Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Story Recap

The Ring’s shadow grows on Frodo

A vision of Gandalf in Frodo’s sleep might be a premonition of things to come. Frodo and Sam journey alone but do not know the way to Mordor. They need a guide, someone who has been there before. The Ring is getting heavier for Frodo to carry. It is having its evil effects on the little Hobbit.

They journey on but Frodo realizes Gollum is in pursuit. Their wish walks right into their hands. He attacks them in their sleep for his Precious but it is a trap. A fight ensues. Gollum nearly kills Sam but Sting saves the day. They enslave Gollum and ask him to guide them to Mordor.

The Fellowship heads to the Gap of Rohan – but something is not right

Aragorn and the remaining Fellowship – Gimli, and Legolas – are behind the Uruk-hai, who smell them and increase their pace. Rohan is home to the horse lords. “Something evil brews there”, Legolas remarks. Merry and Pippin are being taken to Isengard.

Saruman sends the rebels – the Wild Men – of Rohan to regain their home in the horse lands. “It begins in Rohan”, Saruman remarks. Theodred, the son of Theoden the King of Rohan, dies due to illness. Eowyn, his sister only has the support of cousin Eomer, son of Eomund. The King of Rohan is ruled by a dark witch, Grima, installed there by Saruman himself. He has no will of his own. He orders not to attack and defend Rohan.

The city will fall. Eomer and the men loyal to him are banished by Grima in retaliation for their infidelity. The Orcs and Uruk-hai stop for a breather, and Eomer’s company ambushes them. They kill all the Orcs. King Theoden recognizes no one. He has lost control of himself and is in deep slumber.

Grima’s spell has cast an ugly and unfortunate old age on him. Eomer reveals he and his company have been banished to the Fellowship. They reveal they left none alive, but do not know about the Hobbits. They might be dead. Legolas finds one of the wee belts of Pippin in the pile of burning bodies. Aragorn kicks an iron helmet in frustration.

For trivia enthusiasts, this is the scene where Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn, broke his foot as he did not know the helmet was made of real iron. He still went through with the scene and the grimace you see is actually real! What a professional.

Treebeard in Fangorn Forest, and Gollum the Guide

Aragorn notices the hobbits’ crawling. He follows the trail to deduce they’re still alive. The tracks lead into Fangorn forest. A flashback shows that they climbed upon trees to escape the Orc chasing them. Then suddenly a tree comes alive and kills it. It reveals that it is an Ent, called Treebeard.

An Ent is a shepherd of the trees, he reveals. Merry and Pippin reveal they’re hobbits but Treebeard hasn’t heard of them. He is angry at the orcs for destroying the forests. He throws them in front of the White Wizard, Saruman, and their fate is all but written.

Gollum leads them through the swamps, a way the Orcs don’t know of. The Dead Marshes have faces of death beneath the water. They’re from the war ages ago, Gollum tells them. Frodo falls into the waters and is almost capsized by the ghosts but Gollum saves him. They’re closer than ever to Mordor.

In the night, Frodo caresses the ring as Gollum babbles about his obsession with it. Then Frodo calls him Smeagol, his real name. Suddenly, the ringwraiths appear behind them. But they hide successfully, owing to Gollum’s quick thinking. They call out for the ring and it suffocates Frodo for a while, but Sam helps him bear the pain.

Gandalf the White returns

Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli cross over into the forest to look for the Hobbits. Legolas says the White Wizard approaches them. But it is Gandalf, not Saruman! He came back from the ruins to complete his task. He defeated the Balrog. But it is not Gandalf the Grey who has come back; it is Gandalf the White who was reborn in Grey’s body and has been sent to complete his mission. They must ride to Edoras at all speeds.

Gandalf calls his horse, Shadowfax, one of the Mearses. He is the lord of all horses. Treebeard is instructed by Gandalf to keep the hobbits safe. He explains the anger of trees on being mercilessly cut down.

Testing times for the Hobbits’ loyalties and Theoden is reawakened

Gollum has finally led the Hobbits to the black gate of Mordor. Sam and Frodo are almost caught as the former falls from the cliff and towards the gate. Gollum stops them from going through the gate and speaks of another way to go into Mordor – steps and then a tunnel.

Sam resists but Frodo says he trusts him. Gandalf rides with Aragorn and Gimli and Legolas to Edoras and the Golden Hall of Meduseld. Eowyn, Theoden’s niece, reveals to him that his son is dead. Grima has his eyes on Eowyn. Gandalf and everyone else arrive in the hall, where Grima’s men take their weapons, except Gandalf’s staff.

