been enough room on the walls for all of their archers to fire down at the enemy. Also, it allows for a greater concentration of ranged fire against any attacker. It's quite clear that the Hornburg was intended to be defended by a far larger force than the one the Rohirrim was able to muster — especially considering it was built by Gondor originally, who could easily muster the manpower to defend it.
    • At least in the books, Helm's Deep is actually a mountain valley that the ancient Rohirrim turned into a fortress by building a wall across the mouth. So the wall is blocking the path to the caves where the women and children are hiding.
    • Flimsy gates that open inwards. The gates didn't seem that flimsy, considering they held up for what appears to be hours of constant hammering by rams and Uruk swords. They only broke inwards because the Uruks pounded them in.
    • No moat. No moat in the book either. The lower area beneath the wall could probably be flooded if the fortress' garrison had considered it or had time to divert enough water to it. That said, fortresses don't require moats and a lot of historical ones didn't. This, like the bit below about war machines/tar, can be chalked up to Rohan being sabotaged by Saruman's meddling with Théoden's mind.
    • No second line of fortifications. The keep is the second line of fortifications. The long wall is the first, and there's an inner keep as well. They probably could have built additional lines and walls along the valley, and IIRC there was a palisade or dirt wall at the entrance to the valley in the books.
    • In the book there was indeed another earthen wall farther up the valley. Like in the movie, the Rohirrim didn't have the numbers to man the entire wall. They just shot every arrow they had and ran like hell back to the fortress.
    • Besides, even with PJ's elf army that arrived in the movie, they barely had enough men to set up a first line of fortifications.
    • No war machines. No boiling tar. The fortress, along with Rohan in general, was not in any shape to fight in general thanks to Saruman mucking with Théoden's head. It's also questionable if Rohan has the technology to field catapults, ballistae, etc, considering their tech base. It is also notable that the Rohan army in the book didn't have these war machines or tar either, and that Jackson clearly did consider whether or not the defenders should have war machines, considering that Gondor had an array of trebuchets.
    • No people assigned with pushing ladders off the wall. Pushing the ladders off the wall would be hard when you've got giant berserkers wielding enormous greatswords that are killing a half-dozen troops with a single swing of their weapons who are clearing away everyone from the tops of the ladders, and the individual Uruk-hai infantry are an even match for the defenders. They're having trouble simply getting to the ladders in the first place, let alone pushing them over.
    • A HUGE opening in the wall (what was its purpose anyway? Because if it as a water way, its the dumbest idea ever since it's just asking the invaders to block or poison it). It was a grating to let water drain out. Otherwise your fort gets flooded.
    • That 'long wall that doesn't protect anything' seals off the box canyon above the fortress. These are the Riders of Rohan, who love their horses second only to their kin. And horses need pasturage and running water.
    • Also: Didn't Saruman only just invent gunpowder to exploit that specific weakness? Before then, a small tight solid iron grating wouldn't have been so easy to breach. You'd have to go in with a saw, taking ages to get all the bars cut, by which time you could have been shot or stabbed to death from defenders on the other side.
    • Yes he did. In the books and in the movies it is clear that Grí­ma Wormtongue had never seen anything like gunpowder before in his life. Rohan's tech base had nothing like it for them to even know to defend against. For all they knew it was a very well defended weakness in their otherwise impenetrable wall.
    • Bit of a point on the gates — It's actually very prudent they're hinged inwards — if they were hinged outwards a) every time you want to open them you have to have men running out into the open (not to mention getting in the way of anyone who wants to come in rather than being able to withdraw from the entrance as they open) and b) although the physics does aid a battering ram by having the gate open in the way you're battering it, it also aids the physics of barricading it shut — i.e it's a lot easier to push than to pull — running repairs like the one done in the film wouldn't be possible and you'd have to weaken the integrity of the gate's materials if you wanted to riddle it with holes for handles to pull on (and if the bolts went right through the gate the Uruk-hai wouldn't need to bother with a battering ram — all they'd need would be a spanner/wrench). Also, you could argue that having them open inwards actually blunts a bit of the force of a battering ram since you've built in a little bit of flex.
    • For me, the problem isn't with the Fortress itself, it's actually very well designed and the defenders exact a heavy toll on the Uruk-hai by the time Gandalf arrives. Despite that, my complaints are with the Hollywood Tactics on display at the battle. Mostly at the Deeping Wall itself where they could have held the Uruk-hai for longer.
    • Firstly, why did the Men and Elves wait until the Uruk Hai charge to start shooting arrows?! You've got some of the best archers and warriors in Middle-Earth who have just reinforced you, and you don't catch the Uruk-hai out by attacking the moment they get within bowshot? You not only kill several hundred more before they reach the wall, but you likely kill some carrying the explosives and ladders, buying you more time. Why wait? To make matters worse, in the books the Rohirrim harass the advancing army before they arrive at the fortress.
    • Probably they didn't have enough stockpiled ammunition to risk wasting it on extreme long-range shots.
    • Second, why do they not kick down the ladders? You see one get knocked down early on, and that's it? Even if there is a lot of Uruk-hai, it stops them climbing up, allowing you to shoot them to death. This is again used in the book.
    • Pushing down siege ladders is not as easy as people tend to think it is. Most modern people only have experience with modern lightweight metal ladders that do often seem unsteady and easy to push or fall over. But if siege ladders were as easy to push off as people seem to think, they would never have become a standard part of siege warfare. Siege ladders are built to be heavy and durable and are, by necessity, very long. You put them up and immediately start sending your big heavy fighters up them, which just makes them even heavier and more dug in. It's not like you can just give them a nudge and send them toppling. You start telling people "focus on knocking down the ladders", each ladder starts getting three or four defenders shoving at it trying to topple it, people get tunnel visioned, other ladders go up, your wall defenders start getting slaughtered while they're busy trying to shove ladders down.
    • Third, why only assign Legolas to shoot the torch carrier? You were able to spare some Elves to pick off the force advancing up the ramp, surely peppering it with arrows would have ended him, you have flippin' Elves at your command! Granted Aragorn might not have known what was exactly planned, but he clearly noticed it was a threat and failed to act accordingly.
    • You're misunderstanding what happened there. Aragorn did not assign Legolas alone to shoot down the single orc. He started frantically shouting "Shoot him! Kill him!" to pretty much everyone, and added a personalized shout to Legolas because 1) he saw Legolas and 2) he knew Legolas would be listening for his friends' voices amidst the tumult where other voices might not be. At that point Aragorn's just one voice in a shouting, churning maelstrom of sound, even if other elves heard him they might have thought "What is that Ranger on about?", whereas Legolas knows "If Aragorn thinks it's a big deal, it's probably a big deal".
      • Also, because while all Elves are skilled archers, Aragorn knows EXACTLY how good Legolas is. They're traveling companions, long-time friends, and familiar with each other's skills, so he immediately calls out a target for the best marksman in the army to take a shot at.
    • Fourth, when the wall is breached why do the Elves immediately not pepper the Uruk-hai with arrows again? The water was clearly bogging them down, easy pickings? Not helped by Gimli's stupid jump into the advancing army. Granted, Aragorn was dazed from the explosion and that helped him regain his senses. But then this forces him to charge the Elves into the army to save him, however this buys them time to form up and meet the charge with their pikes, and it just becomes more of a massacre.
    • Because calmly standing there peppering the enemy with arrows works a lot better when you have the high ground and a lot of separation between yourself and the enemy. When the enemy is overtaking your position, standing there and firing arrows means that the three guys behind the one you just shot have time to charge you while you're nocking another arrow to string. Yes, elves can fire with amazing speed, but that still doesn't mean much when there's basically eleventy-jillion Uruk-hai bearing down at them... if nothing else the elves would eventually run out of arrows and at that point there would be a big green gangbang right on top of them.
    • Infantry can push through arrow barrages pretty easily. You cannot really stop a significant infantry push with arrow fire. As deadly as the arrow barrage is, the elves don't have infinite ammunition and between every shot more Uruk-Hai will be pushing forward and gaining ground. The only way to physically stop the Uruk-Hai from pouring through the breach is to put your guys on that breach. Aragorn's call to charge was the right one, it's just that there were too many Uruk-Hai and not enough elves, and the elves were too scattered by the explosion, to be able to plug that breach. Standing off and bombarding the Uruk-Hai with arrows would have killed more in the short term, but it would have let more of them get inside the wall and led to the elves being surrounded even faster, and gotten them killed even more quickly.

