S04E04 Script Discussion

MithLuin

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Staff member
Our protagonist in this episode is a 'secret' until the final reveal - Thuringwethil's spying is what ties the episode together, and everything is seen through her eyes.

Since that won't be obvious on first viewing, we are also leaning heavily on the Frame to give us a storyline that carries through from the beginning of the episode until the end. So, Bilbo is our faux-protagonist until we get to the final reveal.

And, even though Fingolfin is only in Act 4, the characters will talk about him throughout, which hopefully makes his presence anticipated.

Hopefully, that will be enough to make up for the disjointed storytelling!

A-plot (secret) - Thuringwethil spies on the Noldor in Beleriand
B-plot - Bilbo meets Bard's family, visits Erebor, and sees Dain's interest in protection from dragons (or is it elves?)
C-plot - Each kingdom of the Noldor we visit is in a different stage of completion and militancy.


A lot of what will make this episode work would be the directorial choices of how to convey Thuringwethil's presence behind the camera. You can give hints in the stage direction part of the script, but at the end of the day it's difficult to show a character who is not on screen, especially when you want to 'surprise' the audience with who it might be.

Think of the different ways a TV show conveys phone conversations. The most conventional, normal way of doing that is to show both characters on both sides of the phone call, so that the viewer is familiar with each speaker's surroundings and facial expression, any distractions, etc. This is especially true if both speakers are main characters. Occasionally, there's a reason to show only one side of the call, while still hearing the dialogue from the other side. Maybe you don't want to pull the viewer out of the scene. Maybe one voice is an 'incidental' character reporting information but not important in and of themselves. Maybe someone has dialed just before falling unconscious, so you want to show the viewer the slumped body while the voice on the other end keeps asking if someone is there.... In this case, the phone itself becomes the presence of the other person in the scene. And, more rarely, you see and hear only one side of a conversation, and have to surmise what was said based on the character's reaction. That's good for raising the drama level in 'shocking news' scenes. And, I guess, rarest of all would be a 'phone call scene' with music over it, so you see the person take a phone call, and see their reaction, but hear none of the dialogue at all.

Obviously there are no phone calls in this episode :p. But we do have to convey Thuringwethil's presence without giving away her presence, and that's going to take a lot of attention to detail. We made sure there was one 'blatant hint' in each act, but we likely need other details as well. One scene I'm worried about is the training montage. It is at the beginning of the Act, where we have just been seeing everything from her birds-eye view in the transition. It seems unlikely that Thuringwethil would sit perched in a tree for a month watching Maedhros train. We intend to show changes of outfits for the elves to indicate that these are different days. Should we also show changes in vantage point to indicate that Thuringwethil's viewpoint is not fixed? Or should everything be from one particular location, which we show later as a good spot for a blind?

As a 'for instance'.... I don't know if we'll show the full transition between each site, to give the audience a feel of the distances and the map, but if we do, there's the opportunity for Thuringwethil to fly through Nevrast. And if she does, when she gets to the lake, a whole flight of birds could take off. It might just look dramatic at the moment, but once you know the camera is a person, it becomes more clear that she has startled the birds by flying over them.

Here's a map of Thuringwethil's travels in this episode, for reference:
SFP S4E4 Flyovers.jpg
 
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Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Would it be possible to move the training montage back an episode? It could go after Maedhros' conversation with Fingolfin about taking his brothers east, making it the last scene in Episode 3. Then it wouldn't look like Thuringwethil just sat and watched Maedhros train or that he has only recently reached the point where he is successful in his training when he challenges Fingolfin to the exhibition match in the tournament. I think the montage would be more powerful at the end of an episode than in the middle, and it would be possible to show significant progress over months or even years of training.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
It seems unlikely that Thuringwethil would sit perched in a tree for a month watching Maedhros train. We intend to show changes of outfits for the elves to indicate that these are different days. Should we also show changes in vantage point to indicate that Thuringwethil's viewpoint is not fixed? Or should everything be from one particular location, which we show later as a good spot for a blind?

