Episode 205 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Boromir, the valiant man.
  • Elrond did not respond to any of Aragorn’s endorsement of Boromir and has moved on from it.
  • This is Elrond’s moment to choose, so his decision not to speak about Boromir is conspicuous.
  • It’s possible that Elrond sees Boromir as not part of his original plan, and out of sync with his judgement, but had he been against his going, he could have sent him home immediately.
  • Since Boromir has been waiting for two months in Rivendell, it’s possible that he saw this as a possibility, and may have even participated in the scouting missions in anticipation of this.
  • Note: Boromir’s speech to Frodo on Amon Hen includes a reference to Aragorn as a “tracker”, which may be derogatory, but implies that he and Aragorn traveled together before as scouts. Since Aragorn doesn’t do much tracking with the Fellowship, that would explain how Boromir knows of Aragorn’s skills, as well as how Aragorn can vouch for Boromir’s courage and valor.
There remain two more to be found:
  • Elrond has already met his goal of having all the Free Peoples represented by choosing the first seven, but whereas he could have stopped there, he is determined to make it nine companions.
  • The fact that Elrond uses the word “found” shows that he is still open to Providence, rather than only his own judgement, but seems to leave open the possibility of his sons being the final two.
  • Note: Elladan and Elrohir are mentioned as primary among the scouts, and are obviously eager to go, as they will go south with the Grey Company later, so that may be on Elrond’s mind now. However, it seems that they are invented in the scene when they arrive with the Rangers, and are retconned backwards into the story in revision, much like Tolkien did with Arwen herself.
  • Elrond has many people as part of his household, so he is not lacking candidates that are competent or willing, so it is not on this basis that he would think it seems good to send them.
  • Therefore, he seems to be waiting for it be revealed to him who should go, inspired by some outside intervention, since it has already been some time and they must leave very soon.
  • Was sending Merry and Pippin part of Elrond’s plan all along? Does Pippin surprise Elrond?
  • Pippin seems to have taken it for granted that he and Merry would be going from the start.
  • Since Elrond has already made it clear that he is sensitive to the free will of those going, as he is with Frodo from the beginning, his speech may be performative in order to see their response.
  • Elrond also does not want to ask a leading question, putting Merry and Pippin on the spot. Rather, he simply opens the door, and if their hearts are in the right place, they can speak up.
  • As before, Elrond is giving Merry and Pippin an honorable way to choose not to go if they want.
  • Once they volunteer, Elrond gives them the opportunity to know that they can refuse, and that it would be understood if they did, based on the danger ahead, but Pippin will not back down.
  • Elrond is also opening this possibility for them while avoiding manipulating them in any way.
  • He seems to only be open to those who show a willingness to go that they are also willing to stand up for, like Sam had done, on top of their availability and markings of Providence.
  • Had Elrond posed it as a question, it’s likely that Merry and Pippin would have felt obligated.
  • Gandalf had declared to Frodo that he wished to go, and it’s likely Aragorn and Boromir did the same, though it’s unknown how Elrond selected Legolas or Gimli, or if they approached him.
Unexpectedly supporting Pippin:
  • For whom is Gandalf’s support unexpected? Pippin specifically and all of the hobbits in general.
  • Gandalf seems to also be underestimating the hobbits a little, though not as much as others do.
  • From his first meeting with the hobbits after the Council, Gandalf knows their willingness to go and would understand their alarm at the idea of being left behind in spite of the danger.
  • Gandalf’s assertion that none of them truly know what danger lies ahead includes Elrond himself, reminding him that he was unable to see their road ahead before this either.
  • Gandalf endorses them as with Elrond’s other choices because of their willingness and friendship, not their abilities, and that this friendship is strong and lasting, not spontaneous.
  • Like Bilbo, Gandalf knows these hobbits far better than Elrond does and is willing to assert that.
  • Gandalf, as in the Council, emphasizes the importance of estel, not amdir, in their choices here.
  • He may also be giving Elrond cover, by allowing him to express the obvious doubts out loud.
  • The use of “wisdom” may either point to a lack of wisdom among these Wise, or these hobbits.
  • Gandalf does not miss on the backhanded compliment he is giving to them, especially Pippin.
  • By mentioning Glorfindel, Gandalf recapitulates the debate in the Council, showing how they have arrived at the choices already made, though it’s not clear for who’s benefit this is done.
  • It seems that has been an ongoing conversation over the weeks since the Council, but since Merry and Pippin were not there, it could be for their benefit that Gandalf mentions it here.
  • Note: There is irony that Glorfindel is left out, considering their future encounter with a Balrog.
The Shire is not free now from peril:
  • Why does Elrond use the word “gravely” to describe Gandalf’s speech, rather than “wisely”?
  • He may mean that Gandalf’s speech has large implications regarding their policies going on.
  • Elrond has not been insincere in his doubt, as even if he wanted Merry and Pippin to go, he is saying that his and Gandalf’s feelings are being contradicted by the facts that he knows.
  • The hobbits seem not to share Elrond’s concerns about the danger to the Shire, so don’t ask.
  • By voicing these doubts only after leaving them an open choice, he again avoids manipulation.
  • Elrond is foresight is clear here with regards to the Shire, as it is not obscured by the Shadow.
  • Note: Elrond is proven correct in this foreboding by what we see in “The Scouring of the Shire”, so it is clear that Elrond may have been justified in sending Merry and Pippin back to prevent it. Though their stature would not have increased by not going through the rest of the journey, it may not have been necessary if they were able to prevent the damage to the Shire altogether. Had Lotho been resisted all along, it’s probable that Saruman would not have been able to do what he did later, but Gandalf will say that it was ultimately good that they grew into it first.
  • Could Elrond not send a message another way? If it was sent by an Elf, and not another hobbit, it’s likely that it would not be believed by most of the hobbits, or the danger clear to them.
  • Elrond does not say that he is against their going, but only that he isn’t sure if Providence has brought Merry and Pippin here to go on the quest, or to go back to try to save the Shire.
  • Why does Elrond say his heart is against Pippin going specifically? Does he foresee Pippin’s death, or some other outcome that would be bad for him personally, though not the quest?
  • Elrond pointing to Pippin’s age as his reasoning suggests that he is thinking of Pippin’s welfare.
  • It’s possible that he is considering that Pippin is not yet an adult hobbit and unable to willingly make an informed choice in order to consent, so others would have to be responsible for him.
  • Note: Tolkien would probably have known boys who lied about their age in order to fight in war.
  • If Elrond gives Pippin an opportunity to prove his maturity, he doesn’t quite pass, though he does demonstrate his resolve, and using the imagery of incarceration invokes his free will.
  • Pippin would know about the stories from Bilbo’s adventure of capture and uses them here.
  • Though not calculated, Pippin’s expression of his free will and courage moves Elrond, even though it doesn’t rebut Elrond’s argument regarding his age, nor even responds to it.
  • Pippin may also be unconsciously reminding Elrond of the importance of the number nine that he has chosen, and that him going, even though, unchosen would interfere with Elrond’s plan.
  • Note: This may also be a reminder of the “unlucky number” conversation from The Hobbit.