    Wormtongue's knowledge 

  • How could Wormtongue not know about the 10,000 orcs at Isengard? I mean, he's already inside the tower, and he tells Saruman "hey we don't have a lot of orcs" and Saruman shows him the big army. How did Wormtongue miss that when he first arrived at Isengard? Were the orcs all hiding or something?
    • They were probably all housed in the caverns under the courtyard while Wormy stayed on the surface and went straight into Orthanc.
    • You see him gallop into Orthanc and there are no Orcs there at that time, so they must have assembled after that. He probably knew of Saruman's designs, but had no idea of the number that had been bred. Plus, he had been away from Isengard for a while, and we know that the majority of Orcs were bred a few days before we see them.
    • If you were Saruman would you tell your prime mole in your enemy's court the size of your force? Besides the fact that Grí­ma had already proven himself a traitor, he might conceivably be caught. That is like asking why Stalin did not give his most precious secrets to Kim Philby.

     "The Uruks turn northeast. They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!" 
  • Where the hell are they, that Isengard is to the northeast? Why did they go so far south or west to begin with? What did Legolas expect on this side of the Anduin? Aaaaarrrgghh.
    • They're downstream of Anduin, on the western bank. They were trying to reach Mordor when they were intercepted by the Uruk-hai, remember? And it was the Uruk-hai that Legolas was afraid of on the western bank. Like all the elves he has occasional foresights to things to come, but unlike big names like Elrond, he can't get anything but vague feelings.
    • The original poster has a problem with the geography being wrong. Isengard is west (and slightly north) of the Rauros. If the orcs had turned northeast at any point, they would be heading away from Isengard and towards great (mostly-)empty Rhovanion. To reach Isengard while heading northeast you would have to be west of Isengard, aka west of the Misty and White Mountains, while the characters are currently east of it. (But, after all, this film does not care for in-universe logic.)
    • Alternatively, we can explain this by saying that the Uruks turned north-east to get around a large lake, marshland or rocky hills, and that happens to be the best route to Isengard.
    • The simple answer is that Orlando Bloom messed up his line, and nobody realised in time — he should've said "northwest".
    • The line is indeed simply messed up. In the German version — and most likely all others — Legolas says that they turn northwest.
    • Aragorn later says to Éomer: "We track a party of Uruk-Hai westward across the plains." So yeah, even in English they should be heading west.

