S03E04 Script Discussion

MithLuin

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Season 3 Episode 4: Khazâd ai-mênu!

Protagonist: Mablung of the Heavy Hand
Introductions: Mablung has been part of this project since Season 2, but this will be the first Mablung-centric episode. The dwarves were also introduced in Season 1, but this will be the audience's first exposure to their culture. Azaghâl appeared in the creation-of-the-dwarves scene (with Durin); Norn and Telchar are new characters.
Final Appearances: N/A
Characters: Thingol, Melian, Eöl, Mablung, Daeron, Lúthien, Norn, Telchar, Azaghâl, Mairon/Sauron, Boldog, Thuringwethil
Frame: Elladan, Elrohir, Estel, Halbarad, Hamilcar

Summary: Surprised to meet a new people in the east, the Sindar establish diplomatic relations with the dwarf-kingdom of Belegost.
Theme: Forging alliances. The misunderstandings and assumptions that come with first contact. People can work through less-than-positive first impressions with effort.


Teaser - Frame: Elladan and Elrohir give Estel some advice before entering the village of the Dunedain. Aside from the practical diplomatic advice is the unexpected admonition not to mention his mother's name. When he seems confused, they tell him it is to protect her. When they reach the village, the sons of Elrond meet with Halbarad, sending Estel off with Hamilcar. As they wander around the village, the older people catch sight of Estel and have an 'Oh!' widened eye reaction, but say nothing more. Hamilcar is annoyed that this young stranger is getting such attention.

Act 1

1. Doriath - Eöl comes before Thingol and requests that the land of Nan Elmoth be given to him. Thingol claims that this land is part of his realm. If Eöl were to move there, he would have to be subject to Thingol, even though he's not currently his subject. Eöl wants to live in Nan Elmoth because of the protections provided by Melian when she and Thingol first met, and for the renewable resource of the trees (in the rest of Middle Earth outside of Doriath, the trees are under the Sleep of Yavanna and do not regrow). Melian shares her misgivings concerning Eöl with Thingol in private.

2. The River Ascar - Mablung and his companions come upon a group of dwarves on the border of Ossiriand and Thargelion that they see from afar. Surprised, they try to figure out who these beings are and discuss what to do. They worry that these beings might be evil. They decide to approach cautiously. They see that the dwarves are engaged in the activity of building a road using carts to transport rock, stone cutters, surveyors, and guards. The elves have never seen anything like this.

3. Doriath - Beleg returns to Doriath and reports on his encounter with the orcs, showing Thingol and Melian the orc blade he picked up. His companions did not return with him because they have been killed.

4. Northern Ered Luin - Thuringwethil is flying over a desolate area covered in dark shadows. When she lands, she sees a lot of large spiderwebs.

Act 2
5. The River Ascar - Mablung's group is spotted by the dwarves, who halt work startled. It is clear that the dwarvish guards have more significant weapons and armor than the elven scouts, but the scouts are also armed. Mablung tentatively calls out a greeting, and one of the dark-haired dwarven guards answers back in accented Sindarin. The elves are surprised to hear their own language, but most of the dwarves speak to one another in Khuzdul (with subtitles). The tension dissipates a bit once they realize they can communicate with one another. There is some first contact type questions of 'who are you and where are you from,' and in the end they agree to sit down together and share food/drink (cautiously). The dwarves consider the elves to be uncivilized savages. The elves see the dwarves as short ugly people with harsh voices. But despite some clear disdain/dislike, there are no open hostilities.

6. Angband - Boldog is impatient to leave and start attacking Beleriand, so he can fulfill their mission of wiping out the elves. Mairon tells him to wait, because his army isn't ready or prepared for the campaign. It becomes very clear that Mairon understands tactics and strategy, whereas Boldog does not.

7. The River Ascar - Mablung and the translator, who is named Norn, discuss politics. Mablung explains that the territory where they are building the road is part of Thingol's territory. He can't speak for his king, but he knows that the dwarves will need permission to complete this construction project. The dwarves are surprised, as they had no idea the land had been claimed by the elves. Norn explains that he is from Belegost and some of the other dwarves are from Nogrod, so there are two dwarvish kings to discuss the matter with. Mablung is curious how Norn learned his language; Norn tells him that he has met elves on the east side of the mountains, and they taught him. But those elves don't have any official dealings with the dwarves. The dwarves are impatient to get back to work. Some of the dwarves of Nogrod attempt to offer the Sindar trinkets to pay them off so they can just get on with things. Norn and Mablung agree that their leaders should meet to discuss these issues.

