Commander Root is a high ranking leader of LEPRecon. She personally oversaw the operations to free Holly Short from Fowl Manor. She led a full-scale recovery effort, however, her plans were hindered by Briar Cudgeon, who had his own secret agenda.
Physical appearance and personality
Commander Root has white hair and is somewhat elderly in appearance, but nevertheless has a commanding air. She is distrustful of advanced technology and believes that all a LEPRecon fairy really needs to solve problems is "wings, her magic and a big gun." Rough around the edges, she's a tough as nails commander who isn't afraid to speak her mind. She'll take someone to task if they mess up, but isn't afraid to go off the books either if it'll keep her people safe.
Trouble on the home front
- "For the peace to remain, so must our secret existence. Preserve that at all costs. Jeopardize it, and I'll have you incarcerated at Howler's Peak. Any questions? No? Good."
- ―Commander Root to her LEPRecon forces[src]
She held a briefing at the headquarters of LEPRecon, where a fairy shouted at her, asking her what all of the rumors about the Aculos were. She told him to knock it off, that they had all seen the news and the Aculos was still missing. She then handed out assignments to a couple of her squads, telling them that they were on triple night-duty downtown in Haven City. She continued that until the Aculos was recovered, the entire fairy civilization was at risk. There was a dark force at work that would stop at nothing until it had the Aculos. She told them to keep their eyes peeled and report anything they saw that might be important. They were to protect the fairies' secret existence at all cost and she warned them that if they jeopardized it, she would have them imprisoned at Howler's Peak.
After the briefing the young officer Holly Short called after her, telling her that she had a new lead on her father, Beechwood Short. He had been at the Hill of Tara. Root, however, told her that she wasn't going. Short tried to argue but Root told her that it was an order and not a request. She gave Short a word of advice: that she was 84 and young and had her whole life ahead of her. She would have plenty of missions to fly and could be a good officer so long as she didn't make things personal. Root told Short to let the other members of the team take care of the Aculos.
A bit later, Root was called in by Foaly, the chief designer and operator of technical gadgets for LEPRecon. He informed her that they had an unknown runner on the surface: a member of the fairy people unaccounted for. He told her that it was big and could have been a deep tunnel breakout. She told him to send someone up to identify it, but he replied that all active-duty officers were downtown searching for the Aculos. They then both turned to Holly Short and Root told her that she was sending her up. She said to identify and report the target, but not engage. She also warned to stay shielded, totally invisible at all times.
Just then, Briar Cudgeon, an old enemy, appeared and greeted her. She warned him that it was not the time, but he asked if it was the best they could do, sending in the daughter of the traitor Beechwood Short. Root growled that he wasn't fit to speak his name, but he replied that Beechwood Short had used his magic to steal the Aculos from them and that made him a traitor. She warned Cudgeon to get out before she threw him out. He left, but not before warning her that the executors were watching her and he was their eyes and ears.
Root watched remotely Short executed her mission to contain the surface threat. She told her that her orders were containment only until a Memory Wipe team could arrive. She was slightly shocked upon seeing that the runner was a full-sized troll. She ordered a time freeze around the wedding party which the troll had crashed before anyone could get eaten. Foaly asked if she was sure because it would require authorization from the executors, but she answered that she would take full responsibility. Seeing Holly Short with a young human girl, she warned Short not use magic on the girl. Short, however, replied that the girl was hurt and went ahead and used her magic anyway to heal the girl. Root then smiled, watching her officer's daring acrobats in using a string of lanterns to tie up the troll and keep it from attacking until the time freeze could be put in place. She then ordered her forces to get the troll back where it belonged and mind wipe all of the humans who thought they had seen a fairy or a troll. She told Short that she had done good work and get to herself home immediately.
The siege of Fowl Manor
- "I warn you, we do not pay ransoms. We never have, and we never will."
- ―Commander Root to Artemis Fowl Jr.[src]
She then watched, however, as Officer Short took a "slight detour." She asked Short where she was going, and Short replied that it was to clear her father's name. Root growled that she would have her badge for it. Foaly commented that was a bit harsh, but she told him to shut up or she would have his too. As Short approached the Hill of Tara, she warned her to return immediately, but Short disabled the communication device in her helmet. Root could only watch as Short found her father's identification tag and then was shot with a tranquilizer dart by an unknown assailant. Short disappeared off the tracking grid, however, Foaly deduced that the only human habitation anywhere near the Hill of Tara was Fowl Manor, a name which Root recognized. She told Foaly to alert all personnel that she was launching a full-scale recovery. Hearing what had happened, Cudgeon appeared to needle her again. He asked if she was losing her touch, saying that if the executors found out about what had happened, she was finished. "Get the four-leaf clover out of here," she growled to one of her officers.