     Doesn't anybody know geography in Middle-Earth? 
  • When Frodo, Sam and Gollum get to the Black Gate, we see an army of Easterlings marching towards it. They are coming in from the south... what the hell? First of all, they should have been coming in from the east, obviously. They actually didn't even need to march all the way to the Black Gate, because you can easily get into Mordor from the east, due to a lack of mountains on that side. But instead they apparently went around Mordor, through Ithilien, which is populated by Faramir and his merry Men, which doesn't really seem like a good way to not get killed.
    • The book doesn't actually say the Easterlings came from the south. It lists three roads converging on the gate, from north, east, and south, then says the Easterlings were arriving, but doesn't mention which road they took. It would be perfectly reasonable to assume they took the last named road if there were no evidence to the contrary, but there is. Slightly later, people are described as arriving at the Black Gate from the south, but this group is not identified with the Easterlings by anything beyond juxtaposition, somewhat less than conclusive.
    • I meant the scene in the movie. They are coming from the south, which as I described, is really quaint. Then again, as stated earlier, Legolas also has difficulties with geography...
    • Faramir and his band of Merry Men aren't exactly up to taking out any force of any size. Sure, they can harrass small companies here and there, but if they could automatically defeat everything that passed through Ithilien, they would have been able to prevent the whole attack on Gondor.
    • Perhaps the Easterlings needed to visit the Southrons for something, maybe diplomatic talks or reinforcements or weapons or something like that.
    • While the men approaching the gate in the book were Easterlings, in the movie they had the black serpant on their flags which in the books was the standard of the Haradrim leader at the siege of Gondor. Maybe in the film they were Southrons.
    • They are not expected to take on forces of any size. They are expected to recon, make trouble, and most of all, just be there as a reminder that Gondor had not ceded Ithilien to Mordor.
    • It could be reasoned that the Easterlings entering the Black Gate from the south in the film did so because there were some obstacles in the way on the other roads in
    • The Easterlings we see in the film could easily have been approaching from lands to the south or even south of Mordor; Rhun, Khand, and Harad are all lands stretching to the northeast, east, southeast, and south, and even southwest of Mordor. Mordor's mountains are such that if you're starting from the western two-thirds of the southern mountain border, it is genuinely a better idea to just go west around the mountains, if you're linking up for an attack on Gondor, otherwise you'll be going father if you went east around the mountains. Another factor to consider is that a commander of humans might not want his men to pass through Mordor itself if he can avoid it, considering how blighted and dangerous that land is to non-orcs. It might take longer to go around, but your army won't be coughing up their lungs from volcanic ash.

     The elven rope 

  • It can be any size you need it to be, so at the scene where they are on the mountain and looking over to Mordor why don't they just make a lasso and throw it all the way to a ledge in mordor, get a twig and zip line across? It would have saved about 4 hours of movie time.
    • Hobbits are small and somewhat lacking in physical strength. Even if they tried, do you really think the rope would fly that far thrown by a hobbit? Even thrown by an Ent it wouldn't go any more than a mile. Even if they succeeded in getting enough strength to throw it that far, there's any number of obstacles the rope might encounter on its way to Mordor which would stop its course. Plus, how is Sauron not going to notice a magical artifact made by the Elves that is flying extremely conspicuously through his domain?
    • There is nothing to suggest that the elven rope can change size/length; no idea where you got that from. The only thing 'abnormal' with it was that it unknotted itself, and Sam was of the opinion that it 'magically' knew when to do so.
    • Ziplining with a twig sounds like a great way to get yourself killed.

     What happened when Treebeard brought Merry and Pippin to see Gandalf in The Two Towers? 
  • Treebeard is unconvinced that they're not orcs, so he takes them to "the white wizard" to make sure. They're tossed at Gandalf's feet, but to preserve the mystery he's shown from behind and the scene ends before we see their reaction. The next time we see Gandalf, he's on his own again, and Merry and Pippin are back with Treebeard who is still unclear on the orc/hobbit issue. It's as though they never met with Gandalf at all.
    • I've always pictured it happening like this: Treebeard takes hobbits to Gandalf, who assures him that they are not orcs. Gandalf asks Treebeard to keep an eye on the hobbits a little longer (Gandalf knows the effect the hobbits will have). Treebeard calls the entmoot to decide if the ents should go to war, but first he has to convince the other ents that the hobbits aren't orcs. Because entish is such a slow language, it takes forever to explain and allow the others to decide whether to believe him or not.

