Chapter Sixteen: A Thief In The Night
This chapter covers a very brief scene that I don’t think will take up more than 10 minutes of screen time. As the Dwarves begin to take an inventory of the treasure under the mountain, Thorin directs them to find the Arkenstone, which Bilbo has previously pocketed. He states clearly that he “will be avenged of anyone who finds it and withholds it.”
Dain and his army of five hundred Dwarves march westwards from the Iron Hills and they are expected soon. The siege continues but Thorin believes that he and his companions are in a much better position to withstand the on-coming winter weather under the protection and warmth of the mountain.
Sensing doom (and fearing being starved out), Bilbo hatches a plan. Late in the evening he relieves Bombur’s shift at watch and once the fat Dwarf has retreated inside the mountain he puts on his Ring and stealthily sets out towards the camps of the Men and Elves. He reveals himself to the sentinels on guard and is brought before Bard and Thranduil. Bilbo, being tired of the whole affair, assures them the Thorin is prepared to hold out against the siege for as long as it takes. He also warns them that Dain’s army approaches and is less than two days away.Now this in and of itself would no doubt be considered to be an act of treason in Thorin’s eyes, but Bilbo continues. He has chosen to make them an offer and unwraps the hidden Arkenstone. He offers it to them as an advantage in their bargaining knowing full well its worth to Thorin. Bilbo says he will let it stand against his one-fourteenth share of the treasure.
Bard in particular is impressed with Bilbo over this gesture. And he offers that the hobbit should remain with them in anticipation of Thorin’s wrath once he finds out about the stone. Bilbo however declares that he cannot abandon his friends, whatever the consequences he will have to suffer. He then returns to the mountain and wakes Bombur who, like the rest of the party, is unaware of Bilbo’s activities.Now one of the unresolved storylines that Peter Jackson has pursued outside of what is presented in the book is the fate of Gandalf who was last seen hanging in a cage in Dol Guldur while Azog’s Orc Army advances North. At some point prior to this moment, Jackson will have to return to the Wizard. In the most recent trailer for “The Battle of the Five Armies” we see a brief glimpse of Gandalf lying unconscious with Galadriel tending to him. Either through telepathy or by means of some other signal, the Elf Queen must become alerted to his plight and go to Dol Guldur. Does she come alone? Will Saruman or Elrond come with her? Perhaps an army from Lothlorien similar to the one that fought at Helm’s Deep in Jackson’s “The Two Towers”?
Gandalf will have to be rescued and Jackson has more than hinted of a “battle” at Dol Guldur that will depict the driving out of the Necromancer (who we now know is Sauron, not yet at full strength). If the filmmakers are true to the end of this chapter, then Gandalf will have finished his business in the South and made his way (rather quickly) to the scene of the siege at Erebor. For here, before Bilbo returns to the Dwarves, Tolkien writes that the Grey Wizard meets up with Bilbo and congratulates him on what he has just done in an effort to avoid war between the races.I think it’s more likely, for pacing purposes, that Gandalf does not yet appear here in the film. Rather I expect that he will show up – fresh from his victory at Dol Guldur – at the very moment the battle begins. And that battle is described in the next chapter – “The Clouds Burst”.