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Riddles in the Dark 22: The White Council

Talk Turns to the White Council on Riddles in the Dark! Tolkien Professor Corey Olsen and co-host Dave Kale respond to listeners by turning their...

Talk Turns to the White Council on Riddles in the Dark!

Tolkien Professor Corey Olsen and co-host Dave Kale respond to listeners by turning their attention to the topic that got most popular votes: The White Council. Among other topics, the portrayal of Saruman looms large, and leads to this episode’s riddle. We get double the fun, because we also have a conundrum to consider.

Riddle: What evidence will the audience see in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey of Saruman’s impending villainy?

A.  None whatsoever. No hints. The “Christopher Lee” answer!

B.  Foreshadowing and dramatic irony, suspicious reactions to news on the council, etc., but nothing definite, and no one suspects him.

C.  Some members of the council clearly suspect him and may even discuss it behind his back, but the audience sees no clear evidence.

D.  The audience gets clear evidence that Saruman is evil or is becoming evil (even if other characters do not see it).


Conundrum: Will the White Council have unmasked the Necromancer as Sauron by the end of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?


Download: .mp3 (right click and choose “Save As…” to download)


  1. Murray December 5, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    I listen to these after the fact and did not catch what Dave was showing the Professor at the very end that appears to show Azanulbizar. However, I will point out that the B-Roll II posted through the RITD Predictions FB page shows a clip of Richard Armitrage learning to use a piece of oak as a shield. More evidence of Azanulbizar?

  2. Trish December 5, 2012 at 11:42 am #


    Check out The Tolkien Profess Facebook page around Nov 30…Corey posted some stills from the trailer that are from the Battle of Azanulbizar. These are the stills that Dave was probably referring to.

    That shield on B-Roll II (and by the way, I posted a link to all give B-Rolls on the RITD Predictions page…all very interesting!) is, I think, an earlier version of the shield. I think that we will see Thorin carrying a smaller version of that in the movie.

  3. Eleanor December 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I enjoyed the discussion about “spoilers”. I have a friend who is intentionally not looking at any trailers, interviews, or anything before the movie, and some others who aren’t huge fans, so they’re not following any movie news but just re-reading the book in preparation. I think I would be a bit shocked to go into the movie without having pondered any of the extra-Hobbit-book material, because clearly there’s a lot more that’s going to be in this film than just the story of Bilbo and the dwarves. I’ll be interested to check in with these people after they see the film, to ask whether going in spoiler-free made the viewing experience better for them.

  4. Murray December 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Thanks for posting those B-rolls, Trish. That shield does look large but then, he’s a dwarf. I’d been of two minds about looking at much of these sneaks peeks but now I can’t help myself. I do think I’ll stick to 24 fps to start tho, so I can focus on the story, not the ‘screenery’.

  5. Robert December 6, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Music too load over talking. It should fade into and out of the the speaking, not play over it.

  6. Trish December 6, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    Apologies to Robert and everyone else….I was in such a hurry to get this out so folks could listen in good order that I didn’t do my usual double checking on volume levels. Never again! Thanks for letting me know.

  7. Halstein December 7, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    My comment on the question, is that I would not have any character suspect Saruman. As the audiences knows he will become evil eventually, some hints might be dropped. This will not necessarily be in film one. I would have Saruman start out as a basically good guy in film one, but a bit lustful for power, and perhaps to proud, and make this the cause of his downfall. Hoping for this, I choose A for film one. Probably wrong, but I hope I’m right.


  8. Chincilla of Valinor December 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    I have to agree with Dave’s summation of Saruman’s character arc over the three films: some suspicion from Galadriel and Gandalf is acceptable and consistent with LOTR films, provided that he, at least in Gandalf’s eyes, exonerates himself towards the end. I am intrigued by the short recently released of the company, with Radagast, about to be attacked by Wargs, with Gandalf quizzing Thorin on whom he told about their quest. A possible hint to Saruman tipping off Sauron, who has some directorial control over the orcs and Wargs, possibly via Azog/Bolg?

  9. Kate December 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I realized around Thanksgiving that I wanted to avoid film clips and screen shots in December. I am enjoying catching up on the RitD discussions, as well as interviews (like the Colbert report, and the red carpet stuff), but I don’t want to be pre-loaded with images. It’s a moving picture after all, and I want to be able to get swept up. I’ve started looking away when the commercials come on.

  10. R. Scot Johns December 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I do not believe that “C” is the correct answer to this riddle, as there is no “clear” evidence that anyone actually suspects Saruman of anything darker than obstinacy (and a bit of arrogance). Nor does anyone talk about this behind his back, either directly or indirectly. Certainly no one suspects him of villainy at any point in the first film, nor is the audience given any solid reason to believe he has ulterior motives, therefore the answer cannot be C.

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