     How did Aragorn learn the name of the Uruk-hai? 
  • In the first film we see Saruman naming his new creation, but at no point do any of the good guys hear the name during the movie, and they seem to consider them just another breed of orc. But Aragorn, when confronted by Eómer, tells him that: "We were tracking a band of Uruk-Hai westward across the plain". Where on earth did he hear the name in between the two movies?
    • My guess is Gandalf overheard it while he was a prisoner of Saruman, and told the others about it at some point during the trip before faced the Balrog.
    • Uruk-hai simply is "Orc-folk" in Black Speech. The name has also been already used decades before as a term for a similar big breed of Mordor-serving orcs.
    • Using a Black Speech term for orcs doesn't seem too smart if you want to convince Eomer you're a goodie. PJ had written himself into a corner using different synonyms for orc to describe distinct races (orc is standard Westron, goblin is hobbit-Westron, uruk and uruk-hai are singular and a specialised plural in the Black Speech, all describing the same creatures).
    • Eomer himself referred to them as "uruks". So it's probably a common regional way of referring to orcs in general; that Aragorn would add -hai to it wouldn't raise too many eyebrows. (And while he is a Warrior Poet, he probably isn't a Warrior Linguistics Scholar. The Rohirrim aren't big on written records and histories so he probably doesn't even know that "uruk" is a specifically Black Speech word.)

     Gandalf vs the Balrog 
  • Gandalf fights the Balrog on the bridge until collapsing it. He falls into the great chasm. Then in Gandalf's flashback, they're back at the top of a mountain. Still, how did he end up on top of a mountain after falling into the abyss?
    • Endless Stair.
    • After they hit bottom (yes, the underground lake exists, it's in the books), the Balrog fled into tunnels in the deep and Gandalf followed it. They continued their fight, for days, and it took them all the way from the depths back to the very peak of Zirakzigil (one of the mountains under which Khazad-Dûm was delved) via an epically long staircase that is indeed called the Endless Stair, where it was finished after two more days spent battling on the summit.
      Gandalf: From the deepest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought my enemy.

     Terrible strategy that actually turns out to be intelligent? 
  • Gandalf is angry that Théoden isn't taking the field against the Uruk-hai and Dunlanders but is instead taking his people to Helm's Deep. The only problem? Not only does Grí­ma point out to Saruman that it's the best move Théoden can make it's also the same one that Gandalf suggests in the books. To make it more irritating, Théoden was completely correct. With so few soldiers they would have been cut to pieces if they had tried to fight Saruman on the fields. It hurts Gandalf's image as a wise man when everything we see afterwards suggests that his advice would have gotten everyone killed.
    • Gandalf is weed-smoking beatnik who loves to hang in the countryside with peace-loving, half-pint BoHos. It makes sense he wouldn't know that much about proper military strategy.
    • The problem is that Aragorn also seems to consider it a bad idea and Gandalf has been in Middle-Earth explicitly for the purpose of opposing Sauron. You expect a bit more from both of them.
    • This happened in the films because it makes a good story. It's more of Jackson's "character growth" idea. This is also why Aragorn doesn't want to be king (in the book he does); Andúril doesn't get reforged until Film III (in the book it's fixed in Book I); Théoden is possessed by Saruman (in the book he's just depressed); the Ents don't do anything until Pippin tricks Treebeard into seeing what Saruman's been doing to his tree friends; Pippin and Merry are more like Moxie and Pepsi from Bored of the Rings (in the book they're mature, responsible young men), etc.
    • Consider also that Gandalf is voicing this opinion right after Théoden has snapped out of his brainwashing. He knows that the people of Rohan need to see their king in action, not cowering behind a wall. He's pushing for Théoden to take action so as to inspire men to noble deeds in defense of their homes. He just didn't know about the 10,000 strong Humanoid Abomination army that was bearing down on them. When he arived at Helm's Deep with Éomer (Erkenbrand in the book), he was expecting to see Orcs and Dunlanders from the raiding parties, not an organized Uruk-hai army.
    • The problem is (again) that this completely contradicts the books. If it's supposed to be for character growth (which is a bit hard considering that pretty much all of Gandalf's happens prior to this) then it sure doesn't make sense because this isn't growth, it's tactics. Tactics which Gandalf apparently fails at.
    • There are tactical explanations: the army of Saruman is composed completely of heavy infantry, which makes them slow and vulnerable to faster units, in this case, the rohirrim, which are shown to be capable of horse-archery; the other problem is that to properly be able to defend you need to have enough numbers, which they don't; and finally, it is a bad idea to go in melee foot combat against an army that not only is better armed and trained in that field but surparses yours in numbers.
    • Also, wasn't Gandalf's advice not just "go and fight Saruman" but "go and find Éomer and the rest of the Rohirrim with him and then fight Saruman"?
    • Exactly. The "hide at Helm's Deep" strategy was losing until Gandalf found the cavalry and brought them over, which was arguably his strategy all along.
    • Even in the book, Gandalf initially plans to go to the Fords and help the defense there. It's only once he realises that the enemy has already crossed the river and routed a large army that he sends them to Helm's Deep, while he goes off to rally the relief force.
    • Why does Gimli, a Dwarf of Erebor, complain about them "fleeing to the mountains"?
    • It's not the "mountains" part that bothers him, it's the "fleeing".
    • For the record, it's Gimli who's voicing his displeasure at the strategy. Aragorn states the move makes sense on paper, he just seems to have a bad gut feeling about it. Gandalf, who has been to Isengard and knows Saruman personally, is concerned Theoden deploying a go-to tactic is playing right into his hands.
    • Consider that the Rohirrim are known as great horsemen, and in the films are shown as being primarily cavalry: the bulk of their armies are almost always cavalry based, with no infantry or foot-soldiers. Taking a highly mobile force like that, and placing it into a fortress robs it of it's primary asset: mobility. The Rohirrim's strength lies not on great numbers, but speed, being able to bring forces very quickly into a fight, and very quickly withdrawing. In addition, the horses the Rohirrim (and all of Middle-Earth, actually) are modern horses (which are substantially bigger than the smaller horses that would have been more accurate to the time period Tolkien was trying to convey). An armored man on top of a horse like that would have been like an armored vehicle, giving him a substantial advantage in height, reach, and stamina over a possibly bigger uruk. Further, aside from warg scouts, Isengard doesn't seem to have any cavalry to speak of. Gandalf and Aragorn encouraging Theoden to go out and fight is basically telling him to stay to his advantages: keep in the field, keep mobile, and keep striking and fading at Isengard, instead of trapping himself in a position where the larger and slower forces of Saruman could basically box and overwhelm him.