8. Doriath - Thingol's court discusses the monster problem. Some people seem to think it's only a minor issue with a small group. Others are very disturbed by the idea of evil creatures who can start fires. No one really knows what to do or what to make of it. Melian recognizes Melkor's work in the steel blade, and is clearly disturbed. She lets the court know that the orcs are not the real problem - that there are beings who will not rest until they rule all of Middle Earth.

Act 3
9. Frame: Estel is bursting with the news of his first orc kill. Estel challenges Hamilcar to an archery or knife-throwing contest after Hamilcar mocks his story. Hamilcar insists that he doesn't have time for games and leaves Estel on his own.

10. Doriath - Daeron shows Lúthien his runes, which she praises him for. He informs her that no one else seemed very interested, but she insists they'll be useful for things like recording music.

11. Mount Dolmed - Eöl meets with Telchar in a well-ventilated forge on the mountainside of Mount Dolmed. [We do not see Nogrod or Belegost in this episode]. They discuss Thingol. Eöl makes the point that Thingol is not his king, because he's not one of the Sindar. Telchar mentions that the King of Nogrod has no interest in meeting with Thingol, because he does not consider the Sindar important enough. Telchar is a young dwarf apprentice at this time, and the only one in the forge who talks with Eöl.

12. Doriath - Mablung reports back to Thingol to arrange the meeting with the king of Belegost.

Act 4
13. Sarn Ford at the River Gelion - The arrival of Thingol's delegation; the dwarves are already there waiting for them, with a pavilion set up across the river. There are courteous greetings on both sides when Thingol meets Azaghâl, king of Belegost. The dwarves do make a slight dig about the elves being late, but the elves remain oblivious. The dwarves are outfitted in the best armor.

14. Angband - Thuringwethil reports to Mairon that she has found the location of the large spider. Boldog's orc army marches out of Angband. Mairon and Thuringwethil take off and fly towards the location.

15. Sarn Ford at the River Gelion - The elves and dwarves sit down to a feast together. Part of the entertainment is Lúthien singing a song. The dwarves don't seem terribly impressed. After the meal is a mutual gift-giving ceremony that seeks to establish the basis of a strong friendship between the two peoples. The Sindar give the dwarves a collection of treasures (which includes amber, pearls, word and ivory/bone/antler carvings, turquoise, and obsidian arrowheads), as well as some tokens such as a tree sapling, lamps, and fabric items. The dwarves give the elves steel knives and preserved foods as well as some minor jewelry. The dwarves are not impressed with the gifts they receive, with the exception of the pearls.

16. Sarn Ford at the River Gelion - The kings sit down to negotiate the territory dispute. Norn serves as interpreter, and Mablung stands by Thingol. Norn makes sure that whatever is said is translated into the most polite version possible (as indicated by subtitles.) Thingol initially lays claim to all of Beleriand. Azaghâl points out that the dwarves too can see this land from their homes, so they see no reason to recognize that claim. Thingol is willing to concede lumber rights to the east of the river Gelion to the dwarves, once he realizes that is what they want. They point out that they've already built the road and had already intended to harvest the trees, and that they would need to continually expand as the trees do not grow back. Thingol offers to send elves who can grow new trees, and the dwarves agree not to extend the road beyond the River Gelion. Afterwards, Lúthien gives an illuminated page with the song she sang on it as a personal gift to Azaghâl. Once Norn realizes what the runes are, he is very excited. He tells Mablung that he is very pleased with what happened today, and that he looks forward to learning more about the Sindar. Mablung is a bit more dour and less enthusiastic, but he agrees that this was a good meeting, and thanks Norn for helping to organize it.


Tag - Frame: Elrohir urges Estel not to jump to conclusions. Estel learns that Hamilcar lost his mother some years ago, and is responsible for looking after his younger siblings. He realizes that Hamilcar had a valid excuse for being impatient with him, since his little sister is sick and needs looking after.
 
