#40—“The Palantír”

#40—“The Palantír”

We close Book Three with apocalyptic visions through a crystal ball. (Or is it an orb?) We discuss addiction to technology—or perhaps to possessing greater and greater knowledge. Host Nathan tells us more about the hawthorn plant than a palantír ever could.

The Tolkien Heads once again have smartphones on the chopping block, as we examine the close connection between how they work with the palantír we encounter in this chapter—even though the word “palantír” bears a striking etymological resemblance to a different English word …

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Doggy day care

#39—“The Voice of Saruman”

#39—“The Voice of Saruman”

The ultimate Saruman chapter. Perhaps we are just falling victim to the notorious spell of Saruman’s melodious baritone, but we can’t help but feel some pity for the Many-Coloured wizard at this point. Do you feel the same way?

Much of our discussion this week focuses on pride, humility, and being able to accept help when you need it.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Aging

#38—“Flotsam and Jetsam”

#38—“Flotsam and Jetsam”

In this chapter we learn what happened—retold by Merry and Pippin—at the Battle of Isengard. We explore the Huorns a bit further: their nature, their origin, and what makes them so damn angry.

Our lectio section focuses on the two very different ways Men and Orcs were dealt with in the aftermath of the battle. Join us as we attempt to read this riddle and, once again, figure out once and for all exactly how human Orcs are.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Battery-powered appliances

#37—“The Road to Isengard”

#37—“The Road to Isengard”

Our discussion for this chapter hinges on the fate of Isengard. What has happened to this once proud center of learning and good counsel? Is it all a metaphor for industrialization? If so, what does the text suggest as a viable alternative to industrialization?

The lectio section asks this question a little differently: What was it that led Saruman to betray his friends and give in to the power of Mordor (even if he saw himself as a rival to Mordor)?

RANDOM-ASS THEME: DIY projects

#36—“Helm’s Deep”

#36—“Helm’s Deep”

One epic battle scene for the Two Towers film, but just another day at the office for the Tolkien Heads. We look at the Battle of the Hornburg from every angle, including the topography of Helm’s Deep and the surrounding area. Host Nathan even attempts to teach us what a coomb is.

Among other topics, we explore this chapter’s bizarre preoccupation with sea imagery. Our lectio section examines the exact moment when the tide of battle turns.

The image referred to in the episode, from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle-earth:

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Nose hairs

#35—“The King of the Golden Hall”

#35—“The King of the Golden Hall”

This chapter is so full of references to the Old English language and Anglo-Saxon culture that we feel we have stepped out of Middle-Earth and into medieval England as it was in the days before the Norman Conquest. Hrothgar, the king in the Beowulf epic, would feel right at home in Théoden’s court, and Aragorn recites a few lines of poetry that seem to be taken straight from The Wanderer, a well-known Old English elegy.

That said, the remaining members of the Fellowship have not escaped a chain of events that is very Middle-Earth indeed. We analyze the character of Théoden before and after his “enlightenment.” What is going on with him? What kind of spell was he even under?

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Netflix and chill

#34—“The White Rider”

#34—“The White Rider”

This fascinating chapter kicks off a comparison of two apparently different Gandalfs (Gendelf?), the old and the new, the Grey and the White. What exactly has happened to our beloved Pilgrim? Imagery of light and dark pervades this episode as we contemplate Gandalf’s journey and transformation.

The lectio section asks the question: how can you trust people or situations that could pose a threat to you? How can you come to feel comfortable, even at home, among forces that could spell your destruction?

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Helicopter parents