     The Rabbits 
  • In the original novel, the scene where Gollum catches some rabbits and Sam turns them into a stew is in a different chapter from the scene where Sam and Frodo are captured by Faramir. But in the movie, Sam makes the stew, then he and Frodo wander off to see the oliphaunt, then they get captured, leaving their campsite abandoned. So what happened to it?
    • Alternatively, some hapless Haradrim footsoldiers, fleeing the ambush by Faramir's Rangers, stumbled upon the campsite, praised their strange southern gods for this tiny stroke of luck, and had a good Hobbitish rabbit stew before starting the long demoralizing trek back home.
  • What's more concerning is that Sam decided to make stew, a meal that takes hours to boil and cook properly -not to mention the smoke and smell-, in an unknown land surrounded by potentially hostile inhabitants. The smart thing to do would be to fry the rabbits in that pan he carries everywhere and be gone in half an hour.
    • There are a number of possible reasons:
      • Wild game tends to be gristly and thin. A fast cooking method like pan-frying would get them done fast enough, but unless Sam brought some marinade with him, it would leave the meat dry and chewy, possibly to the point of in-edibility. A slower method would break down the connective tissue and make sure the meat remained edible.
      • Making a stew is actually a good way to stretch out rations, by creating a nutritious broth that could potentially feed more people than just cooked meat. After all, none of them knew when they might get another meal this substantial, so best to take advantage of it. It'd also let him boil some additional protein out of the bones, which is worth doing since Sam specifically states that there's very little meat on the carcasses.
      • Sam knows that carrying the Ring is taking a lot out of Frodo, to the point of making him physically and psychologically ill. Some comfort food like a nice bowl of stew would at least make him feel a little better.
      • It's a frequently-occurring issue with Hobbits that, being such simple, peaceful folk, they sometimes have a problem realizing when they're in real danger. This could be just another one of these Idiot Ball moments.
    • Rabbits have virtually no body fat, so little that people eating no other game can get sick from lack of dietary fats. Unless Sam's also been hauling a packet of lard along with him, that's failed to go rancid after all this time, frying them isn't an option. Baking them in hot ashes might work, but that would've taken just as long as stewing the meat.

     Why would Saruman dam the river in the first place? 
  • Wy exactly Saruman did dam the river in the first place? He mentions to one of his Orcs that they are to block the Isen at the start of the movie but I can't think why he'd do that. Surely he needs the water for something? Granted, I don't know much about rivers and dams, but I still can't figure out what purpose creating a dam served him.
    • Possibly, he was damming the river in order to power some kind of turbine. A piece of machinery for his forge, or even a mill to grind large amounts of grain (all those Orcs have to eat something). Otherwise, it's just blatant Rule of Symbolism: Saruman is raping the land just because he can.
    • It is actually clearly seen that he is working some sort of machines of the forge by the various water paths that are being redirected from the dam. So, it was not just to rape the land for the sake of it. He needed all the fires burning (trees be damned) and the waters flowing where HE wanted them, not where the land let the rivers flow.
    • It's also possible that the dam was a preexisting structure from when Orthanc was first raised up (Gondor saw the area as a viable spot for a tower to defend the Gap, with the Hornburg on the other side, and their engineers diverted the river with a dam).

