Alidar Jarok wrote:
^ Very true. And I think that the way Lee played it in this movie was that Saruman had basically already defected to Sauron's side and was completely manipulating the others.
To the extent that the seen is to be read like that, I dislike it. The fact that Saruman changed sides works best when there is a time when he wasn't for the forces of evil. He's a Wizard who everyone expects to be able to call on only to find that he's betrayed you. I read the scene as him just being skeptical, but I wish he was even a bit more "good guy," just to contrast it with what happens later.
I'm afraid his skepticism is not genuine, but I don't think "defected to Sauron's side" accurately describes the situation at the time of The Hobbit
In a sense, I think the reluctant dynamic we see with Saruman in AUJ's White Council scene is cribbed from a meeting which took place earlier in the book chronology. From the 2851 entry in the "Tale of Years" ( LOTR's Appendix B ):
The White Council meets. Gandalf urges an attack on Dol Guldur. Saruman overrules him. (*) Saruman begins to search near the Gladden Fields.
(*) It afterwards became clear that Saruman had then begun to desire to possess the One Ring himself, and he hoped that it might reveal itself, seeking its master, if Sauron were let be for a time.
So it seems probable that AUJ's Saruman only feigns skepticism at Sauron's return because he is already looking for the Ring.
( However, it should be noted that the 2850 entry had said "Gandalf again enters Dol Guldur, and discovers that its master is indeed Sauron"
, while in the film timeline he is uncertain even in 2941. )
In the 2941 ( year of The Hobbit
) entry we have:
The White Council meets; Saruman agrees to an attack on Dol Guldur, since he now wishes to prevent Sauron from searching the River.
Later in 2953:
Last meeting of the White Council. They debate the Rings. Saruman feigns that he has discovered that the One Ring has passed down Anduin to the Sea.
And it is only in "c.3000" that we get to the following:
Saruman dares to use the palantir of Orthanc, but becomes ensnared by Sauron, who has the Ithil Stone.