So I finally got around to reviewing their comments... here are my thoughts.
Ingwë is the first elf.
Prof Olsen is pretty adamant on this. Fine. I concede. I still don’t think it’s the right choice, but it is acceptable and I acknowledge there are some benefits. I do want to talk about those benefits briefly.
Firstly, it lends legitimacy to Ingwë’s position of high king of all the elves. Yes, it does. However
, I don’t think (and I may be wrong) that the fact of his high kingship will ever come up. Like in the published Silmarillion, the fact of it may be mentioned, but it is as a plot point (ie having to do with a specific episode’s conflict/plot) won’t come up. I can think of a few fringe cases where it might in future as a conflict resolution device, but on the whole, nah. It’s not going to come up, and if it does, it will be limited to an expository sentence, “Ingwë is the high king of all the elves, you know.” (Again, I may be wrong.)
Secondly, there is a certain mythic power in him being the first. In fact, that’s basically all he’s there for in the story. Yes. I agree. More than any other reason, this is why I’m fine with accepting him as the first elf. To my mind this does open up another issue, though: aren’t we somewhat diminishing that mythic power by merely noting in exposition his status as the first, rather than showing it? (Storytelling is all about showing not telling, remember.) The decision by the execs to not show the awakening of the elves was made because they were afraid it would look hokey. The outline fairies (largely at my instance) revisited that. It was concluded that showing the awakening didn’t get us to the episode one conflict any quicker and was thus superfluous (I think I convinced at least some that we could show it in a non hokey, mythically powerful way, though I’m sure there were still doubters). This remains a good decision. Yet I can’t help but feel if we’re now going to make a thing about having Ingwë be the first, we should see
him being the first. My proposal would be to have the awakening as the very last thing in the dénouement of season one episode eleven. If we want Ingwë’s mythic power to be a real thing, we can spend twenty seconds to establish it beyond expository dialogue.
Unrelated to the awakening (honestly, I thought I was done fighting for it…) I say we accept Indis as Ingwë’s daughter. It maybe gives us some good conflict grist later. This probably means “Little Indis (?)” from the early episode character lists becomes “Adolescent Indis”
Also, sure, it can be Ingwë’s wife who is dead. She can even come back in episode two from Mandos and meet up with Ingwë. That’s a lovely scene, why wouldn’t we want to do that? Plus it gives Ingwë (and the Vanyar by extension) a non-spiritual reason for being so pro-Valinor in the debate and migration later.
Episode two changes.
So they want the episode two conflict to be among the Valar, with the ambassador’s all around positive response to Valinor fueling the Ulmo-Vána-(kinda-)Yavanna faction’s utter unease about the whole elves in Valinor thing. This new conflict means we’re having a new protagonist who is not Finwë and is a Vala (maybe a Maia). This means we’re telling a whole different story. So we metaphorically screw up the episode two outline, throw it in the waste paper basket and start again with a blank page. We can maybe
preserve some of the Finwë stuff for a B plot, but probably not since they weren’t interested in pretty much any level of ambassador conflict.
I’m going to reiterate: complete restart for episode two. This probably means a whole new script discussion session for it.
Which is a damn shame. I thought episode two was some of our best work (I like it way
more than episode one, which they apparently had no problem with, despite its many flaws).
I’m really pleased that they liked the Vairë thing. It was a cool idea. However, it was a device to resolve the Finwë conflict. Which isn’t a thing anymore, so neither is the Vairë wrap up. We might be able to repurpose the idea, but that’s really something to be decided in the redo of the episode two discussion.
As a side point (that isn’t relevant, because there is no Finwë conflict anymore, and hence no tapestry based resolution), Prof. Olsen was concerned that Vairë could seem malicious in hindsight when the audience realises the totally ambiguous nature of the tapestry and Finwë’s narrow interpretation of it. Yes, I wanted at least some of the audience to be quite uncomfortable with Vairë’s completely obscure motives. I wanted there to be a section of the audience with reasons to suspect that the Valar connected with fate (specifically Vairë here, but by extension Námo too) don’t always act in an entirely
benevolent manner. But remember, it’s not relevant anymore, so let’s not argue about that again.
Personally I’m not keen on the episode conflict being among the Valar. For me, this season is the elvish story and the Valar should only be present where they serve that story. But clearly this notion is not shared by the execs who want episode two and the trial to be Valar-led. As they pointed out, it does make the season more of a handover from the Valar to the Elves, which works. It also opens up interesting possibilities, like having Melkor being the protagonist for the season finale. So while I’m not keen, there’s enough consolation for me to get on board with the idea.
But boy-oh-boy a full episode rewrite is a bitter pill to swallow.
Finwë and Míriel
So when Prof Olsen said about the comedy of manners and Míriel being a Brontë heroine in episodes one and two, he was clearly referring to episode three. Anyway… From what I could tell, the issue with the comedy of manners wasn’t Míriel but with Finwë’s characterisation, which is mostly an episode two issue.
They want him to be a stronger leader and not moping for the missus. I will point out that this characterisation was deliberate, and there are good reasons why we arrived at it, but I’m not willing to die in a ditch over it. Plus, we’re apparently starting from scratch with episode two anyway, which will have the side effect of solving this problem for us. So, yay, silver lining? #stillbitter
From the inconclusive ramblings, I’m going to take away the following guidelines:
We should strongly tend towards being suggestive rather than explicit. However, we can show explicit mature content (violence, horror, nudity/sexuality) sparingly and respectfully (i.e. never for the sake of it and never lingering) on occasion, when the story demands it. I would expect this to be once or twice a season, for example, certainly not every episode.
They don’t like the additional island trip. I’m not going to go into detail, since it’s late here, and this is actually quite an in depth technical point that I have to go back and review the episode discussion for.
My immediate response (which may be wrong, I’ve not done the research yet or even thought this through particularly) is the second island trip was necessitated for story structure reasons and maintaining a consistent antagonistic force for the story of time pressure for the Teleri. I think a proper defence of the additional island trip could be written. As I recall we did it because it solved a few different problems in context of making the story conflict work.
Maybe we could rewrite with a single trip. If we did, it wouldn’t be a start from scratch job a la episode two (silver lining) since I don’t think we’d need to change the protagonist and episode conflict. Still, if we can get a strong coherent defence of the idea written up, that would be worth doing as it would be less effort than what is still a major structural rewrite, if
we are of the opinion that the hosts can be swayed into believing we knew what we were doing with the second island trip.
They really liked the Vairë tapestry idea!
That's nice and all, but as pointed out above, the tapestry idea is predicated on there being a Finwë conflict to resolve... which they don't want. They can't have both of: no ambassador conflict and
the Míriel tapestry climax. And really, the whole thing only works as a climax.
... in the future, I'm much less inclined to point out our variations to them and say 'can we do this?' I'd rather let them decide what jumps out as worth commenting on.
Agreed wholeheartedly. Lesson learned: we should only point out things we want them solve, not our points of deviation.