     Éomer's banishment 
  • Gríma declares that Éomer is banished from Rohan under the pain of death, and the next thing we see of Éomer is him riding away... with two thousand men, all fully armed, and we later learn that the remaining Rohan forces (at least those immediately available at the capital) amounted to some several hundred men. Uhm... how did Gríma manage to banish the former with the latter, and why didn't the next scene after his "sentence" depict his greesy head on a spike, and Éomer taking charge?
    • That's what Eomer would want to do, but in doing so he would countermand the will of his King, the authority of whom Grima acts with (and has his own minions that the heroes fight later). Countermanding the will of your liege is Rebellion and also Treason. In a Feudal/Medieval society, Rebellion and Treason are like Murder and Rape in terms of gravity. Check out how many people throughout Europe in Medieval/Middle Ages times were executed for Treason against the crown. Eomer is second in line to the throne after Theodred, he would have to take exile ahead of committing a crime against the crown he may one day be expected to hold (since Theodred was at death's door by that point).
    • Because Gríma had the king's ear, and taking down Gríma meant, at that point, taking on the king. Éomer and his men leave because they're loyal to the king, and can't stand what Gríma's doing. Remember that Gríma has real authority there because of his place with the king. So, it's like asking, "When a corrupt cop gives you a ticket, but you've got four people in the car with you, why don't you just beat up the cop and leave?"
    • It's less giving an unfair ticket and more selling a nuke to the terrorists. In which case, it is a moral obligation of any dutiful citizen to stop them. And if it's not a cop but the President's advisor or, hell, the President himself, what does it matter? Are you saying Éomer and his men basically abandoned their country to the mercy of Saruman because of their loyalty to the king, even though the king was clearly either incapable or treacherous? I may not be privy to the specifics of Rohan policy, so maybe I'm missing something, but shouldn't at that point loyalty to the country and its people outweigh loyalty to a person?
    • They didn't abandon their country. One of the first things we see them do is slaughter the Uruk-hai. They're still fighting Saruman's forces even though the king isn't. They are protecting Rohan's land and people as best they can from external threats, because the internal threat is not something they can solve with two thousand warriors. Because really, what would be the most likely result of Éomer riding into Edoras at the head of a column of armed knights to demand Gríma's surrender? All-out civil war. The last thing Rohan needs. Too many innocent lives would be endangered, not the least of which is the puppet king himself.
    • And Gríma has Éowyn. There probably is a point where, if you hold his sister hostage, Éomer will tell you to kill her and be damned, but I don't think Gríma's quite there yet: as far as Éomer knows, this is all just a difference of opinion/competence over military strategy, rather than fundamental treason.
    • Also the example above supposes a modern concept of loyalty to a nation rather than it's leader which Eomer simply doesn't have. He loves his country certainly but his oath of loyalty is to Theodan and Theodan personally. If Theodan says he's banished then he's banished, regardless of how foolish Eomer may believe it to be or if he may think Grima is ultimately behind it. To do otherwise would make him a traitor and lose all honour. That's simply how people in that kind of society thought.

    Here goes your traitor 

  • Why do they let Gríma go? Ok, Aragorn stops Théoden from killing the bastard, fine, he's all noble and merciful. But why let him go? It's obvious he's going to return to Saruman and tell him all he knows, and surely they wouldn't want that, would they?
    • Saruman was literally in Théoden's head for the last few months, at the least. What on Earth could Gríma tell him that he doesn't already know? Saruman's also an incredibly powerful wizard — the total value he has as a tactical asset to Saruman is infinitesimally small once he's out of Théoden's court.
    • I see it as Aragorn trying to look out for Théoden's mental well-being. Théoden had just had his head invaded by evil for a long time... it probably wouldn't have been that great for his stability and the moral center of his soul if the first thing he did upon coming out of it was slaughter a physically defenseless man. It's not that Gríma deserved to live so much as killing him or having him killed would have been bad for Théoden's soul at that moment. To judge by their encounter at Isengard, it was probably a good call... once he was fully himself, Théoden was actually ready to offer Gríma a chance for mercy and repentance.
    • I understand why they didn't kill him — I don't understand why they didn't throw him into prison. As for Gríma's lack of useful knowledge, I don't know, he is still shown telling Saruman about the route that Rohans would take to the Helm's deep, and the defences, including the drain gate.
    • Considering Saruman's strategy revolves around exploiting that drain gate with explosives that he appears to have invented just for the occasion, he already knew about it.
    • “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”
    • As for why they let him go I got the impression everyone was looking at Aragorn and Theodan and Grima just took the chance while everyone was distracted to peg it. By the time anyone thought to grab him he was already on a horse going full pelt to Isengard.
    • Besides, it looks like they couldn't afford to spare even the minimum amount of people necessary to guard the prisoner. And if he's able to free himself, he might actually cause much more harm from within than from without...

     The Ents are going to war...far too quickly. 
  • After the Ent Moot they'd most likely dispersed to get on with whatever it is they were doing, which was probably not hanging around near Isengard — so how did they all get there so quickly? Even in the Extended Edition, there's only about a minute at most between Treebeard yelling and the other Ents coming out of the woodwork.
    • They were heading back to whatever it was they were doing, but they're Ents — they don't go fast coming or going. They probably weren't far from where the Ent Moot was held anyway.
    • There could be a subtle hour-long cut during which Treebeard, Merry, and Pippin are standing there awkwardly and twiddling their thumbs waiting for the ents to get to the edge of the forest and PJ didn't want to bore the audience. Rule of Cool.
    • From the looks of it, Ents can move pretty fast when they actually want to - they just usually don't. Treebeard's howl of rage calling them to war could have told the other Ents that some really, really bad stuff had happened and to get out there right away.
    • Ents walk pretty fast. Like, we see them moving slow because they don't see any good from hurrying along under normal conditions. When they come out of the forest, though, they all step it up double-time. Comparing Treebeard's strides before he sees Fangorn in the lead to Isengard versus after? He goes from a sedate lazy swagger to power-walking. It's just that ents are freaking humongous. Their power-walking looks like a man trying to sprint on the moon. Honestly, any scene with the ents in looks like it's in slow motion for most of it.

