OBJECTIVE: Watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring once per every week of 2014.

WHEN: March 6, 2014, 9:29 am. (Week 10, Mar 2-8.)

WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.

FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV (and digital download on an iPhone 4S).

COMPANY: None.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: A little groggy. Inquisitive.

I’ve discussed previously how Frodo (and the other Hobbits) serve as stand-ins for the audience. When exposition is being dished out, it’s usually in their direction. But here’s what I’ve noticed by this, my tenth viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring this year: Frodo rarely, if ever, requests additional information.

“Objective: take ring to place. Mission commence.”

Here’s why I find Frodo’s lack of questions particularly baffling: I’ve watched this thing ten times and I still don’t know what the shit is going on. If you ask me, Frodo’s shirking his audience surrogate duties in a big way. And hell, there’s even stuff we know that Frodo doesn’t, but the little guy never speaks up! With all this in mind, I decided it was time for a thought experiment: watch Fellowship like I’m Frodo, and write down any questions that I’d ask if I were him.

And now, here is that very list…

How did my Uncle Bilbo disappear during his birthday party speech?

Why does Uncle Bilbo like his little ring so much?

Gandalf, why should I believe you that the ring you just pulled out of the fireplace is quite cool? How about you drop it in your own hand first? Can I go get a plate to drop it on?

Hey, why is the ring safe with me? What are you basing this assumption on?

What constitutes “putting on the ring”? Is it activated by skin contact? Can I touch it without turning evil or alerting the bad guys?

Why does that horseman have such a terrible blacksmith?

Should we really stick around when that Strider guy is watching– ALL GLORY TO THE ONE RING. (I decided halfway through this question that my own Frodo brain would have been too clouded by temptation to think straight in this scene.)

Hey, why did I just say we have to trust Strider?

Guys, what’s happening to me when I put on the ring? Do you see all the weird things that I do?

How– BLURGH, I’m very sick and I’m being influenced by the ring, hold on.

Hey, Elrond, if you cured me, can you cure the Ringwraiths?

Seriously, why am I safe with the ring? Is this a race thing? Do you all think Hobbits are inherently trustworthy? Is that why there are four of us in the fellowship despite our lack of combat skills? Are we really going to need Sam’s gardening powers on this trip?

Hey, why did my uncle turn into a monster for a second? Is that a ring thing? Will that happen to me?

Legolas, what did you just call that bunch of fucking crows?

Whoa, Saruman can control mountains? Can I get a list of everything he can do? Should I really be deciding what route we take with such limited information on our enemy’s resources?

Hey, Gimli, why don’t you know how to get into your cousin’s place?

Hey, Gandalf, if Saruman took your staff while you were in the tower and you definitely didn’t have it when you jumped on the big eagle, where did you get the staff you have now?

When you say Bilbo and I were “meant” to find the ring, what are you basing this on? Gut feeling? Some magic spell? Hobbit racism again? Please elaborate on “the forces of this world.”

Since I’m repeatedly being hammered with the idea that the odds are against us, what makes any of you think that we’ll succeed, aside from good vibes and a ragtag spirit of adventure?

What’s the range on Sting, and does it only detect Orcs? Can we modify it to detect all that wish to do me harm regardless of their race?

What’s the range on the ring’s evil? Why are people who claim they can’t be trusted with the ring completely comfortable with being ten feet from it at all times?

Does anyone have a fresh pair of pants? Is it okay to admit that I pooped a little when the troll roared in my face? Is there a source of clean water nearby that I can use to wash myself?

20140314-023309.jpg

Do we have a plan for the giant fire demon other than “run”? Would anyone mind letting me in on it?

Was “Fly, you fools!” really the best advice Gandalf could shout before he fell? Could he have clued me in to any magical tricks that might have made his fall into the pit a less traumatic experience for me? Also, does anyone have a handkerchief?

Show of hands, could anyone else hear Galadriel talk without moving her mouth? Or was it just me? Should we trust someone that can enter our minds?

Galadriel, I’ve only just met you, so can you explain this magic puddle mirror a little better before I hold my face over it?

Hey, Galadriel, so when you told me that the fellowship would betray me, but you were totally tricking me into giving you the ring, was the prophecy still correct? If so, who specifically should I look out for? Could you not be so vague, as this is important to me?

Hey, guys, Galadriel tried to trick me into giving her the ring and it almost worked. Can we really trust her? Or me? Would someone else like the ring?

Excuse me, Aragorn, but what does “the Argonath” refer to? The statue? Your kin? Is it an order or ruling class? A tribe? A subspecies? Why did you tap me on the shoulder if you weren’t actually going to explain anything to me?

Hey, everybody, so since Boromir tried to assault me in the woods, does it sound like Galadriel’s prediction is coming true? Wait, should I be telling you about any of this?

Is going to Mt. Doom by myself in any way more treacherous than going with my friends and a laughably small group of skilled fighters?

Am I imagining Gandalf giving me advice or is he using magic to contact me from beyond the grave?

Sam, can you promise me you’ll either learn to swim or never run directly into deep water ever again?

Seriously, how are we going to pull this off?

ONE THING THAT WOULD HAVE IMPROVED THE MOVIE:
A more inquisitive protagonist.

And a sexier actor to play him.

[Note: Please don’t scurry to the comments section to tell me that these questions are answered in the book, the extended edition, or a diary page recently discovered under Tolkien’s refrigerator. This is a movie, released in theaters, and its job is to tell me things. Not to send me to other media.]