SFMZ Note: This detailed plot is a combination of imdb's synopsis, excerpts from the script, and our own descriptions.
River Anduin: Smeagol and his cousin, Deagol, sit in a small coracle, their fishing lines draped over the side, sunshine glinting off the surface of the water. An idyllic image. Suddenly, Deagol's fishing rod bends under the weight of a large fish. Deagol pulls on his rod, but is hauled overboard and disappears under water with a splash. Smeagol leaning over the boat concerned.
Under water, Deagol is towed to the river bed by a large fish, he suddenly lets go of the line, eyes fixed on a shining gold ring, lying in the silt. On River Anduin's Gladden Fields, Deagol climbs out of the water, onto the river bank. The Ring revealed in Deagol's palm.
Smeagol peers over his shoulder, the gold reflects in Smeagol's eyes. Deagol turns to look at him, a smirk on his face. Sméagol demands the Ring, saying that it's his birthday and it should be his present. They both succumb to the Ring's power, they begin to quarrel. Smeagol moves towards Deagol.
The squabble turns into a fight, Smeagol jumps on Deagol, strangling him with his bare hands. Smeagol rips the glittering ring from Deagol's limp hand. Smeagol slips the ring onto his finger and disappears. As a result, Sméagol is ostracized from his community and driven away. Suffering terribly from loneliness and shame, Sméagol takes solace in his love for the Ring.
Smeagol descends into madness. His body twists and distorts, he becomes a creepy, shrivelled wretch, finally crawling into a dark cave beneath the Misty Mountains. A slinking creature known by the unpleasant noise he makes in his throat -- Gollum. Gollum is in the cave staring at the ring in his hand. It's his ring, his precious.
A grim landscape, covered in thorn bushes and the scars of recent fires. The dark Morgul Valley disappears up towards the mountains. Frodo and Sam are in a filthy culvert. Sam twitches in a restless sleep. But Frodo is awake. His hand trails down to the chain around his neck.
A sudden hiss. Frodo quickly hides the ring as Gollum peers at them with gleaming eyes. Sam stirs, looks at Frodo, concerned that he could not sleep. Sam looks at the dead, brown twilight, below the lowering cloud. The days are growing darker the closer they get to Minas Morgul and Mordor.
The ground suddenly quivers, as a rolling, rumbling noise echoes down the valley. Gollum eggs them on to leave, but Sam insists Frodo should eat first. Gollum persists. Sam shoots Gollum a hostile look and turns back to rummage in his knapsack.
He holds up a piece of dried Lembas bread to Frodo, but doesn't eat any himself. Sam admits to Frodo he is rationing it for the journey home. Frodo says nothing. Frodo and Sam follow Gollum as he leads them on the winding, torturous path, clambering through bracken and over jagged rocks. Gollum urges them to move on.
The Forest of Isengard: Gandalf leads Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, Theoden, and Éomer through dark woodland. The moving forest of Fangorn opens before them creating an avenue of trees, which allows them access along the old Isengard road. A thick, humid mist fills the forest. The forest separates ahead, revealing the ruins ofIsengard.
Isengard Gate: All about, the great stone wall is cracked and splintered into countless jagged shards. Far off, half veiled in the swirling steam, the Tower of Orthanc stands, unbroken by the storm. Pale waters lap about its feet. Two small hobbits are sitting on the smashed wall, Merry and Pippin. Spread before them is a feast of breads, meats, and wine.
They puff on long pipes as they lie back in the sun. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf stare at the sight before them. Gimli gives them a tongue thrashing until he hears of he salted pork. Gandalf shakes his head. They inform them Treebeard has taken over management of Isengard.
Gandalf leads the company through the flotsam and jetsam which floats upon the muddied waters surrounding the tower. Treebeard, the giant Ent, strides towards them, alarming all but Gandalf, who stares up the long length of the dark tower.
Saruman has been trapped. Gandalf opposes Gimli's call to kill Saruman, saying that the wizard has no power anymore and will pose no further threat. The old Ent nods his head wisely. Saruman shows himself to them. He goads them with no hope to defeat Sauron. Gandalf offers to spare him if he shares info on Sauron. Theoden tries to convince Grima to be free of Saruman.
Saruman ridicules Grima and backhands him to the tower's floor. Grima, enraged, rises and stabs him with a knife. Legolas shoots Grima with an arrow, and Saruman falls down to his death. Something lying in the water catches Pippin's eye. The muddy waters are glowing with a golden light.
Aragorn turns as, quick as a flash, Pippin has jumped off his horse and picked up the Palantir. With a tone of urgency, Gandalf orders Pippin to hand it over. Pippin doesn't move, his eyes staring in wonder at the smooth black stone. Gandalf insists. Reluctantly, Pippin hands the Palantir to Gandalf, who immediately smothers it in his cloak. Gandalf looks back at Pippin, troubled.
A group of riders gallop towards the Rohan city of Edoras. Eowyn is standing alone outside the Golden Hall, waiting. Later in the evening inside the Golden Hall, we see a roaring fire, a lamb roasting on spit, long tables laden with food, barrels of wine.
A banquet is laid ready for the returning soldiers. A feast to 'hail the victorious dead' of the Battle of the Hornburg. Amidst the cheering crowd, Eowyn moves towards Aragorn. As she proffers the chalice their eyes meet. Eowyn watches as Aragorn moves away.
Theoden notices Éowyn showing affection for Aragorn and tells her that he is happy for her. Eowyn looks at her uncle, as Theoden follows her gaze. He continues it was Aragon who led their people to victory, not him. Eowyn looks at him questioningly, disturbed by his tone. She watches concerned as her uncle moves away.
Merry and Pippin are in full voice, on top of one of the tables, both hold very large mugs of Ale in their hands. As they belt out a Green Dragon tune, Gandalf is laughing and clapping the hobbits. Aragorn steps up beside him, smiling at the floorshow. Gandalf expresses to Aragorn his concerns over the quest, he watches his friend's face, seeking reassurance. Aragorn tells him to trust in what his heart tells him, that Frodo is still alive.
Frodo and Sam lie asleep amidst scrubby bushes near a stagnant pool. Smeagol lies nearby, muttering in his sleep. Smeagol wakes suddenly, shaking, his face drenched in sweat, eyes wide in horror. Smeagol's features suddenly transform into the malevolent face of Gollum. Smeagol casts a quick glance over his shoulder to the sleeping figures of Frodo and Sam.
He clambers off his rock silently siding towards the edge of the stagnant pool. Smeagol stares into the murky depths of the water. The surface ripples as the face of Gollum appears as Smeagol's reflection. His evil half senses some doubt in Smeagol and insists that if he can murder once (referring to Déagol) he can do it again.
Gollum then begins leading Sméagol through their plan, to deliver the hobbits into the clutches of Shelob in Cirith Ungol, after which the Ring can be reclaimed. Sam's eyes flicker open. Sam's image mirrors in the water as he smacks Gollum on the head with his pot for his treachery. Sam drops the pot and flings himself on top of Gollum. Gollum screams, his arms and legs flailing wildly.
Frodo staggers over to Sam and pulls him off Smeagol. Smeagol, huddled on the ground whimpering and sobbing. Sam makes for Smeagol again with a look of murderous rages. Frodo grabs Sam's arm. Sam pulls away from Frodo.
Sam stares at Frodo, at a loss. Frodo explains that as their guide, Gollum is necessary for their quest. Sam's face softens. Frodo beckons to Smeagol. Smeagol turns slowly, staring at Sam through hooded, hate filled eyes and smiles.