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MithLuin

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So, amber apparently *can* be found in shallow water sometimes, assuming there were ancient forests and some glaciers to push it around. I think we can let the Sindar have it without it being too much of a stretch, but the dwarves of course are not impressed.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Still making last-minute comments. I think this episode needs more work and polishing.


Act 1
1. Doriath - Eöl comes before Thingol and requests that the land of Nan Elmoth be given to him. Thingol claims that this land is part of his realm. If Eöl were to move there, he would have to be subject to Thingol, even though he's not currently his subject. Eöl wants to live in Nan Elmoth because of the protections provided by Melian when she and Thingol first met, and for the renewable resource of the trees (in the rest of Middle Earth outside of Doriath, the trees are under the Sleep of Yavanna and do not regrow). Melian shares her misgivings concerning Eöl with Thingol in private.
Wait, wait, in the books Melian ends the Sleep of Yavanna for all of Beleriand. That’s why Elves are able to thrive in Mithrim and the Falas and east Beleriand -- a portion of them only withdrew to stay within Doriath itself when Melian made the Girdle, and that was when the name "Doriath" (Land of the Fence) originated. I thought we had agreed to depict Beleriand that way, or I would have objected to this "only Doriath" thing earlier. Confining all ilfe to Doriath isn’t going to make sense, and doesn’t agree with how you all are talking about depicting the Ents in later episodes visiting all the forests in Beleriand.

The Sindar would still insist that the Dwarves can't cut down forests without permission. The Sindar seldom cut trees, and would focus on coppicing only those trees that can be coppiced without killing them, not clear-cutting.

Mablung is curious how Norn learned his language; Norn tells him that he has met elves on the east side of the mountains, and they taught him.
This is a problem – Norn is depicted speaking Sindarin, but there are no Sindar east of the Eryd Luin. He could only have learned it from Eöl, who clearly learned Sindarin since he must use it to ask for Nan Elmoth. Otherwise Norn and the other Dwarves would only know Nandorin, which is a different language. Nandorin and Sindarin are not intelligible without some learning. You can show that learning and that some time is passing -- I'm not comfortable with giving the impression that all this is happening in a hurry in just a couple weeks. You'll have to show some learning when Elves meet Men -- not even Finrod is an instant universal translator.

15. Sarn Ford at the River Gelion - The elves and dwarves sit down to a feast together. Part of the entertainment is Lúthien singing a song. The dwarves don't seem terribly impressed.
I really think they should be impressed by Lúthien. Remember Gimli’s reaction to Galadriel? And he hadn’t even heard her sing.

The Sindar give the dwarves a collection of treasures (which includes amber, pearls, word and ivory/bone/antler carvings, turquoise, and obsidian arrowheads),
What is “word” in this list? Is that a typo? Do you mean "wood" ?
 

MithLuin

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Ah, yes, a typo for 'wood', sorry! And this outline was written before the discussions about the Sleep of Yavanna, so it will have to be updated. I remember Gimli's reaction to Galadriel, but also that it was a rather unique reaction for a dwarf to have. The purpose of this scene is to establish that elves and dwarves value and treasure very different things in their cultures. I want to make Lúthien universally loved, but at the same time, if there were ever going to be an audience to ignore her..... Still, there are other ways of making the point, and I am open to suggestions.

I am also uncomfortable with the universal translator/babblefish solution to two groups meeting. Dwarves being more eager to learn the languages of outsiders than to teach strangers their own is a trait that must be present in this interaction, but they don't have to have complete ease of understanding. There are a few issues. We want the dwarves to be new to the elves, but for elves to *not* be new to the dwarves. And at the same time, there can be an issue of the dwarves sounding stupid if they are the ones using halting/broken language to communicate with the elves, so we can't have them be too new to Sindarin. On screen, this conversation will likely be written entirely in English, so it will be elves speaking naturally, and dwarves speaking pigdin English with heavy accents. That's...not a good way to convey what we want. So, it's a quandary.

We will show Eöl meeting with dwarves, but not *these* dwarves. Whether or not the Green Elves speak a completely different language here or not is probably up for debate. Are we going to show them not communicating clearly when they meet the Sindar in a few episodes? It will be tricky to convince the audience, when we will have Thingol, in person, asking about his old friend Lenwë in a conversation with Lenwë's son. And yes, I know Tolkien was *very* particular about the history of the Green Elves and how their language development was so unique. It would be a shame to lose that. But in a production where everyone speaks English all the time...can we preserve that? I'd be more comfortable simply not contradicting that rather than explicitly establishing that on the show.