Grima’s men then try to take it on his command but the trio wades them off as Gandalf goes to free Theoden. He releases him from the spell. But Saruman laughs in Gandalf’s face, saying Gandalf the Grey has no power in these Halls. That is when Gandalf throws away his grey shawl and reveals he is Gandalf the White.

He vanquishes Saruman from Theoden’s body and the King of Rohan finally wakes again, his face turning back almost centuries. Grima is exiled and then Theoden enquires about Theodred, realizing his son is dead. He mourns for him, as Gandalf reminds him of his higher duty to the crown.

Theoden refuses to engage in open war. He decides to empty the city and take refuge in Helm’s Deep, Rohan’s impregnable fortress. Gandalf is upset, saying Theoden is leading his people into a trap. He warns Aragorn that the defenses of Rohan must hold.

Gandalf goes to search for something and leaves Aragorn with these words: “look to my coming at first light on the fifth day; at dawn, look to the east.” Grima goes to Saruman with the information that Theoden will leave the city and go to Helm’s Deep. Saruman instructs warg-riders to intercept the people of Rohan in the mountains.

The defense of Helm’s Deep and Gollum’s growing influence

Tension grows between Sam and Frodo. The latter is growing more possessive of the Ring and that is affecting him; it is taking hold of him. He shouts at Sam and he reminds Frodo that he is increasingly becoming like Gollum. Frodo says he wants to save Smeagol but Sam doesn’t believe he can.

Smeagol and Gollum debate what to do with the Hobbits. The former asks the latter to leave him forever because The Master will protect him. He dances his dance of freedom. He even brings food for Frodo. As Smeagol and Sam debate how to eat it, Frodo follows the squeaking of a bird that leads him to an advancing army of wicked men, servants of Sauron. The dark lord is preparing for the final war to take over Middle Earth.

All of a sudden, they’re attacked by strange bowmen. They also discover Sam and Frodo, who are taken captive. Aragorn has a dream about Arwen. She reassures him that he is on the right path. He must remain strong and trust his instinct and the Evenstar, which will always keep him close to Arwen.

In a flashback, Elrond asks Aragorn to let Arwen go into the west – the undying lands of Valinor. As she is mortal, her time is coming to an end. But she will be safe in the west. Aragorn understands and parts ways with Arwen. He gives the Evenstar back to her but she lets him keep it. The party is under attack from Saruman’s men. Theoden asks Eowyn to lead the men into Helm’s Deep and remains with the riders to fight off the orcs.

A battle ensues and the men fight valiantly and defeat the Orcs. But Aragorn tumbles off the cliff with one of the wargs and is presumed dead. Legolas finds his Evenstar in one of the Orc’s hands. But Theoden asks them to move forward without Aragorn because they cannot wait any longer.

Eowyn successfully marches the people into the fortress. The King arrives to lead his people. Grima lets Saruman know of one weakness in the fortress, but the walls must be breached to take Helm’s Deep. It will take thousands of men to do it. And then Saruman shows Grima the sea of orcs, an army larger than he had ever seen. He announces war and the downfall of earth and they march on.

An impending battle at Helm’s Deep and Aragorn’s return

Aragorn washes ashore and is found by a horse, Brego. The horse carries him to the fortress. Elrond says to Arwen that the last ship for Valinor is leaving but she says there’s still hope and she will wait for Aragorn. Elrond dissuades her from staying and predicts Aragorn’s death soon enough.

The Elvish Lord is gifted with the power of foresight and can look into the future. Arwen is unmoved; there’s no breaking her will. Eventually, though, the heart of the daughter melts with her father’s tears. Galadriel warns Elrond that Rohan will be under attack. Saruman has summoned a mighty army the likes of which the free world of men hasn’t seen for centuries.

Sauron’s eye will then turn to Gondor, the last free kingdom of the Men. War will fall swiftly on it. Frodo begins to understand in his heart that the quest will claim his life. It is his destiny. The Ring is working harder to find its master. The time of the Elves is over.

Now, the decision to be made is: will they abandon middle Earth or stay and fight on? Faramir, the young soldier in Gondor’s army has taken Frodo and Sam captive. His aid informs him of Saruman’s marching army and Rohan’s fall. The young prince understands that Gondor will be attacked from both sides – Mordor and Isengard, the Two Towers. Faramir questions Frodo and Sam. He learns that Frodo is friends with Boromir, Faramir’s brother.

Faramir wakes Frodo in the night and shows him Smeagol swimming in the forbidden pool. Entry into it warrants the death penalty. Frodo finally confesses that the creature is bound to him and he to Smeagol, which he earlier denied. Faramir allows Frodo to go to Smeagol but takes him captive against Frodo’s wishes. And suddenly, Gollum reappears, taking advantage of Smeagol’s vulnerability and turning him against Frodo. Gollum then takes over, firmly in control of the body. He tells Faramir about the Ring and that is when Sam reveals their true mission.

