So I’ve been promising this for a while, and yes, be aware, this whole thing from here on out contains spoilers, lots of them! From the moment Desolation of Smaug came out there has been tension about the “relationship” between Tauriel and Kili. A dwarf and an elf…huh? I just want to add a mini-essay to the multitudes of essays people have written on this subject. Why? Well, I think it’s interesting, and a little sad, how badly it’s splitting the fandom. It’s a change that doesn’t actually change the story (which the changes they made in The Two Towers did) and really, it’s pretty minor and it makes a lot of sense. That being said, obviously I support their choice in the Tauriel/Kili relationship and here’s why!
The first reason is if you think about who Kili is, as a character, this makes perfect sense! Yes, he’s a warrior dwarf, as they all are in these films, but he’s also the youngest of the company (if you go off the books, the second youngest based off the films). Kili is also the “spare”, when you consider that Fili is the heir. The two brothers have a fantastic relationship in the movie, especially when you consider the Fili would give up everything he’s worked so hard for with Thorin to stay with his wounded brother in Lake Town, but Fili is still the older of the two and, from the first time you meet Fili and Kili in An Unexpected Journey, you can tell. When Fili and Kili march into Bilbo’s hole, Fili has an incredible amount of confidence, and even a bit of a swagger, his little brother, not so much. Pointing to an article I read (it’s called “In Defense of Fili, Kili, and Thorin Oakenshield — An Appreciation Beyond Hot Dwarves”), when you watch Fili, Kili, and Thorin interact, it’s very obvious that Kili is always trying to impress both his older brother and his uncle! Kili has always come second to Fili, just by the nature of their familial situation. That being said, as the heir to the throne of Durin, Fili would always be getting the attention of the cute dwarf women. So, here comes a strong powerful, beautiful elf maiden, who saves Kili’s life, is paying no attention to his older brother, and is civil, if not kind to Kili, the natural response for this character seems to be an interest in this woman. We also know, from a scene included in the Extended Edition of An Unexpected Journey that Kili is the only member of the company who seems to be attracted to elves.
How does Tauriel’s character fit into this puzzle? Well, consider a “young” female elf, who’s captain of King Thranduil’s gaurd and dear friends, verging on becoming more than that, with his son, Legolas. There’s a few problems facing her, though. Number one: King Thranduil is more than a little insane. Have you seen his character in the films? He surpasses aloof and moves into the realm of living on his own planet. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not sure I’d risk dating King Thranduil’s son, no matter how pretty he was! This comes to a head when Thranduil, point blank, brings this “issue” up with Tauriel in his quarters. Her response of: “I did not think you would allow your son to pledge himself to a lowly Sindarin elf” shows that she has no question in her mind where her standing is in that family. It doesn’t matter what she feels, she will never be acceptable to the royal family (with the exception of Legolas). So then it makes sense, doesn’t it? Tauriel isn’t really looking for a “relationship” with Kili, but a friend. She’s just been slammed into the ground by the king she serves and Kili is there, lonely, willing to talk and be civil with her. Tauriel sees a friend in him and decides to nurture that relationship. Makes sense to me? She also connects with his stories. She understands his mother’s fear about his recklessness because she’s seen how reckless he can be. He has an appreciation for the woods, the stars, the sky, the moon and that too is something with which she can connect.
And then…Kili gets shot with a black arrow and when Tauriel is taunted by the orc she and Legolas captured about the incident she reacts. Oh wait…that’s exactly the same scenario that happens when Eomer threatens to cut off Gimli’s head in The Two Towers. Remember?
Eomer: I would cut off your head, dwarf, if it were but a little higher from the ground.
Legolas knocking an arrow to his bow: You would die before your stroke fell!
But wait…how can that be. The Legolas we see in Desolation of Smaug despises dwarves, in fact he makes a snide remark about Gimli being goblin spawn. His father can’t stand dwarves either, so how do we get from son of psycho-elf Legolas to I’ll die defending my friend, who happens to be a dwarf, Legolas. Yes, there is character development in Fellowship of the Ring which helps this change come about, but it’s more than that. Legolas has to develop an mind open enough to accept that Gimli could even become a friend, not an enemy. How does the son of King Thranduil, who won’t even acknowledge a dwarf, if he can’t get what he wants out of him, wind up with a dwarf as his best friend. The logical answer is Tauriel. While Legolas might be jealous of her relationship with Kili in Desolation of Smaug, he none-the-less, sees that it is possible to have friendship, maybe even love between elves and dwarves, meaning…dwarves are not the heart of all evil. By watching Tauriel and Kili Legolas can learn that it’s okay to have a dwarf as a friend and that maybe his father is wrong about dwarves.
That to me is why the friendship that develops between Tauriel and Kili is so important and so right in this world. Somehow you have to explain how Legolas comes to have a more open mind than his father. Yes, the character aspects between Tauriel and Kili are nice to ponder, and do make sense, but truthfully, the purpose of that friendship (as a plot device) is to teach Legolas a lesson, because otherwise, now that we know his background, it is completely unbelievable that he and Gimli would become fast friends as quickly as they did, even if they were in extenuating circumstances. As for the romance side of the relationship with Tauriel and Kili, I think that’s secondary. Truthfully, that only comes into play when Kili is in a feverish, wounded state, and Tauriel has just healed him. I’m pretty sure anyone would be a little woozy at that point, certainly Frodo was! That’s really my say about this controversial plot point that was added to the film, but I think it’s important to acknowledge.
And for anyone who’s interested in other miscellaneous Hobbit-y articles, I highly recommend the article, and the blog, that I linked you to above. Heirs of Durin has some fantastic articles that are absolutely fascinating.