But back to the dwarves. How do we show them overcoming the language barrier without looking like idiots or taking up a lot of screentime? It's a challenge, but surely there are better ways of handling it. Suggestions?
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I don't have concrete suggestions, only the suggestion that it should not come across as though they communicate flawlessly at once. Is there a way to show that time is passing? (The same will come up when Feanor meets the Grey Elves.) When Finrod meets the Edain, the seasons can be shown to progress, but I want him to learn their language much faster, so the Dwarves and the other Elves can't do universal translator. And I want the Sons of Feanor to be credibly impressed when he introduces them to Beor and can already speak Beorian near-fluently. I want Maglor to be like "What... how did you even do that? You cannot have met them more than 6 months ago!"

Arg, this is one of the reasons why compressing thousands of years into about 2 weeks is so frustrating to me! Another example of drastic changes having consequences for many episodes to come.


As for the cultural differences, I see your point. The Noldor are pretty much the only Elves who show an intense love for the type of beauty the Dwarves love. And you are right that Gimli's reactions should to some extent be unique. (We can hope that he is as pleasantly surprised by Fangorn as Legolas was by Aglarond.)

The question of standards of physical beauty is one that I've pondered... (while trying to write GURPS rules). If this were a scifi, I'd say that Dwarves think Elves are just as ugly as Elves think they are. But Tolkien depicts Elven beauty as somehow universally recognized, as though their beauty (which is greater than all other beauty that Eru has caused to be, or something like that) can be loved by everyone.

They can be affected by Luthien's appearance (in the way of her being the "litmus test" that somebody suggested, I think it was you MithLuin), without thinking her dancing or Daeron's piping are nearly as wonderful as pearls and cirth. She's graceful and lovely, but Elvish singing just doesn't have the ring of Khuzdul singing.
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

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I don't have concrete suggestions, only the suggestion that it should not come across as though they communicate flawlessly at once. Is there a way to show that time is passing? (The same will come up when Feanor meets the Grey Elves.) When Finrod meets the Edain, the seasons can be shown to progress, but I want him to learn their language much faster, so the Dwarves and the other Elves can't do universal translator. And I want the Sons of Feanor to be credibly impressed when he introduces them to Beor and can already speak Beorian near-fluently. I want Maglor to be like "What... how did you even do that? You cannot have met them more than 6 months ago!"

Arg, this is one of the reasons why compressing thousands of years into about 2 weeks is so frustrating to me! Another example of drastic changes having consequences for many episodes to come.


As for the cultural differences, I see your point. The Noldor are pretty much the only Elves who show an intense love for the type of beauty the Dwarves love. And you are right that Gimli's reactions should to some extent be unique. (We can hope that he is as pleasantly surprised by Fangorn as Legolas was by Aglarond.)

The question of standards of physical beauty is one that I've pondered... (while trying to write GURPS rules). If this were a scifi, I'd say that Dwarves think Elves are just as ugly as Elves think they are. But Tolkien depicts Elven beauty as somehow universally recognized, as though their beauty (which is greater than all other beauty that Eru has caused to be, or something like that) can be loved by everyone.

They can be affected by Luthien's appearance (in the way of her being the "litmus test" that somebody suggested, I think it was you MithLuin), without thinking her dancing or Daeron's piping are nearly as wonderful as pearls and cirth. She's graceful and lovely, but Elvish singing just doesn't have the ring of Khuzdul singing.

I agree that the time compression is frustrating, but it is no longer avoidable. Therefore, we have to find ways around things like this. The dwarves have to have off-screen prior contact with the elves if we are to have anything resembling a conversation with them when we put the Sindar and the Dwarves together.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
That's why I suggested they had met Eol and he already knew Sindarin, but MithLuin said no.

Time compression is set in stone, I know. But does it have to be only a week or two? Why can't it take months? Or a few years? The Noldor aren't going to finish their story in just a handful of days.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
That's why I suggested they had met Eol and he already knew Sindarin, but MithLuin said no.

Time compression is set in stone, I know. But does it have to be only a week or two? Why can't it take months? Or a few years? The Noldor aren't going to finish their story in just a handful of days.
Considering there are no days, weeks, months, or years, there isn't much one can do to show time passing, other than a repeat of the "Learning the Language" montage from "13th Warrior".

