Goblin Kings and Dumb Punchlines

I got to see the Hobbit two times over Christmas break, with much thrill that a movie appeared in theaters this winter that didn’t take God’s name in vain.

If you haven’t watched the movie, this is a spoiler alert that you might not want to read the rest of this blog until you have.

The scariest part in the movie is definitely what happens deep underground.  I have discovered that I am not especially fond of caves for especially five reasons

  • dark
  • damp
  • lack of air
  • trapped
  • death

I do not have the fear that some people have in a cram-packed room.  Give me people–loads of people–and I’ll talk to them, hug them, and share chocolate chip cookies with them.  But put me underground in a dark place by myself–that’s terrifying.

I don’t like caves.

I don’t like the thought of being captured inside something stone and not being able to get out.  Trap me in a Christian bookstore or my church and I won’t complain.  Trap me in a dark, lonely, uncaring cave and I’ll struggle to breathe.

In The Hobbit, the dwarves and Bilbo head into a cave in the mountainside for the night.  The movie sets up for the scareline when the dwarf prince says something like, “Check the cave out–it’s rare these caves are uninhabited.”

But this one is uninhabited.

Uh oh, right?


In the middle of the night (maybe just before daylight?), the cave suddenly begins to rumble, and as the dwarf prince tries to warn everyone to flee, the floor of the cave splits and peels back on both sides, plunging them all in a free fall.

As I hate drops, I would have already been a basket case–before I fell in the basket.  Thankfully, Tolkien did not write me into the storyline.  But the dwarves and hobbit he did, and they fell into an iron (and very unfriendly looking) basket.

Now deep, deep underground, and before anyone has much time to wonder why the cave floor opened up or they have fallen into a basket, droves of orcs start pouring down a cave pathway and heading straight for them.

I think I might have jumped out of the basket in hysteria and plummeted down to my death, but they did not.  Bravely, the dwarves try to fight off the hoards of orcs, but it’s no use whatsoever.  They are driven down the cave path and, hopelessly far underground, into a city of horrors.  Orcs are everywhere, screaming and rioting and dancing, and the dwarves are pushed towards the centerpiece of the city: a monstrous, thundering throne, and that’s where it gets even worse.

(Bilbo fell off the path and he’s with Gollum now, and this is one of the rare times it is actually better to be with Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series.)

Sitting on the throne is one of the very worst creatures in the entire series–worse than Shelob, right up there with the Mouth of Sauron.  A vile, ghoulish, fully-grotesqued-by-evil goblin king.  One look at him and you see no compassion, no love, no hope.

Ah, but it gets worse.

He begins singing about how he wants to torture them and can’t wait to do so.  They have no means of escape, and all their weapons have been taken from them.  The goblin king orders for torturing devices to be brought over, and he wants to start with the youngest and weakest.

If I’d been there, I would have hoped to have a fatal stroke about then.  No defense, outnumbered by the hundreds, pinned down by the fear of evil, I’d have wanted to be written into a new novel, not necessarily best-selling or even well written–just another novel with a flatline story and no goblin kings.

This is the peak moment of horror in the movie.  (Although it’s not the final battle, it is the one with the worst possible consequence in the movie.  Getting beheaded by the White Orc in the last battle scene seems like a ‘yes please’ compared to this.)

I thought my favorite all-time Gandalf moment was going to be either in The Fellowship of the Ring when he forbids the balrog to pass or The Return of the King when he describes Heaven.  But my new favorite Gandalf moment is, it turns out, a Hobbit moment.

Gandalf walks up the Goblin King with full resolve.  The Goblin King, leering and sneering, says something with a gist like, “So what’re you going to do, Gandalf, the mighty wizard?”

Gandalf reaches out with his sword and slashes the goblin across the belly to which the goblin says in fear-stricken and undoubting terms, “That’ll do it.”


Here was all this build-up, this fearsome and mighty horrendous goblin king . . and he’s taken down with a slash to the belly, his personality instantly morphing from wicked monster to humble soon-to-be-corpse?  One blow?  Really?  This was the goblin king we just feared so horribly?

>That’ll do it”?


Is that the best line the screenwriters could come up with (because I doubt that Tolkien wrote it)?

But when I got to thinking about it . .

And thought about it more and more . .

I decided,

I love that scene.

“That’ll do it”–is a dumb, dumb punchline.  But how it fits!

A monstrous king of cruelty, a fear-striking warlord, an evil-hungry goblin . . brought low with one slash of a sword.

The cave becomes . . only a yucky place soon to be abandoned for better lands.

The orcs become . . only pawns for evil that can be scattered by good as the pieces on a chess board can be scattered by a moving hand.

The goblin king . . dead.

Do you know . . this is a taste of what it will be like when Jesus defeats Satan?  Did you know that Jesus will destroy Satan simply by the breath of His mouth?  Talk about embarrassing for the villian!  If one sword slash across the belly to defeat a goblin king was humiliating, imagine what it will be like for Satan to be destroyed by only the breath of Jesus!

Satan won’t have any mighty, awesome countermove.  He’ll simply be seen for the fool he is.  His ending will be more anticlimactic than this goblin king’s.

And the story will be with Jesus.

The glory and the honor and the power will go to Jesus . . not to Satan.  Satan will be a garbaged, wasted life.  Jesus will be the victorious redeemer of the humans who chose not to waste their lives along with a fallen angel.

Every evil, every failure, every sin–it’ll all be trash.  It’ll all be rubbish.  It’ll all be garbage.  It’ll all be a fatally bad punchline cast down into Hell to “enjoy itself” forever–as if it could.  And that’ll do it for evil.  Evil will be through with grieving God and through with bothering the people He has redeemed through Christ Jesus.

And Jesus Christ–the real story–will carry the adventure on forever.

Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:8, NLT)


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