     Defense of Helm's Deep 
  • Since the women of Rohan are (according to Éowyn) apparently trained in weapons to some degree, how come the women are all sent to the caves, while little boys and old men are conscripted to fight? Surely the women (being at least adult-sized, adult-minded and many healthy) would stand a better chance than what looks like 10-year-old boys. Or they could have used the women as well as the boys/old men. It seems crazy to have so many able-bodied adults sitting in the caves when they could be defending the keep.
    • Since the movie (and book) was based on medieval Europe, pretty much all women in those days weren't trained or expected to fight. Eowyn is portrayed as a tomboy and a bit of an oddity among women for learning to fight.
  • But Eowyn says earlier that the women of Rohan learned that those who don't wield swords can still die upon them, implying that Rohirrim women will fight if the need is dire enough. There could be no greater peril than the genocidal Uruk-Hai army at Helm's Deep. So why don't they take up arms and fight?
    • You misinterpreted that line. Eowyn means that even if she can't fight, the Uruks will still kill her because they are merciless. In her mind, she can either die helpless or she can fight to safe herself, so she chose to learn to fight. That's her own mindset; it doesn't imply that all the women think the same way.
    • Expanding on the earlier post. Possibly the only reason why Eowyn is allowed to learn to fight is because she's the niece of the king (basically his adopted daughter) and doesn't need to work and farm, so she had time to pursue other hobbies. Theoden clearly dotes on her, so he probably never pressured her to settle down and be "more of a woman", and humored her when she wanted to fight. Any other young woman from a lesser family (read: the rest of the women in Rohan) would long have been told to stop being silly and learn to sew and make bread and whatnot.
    • Tolkien based his world on medieval Europe, a time when war was an entirely male occupation, and women were in charge of the house and the family. The boys, despite being young, arguably have more "military" experience than the women because they were taught from a young age the basics of fighting and riding by their fathers and uncles, who expected them to grow up and take their place as defenders of the land. The women have never been trained and have no idea how to fight, and if you throw untrained, untested recruits against the well-armed, well-trained, merciless horde of Uruks, they would have been massacred.
    • In today's terms, it's like sending first-year recruits versus sending in civilians to an active-combat zone. The recruits will still do terribly, but at least they have a general idea of what to do. The civilians (for the most part) would freeze and end up being liabilities.

    Actually, Where IS the Horse and the Rider? 
  • Rohan has at least 6000 horsemen who were ready to ride to war, and almost certainly more. If this is the case, why in all of Middle-Earth didn’t Théoden call on any of them to fight at Helm’s Deep? He pointedly tells Aragorn that they’re alone and no one is coming to help them, yet during what we’re explicitly told is a long, slow journey from Edoras to Helm’s Deep, he apparently forgets he has an entire country’s worth of loyal subjects to call upon. Even if time is an issue, he could’ve at least tried. Likewise, would losing the Battle of the Hornburg really have been that devastating? Certainly the death of the King would’ve been a blow, but even so, the King’s heir is riding around with a group of horsemen capable of wiping out what remains of Saruman’s army. And only a paltry fighting force (around 300) were at Helm’s Deep, with a huge majority of the country’s fighting force still available. They didn’t even lose their capital.
    • Those loyal horsemen had been banished by the King's decree — he had no idea where they were, and didn't have people to spare to go looking for them. That's where Gandalf is for most of the story — running around looking for them. As for the second, Rohan's civilian population is also there, remember. Also, if the Orcs take Helm's Deep, that means they have Helm's Deep, a heavily fortified stronghold deep in Man's territory. That is BAD.
    • Horses aren't particularly useful during a siege; Théoden could've sent one or two out at absolutely any time before it began. If they'd brought back any sort of fighting force, it would've been justified. However, he bizarrely seemed to think that no one in his own country was willing to help. There was so much time between Edoras and the battle to gather reinforcements, and he never even tried.
    • He needed every fighting man he had to protect the civilians he's trying to get to Helm's Deep. The Uruk Hai arrive maybe a day or two later, not nearly enough time for him to have sent any riders out and expect them to arrive in any time to help. Plus, sending "one or two" riders out just means they're going to get picked off by the enemy army that's damn near swarming the land.
    • Also, the enemy had cavalry as well. Hardly all the warg riders were killed in that one skirmish. An obvious move for Saruman would've been to position them across the land to intercept runners. So, perhaps Gandalf was the only one who could possibly safely reach Eomer or any other place.
    • Theoden almost certainly sent out a call to war for the rest of the Rohirrim to assist. The problem is that this is a medieval society; it takes time for messengers to ride out to the towns, villages, and keeps that aren't being threatened or destroyed by Isengard's forces, it takes time for the local lords to in turn send out the call to arms to their men, it takes time for those men to ride to their lord, it takes time for them to get provisioned, armed, and armored, and it takes time for them to get on the road to meet their King. Theoden only had the manpower at Edoras and the Hornburg because those were all the men he had immediate access to, as Eomer and his two thousand took off after being banished.
      • This is an excellent point: it's difficult to get the scale of these places because of necessary compression in the films, but Rohan is BIG. It's probably around a half the size of France (maybe a little more), which, given a system that relies on horse-delivered couriers, means things are going to go slowly just by default.
    • Also it could, at least partly, be because the people of Rohan living in the countryside do not really trust anyone at this point. It is well-known that Theoden has been acting irrationally for quite some time, and many suspect that he is under influence by the enemy. If a rider arrived and demanded the village's fighting men, they would likely fear it being a trap. This could also explain why much fewer men than expected answer Theoden's call, in Return of the King. Many do, but it takes time to convince everyone that their king is back to normal.
    • Additionally, the War of the Ring had more fronts than just Minas Tirith, and Rohan sat on what was basically a crossroads for Middle Earth. It's likely that the Lords of Rohan (especially those in the northeast and far east, or the ones to the northwest near the Dunlendings) were busy dealing with marauders and war bands in their own demesnes, and were unable to respond to Theoden's call (or were too scattered to be able to redistribute their forces in time).

