The big question for me after Moria is,"Would Gandalf have come out of that better if he hadn't been tired?" Although actually, I also wonder why he didn't recognize a Balrog when he felt one. I suppose if there were only between three and seven of them, theoretically - since I don't know that Tolkien stuck with that number - it's possible he hasn't ever encountered one.** I guess it's also silly to assume these beings have some sort of distinctive signature. Gandalf's spells might somehow be distinctive, but it could also be that sudden spikes of power in the middle of nowhere can equal only one person, from the points of view of Sauron or Saruman, since nobody seems to care about Radagast.
I think that's incredibly unfair. He's working hard too: somebody has to save the squirrels from Sauron's black rule
For all I know Gandalf explains all that stuff up above when he comes back, and I just don't remember. He does seem to enjoy the sound of his own voice, especially when narrating his own adventures. But maybe I'm being unfair. The Council of Elrond defied brevity at every turn, no matter who was talking.
Also, couldn't help noticing that Moria appears to be one of Middle Earth's infinite examples of the evils of progress and industrialization, this time. (The one I'm used to seeing is the deforestation of Isengard.) The oft-repeated sentiment that the dwarves dug too greedily and too deep would imply it-- like a punch in the face. They mined out all their mithril (depleting a natural resource) and destroyed themselves looking for more, but even if they hadn't their wealth would've declined without it, in theory. (If by 'decline' you mean, 'oh no, we only have tons of gold and iron to trade! Nobody cares about those!') The balrog is something of a natural disaster, though, which you can't really blame on the dwarves. If s/he hadn't decided to sleep at the bottom of Khazad-dum, there wouldn't be a problem. :P
Why don't we get any female balrogs? It could've been female, you don't know! It's not like we can see any revelatory bits.
Galadriel and her ring are rather intimidating, even without her skeevy movie performance, as amielleon put it. When she says:
I say to you, Frodo, that even as I speak to you, I perceive the Dark Lord and know his mind, or all of his mind that concerns the Elves. And he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed!’ (pp. 364-365)
...I think to myself, oh, how comforting. She sees into Sauron's mind! Glad to know I can count on you to know the enemy, Galadriel. But if the rings are the connecting factor, here, and Sauron doesn't have a ring to tap into, you freak me out. I can think of all sorts of logical ways for her to know that, of course, like her mirror, but yeah: skeevy.
Because of the way I tend to look at Galadriel, I was surprised she wove the fabric that made the cloaks gifted to the party. "You are indeed high in the favour of the Lady! For she herself and her maidens wove this stuff;" (p. 370). I have a hard time imagining her at a loom, to be honest. It's much easier to imagine her punching orcs in the face. Or balrogs. I also continue to find it hilarious that she blew off Feanor when he asked for a strand of her hair, and yet a few thousand years later she "cut off three golden hairs, and laid them in Gimli’s hand" (p.376). Burn.
Just look at Gimli turn into a puppy every time she looks at him. That's so hilarious!
Unrelated: I have to admit, I prefer sarcastic ass movie!Haldir to the original, borderline-courteous version. Maybe it's all in the intonation?
* some of the fic I've read makes it out like Celebrimbor disowned the entire family, but his use of Feanor's emblem would indicate he was just pissed at his own father. Maybe he had a thing for Finrod, and having the hots for Galadriel later was a rebound thing. This would explain everything! :D
** this was in a note to the second section of the Annals of Aman (#50), which I'm reading because I'm a masochist. It's silly when I'm pretty sure someone has already plotted it all out on a timeline, but whatever. It stuck in my mind. Only three (to seven) balrogs.