In the fifth chapter of The Hobbit, HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO AWESOME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hobbit.
CHAPTER FIVE: RIDDLES IN THE DARK
Oh SHIT YEAH, THIS SHIT IS BOSS. This shit right here? Sweet fucking christ, this chapter takes all other chapters, throat punches them, then drops them off a cliff to be eaten by gargoyles and doesn’t even break a sweat.
You see that Bilbo Baggins? He’s a fucking riddle genius, and he takes those fucking logical tricks, and he makes them cry and wish they were never born. But I’m getting ahead of myself because I am impatient and I just want to high five the shit out of Bilbo. Not literally, I mean, because that would be gross. I don’t even know if hobbits can poop, but now I’m treading into crackfic territory and I’ve got some badassery we need to discuss.
Basically, chapter five takes all of the silliness and weirdness of the first four chapters of The Hobbit and J.R.R. Tolkien makes you want to wet the bed with fear. He’s like, “Hey, assholes, y’all are gonna need to wipe your memories after this fucking chapter because I just gave you nightmare fuel to last a couple centuries.” And this fucking book was written in 1937 and basically Tolkien could tell the future and shit or something, because how else would he know that I am terrified of being in small, cramped, and dark spaces? That’s right, I’m the last person on planet Earth to read The Hobbit and I’m stating that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote it specifically for me. DEAL WITH IT.
So Bilbo wakes up from being knocked out and shit and he’s crawling around in a dark ass cave and there’s no one there, and all he finds is a tiny ring in the room, and shit is goddamn fucked up. And it’s made even more frightening because Gandalf doesn’t catwalk into the cave being all fabulous and saving the day. Bilbo’s on his own, and this shit is fucking scary as fuck.
But he takes the elvish blade he had stolen from one of the trolls earlier in the book, and he just sucks it up and decides to throw up a middle finger to the cave and just find a way out. He straight-up doesn’t give a fuck. Well, actually, he gives quite a few fucks because he’s a frightened little hobbit, but that’s Bilbo for you. He’s afraid and he keeps going anyway. Someone elect him as president immediately.
So fucking Bilbo Baggins is just a badass and he crawls his way through the network of tunnels like some kind of Middle Earth Clint Eastwood or something, only without a pistol. Or a cowboy hat. Or music from Ennio Morricone playing in the background. Or the same fearless attitude. Whatever, he’s awesome, no one else is. The end. So he’s crawling through this cave with his blade out, ready to gut the fuck out of some goblins, when he stumbles onto a giant body of water. And it’s dark as hell in this place, and in just a few paragraphs, Tolkien makes The Exorcist seem like a children’s fairytale about cotton candy and unicorns. BECAUSE GOLLUM.
GOLLUM. WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS THIS THING. THE NARRATOR IS SO FREAKED OUT BY THIS THING THAT THEY CANNOT EVEN DESCRIBE IT PROPERLY. Dude’s got a boat, and….wait, I can’t even call Gollum dude, can I? Well, I guess Tolkien uses manly pronouns and shit, so whatever. GOLLUM IS CREEPY AS FUCK. He blends in with the darkness “except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face.” WHAT THE HELL. Is he like those scary ass fish you find deep underwater that have like flashlights growing out of their head or those other creatures that look like creations of H.P. Lovecraft? This is how I am imagining him. Because the dude paddles a boat by dangling his feet over the side. I am never going to be okay with this in any universe WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS.
oh my god the way this son of a motherless bumblebee talks. oh my god. Remember when I thought Dobby annoyed me the first time I met him during Harry Potter? This is not that. This terrifies me. IT IS CREEPY AND I DO LIKE IT AND WHY IS HE A PRECIOUS that seems like an inside joke I do not want to discover the meaning of AMIRITE. And Gollum eats the fuck out of other creatures, especially fish and goblins, and now he’s looking upon the very first hobbit he’s ever seen and he sneaks up on Biblo and this shit is scary, all right? I don’t need you judging me. none allowed.
Oh, but Gollum isn’t comfortable just creeping out Bilbo and threatening to eat him. He forces Bilbo into a RIDDLE WAR. Which…yes, is just as ridiculous as it sounds, but HONESTLY IT WORKS REALLY WELL. Especially since I would have died in the first round because I AM NOT AT ALL FAMILIAR WITH RIDDLES AT ALL. The trade riddles back and forth, Bilbo knowing that one wrong answer means he GETS EATEN. NO PRESSURE AT ALL, THOUGH. Just your life on the line! But Tolkien had already established that hobbits, Bilbo in particular, are pretty damn crafty and clever, so this is what rapidly and exponentially increases how unbearably intense this is.
SHIT JUST KEEPS GETTING REAL, Y’ALL.
