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Since he doesn't suspect that they are going to destroy it, just like the Dark Lord doesn't suspect this, what did he think? Why else would these mysterious hobbits be traveling to such a place, with the Preciousss, if not to destroy it? Gollum is very anxious about Sauron getting it back, but doesn't seem to think further than "they asked me to go there so I will lead them there" and, at some point, "I'll let the big spider eat them and then take the Preciousss back".

Even in the books, he never once questions this or asks them about it (that I can remember, having very recently read them). I find this very strange. Gollum may be odd and obsessed, but he clearly still has the ability to think, scheme and feel various emotions. He is not some kind of complete zombie or madman, even in his rather extreme state when he finds the hobbits close to Mordor.

It's weird to me how Frodo and Sam didn't at least come up with some cover story. Some excuse to go there with the Ring. Anything to make Gollum not guess the truth.

Gollum started following them early on, when they were still the full Fellowship. Did he not hear them talk or wonder why a bunch of people are walking with Frodo and the Ring to increasingly hostile places, further and further to The Enemy?

I can't for the life of me figure out what Gollum think they were doing or what would happen.

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It's weird to me how Frodo and Sam didn't at least come up with some cover story. Some excuse to go there with the Ring. Anything to make Gollum not guess the truth.

Gollum was basically: we need to get into Mordor, it's not your business why. If you want to come with us, these are our conditions. In fact, Gollum pleads to allow him to guide them, and is a half-prisoner, he is not in a situation to request explanations.

Frodo and Sam do not talk about that among themselves either, the ring is a black cloud upon them, something they need to do, but little more than because it must be done (and they aren't really prepared for the task).

Why else would these mysterious hobbits be traveling to such a place, with the Preciousss, if not to destroy it?

Why would someone want to destroy the ring?? That's inconceivable. It's like someone carrying several million dollars across the country, just to use them on a bonfire. Surely the driver would have expected anything but that. Paying someone? Buying a propriety? A donation? Even giving it away to people you crossed by would make more sense!

We know why they are doing it, and it kinda makes sense (it's a crazy idea, but they are desperate), and you are seeing it through that light, but it would be hard to come up with that.

Furthermore, Gollum has no idea about mount Doom or how the ring cannot be destroyed anywhere else. Had he known, he might have have thought on it when seeing the hobbits take the route marked with "Take this path to destroy your magic belongings" (albeit at that point he was not with them)

Sauron had all the information at his disposal, but the idea that someone might want to destroy it never crossed his mind (until when it turned out to be too late).

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The Fellowship doesn't talk about the Ring much on the way. Certainly not about why they want to get to Mordor. This leaves Gollum with no way of figuring out what Frodo intends but what he can reason out based on his own thinking -- insofar as he thought about it rather than the all-important question of how to get the Ring back.

And his own thinking would be based on the way HE went to Mordor.

"But I am afraid there is no possible doubt: he had made his slow, sneaking way, step by step, mile by mile, south, down at last to the Land of Mordor."

A heavy silence fell in the room. Frodo could hear his heart beating. Even outside everything seemed still. No sound of Sam's shears could now be heard.

"Yes, to Mordor," said Gandalf. "Alas! Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons."

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