**Warning: possible minor spoilers from The Hobbit**
> Who is this Thráin?
You know, that crazy dwarf – king-to-be character – which was supposed to make an appearance in The Desolation of Smaug – but clearly didn’t.
Upon seeing the first two films in The Hobbit trilogy, Thráin II (son of Thrór, father of Thorin Oakenshield) appears to be a rather key ingredient in the whole narrative – despite his lack of participation in the story.
After all, he’s the one who gave the key and map of Erebor to Gandalf prior to the Quest. Without which, let’s face it, the adventure would not have been the same.
In the cinematic adaptations, our glimpses of Thráin’s character come in the first hour or so of An Unexpected Journey. We meet him in the prologue as the son of King Thrór and the bold defence he mounts alongside his heir, as the dragon attacks Erebor.
Next, we see him in a flashback to the battle of Azanulbizar and after the death of Thrór, he “was driven mad by grief. He went missing, taken prisoner or killed.“
The uncertainty of whether he’s dead or alive, proves to be a point of speculation in the development of the story.
Those who’ve read the book learn that the acquisition of the key and map of Erebor occur whilst Gandalf investigates and discovers Thráin lying in a pit in Dol Guldur – close to death.
Originally, a scene showing Gandalf and Thráin’s meeting appeared in the trailers for An Unexpected Journey, but after the decision to split the film from two to three, that scene was moved to the second installment.
However, once again, the missing dwarf seems to have remained just that: missing.
He was mentioned briefly at the start of The Desolation of Smaug – hinting that he was still alive, but other than that, we see no sign of him.
This is where the Extended Edition comes in …
Co-producer and co-writer, Philippa Boyens, a few months ago (here) confirmed that we will be seeing Thráin in the Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug.
From several trailers and behind the scenes footage, we can collate the puzzle together and arrive at certain conclusions – but also create new difficulties as to how and why this character was cut out of the theatrical version.
> Thráin in Dol Guldur
As the wizard makes his way into the seemingly abandoned fortress, he is attacked by the dwarf (as can be seen in the trailers of him jumping on Gandalf).
Several fighting shots in some of the other trailers show the two characters engaged in combat – presumably following the previous ambush.
> Gandalf’s Counter-Spell Scene
In the theatrical version of The Desolation of Smaug, as Gandalf investigates the ruined fortress, he chants a phrase to counteract a concealment spell – thereby revealing the enemy within.
I’m quite positive that Ian Mckellen’s voice was added after the decision was reached to cut the Thráin sequences. If you look carefully at the scene, there is a quick low-angle shot of Gandalf – revealing the tall battlements behind him.
This is exactly the same shot we have seen numerous times in the trailers: showing a figure (presumably Thráin himself) jumping on the unsuspecting wizard.
However, in the final version, Thráin has been removed and Mckellen’s voice over added.
Looking closely, although we can hear him saying the spell, the wizard’s mouth isn’t moving – which sustains the theory that this final shot was not intended to be played as it was originally filmed.
> Escaping from Orcs
When Gandalf is discovered, he is chased by Orcs through the ruins. In the film, we see him running over a bridge, before turning round to repel the pursuers: causing a massive rock to fall down and destroy the path.
A video (here) released by the studios, giving us access to the wizardry of visual effects, we are provided with this shot in its raw and unfinished state.
With greenscreen covering the background, the camera follows the pursued wizard as he emerges out onto the bridge – but merely a second or two before, a smaller figure on the left side of the screen can be seen running out of shot.
Undoubtedly, this is Thráin after his encounter with Gandalf.
To further prove this idea, in one of the online video production diaries, we get to see Thráin urging Gandalf to follow him through the maze-like corridors of Dol Guldur.
> The Story of Thráin in the Extended Edition
When the Extended Edition finally arrives in November, what shall we expect? For instance, when Gandalf is casting the counter-spell, shall we get Thráin ambushing him from above? If so, how will the scene unfold?
Only time will tell, but until then, I’m curious enough to lay out a brief summary of how I believe these events will develop.
Who knows? I may be completely wrong; but I think that from the sparse clues we have, we can sum up a good structure of the sequence …
– Gandalf investigates Dol Guldur and casts his counter-spell
– He is ambushed by a mad Thráin
– The two engage in combat
– Thráin’s madness subsides
– Information is passed between the two characters
– Gandalf and Thráin are attacked by Azog
– They flee through the corridors of Dol Guldur
– Thráin disappears and Gandalf is taken prisoner
The real mystery now is: what is Thráin’s fate?
In the book, we learn that he died long ago when he surrendered the key and map of Erebor to Gandalf. However, the film adaptations have shifted the timeline and kept Thráin alive well after the Quest has begun.
Will he meet his end in the Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug, or is there more in store for this character in the upcoming third film? Perhaps he might **possible spoiler** assist Gandalf in escaping the fortress **possible spoiler**.
Until then, we’ll have to wait a bit more to find out …
In the meantime, what are your thoughts and ideas on this intriguing dwarvish mystery? 🙂