S03E08 Script Discussion

Haakon

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I'm afraid I don't see the inefficiency you're describing, but we may be thinking about it differently. I'm thinking of saying as much as we can in a single sequence, since we already have so many scenes in this episode.



An individual just falling overboard seems more like a manufactured accident to me, especially if we have to also have him lose the palantir out of ... his pocket, I suppose? Also, it seems to me to make Amrod look clumsy and careless rather than making the Feanorians generally look like poor sailors.



This does not actually do anything concerning setting up the Feanorians as poor sailors, for one thing. It also risks inviting the audience to see Amrod as a bully victim and a whiner, rather than a sympathetic character who has a good relationship with his twin brother. Not to mention, Amrod is less likely to be honest about how he feels with Caranthir than with Amras. Finally, it seems unlikely to me that Caranthir would through away something so useful. I feel like he would be more likely to give it to Feanor (or even keep it for himself) instead.
I maintain it is inefficient. Mostly because I don’t like it. I don’t like it because I think it is unclear emotionally and in what it is trying to tell viewers. That makes it full of stuff that is unnecessary imho.

Someone falling overboard is less manufactured than a whole ship capsizing.

Supposing Amrod dropping the palantir out of his pocket is just silly, of course. Did you think that was my idea?

The story about Noldor being bad sailors is frankly uninteresting to me and something I’d rather not see in our story. Yes, the Teleri are master sailors. That doesn’t mean the Noldor are bad ones.

The idea of Caranthir throwing the palantir away has problems, sure. He doesn’t have to know exactly what Amrod is doing with the palantir and when he wants to know, Amrod could be secretive about it. He could struggle with Amrod trying to take it from him and a movement of the ship could make them lose their balance and drop it in the water.

Or we could lose the palantir altogether. But I do like that element of your idea. Sadly, it’s obscured by a capsizing ship.
 

MithLuin

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Staff member
Fëanor and his followers seem woefully unprepared to make the first transoceanic ship voyage of any elf in the history of Middle Earth.

And yet they do.

That type of 'first' should not be smooth sailing, even for those who are experienced and prepared. This fleet is made of ships designed for that purpose, but many of his sailors had never been in a ship before the massacre at Alqualondë. Even saying that some of them had some mild sailing experience...they're still beginners by any standard.

I think if we show no challenges/difficulties with the trip, we make it seem like they simply crossed a large lake in a few hours. We want to make sure the viewers get that they are at sea. So, there are some potential challenges. One ship could get separated from the rest of the fleet - out of visual contact of the lanterns each ship is carrying, and thus on their own to navigate across the ocean. One ship could not figure out when to trim their sails, and try to sail through a storm rather than ride it out. One ship could not know how to steer through the large waves at sea, and capsize. Or there could be dangers like sea monsters or icebergs or whirlpools or something. We can take a real sailing accident as a template for the scene if need be.

Sailing across an ocean is a big deal. We should show that in some way. We also need to show Amrod and Amras aboard ship together. We combined those things, as an excuse to spend time with the twins. We can separate them, but there is one issue if we do. Amrod needs a reason to have been okay with setting out, but not okay with arriving in Middle Earth. This suggests that *something* changed during the journey. Our idea of 'he loses a palantir, and thus his last connection with his mother' is the impetus for his final choice. It can be something else, but there does need to be something there.

Keep in mind that in the future, we will sink every single ship that tries to make this journey. And, yes, that's because of the Hiding of Valinor, but I feel like losing *one* ship in this crossing is not asking too much.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I maintain it is inefficient. Mostly because I don’t like it. I don’t like it because I think it is unclear emotionally and in what it is trying to tell viewers. That makes it full of stuff that is unnecessary imho.
Someone falling overboard is less manufactured than a whole ship capsizing.
I sense some frustration here, and it is not unwarranted. We are discussing a visual medium in a textual medium, which is probably the worst way to do so. Hopefully I can address some of the concerns you are having here.

Someone falling overboard is less manufactured than a whole ship capsizing.
This all depends on what you are trying to convey. If you have a character who is particularly clumsy, than you are very correct. If you are trying to illustrate that a group is inept at a certain activity, showing that a group of them fail at said activity works better to my thinking. I understand that you don't find this a particularly interesting point, but it is one that is quite natural. As I've said earlier, I have nearly capsized a sailboat myself. It is something that is very difficult, and not particularly intuitive. To show that a bunch of people with no experience whatsoever manage to make a trans-oceanic voyage with no difficulty at all stretches credulity for me, and likely anyone with more boating experience than I.

Supposing Amrod dropping the palantir out of his pocket is just silly, of course. Did you think that was my idea?
Not necessarily, I'm just not sure how else it would happen. It is something that he would be keeping more or less a secret from everyone but Amras (for fear that it would be taken from him), and so it would have to be concealed while on deck (another reason Caranthir would likely not have an opportunity to grab it and immediately hurl it into the sea).

