The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers
"The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers" is episode 92 (or 6.13) of the Comedy Central series South Park. It was originally broadcast on November 13, 2002. It was one of 10 episodes chosen by Parker and Stone to appear on the South Park: The Hits DVD, and Parker himself has praised the episode as “Just a perfect example, to us, about how much fun the show can be when it’s just kids being kids.” The episode is primarily a spoof of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, with several events and characters substituted into the narrative.
The episode opens with Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and a disembodied Kenny playing "The Lord of the Rings." Stan's parents have rented the movie The Lord of the Rings, and tell Stan, Kyle & Cartman to bring it to Butters' parents, as they had asked to borrow it. Still caught up in their game, the boys see this assignment as a "quest", and set off on their journey. When the boys leave, Stan's parents try to watch Back Door Sluts 9, a pornographic movie described as the most "hardcore" porno ever and the "single most vile, twisted, dark piece of porn ever produced." It is said that Backdoor Sluts 9 makes Crotch Capers 3 look like Naughty Nurses 2. To their horror, they discover that Randy accidentally got The Lord of the Rings video and the pornographic movie mixed up, and realize that Butters is now watching it at his house.
The two drive to Butters' house, and come across the boys returning home, having already delivered the tape. Stan's father plays into the boys' imagination and sends them on their greatest quest ever: retrieve the tape, as it "holds an evil power." Excited, the boys eagerly comply and set off toward Butters' house. They arrive and take the tape, but not before discovering that Butters, though not realizing the nature of it, has watched the movie and becomes obsessed with it. Excluded from the game and denied the video, Butters becomes steadily more insane, and remains secluded in the basement, muttering about his "precious" and generally acting like Gollum. At this point the Marshes, who have grown worried that the boys have not returned, show up. Distraught at Butters' behavior, they assume that the boys now have the tape and are watching it. Contacting the other parents, they go on a desperate search to find their missing children and "put it into context."
Returning home, the boys run into some 6th graders, who look inside the box and realize that the tape is actually a pornographic movie. Although they try to take the tape, the boys are able to escape and decide to take it to the council of the High Elf of Faragon. At the council, at which most of the fourth-graders are present (in The Lord of the Rings costumes), it is decided that to determine the tape's power, they should send one of their own to watch it for a few minutes. Talangar the Black (Token) is volunteered, and steps inside his house for a moment. He soon comes out, expressionless, and announces that he's not playing anymore without an explanation. Now truly convinced of the tape's power, the council decides the tape must be returned to the Two Towers video store "from whence it came", and forms the "Fellowship of The Lord of the Rings", which consists of Stan, Kyle, Cartman (with Kenny), Craig, Jimmy, and an unnamed kindergartener (possibly Filmore).
The boys go to the store and, after avoiding a run-in with the 6th graders (in which their party loses Jimmy, Craig, and the kindergartener), join Butters. He offers to guide them to the store in a thinly veiled attempt to get the tape back. Soon all the boys wind up at the Two Towers, and with the 6th graders in hot pursuit they desperately try to return the tape to the drop box. When Butters refuses to let go of it, Kyle throws him and the tape into the drop box. Angered at losing their movie, the 6th graders threaten to beat the boys up, but flee when the parents arrive. The parents then go into a long discussion with the astonished boys about sex, touching on such subjects as 69ing and double penetration. The boys (who never actually watched the movie that their parents are so graphically describing) are speechless. The episode ends with a view of Butters, clutching his "precious" among a pile of other returned tapes in the drop box.
Parallels with The Lord of the Rings
Many actions and events in this episode parody those in the The Lord of the Rings itself. The title in itself is a parody of the trilogy, incorporating all three of the titles into the episode's name.
- Stan — Frodo
- Kyle — Sam
- Cartman (and Kenny) — Gandalf
- Clyde — Elrond;
- Jimmy — possibly Boromir; in one scene takes on role of Gandalf
- Craig — Aragorn
- Jason — Legolas
- Butters — Sméagol/Gollum
- Filmore (the kindergartener) — Gimli
- Pip — possibly Legolas or Glorfindel; it is certain that the character is an elf
- The 6th graders — Ringwraiths, Orc armies/Goblins, Balrog
- Kevin — a storm trooper (related to Star Wars and not Lord of the Rings)
- At one point, the boys hide under a massive root in order to hide from the 6th graders, who try to sniff them out, much like the Hobbits’ first encounter with the Ringwraiths in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
- In the scene when the 6th graders meet on their bikes, a building in the background can be seen which says “More Doors Doors” (Mordor’s Doors), which is a reference to Mordor.
- When the boys arrive at Clyde’s home, Cartman says the word “mellon” (friend), which is actually the password used by Gandalf to enter the Mines of Moria in the The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Clyde’s council parallels Elrond’s council. During the council, Stan says: “I will take it, ” a quote from Frodo during the council scene in The Fellowship of the Ring. Cartman also closes his eyes mournfully in response, in the same way Gandalf did in Peter Jackson’s film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
- In the scene were the boys pass a "Country Cafe" Kyle says that someone's following them and Cartman responds by saying "It's Butters, he's been following us for like 2 hours". This parallels a scene in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" where inside Moria Frodo says he sees something and Gandalf tells him that it's Gollum and he's been following them.
- Jimmy stands in the road and attempts to stop the sixth-graders by saying, “You shall not pass!” (the same words Gandalf said to the Balrog on the bridge, before sacrificing himself to stop it — in Peter Jackson’s film). However, because of Jimmy’s stutter, he can’t finish the line in time, and gets run over by the 6th graders’ bikes before finally saying “...p-pass.”
- The boys escape from the sixth-graders by crossing a river, in a similair fashion to the four Hobbits crossing the ferry in the Shire. The sixth-graders, like the wraiths, keep going to find a bridge. The timing of the scene, after the Fellowship has already set about on its way to the Two Towers/Mordor, makes the scene also analogous to the crossing of the Brandywine river. Cartman claims the sixth-graders do not like water, which Craig dismisses as foolish (he then leaves with the kindergartener to play Harry Potter with the other children; Cartman then yells at him saying: “Fine! Go play your Harry-Butthole-Pussy-Potter!”). It nevertheless works, because the sixth graders fear that the water will rust the chains on their bicycles.
- At the end of the episode Butters, like Gollum, is reunited with his “precious”. Gollum falls toward the center of Mount Doom and Butters to the bottom of the drop box. There, at the bottom of the box, a pile of already returned red colored video boxes gives the effect of Butters about to sink into his own lake of lava.
- Almost all of the sexual positions and techniques described by the kids’ parents have been edited out in the syndicated version (the ones cut were ones involving double penetration, 69-ing, urination, and defecation during intercourse).
- When Token explains what happened in the porno film, the first part in which he mentions "a woman with four penises inside of her at once" and her being urinated on later was cut in syndication.
- The Comedy Central promo for this episode has a scene where Cartman calls a group of kids who are playing Harry Potter “Dorks!”; the change was made so the South Park promos could be aired during time slots which carried lighter TV-PG or TV-14 ratings. In the actual episode, he shouts “Fags!”