Faramir’s fallacy and Rohan’s call for help

Osgiliath, Gondor’s frontier to the north, is under attack and asks for their help, informs Faramir’s aide. Faramir decides that the Ring will go to Gondor. Aragorn, now fully conscious yet still wounded, rides towards Helm’s Deep after spotting the advancing Orc factions. Ten thousand strong, Aragorn reports to Theoden.

The King of Rohan refuses to show weakness and prepares the fortress and the men. The Orcs will arrive by nightfall but Gimli warns that they aren’t ordinary orcs – they’re Uruk-hai, a different breed. Theoden rallies his men, even preparing them for death. Aragorn asks Theoden to send for help, but the king disregards the old alliances.

No one will answer their call for help; they’re all alone. 300 against 10,000: those are the odds for the men to overcome. Impossible, Legolas says. Not without a fight, Aragorn says. And so, Helm’s Deep gets ready to fight an unwinnable war.

The sound of a horn snatches away the men at Helm’s Deep from the dread of the incoming enemy. Reinforcements have arrived from Rivendell. Elrond has kept the word between Men and Elves. It is time for the final showdown. Around the neck and beneath the arms is the signal from Legolas to his fellow flock of bowmen. The first arrows are shot and the battle begins.

Men’s unbreakable spirit against the stilting odds of fate: who will prevail?

In the faraway corners of the forest, the Ents discuss whether or not to join the battle. They’re slow to decide the central issue. They refused to take part but Merry knows the significance of this decision. Treebeard is told by Pippin to drop them south near Isengard instead of the west. He says they’ll slip under the enemy’s radar. But when they reach Isengard, Treebeard notices the uprooted trees and destroyed forest. He roars for support from his Ent mates and they arrive in full numbers. They’re going to war!

Saruman’s army is being given a tough fight by Theoden’s factions. But the orcs have a strategy. They use Grima’s inputs and place bombs at the sewer’s entrance, thus breaching the walls of the fortress. It is all but done. Their fate has now been written. Haldir, the Elvish captain, falls as he sees hordes of his men lying on the ground.

The men desperately try their best to keep the orcs from the gates. Aragorn and Gimli escape from the door on the side to execute some sort of plan. Gimli asks Aragorn to toss him to the entrance of the gates to hold off the orcs. It gives time to the men to brace the gates with barricades. But the orcs are relentless. All they do is follow orders and kill as many as they can.

They attack from all ends in numbers that overwhelm the men. Theoden orders the men to fall back. The castle is breached and all are ordered inside. Frodo, Faramir, and the others reach a burning Osgiliath. By nightfall, they’ll be overrun. Frodo feels the Eye of Sauron on him as the ring calls out for its master.

As Faramir asks his men to take Frodo and the Ring to his father, the Nazguls answer the call of the Ring. They come in numbers to get it back. As Theoden is stunned by the defeat, Aragorn asks Gamling to shepherd the women and children to the mountain pass to escape. Gimli remarks the sun is rising and Aragorn is reminded of Gandalf’s words.

Theoden asks for the horn of the Hammerhead to be sounded and rouses Aragorn to draw swords with him. Gimli blows the horn as the king’s guard and Aragorn march with Rohan’s banner. To the east, the white wizard arrives with the reinforcements: Eomer and his men. They descend fearlessly on their horses; the sunlight blinds the Orcs as the horsemen make way and start taking them out.

The day is saved and the men have victory, living to see another day. Gandalf says Sauron’s retribution will be harsher. And they must be ready for the battle of Middle Earth. The Ents are on the front foot, attacking the remaining orcs at Isengard.

Destroying Isengard – the Tower in the East

Saruman runs out hearing the commotion. Treebeard instructs the Ents to break the dam and release the river. And so it unleashes, sweeping all in its way and destroying the orc mines and filling the holes that they dug into the earth. Frodo walks as a man possessed.

He goes toward the Nazgul but is saved by Sam. In a fit of rage, he draws out his sword to Sam’s neck but immediately realizes what he is doing. Sam asks Frodo to keep going for the sake of the good in the world. Even Smeagol is touched by his words. Faramir orders their release. Frodo and Sam once again embark on their journey to Mordor, now more determined than ever. Smeagol goes with them but Gollum’s hatred is too strong. He devises a plan to kill Sam and take the ring away from Frodo. But Smeagol says it is too risky and suddenly it dawns upon him: “she” could do it. He emerges and feigns being loyal to Frodo.


Thanks for reading our story recap for The Two Towers. What do you think of Lord of the Ring’s story? Have we missed any crucial details in this recap? Do let us know in the comments below!

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