The idea of Caranthir throwing the palantir away has problems, sure. He doesn’t have to know exactly what Amrod is doing with the palantir and when he wants to know, Amrod could be secretive about it. He could struggle with Amrod trying to take it from him and a movement of the ship could make them lose their balance and drop it in the water.

Or we could lose the palantir altogether. But I do like that element of your idea. Sadly, it’s obscured by a capsizing ship.
Caranthir not knowing what Amrod is doing with the palantir is precisely my problem. We lose opportunities to communicate several things, which means we would need to have a separate scene between Amrod and Amras, and Amrod, Amras, and Caranthir would all have to be on the same ship.

I'm not trying to push an idea on you that you hate, but I do think that we are visualizing this sequence in completely different ways. I think you are seeing the capsizing as a major event, which none of us did. This is one of the reasons it was important that the ship not be actually destroyed. We are not asking the viewers to be concerned for the elves' safety, as we show them being immediately rescued. We are asking the audience to smile at Amras and Amrod's relationship, and feel Amrod's loss of his mother with the palantir.

We do have to have a scene between Amrod and Amras in this episode, and Amrod must be portrayed sympathetically. We also have to show the Feanorians having the appropriate level of difficulty inexperienced sailors would have. We also have to show a shift in Amrod's attitude from the shores of Aman to the shores of Middle Earth. If we can agree on something that does these things, I'm good, even without this particular iteration.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I think I was the one who initially suggested there being some dramatic something happening during the voyage, because we knew we had to show three uneventful heart-to-heart conversations between various Feanorians. Those conversations need to be in there, but that left Act 2 feeling really dull. We also amped up Beleg's adventure with Tevildo's cats, but that's only one scene out of a long Act (and if we had to cut the action from one of those scenes, I'd prefer to cut out the cats). Initially I suggested they run into an iceberg like the Titanic, and I got shot down. I like user error better than icebergs or kraken.

I also wanted to show how deeply the twins care for each other, how they are closer to each other than to their brothers, and closer to their mother than to their father. This scene allows us to show their emotions towards each other, and having one twin save the other, and then Amros fails to save Amrod later, helps the viewers get more emotionally interested in the twins before we kill one. Initially we had Amrod saving Amros, before the palantir idea was brought up.

Another use of this scene was in foreshadowing the fate of the ships by showing how none of the Feanorians value them in the slightest. Their father's palantir, that was valuable. The ships, who cares? However, that's not a necessary thing in Act 2.

You suggested that instead Amrod should fall overboard, or drop the palantir overboard, or another elf should throw the palantir overboard. For reasons that have already been said I'm not happy with those suggestions as they are now. Can you elaborate them into a scene that addresses those concerns?

Or with a mind to get rid of the part that concerns you, please describe in more detail what's unclear emotionally about it? Does the implied humor bother you? We were considering having the scene start out light-hearted and then end on a down note because of Amrod's melancholy. But I don't feel that light-hearted is necessary. By nature this isn't a series with much humor.
 
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Haakon

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This is the passage in the published Silmarillion:
"And since the sea was there narrow, steering east and somewhat south he passed over without loss, and first of all the Noldor set foot once more upon the shores of Middle-earth; and the landing of Fëanor was at the mouth of the firth which was called Drengist and ran into Dor-lómin."
The text says 'without loss'. You want to change that. It's not just an addition, it's a change. The idea that it's a first journey that shouldn't be smooth sailing has no support in the text. The fact that the sea becomes hard to cross later is a totally different issue, as you know.

Now I am of course aware that we change things and add things all the time. But each time we do, we have to be certain that it is in the spirit of the original text. It's fairly easy to come up with ideas that don't contradict the events told in the text since it's so terse, but we should strive to come up with ideas that is also in the spirit of the text, and in this case, you have come up with an idea that makes the Fëanoreans look like humans, making human errors, and not like the elven heroes that they are. The failings of the Noldor are in mostly their choices, and when it is in their incompetence, it's not about lack of skill. So this idea is not in the spirit of the text, and, as you can see, it also contradicts the events in the published Silmarillion.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
This is the passage in the published Silmarillion:
"And since the sea was there narrow, steering east and somewhat south he passed over without loss, and first of all the Noldor set foot once more upon the shores of Middle-earth; and the landing of Fëanor was at the mouth of the firth which was called Drengist and ran into Dor-lómin."
The text says 'without loss'. You want to change that. It's not just an addition, it's a change. The idea that it's a first journey that shouldn't be smooth sailing has no support in the text. The fact that the sea becomes hard to cross later is a totally different issue, as you know.

Now I am of course aware that we change things and add things all the time. But each time we do, we have to be certain that it is in the spirit of the original text. It's fairly easy to come up with ideas that don't contradict the events told in the text since it's so terse, but we should strive to come up with ideas that is also in the spirit of the text, and in this case, you have come up with an idea that makes the Fëanoreans look like humans, making human errors, and not like the elven heroes that they are. The failings of the Noldor are in mostly their choices, and when it is in their incompetence, it's not about lack of skill. So this idea is not in the spirit of the text, and, as you can see, it also contradicts the events in the published Silmarillion.