I'm less certain that Eol does not have a role in the dwarves' learning of Sindarin, myself than MithLuin is, but my memory on the reasons for this are a bit murky.
 

MithLuin

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Eöl is very much involved in the dwarves learning Sindarin. Eöl is currently studying with Telchar and her master. The problem? Those dwarves are from Nogrod. Our current dwarvish emissary is Norn - a dwarf of Belegost. It seems...unlikely...that Norn has ever met Eöl. We need more than a single dwarf-elf interaction to have developed dwarves who speak Sindarin.

We also want the Green Elves and the dwarves to have history. Mostly a history of not caring about each other, but still.

We can come up with an alternative reason for Norn to know Sindarin. He could have family members who are travellers/traders who know others of the Avari. Etc.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
But the Avari don't speak Sindarin either. Only the Sindar speak it. And Eol, if he isn't a Sinda.

The Dwarves would have some interpreters who know Nandorin.

Thingol could be forced to use Eol as an interpreter of the Dwarves' trade-Nandorin, but getting Eol involved as an interpreter... I don't know how you'd set it up or make it work, except as a comedy/parody.

Melian can be used as an interpreter, since all Ainur are instant universal translators, but using her in that way seems so... such a diminishing of her majestic character. That's a valid move for the meeting between Kings, but not for Mablung and the Dwarves of Belegost just talking.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
But the Avari don't speak Sindarin either. Only the Sindar speak it. And Eol, if he isn't a Sinda.

The Dwarves would have some interpreters who know Nandorin.

Thingol could be forced to use Eol as an interpreter of the Dwarves' trade-Nandorin, but getting Eol involved as an interpreter... I don't know how you'd set it up or make it work, except as a comedy/parody.

Melian can be used as an interpreter, since all Ainur are instant universal translators, but using her in that way seems so... such a diminishing of her majestic character. That's a valid move for the meeting between Kings, but not for Mablung and the Dwarves of Belegost just talking.
Or, we can make a slight adjustment to how different Nandorin and Sindar in are so that we can move the plot forward and not have Thingol look silly when he cannot make out the speech of his old friend's son.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I not familiar enough with the Scandinavian languages to answer the first part, but the second... I'm afraid that might have to be where it goes. At the very least something like Portuguese and Spanish.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I wish the script would show time passing, but that would be an acceptable compromise. As long as they clearly aren't the same language.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not sure how much language differentiation we're going to be doing. We agreed that most of the onscreen dialogue will be in English, and with very little reliance on subtitles.

Obviously, we will have times when different languages are being spoken on screen. We will be showing language differences, and that will be more enhanced when groups meet for the first time. I'm not sure if the different Elvish languages will be clear beyond Quenya and Sindarin, though. And even then, we are using the Sindarin names for all of the Noldor throughout - you only get 2 names for story reasons (so, Melkor --> Morgoth, Mairon --> Sauron, Elwë --> Thingol). [Obviously the subtleties of this will be hashed out in the actual scripts; for now, we don't have that, so it's theoretical.]

It would be really unfortunate if we short-changed the language development on a Tolkien project...but it would also be impossible to do it justice on screen. We can't show two groups who don't speak a common language meeting in this episode, because we don't have the time to lead up to the cultural exchange that we need. Also, we need the dwarves to be wholly new and a surprise to the Sindar. Thus, we need a dwarf who can speak to the elves. We also need to introduce the audience to the idea of the Green elves before they come.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I see the language Problem...

I think the solution mighht be that Norn and his House had met Nandor who spoke a very archaic dialect, a dialect that was still very telerin in character, and therefore Mablung, as a very old elf would be able to connect to that language. So He and Norn would not be able to talk fluently to one another (at the beginning), but with some trouble and adjusting each one would be able to learn faster what the other one does mean... especially Mablung as an elf and a natural language talent.
I don't know how far Sindarin and Nandorin are removed... is it like two germanic languages, say , english and german? Or rather like german and say... switzertütsch... which one... with some patience, can slowly learn to understand if one does know the one language.

One thing that still bothers me... i still do not understand the reason why Gamil Zirak and Techar were switched!

Otherwise i like the plot!
 
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