How To Talk To Your Uncle At Thanksgiving About Why The Fellowship Couldn't Have Just Flown The Eagles Into Mordor
Family · Nov 22, 2023 ·

It happens to all of us: you sit down around the dinner table with your family, thank God for the turkey, and just as you're about to take a bite of grandma's delicious cheesy potato dish, your crazy uncle starts ranting about how the Fellowship could have just taken the Eagles to Mordor.

Sigh. It's hopeless. Or is it? Using these conversational techniques and talking points, maybe you can navigate the minefield of contentious conversations about the Fellowship of the Ring's bold gambit to walk the Ring all the way into Mordor.

Are you ready, everyone? Let's dig in!

  1. Remind him that the Eagles weren't simply at Gandalf's beck and call - While the Eagles occasionally helped Gandalf out of a jam, they were not the Uber drivers of Middle Earth. Gently remind your uncle of this fact if he suggests that Gandalf could have just snapped his fingers, summoned them, and had the whole ordeal over by second breakfast. In fact, the Eagles were the messengers of Valinor - exalted creatures, almost angelic in stature. And, as a rule, the God of Arda, Eru, did not frequently intervene in the affairs of Men during this age, so he would not have sent his messengers to bear the Fellowship to Mordor. You might as well ask why God didn't send His angels to carry the Israelites to the promised land - that's not the kind of story God was writing. Hopefully, your uncle is nodding and starting to understand at this point. But, if he has a little too much wine and continues to stubbornly insist that the Eagles could have flown the Fellowship to Mordor, continue on with the next technique.
  2. As you ask your uncle to pass the gravy, drop this little bomb on him: "Sauron would have caught them." - It's true. A direct, fully visible assault from the air would not have gone unnoticed by the Lidless Eye. While Sauron did not have a big eyeball-shaped searchlight on top of Barad-dûr as Peter Jackson somewhat clumsily depicted the Eye in the films, his more metaphorical and metaphysical Eye was still always searching for the Ring. And there's no more obvious way to try to dunk it into the Cracks of Doom than by flying it in there with a squadron of elite Eagles. Plus, Sauron had his own air units - the flying Nazgul he unleashed shortly after the Council of Elrond. Would they have been up and running by the time the Eagles managed to pick up the Fellowship and head for Mordor? Most likely, uncle.
  3. Listen to your uncle's (incorrect) perspective, then counter with the fact that the text is very clear that only a foolish, unexpected plan like giving the Ring to a puny little Hobbit could possibly surprise Sauron. - It's important that your uncle feel listened to as he gives his totally wrong opinion that the Eagles could have just flown in and Sauron would not have seen them coming. You can bet your bottom dollar that Sauron had considered that as a possibility. Whole paragraphs are devoted to the Fellowship debating similar courses of action, such as frontal assaults on the Black Gate, and Gandalf warns against these kinds of approaches. He reasons that Sauron would expect them to use the Ring, muster their military might, and attack. While Sauron would not have expected them to destroy the Ring at all, he certainly would have seen a squadron of Eagles flying his way - maybe expecting them to use the Ring against him, not destroy it, but nonetheless, he'd be anticipating just such a tactic. Which brings us to...
  4. The Eagles could have been corrupted by the Ring, Uncle Steve! - If your uncle hasn't passed out from drinking a 12-pack of Coors Banquets by now, it's time to start closing in for the kill. Ask him if he's ever considered that his "brilliant" little plan to fly the Ring to Mordor could result in the Eagles USING THE RING OF POWER AND BECOMING EVIL DARK EAGLE LORDS OF DOOM! One of the CENTRAL points of the book, Uncle Steve, is that the GREATER a creature is, the FURTHER that creature can fall into evil and destruction. And if the Eagles are slightly lower than the Valar, the archangels of Arda, one can only shudder to think how great their corruption would be. In place of a Dark Lord, you would have a DARK FREAKIN' EAGLE! It's unclear how they would get the Ring around their fingers, but they do have large talons. Dumb Uncle Steve.
  5. Remind your uncle of what actually kills Sauron in the end: Frodo's act of mercy to Gollum. - Ultimately, what destroys Sauron is not actually some clever stealth tactic to get into Mordor and drop the Ring in the fires whence it came. It's Bilbo - and subsequently Frodo - and his act of mercy in sparing Gollum. Remember, Frodo actually fails to destroy the Ring on his own in the end. It's only because he trusted Eru's plan and tried to do the right thing whatever his fate might be, and thus spared Gollum a much-deserved death, that Gollum was there in the fires with him and succumbed to his temptation, destroying the Ring once and for all. Frodo needed to journey that 1,700 miles and grow as a person before he was able to sympathize with Gollum, giving the Ring the opportunity to destroy itself. If he had just been flown immediately to the Cracks of Doom, it's likely he still would have claimed the Ring for himself - to much worse effect. Take that, Uncle Steve!
  6. Punch your uncle in the face. - If the rest of these points fail, it's time to resort to fisticuffs. Wind up and sock him good. You'll be the talk of Thanksgiving this year and likely many more years to come.

We hope this has been helpful. Let us know how your Thanksgiving conversations about Lord of the Rings with Uncle Steve go in the comments below.

World, meet Travis. Travis, meet the world. In this first episode of our new show Travis Interviews the World, we interview some guy named Jordan Peterson.

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