I have to disagree with most of this. None of the Noldor are lost in this scene, which is what the text is most likely referring to. The term "without loss" is most commonly used in reference to military maneuvers in which there are no casualties, and thus, there is no change. I agree with your point of not making unnecessary changes, as I'm sure you know, as I have gone to the mat with the hosts to protest divergences from the text many times.

Elves though the Noldor may be, they are not infallible, which is evidenced by the text. And even they would have a learning curve when it comes to an activity like sailing. Also, I'm not sure how you can make this argument after suggesting that we have Amrod simply fall overboard. Making a clumsy misstep seems far more "human" than making critical errors in the performance of a difficult skill.

As a human, I would never attempt what the Fëanorians are attempting with only a few hours practice under my belt. Such a choice would be fatal. That the Fëanorians make the crossing without loss is a testament to them, but I hardly imagine that Tolkien meant that they instantly mastered the art untutored.
 

Haakon

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I have said just about what I wanted to say. If you want to write the episode that way, go ahead, I'll just ignore it. It's ok.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I usually strenuously oppose changes to the text, and while I think it's plausible that "without loss" refers to loss of lives, I am still open to replacing this scene with something less destructive, if we can still get the emotional beats that we need.

What were you saying, Nick, about the kind of rough seas necessary to toss somebody overboard? Is it plausible for user error and rough seas, with no clumsiness at all, to toss multiple people (and maybe objects) overboard?

Or Haakon do you have a suggestion for how Elves can fall overboard without being physically clumsy? Preferrably something related to being very inexperienced sailors.
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I have said just about what I wanted to say. If you want to write the episode that way, go ahead, I'll just ignore it. It's ok.
I'm not looking to shove you out of the process, and I value your input. You have brought some of the most creative ideas that have been incorporated into this project. I'm sorry that we have been talking past each other here, and I wish I understood why your reaction to the scene was so visceral. I'm sure that you can understand why we'd be reticent to remove ideas that came out of a five-hour-long conversation, and I'll grant that may be playing a part in this. I'm afraid, however, that I remain unconvinced that this scene is a bad move, or that any of the alternatives you have suggested do the same things without requiring an additional scene in an episode that is already pretty busy. If the episode were less packed, I would be less inclined to stick to my guns on this.

All of that said, the hosts may agree with you when they go over this, so if you truly feel like you are talking to a wall here, you may feel free to bring it up to them when the script outlines are discussed, or any other session for that matter.

Most importantly, I hope that this disagreement has not soured your participation here.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Most importantly, I hope that this disagreement has not soured your participation here.
What, like I’m quitting or something? Now don’t you all get relaxed and cheery, you’re stuck with me. ;)

No seriously we’ve had our differences before, that’s how things are. I’m not alone in having negative feelings about parts of what we’ve done. In a collective creative process that’s inevitable. I love this project way more than I detest the Noldor capsizing a ship.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
While I would want a replacement scene to still convey the tight relationship between the twins, I'm less adamant that the palantir has to be present, and it's harder to lose it from falling overboard since Amrod probably would keep it hidden belowdecks. There are three non-palantir scenarios for Amrod to plausibly turn around after reaching Losgar:
  1. He was already less than gung-ho about leaving in Act 1, and has been thinking a lot about Mother and gradually changing his mind through the whole multi-week voyage.
  2. He had already made up his mind to go back to Mother before they left Araman. But he's got a lot of others on board who haven't even heard about his plan, so he recognizes he has to ferry them across before he himself can go back. He could have jumped off the ship while they left, but then he wouldn't have the next several weeks to persuade Amros to come with him. (In this scenario they start on the same ship.) And also couldn't take his stuff back with him. And taking the ship itself back West lets him give it to Fingolfin, because he's not enthusiastic about stranding most of the Noldor in Araman.
  3. Amros was helming the ship with both twins on it, and he's the one who responded to the signal to set off with the other Feanorians.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I'm gradually getting closer to caught up with the podcasts.

There were two questions in the podcast for this Ep we didn't include in our notes: do any of Feanor's sons blame the Valar for Amrod's death? And do they try to retrieve Amrod's bones and bury him? I think the latter would be rather impractical -- that his disarticulated bones probably fell into the sea.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I'm gradually getting closer to caught up with the podcasts.

There were two questions in the podcast for this Ep we didn't include in our notes: do any of Feanor's sons blame the Valar for Amrod's death? And do they try to retrieve Amrod's bones and bury him? I think the latter would be rather impractical -- that his disarticulated bones probably fell into the sea.
Yeah, it was getting pretty late, so I figured that the specifics of what was said could be hashed out later.

I do agree with you that burying Amrod would be difficult. And if the hosts want to keep Cirdan in the dark about what really happened here, impossible.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I am in favor of no charred bones of Amrod.

Not only is it macabre, but yeah, there's no real way to show the burial. The idea is to convey that he died. In some cases that means you need to show a body or a death scene. We're...going a lot more subtle than that. Haunting death screams. There will be no reason for the audience to suspect he survived, and he didn't, so....we're done here. IMO
 
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