Do you remember the scene from Princess Mononoke where Moro, the wolf-goddess, confronts Lord Okkoto, the boar-god?
Lord Okkoto has just lost every single one of his followers in battle with humans. Between that grief and his own wounds, he’s gone mad and degenerated into a demon. No one wants to fight him – “Don’t touch him,” Moro says, “He’s no longer a god.” – but he’s…absorbing…Moro’s adopted human daughter. Before she leaps to the rescue, Moro sneers in utter contempt at how far her former colleague has allowed himself to fall: “Look at you,” she says. “You can’t even speak.”
That’s what brings me to my titular thought about the Balrog of Moria:
That giant, flaming demon began its existence as the same order of spirit as Gandalf. It is no less old and, theoretically, no less intelligent than any of the wizards. These things were Morgoth’s generals, after all. And yet…it’s roaring. That’s how the Balrog of Moria expresses itself. It doesn’t shout threats or make demands. It roars.
Is that what Gandalf is thinking as he faces a fellow Maia who has allowed itself to fall so far?
“Look at you. You can’t even speak.”