Saturday, October 15, 2016

Grima, Son of Alfrid

When it comes to fan speculation about a work of fiction, there are generally two types of ideas that people discuss: fan theories and headcanons. A fan theory of course is an idea about something in the work of fiction that's supported by possible evidence within the story. A headcanon, on the other hand, is an idea with no evidence to support it. It's just something that certain fans choose to believe because they like the idea. I've talked about plenty of fan theories from the Peter Jackson Hobbit films on this blog, but today I want to talk about a headcanon from the series and try to at least clear its path of anything that could contradict it. That headcanon is the idea that the character Alfrid Lickspittle is the father of Grima Wormtongue in the six Middle-earth movies.

To start off, Grima Wormtongue is a character from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings book trilogy who also appears in the film adaptations. Alfrid Lickspittle is an original character created for the film adaptations of The Hobbit, a prelude to The Lord of the Rings. The two characters have a lot in common, being arrogant, sniveling, and manipulative and even having similar physical appearances. They're so similar that some fans used to speculate that they were the same character, with Alfrid changing his identity in between film trilogies to become Grima. This notion has always seemed unlikely since the two stories take place sixty years apart from each other, so the father and son headcanon seemed like a stronger alternative.

The only problem with the father and son idea (and also with the changing identity idea) is that the third Hobbit film's Extended Edition shows a bonus scene where Alfrid dies instead of making his getaway like in the theatrical cut. This doesn't destroy the father and son headcanon, like I used to think it did, but it certainly limits the possibilities.

The key to everything is Grima's age at the time of The Lord of the Rings. The only source I can find that mentions his year of birth is the website "One Wiki to Rule Them All," which claims that he was born in the year TA 2974. Since The Lord of the Rings takes place in the year TA 3019, this would make him forty-five years old and thus too young to be the son of someone who died sixty years prior. However, these dates are meant to reflect the timeline in Tolkien's books, where Alfrid's character doesn't exist. Whether or not "One Wiki to Rule Them All" is a reliable source, this timeline can be ignored because it doesn't truly relate to the movie-verse.

A source that does relate to the movie-verse, as odd as it sounds, is the Lord of the Rings Top Trumps Card Game. Available in three decks, the game features cards for each character as they're depicted in the Peter Jackson films, and those cards also offer a list of basic information on each character. According to Grima's card, he's fifty-nine years old in the movies.

This may seem like a year too short, but it's still possible that he was conceived before Alfrid's death. It would have to have happened shortly before though, and whether or not Grima's mother knew that she was pregnant, she probably would have wanted to distance herself from Alfrid and the town where he lived soon after the conception. Lowering her standards enough to spend the night with Alfrid could easily drive a woman to skip town like that. It's possible then that she traveled south in the following nine months and gave birth to Grima in the kingdom of Rohan, where we see him living as an adult. It could be that Grima hadn't quite reached his sixtieth birthday by the time of The Lord of the Rings, which could very well make him Alfrid's son in the timeline of the movies.

Like "One Wiki to Rule Them All" though, it's debatable how reliable of a source the Top Trumps card game is. And of course, it doesn't prove that Alfrid and Grima are related. It only leaves the possibility of that idea open. This is all that headcanons need though, and since that headcanon does the service of further tying together two trilogies and making the similarities between two characters feel less contrived, I still think it's worth considering.