Oh, and in the midst of all this? Tolkien reveals that Gollum used to live aboveground. In a hole. By a river. WITH HIS GRANDMOTHER. how how how how is that a thing that happened. Are there Mama Gollum and Papa Gollum? WHAT IS THIS THING.
When both characters are nearly stumped to death, Biblo, that clever son of a llama, decides to trick Gollum. SORT OF. I don’t know? Does this count? It’s not really a riddle, but it STILL COUNTS, I would say. But Bilbo poses the final riddle of the game? What’s he holding in his pocket? We, of course, know it’s that tiny ring in his pocket, but Gollum thinks it’s a trick, and never guesses correctly. SO BILBO WINS SHIT YEAH, which means that Gollum has to help Bilbo finds his way out. WHY CAN’T OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT BE RUN WITH RIDDLES. oh god wouldn’t that be perfect I’M PRETTY SURE IT WOULD.
So Gollum prepares to help Bilbo get back up to the surface, and by that, I mean that he goes off on his own back to his slimy rock in the middle of the lack to retrieve “something” that will assist in their journey. And by that, I mean that Gollum actually had no intention to come back to Bilbo because he had something that would totally screw Bilbo over:
He wanted it because it was a ring of power, and if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the full sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that would be shaky and faint.
OH. OH. OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK. Oh my god does this mean that Gollum is the lord of the ring? GET IT DO YOU GET IT oh god I’m pretty sure I’m the millionth person ever to make that joke. THIS IS MY FIRST TIME CUT ME SOME SLACK, GODDAMN IT. So Gollum is going to just disappear on Bilbo, but Bilbo has the ring, and in despair over losing it, Gollum creates a goddamn scene down on that lake, so much so that Bilbo actually becomes concerned for the welfare of this creature. But sweet summer child, y’all, when Gollum realizes that Bilbo has the ring and his eyes start changing colors, and he is paddling with his goddamn feet in that boat and Bilbo is running and tripping HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH ALL OF THIS my poor heart oh my god.
BUT THEN BILBO PUTS THE RING ON SHIT YEAH WHAT A BADASS. And this chapter turns into UNBEARABLE TENSION as Gollum tries to find Bilbo, who realizes that Gollum is arguing with himself about where Bilbo went. OH GOD SO CREEPY. Gollum basically surmises that Bilbo came down here on purpose to steal the ring, so Bilbo must know the way out. So Bilbo, who brilliantly realizes what is about to happen, follows Gollum the entire way to the final passageway that leads out of this dark, dank place. DUDE IS A CLEVER SHIT, RIGHT? WHAT A GOOD PLAN. But then Gollum, in a state of despair, frightened by the prospect of leaving his cave and being seen by the goblins, sits down in the entrance to the exit passage and blocks Bilbo’s way. GODDAMN IT. Bilbo wonders whether he should just kill Gollum and move on, but then Tolkien drops this in the middle of everything:
No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried to yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. All these thoughts passed in a flash of a second. he trembled.
YEAH, GOOD GOD, THIS IS DEPRESSING. Oh god, Bilbo is FULL OF EMPATHY. And so Bilbo decides not to kill Gollum, instead choosing to JUMP OVER HIM and escape from him that way, hearing Gollum’s shrieks of despair and hatred getting quieter and further away. WELL, THAT’S NOT SAD OR UPSETTING AT ALL.
Oh, right, and then Bilbo follows the passage RIGHT OUT INTO AN ENTIRE ROOM FULL OF GOBLINS. Oh, and SUNLIGHT FALLS ON HIM and somehow, HE ISN’T WEARING THE RING, so THEY ALL SEE HIM. Oh, Bilbo, THIS IS A DISASTER. SOMEONE CALL THE COPS. THIS IS TOO TENSE FOR LAW.
He does manage to slip the ring on, and y’all, this shit is fucking real. I cannot imagine how I would survive both being invisible and having to move about to not give away my physical location from a bunch of goblins streaming out of the room to look for me. But Bilbo does it. HE IS A BOSS. No, he is the boss I AM TAKING THAT FROM YOU SPRINGSTEEN. Just kidding, you are forever the Boss in my heart, sir.
Anyway, I, like Bilbo, had forgotten that sunlight casts a shadow on a person wearing the ring. Well, actually, Bilbo doesn’t even know how this shit works yet. STILL. Our little hobbit spies a door to the outside slightly open, nearly enough for him to squeeze through, so Bilbo goes for it. BUT IT’S NOT OPEN WIDE ENOUGH AND HE ISN’T ABLE TO SQUEEZE THROUGH AND THEN THE GOBLINS SEE HIS GODDAMN SHADOW oh god how is this real and how was this written like 75 years ago oh god
But Bilbo escapes, just at the last minute, because the dude is a badass. And this chapter is badass. And I don’t think it’s going to get any less fucked up at this point because THERE ARE STILL FOURTEEN CHAPTERS LEFT. oh god what is this book.