     Tracking Merry and Pippin 
  • As good as Aragorn's tracking skills may be, shouldn't any tracks Merry and Pippin made have been destroyed beyond recognition by the combination of feet, hooves, and orc corpses being dragged over them?
    • The implication is that Aragorn is just that good. In the books it's a little more realistic, as an orc carried Merry and Pippin far from the battle before they escaped, so their tracks would be undisturbed, and Aragorn still has to rely on a bit of guesswork to piece together events, even admitting he is confused as hell at several points.

     Avoiding the wargs 
  • When the people of Rohan are attacked by the wargs, Eowyn directs the civilians away from the battle, telling them to "make for the lower ground, and stay together". Staying together is sensible, but why exactly must they keep to the lower ground? Being on foot, they're at risk either way - but what advantage is there in keeping to lower ground as opposed to high ground, where it might present a challenge for the wargs to reach them? Is there something I'm missing?
    • She was most likely just giving them directions to get away from the wargs, rather than getting them to a tactically better position. The civilians aren't going to be fighting the wargs, they're going to be running.
      • This exactly: running uphill will exhaust them, and not distance them. Plus, it may have been the easiest way of giving a direction that was in the immediate opposite direction of the wargs (instead of giving a vague direction that could be misinterpreted, she gave a geographical feature of the area she wanted everyone to go, which would be the low ground).

     Helm's Deep postern door 
  • ...What was even the point of it? In the book it was described as a sally port - an inconspicious, out-of-the-way and rarely used side entrance intended for defenders to easily mount counter-attacks against the enemies storming the main gate. In the movies it's instead put on top of a large rock wall with no visible path down or connection to the causeway it was supposed to help defending (and no sign of such path having ever existed in the first place). Why build a postern that can't be used to deploy troops?
    • Maybe they had planned to build a connection to the causeway and they just never got around to it. Rohan is mostly concerned with cavalry tactics, not siege warfare.

     Gimli's and Legolas's scores being pretty low 
  • I've noticed that Gimli's and Legolas's Body-Count Competition ends up being fairly underwhelming at the end. I mean, Legolas in particular started with 17 kills mere minutes into the fight and ends up with a measly 42? With the fight lasting an entire night?
    • Legolas gets an early lead because the early part of the battle is mostly his specialty - archery. He probably got most of those kills while the Orcs still hadn't even made it inside the wall and given Gimli any chance to do his close-range ax combat. Gimli probably made up most of the difference during the little raid he does with Aragorn where he knocks a bunch of Orcs off a bridge almost single-handedly, and Legolas then has to spend a chunk of the battle paying more attention to getting his friends back to safety than getting more kills in. As for their having 'low scores' just consider the proportion of Orcs to defenders of Helm's Deep. There were about 1,000 defenders against (at least) 10,000 Orcs, meaning on-average each defender should get 10 kills to win. This is not to mention the addition of the Elves, the later adding of Eomer's riders, and the proportion of Orcs that flee into the forest near the end and get killed by the Ents. So I would say having a score in the low forties is very respectable.
     Haldir of Lorien, servant of Elrond? 
  • It's been established in the first movie that Haldir is in Celeborn and Galadriel's service, just as he is in the books. Yet here he is somehow in command of Elrond's expeditionary corps... Was Elrond that short on his own commanders? Or was it a joint Imladris-Lothlorien detachment? (But then Haldir only passed message from Elrond and not from the lords of Lorien...)
     Treacherous fidelity 
  • "The Ring is treacherous. It will hold you to your word" - do these Frodo's words addressed to Gollum make any sense? It's much more reasonable in the book: "One Ring to rule them all and in the Darkness bind them. Would you commit your promise to that, Sméagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are. It may twist your words. Beware!"
    • I thought he said "The Ring is treacherous, but I will hold you to your word." In other words "The Ring will tempt you to break your promise, but I trust that you'll be able to resist that temptation." He's taking it on faith that Gollum is ultimately trustworthy.