She had time freeze placed over Fowl Manor, ordering exterior-only, that she needed the inside to be alive. The time freeze was put in place and the invasion into Fowl Manor began, Commander Root at the fore. She told her forces to send in the advance team for capture only. They needed the humans unharmed and they were to scare them, but not kill them. Things went wrong almost immediately, however. The young Artemis Fowl and Domovoi Butler appeared and together the two of them engaged the fairy forces, using weaponry they had seized from Holly Short. They also managed to destabilize the time freeze and Foaly warned that he could try to patch it, but it wasn't going to hold. Just then, Fowl ordered that someone be sent in to negotiate, saying that they had five minutes.
With no choice, Root went to the door of Fowl Manor to negotiate things herself. Artemis Fowl Jr. told her that he invited her into his house, which she said was a nice try. The two of them sat across each other from a table. She asked who was in charge and he replied that he was. She replied that he was only 10 years old. He told her that he was actually 12, asking how old she was. She told him that she was going to be 803 in May if he had to know. She asked for his name and he gave it. She recognized it immediately, saying that the Fowls had been giving them trouble for centuries. She asked where his "thieving father" was, but he told her not to worry about it. She threatened him, telling him if he did not release Officer Short immediately, she would destroy the house and everyone in it. He answered that he would expose her existence to the world. She told him that he couldn't, that he was in a time freeze. "But only for another 27 minutes," he shot back, telling her that his terms were that she bring him the Aculos and Short would go free. She warned him that they never had and never would pay ransoms. He told her that she might want to reconsider and that he would give her 15 minutes. He also told her that if she was thinking of storming the house, no fairies were allowed to enter while he was alive. "As you say. While you're alive," she agreed.
Back outside, she muttered angrily "Who is this child?" Foaly answered that he had said he was Artemis Fowl Jr., causing Root to grumble that it had been a rhetorical question. Foaly said that Artemis would find out that they didn't have the Aculos and they couldn't storm the house, that it was fairy rules. Root pointed out that Artemis hadn't said anything about dwarves. She ordered the release of Mulch Diggums, a "giant dwarf" who had been imprisoned at the notorious prison Howler's Peak. As Foaly warned her that the integrity of the time freeze was down to 60%, she began discussions with Diggums. She told Diggums that she had a one-time offer: 50 years off his sentence if he would dig his way into Fowl Manor and bring out Officer Short. He asked if she minded him calling her by her first name, before admitting that he didn't actually know what it was and suggesting that it might be "Britney." He then told her that she had a big problem on her hands, that she was like David Bowie, if David Bowie were a fairy, so essentially she was David Bowie. He asked her if she thought the humans would ever figure out if he was one of them.
A loss of control
- "Commander Root, you are hereby officially relieved of your command on authorization of the executors."
"You're making a mistake, Cudgeon."
"My only mistake was not doing this a long time ago."
- ―Briar Cudgeon and Commander Root[src]
Root wasn't amused and he told her that fifty years off his sentence wasn't going to cut it. She told him that she knew what he wanted and she couldn't give it to him, but he pleaded with her, telling her that fairies had magic coming out of their ears and he had three or four he didn't need. She replied that a giant dwarf was exactly what she needed - a big, fat hungry tunneler who would dig their way into Fowl Manor. She said it was his choice to either bring out Officer Short or get back to jail. He asked if she really thought he was a criminal, that although a lot of what he did was criminal activity, he was also an artist. She replied that he was picking her pocket. At this, Diggums got down to the point, bargaining her to a single cell and 74 years off his sentence. He then tunneled into Fowl Manor and Commander Root watched as he discovered a safe, which, despite his orders to rescue Holly Short, he began cracking. She was stunned as he opened it, revealing the treasure everyone had been seeking: the Aculos.
With the Aculos in play, Briar Cudgeon appeared outside and told Commander Root that the game had changed. He told her he was usurping her control under the authority of the executors. He said that he would show her how it was done, revealing that his forces had captured the troll that was taken down by Holly Short earlier. They had fed it a potion of everything that it was allergic to: nettles and wasp juice, so it was twice as strong and ten times as mad. Root could do nothing but watch and swear "D'Arvit" as the troll was sent into Fowl Manor. Furthermore, she had to live with the fact that her officer's life was in danger, as Cudgeon saw to it that Short's magic was blocked before the troll was sent in. In the end, however, those inside managed to knock out the troll. Back outside, an officer named Chix Verbil pleaded with Cudgeon to restore Short's magic. He refused, on the basis that she was supposedly a traitor, so Verbil turned to Root. She told him that she hadn't made him a captain for nothing and he ordered the restoration of Short's magic, which allowed her to save the bodyguard Domovoi Butler, who was injured in the fight. Afterwards, the time freeze broke down and Root and her forces had to withdraw completely or risk getting caught up in the time stream.