I would say showing the scene from different angles would be fine. I'm not sure that having Thuringwethil hang out in Himring for a few months is a bad thing. Team Bad Guy knows that the Feanorians burned the ships, and that if there is dirt to dig up, that is the best place to dig.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Maybe the entire episode is a first-person perspective with occasional birds-eye view suggesting it's an Eagle. Then late in the episode we see that we're seeing things from Thuringwethil's POV, kind of like in the original Halloween film's opening which is entirely from the perspective of Judith Myers' killer in a five minute one-take until a mask is removed and we see that the murderer is a six-year-old boy. I'd post a video, but there's nudity involved.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Hmmm, montages can work well as endings, if they are leading directly into the next episode, or establishing some future conflict or setting something up. I feel like a training montage needs a more immediate pay-off....so having that happen shortly before Maedhros' contest with Fingolfin would give the audience the immediate payoff.

Another option is that we will see Thuringwethil's elf-disguise at some point in this episode. After all, once Fingolfin's people arrive, she could pass herself off as one of the newcomers (to the Fëanoreans) and as one of the Fëanoreans (to the people of Fingolfin).
We wouldn't want to give it away...we want to save the reveal for later. Just as a minor background character, but (again) we'll know it's her later when she shows up at the Mereth Aderthad, and there will be that 'aha!' moment when people recognize her as that woman in the background here. Or something. It's not perfect.


I do not want to literally do the entire episode from 1st person perspective. I am fine with all of the flyovers being that way, and then transitioning into typical close ups of the characters for the conversations.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Hmmm, montages can work well as endings, if they are leading directly into the next episode, or establishing some future conflict or setting something up. I feel like a training montage needs a more immediate pay-off....so having that happen shortly before Maedhros' contest with Fingolfin would give the audience the immediate payoff.
As things stand, the two things are separated by about fifteen minutes. As I said in our discussion, I'm reticent to give the appearance that Maedhros is training specifically for a fight with Fingolfin. Do we think that three scenes is too much time for there to be sufficient payoff to this?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
So, remembering that you havn't seen Rocky, @MithLuin, I decided to share this bit with you.

Granted, modern film-making kind of requires a faster pace for a montage, but this one is probably the most iconic "training montage" in existence. It's place as the transition to the third and final act of the film would become a staple of almost every film in the franchise that followed. This is more or less the same point in the episode currently occupied by Maedhros' own training montage. The difference here is that we don't want to give the impression that Maedhros is specifically training to fight Fingolfin, as Rocky is training to fight Apollo Creed.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
While I agree that Thuringwethil would want to spend more time spying on the Feanorians, she would probably find more interesting things to watch than Maedhros training.

Perhaps there could be two scenes focused on Maedhros training. The first one (in episode 3) would be a long montage and focus more on recovery than training. It could show Maedhros learning to do simple tasks like writing and basic swordplay with his left hand and his right arm healing, e.g., being able to take his bandages off, getting the armor or whatever made for it. When we see him again from Thuringwethil's point of view, he could look much better and be doing more complicated swordplay and not entirely succeeding but continuing to try until he is at last successful and everyone else is worn out. Then Fingolfin would arrive.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
So, remembering that you havn't seen Rocky, @MithLuin, I decided to share this bit with you.

Granted, modern film-making kind of requires a faster pace for a montage, but this one is probably the most iconic "training montage" in existence. It's place as the transition to the third and final act of the film would become a staple of almost every film in the franchise that followed. This is more or less the same point in the episode currently occupied by Maedhros' own training montage. The difference here is that we don't want to give the impression that Maedhros is specifically training to fight Fingolfin, as Rocky is training to fight Apollo Creed.
Wherever we put Maedhros' training montage, it should be accompanied by Maglor singing "Eye of the Tiger." :)
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
15 minutes later, in the same act of the same episode, is plenty soon for audience payoff. As you say, we want him to be training for battle, not for the fight with Fingolfin. I was just concerned that if we put the training in Episode 3 and then wait until the end of Episode 4 for the payoff (with this character not even on screen for the first 3 acts) that it might feel too disjointed to the audience.

