1218: Doors of Durin

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Redirected from 1218)
Jump to: navigation, search
Doors of Durin
If we get the doors open and plug up the dam on the Sirannon so the water rises a little, the pool will start draining into Moria. How do you think the Watcher would fare against a drenched Balrog?
Title text: If we get the doors open and plug up the dam on the Sirannon so the water rises a little, the pool will start draining into Moria. How do you think the Watcher would fare against a drenched Balrog?

[edit] Explanation

The comic is based on the Lord of the Rings, specifically a scene from The Fellowship of the Ring, where the eponymous fellowship is trapped outside the door to the Mines of Moria. There’s a spoken password to open the doors, an Elvish inscription on them provides a clue: “Speak friend, and enter”. The party leader (Gandalf) initially interprets this to mean that a friend could speak the password and enter. Only after many unsuccessful efforts does he realize it is actually a very simple riddle: The password is the Elvish word for “friend” (“mellon”), and the inscription should in fact be interpreted as “Speak [out loud the word] mellon [(the Elvish word for friend)], and [you will be able to] enter”. (See Use–mention distinction.)

In this comic, Cueball, White Hat, and Megan reenact the scene, with Cueball taking the role of Gandalf. The doors apparently open off-panel when the password is spoken. White Hat then wonders aloud what the Elvish word for “frenemy” is, and Cueball postulates “Mellogoth”. This is a portmanteau of “mellon” and “goth”, much like how “frenemy” is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy”. The Elvish word-root goth is best known as part of the name of Morgoth (literally, “Black Enemy”), essentially the Middle-Earth version of Satan in the Silmarillion. The doors apparently immediately slam shut the moment Cueball says Mellogoth. It is unclear whether this is because the opposite of the password has been spoken, or because the doors take offense to the word/concept frenemy, of which xkcd has previously made fun in 919: Tween Bromance.

The title text ponders what would occur if the Sirannon, a stream running adjacent to the path leading to the doors, were to be completely blocked with the doors left open. The already partially blocked Sirannon had formed a pool before the doors; which contained some sort of monstrous horror from the depths of the Earth, referred to as the Watcher in the Water. Randall seems to think that the pond draining into the mines would connect the Watcher with another horror within: the Balrog (a high-level servant of Morgoth) living within the depths of the mines. Balrogs are primarily creatures of fire and shadow, so having a bunch of water dumped on it is unlikely to please it but may weaken it. He then goes on to wonder about the outcome of a battle between the two monsters.

[edit] Transcript

Megan: I've got it!
Megan: What's the elvish word for friend?
Cueball: Mellon.
RUMBLE
White Hat: So what's the elvish word for "frenemy"?
Cueball: ...Mellogoth?
SLAM!!
Comment.png add a comment!

Discussion

Is it relevant that there is actually a font named "Mellogoth"? https://www.google.com/search?q=mellogoth 203.148.205.177 10:57, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Morgoth actually means "Dark Enemy" in Sindarin, "koth" meaning "quarrel" or "enmity".


Forgive me if I'm wrong as I was never able to read past the house of Tom Bombadil in the actual book but, in the film at least, wasn't it Frodo who solved the riddle? Gandalf merely answered Frodo's question of what the word for friend was which triggered the door but it was Frodo who worked out the meaning of the riddle. 69.129.202.222 16:06, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

You are correct. Frodo solved the riddle in both the book and the film.82.65.98.192 16:11, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

No, in the book it was Gandalf.
'I was wrong after all,' said Gandalf, 'and Gimli too. Merry, of all people, was on the right track. The opening word was inscribed on the archway all the time! ...'
Wwoods (talk) 16:51, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

On the idea of "who would win", one discussion board seems to thinkit would be the Balrog, hands down.

When Gandalf fights the Balrog, they do at one point plumment into an underground lake. The Balrog's fire gets quenched, but he becomes "a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake." The Balrog subsequently bursts into flame again when Gandalf chases it back outside, so perhaps its incendiary quotient is a measure of its current health? 174.239.193.32 23:35, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
Toolbox

It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?