Safe at last
- "This place needs fairies like you. Our world has never been in so much danger."
- ―Commander Root to Holly Short[src]
Following these events, Holly Short assisted the young Artemis Fowl in using the Aculos to save his father. She then took possession of it and returned it to LEPRecon headquarters, along with a list of accomplices given to her by the elder Fowl, compiled by Beechwood Short. Root told her that the Aculos was safe at last, now that they knew their enemies. She told Short it was all thanks to her and called it quite the day. She told her to curb her maverick streak and one day she would make a decent officer. She looked out over Haven City, the city they had protected. She told her that it needed fairies like her.
Their world had never been in so much danger. She said that it wasn't perfect, but it was theirs and a light to guide them, worth fighting for. She told her that she wanted her to investigate every name on her father's list. "Me?" asked Short, surprised, and Root asked her "Well, who else am I talking to?" Short agreed that there was nobody else and Root told her to go on. Short said that she would, babbling that Root wouldn't regret it and Root gave a little grin, once more looking out at the city. She then watched from the outside as Short was mobbed by congratulatory co-workers in the office.
- "Can this possibly get any worse?"
"Good afternoon, Commander."
- ―Commander Root and Briar Cudgeon[src]
In a deleted scene, "Negotiations," after the failed attempt to storm Fowl Manor, Root asked if things could possibly get any worse. Briar Cudgeon then appeared, bidding her good afternoon. She sighed in exasperation, closing her eyes as if seeking patience. He stood next to her, saying that she surely wasn't going in to negotiate. He told her that he had half a mind to report it and she wisecracked that they'd all agree that he had half a mind. He told her that they never negotiated, that they attacked and destroyed, asking what was wrong with her. She told him that she didn't have to answer to him and he asked if that was really true, saying that she'd better have Short free by the time the executors arrived. She asked what would happen if she didn't and he told her that he would take command and they would declare war, then left the command center. Root told Foaly that she was going in. He asked if it was wise and she replied that she had no choice. The fairy existence had been secret for 5,000 years and unless they got Officer Short out, every human would know about it within in an hour. She rose, asking how she looked, saying that she had never been face-to-face with a human before. Peering at Root through Sky Willow's helmet-cam, Foaly told her that she looked absolutely gorgeous. She replied that she would see him on the other side.
In a later deleted scene, "Any Ideas, Commander," Cudgeon stated that he had lost visual and stepped up to Commander Root and Sky Willow, who were imprisoned in a force field. "Any ideas, Commander?" he asked sarcastically, and Sky Willow stated that she had no response from Officer Short. Root then commented "Death is coming."
Commander Root was troubled by Holly Short's maverick behavior, but still had a soft spot for the officer, whose father she respected. She was not happy when Short defied her orders, but didn't think twice about ordering a full-scale rescue mission for her. After Short retrieved the Aculos, she was extremely pleased with her, though she still suggested that she should curb her maverick streak.
Commander Root outright loathed Briar Cudgeon. She would have prevented his release from jail if possible, but was unable to. She did not consider him fit to speak the name of Holly Short's father, Beechwood Short, and starkly disagreed with his assessment of him as a traitor. She was entirely dismissive of him, referring to him as "the four-leaf clover" and wanted him out of her sight if at all possible.
She was often at loggerheads with Foaly, due to her distrust of tech. She sometimes sniped at him, particularly when he did not recognize her rhetorical sarcasm. Even so, she relied on him entirely for anything related to advanced tech, including the use of lava tunnels and time freezes.
Root considered Diggums to be a criminal, but nevertheless a useful one. She seemed entirely unamused by his banter, but despite this was willing to bargain with him to get what she needed. She was also one of the few to accept him for what he was, telling him that a giant dwarf was just what she needed.
Differences from the character of the books
Commander Root is female rather than male in the film adaptation of the Artemis Fowl books. Incidentially this also means that Captain Holly Short is not the first female officer in the LEPRecon, which effectively removes that plot point and Root's sexism towards her. Root is also not particularly tough on her at all in the film. Regarding this change, director Kenneth Branagh stated that the filmmakers asked author Eoin Colfer if they could have that kind of license and he replied "Let's do it." The Root of the film also does not visit the cargo ship where Root in the books conversed with Artemis Fowl over radio. She also does not smoke cigars, fungus kind or not.
- “Commander Root” ART AND MAKING OF ARTEMIS FOWL, by BRIAN SIBLEY, DISNEY EDITIONS, 2019, pp. 61
- Truffaut-Wong, Olivia (November 27, 2018). The ‘Artemis Fowl’ Movie Changes Some Characters, But Director Kenneth Branagh Says It’s Still The Story You Love. Bustle.