Perhaps there can be conversation between bouts? Something worth spying on rather than just watching Maedhros rebuild his muscles from scratch.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Perhaps there can be conversation between bouts? Something worth spying on rather than just watching Maedhros rebuild his muscles from scratch.
There certainly could be, but I think we'd have to cut the conversation where Maedhros is greeting Fingolfin. We might hear the horn and see Fingolfin coming through the gate, but we then cut to them touring Himring later on.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, I imagine training montages aren't meant to be interrupted with political discussions. A reference to the war with Morgoth wouldn't be remiss (to establish what it is they are training for), and that might be enough to plausibly justify Thuringwethil's interest?

I mean, I'd watch Maedhros train, but presumably she needs an added incentive to do so.....

We might not need to see Maedhros and Fingolfin greet one another. Anything important they have to say can be worked into later dialogue.


Wherever we put Maedhros' training montage, it should be accompanied by Maglor singing "Eye of the Tiger." :)
That will be in the gag reel!


Speaking of Supernatural....there is an episode of that show that is shot entirely from the point of view of the car. It's actually a great episode (not at all serious). But...the car has been in (almost) every episode since the Pilot [they put her in storage for part of Season 7], and is practically a character on the show. It's been wrecked and rebuilt multiple times. So, the audience certainly knew what was going on when the title of that Season 11 episode was 'Baby' and all the camera angles were in the car. It was a neat idea. But I don't think we want to do a mysterious 1st person perspective for an entire hour long episode, making the audience wonder who is behind the camera. I think the idea is that it should be a surprise that it was a 1st person perspective, so we should limit that to the flyovers, and the transitions between scenes. It should be a subtle, background, something's-slightly-off-here feeling rather than clearly indicated that it's 1st person perspective.

 
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amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I think, and forgive the crude reference here, that you can drift in and out of the central conceit here (first person) the same way Trailer Park Boys drift in and out of their central conceit (the documentary film) and still make it work. (I didn't watch the show, but my understanding is that the same thing is at work with The Office - sometimes it is clearly a documentary being filmed, other times the lines get blurred).
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Here's my attempt at a script for this episode. I've never written a screenplay before, so please give me feedback on everything about it.

I made a couple small changes to the original outline we came up with just because they seemed to me to flow better. I think the largest ones are making the conversation about going back to Valinor happen between Finrod and Aegnor rather than between Finrod and Edhellos and moving Bard's wife's performance up a scene earlier.

I wasn't sure if we had decided on a name for Bard's wife, so I just called her "Bard's Wife" in the script. Annael's wife and son might also need names if they are going to recur as characters. Also, do we have an official name for the celebration of the seventh anniversary of the events of The Hobbit? I took the liberty of naming some of Maedhros' forts after stars, but those names can be easily changed.
 

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MithLuin

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This is amazing! I loved, loved, loved the flyover intro and how you incorporated the hints of 'surprise Thurnigwethil' into it. Seeing Finrod at work on Minas Tirith was great, but seeing Turgon carving the statue of Elenwë himself is *love*. And we've certainly spent a lot of time thinking about and talking about the Noldor evading the Sindar's questions, but your dialogue between Turgon and Círdan captures the delicacy and emotions of those conversations very well. And you managed to get a mention of dragons into Act 1 - I'm sure Nick will appreciate that! Maybe the celebration can be called a 'Commemoration' so they don't have to say that it's the 7th anniversary of the Battle of Five Armies every time? You have the elves call the Sun 'her' :D. I liked the way each place had a very different feel. The characters are still finding their voices in this, probably in part because of the very formal diction, but the progression through it is clear.

Dialogue is, admittedly, really hard to write. You have the advantage of attempting this before most, so you can give the characters voices that others would have to match later ;). There are a few places where it feels heavy-handed, but that's fair in a first draft, where you just want to make sure the idea has been conveyed, and haven't had a chance to finesse everything yet. Certainly, the slightly archaic feel of Tolkien's writing makes dialogue writing even more challenging, but I think you certainly captured the feel of many of these scenes. And your Bilbo voice is spot-on. Your format is certainly what one would expect for a screenplay, so even if it's your first time, you made a lot of effort to make it look like you've done this before!

A few critical comments on my first read-through. I think that Bilbo should mention the harsh winter and trouble with wolves, rather than 'thieving relatives' (p. 3) to Bard, to tie in to the Season 3 frame and more 'recent' news. 'Sindar from the north' (p. 6) don't yet exist in this project - they are either Falathrim or from Doriath. Nevrast will likely be populated by Falathrim. Would it be possible to show Círdan with the departing ships (p.10)? I'm curious, is there a reason you chose to have Thorin Stonehelm in the throne room (p. 15) rather than another dwarf Bilbo knows, such as Dwalin or Glóin? I was imagining Maedhros' training exercises taking place in a courtyard inside the walls of the fortress of Himring, rather than beyond the walls (p.34). I do not think that Maedhros would be so candid in discussing his mistrust of his brothers with Fingolfin (p.48)

Certainly, we expect some changes/alterations between the outlines and the completed scripts. They're guidelines, but when you sit down to write, you're going to notice things that escaped us when we were planning. Making smooth transitions is something we try to pay attention to...but don't always manage at the outline level.

I wonder if we want Edhellos to be Herald for Angrod? This might be a good place to introduce that role. That way, we'd have a reason for a non-military person in a military role.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Thank you so much for the feedback. The scenes with Turgon are some of my favorites. Who else would he trust to carve his wife's statue?

Will the event just be the "Commemoration," or would something like the "Seven-Year Commemoration" work? What exactly is being commemorated could be something that the different races disagree on. The Dwarves could be celebrating Dain's ascension to the throne, the Men could be celebrating the defeat of the dragon, the Elves could be celebrating their victory in the Battle of the Five Armies, or something like that.

I'm glad the different feel of the places comes across. I was really trying to keep in mind what is going to happen in those places. For example, all the fortresses in Dorthonion are made of wood so they can get burnt down in the Dagor Bragollach.

Let me know where the dialogue seem clunky, and I'll try to fix it. There are a few places where I intentionally tried to make it a little awkward for humor, like Aegnor giving abrupt responses when Finrod keeps asking him about Valinor or Celegorm warning Maedhros and Fingolfin that they need to make sure their duel does not seem like a challenge for kingship to explicitly telling the audience exactly that. If those don't work, I can take them out.

I will definitely add a reference to the wolves from Season 3. I would like to leave the reference to the Sackville-Bagginses in for now, though. It's a potential way for Bilbo to relate to the Elves who feel they have been stolen from: "I lost my best silver spoons, but you don't see me starting a war over it!" It could also be a way for Bilbo to have some character development if he goes from hating Lobelia to planning to give her some spoons on his birthday. If we don't end up using it again, I can take it out.

Could the Sindar from the north be Sindar who came to Lake Mithrim and then moved to Vinyamar with Turgon? I wanted there to already be at least some Sindar in Vinyamar since Turgon's realm is one of the places where Sindar and Noldor mingle most, but I also thought mentioning that Falathrim want to come live there was a good excuse for Cirdan to be praising the city. I will definitely mention that Cirdan is on the ships as they depart.

Thorin Stonehelm is there because I thought Dain needed something to do other than stare at Bilbo and Balin as they walk down the long hall towards him, and being engaged in a conversation with someone else seemed like an appropriate thing for him to do. I saw Thorin's name and birth date when I was looking up Dain's father on the chart of the Line of Durin, and I realized that he would be alive at this time and might be a good character for the audience to see around, since he will become King of Erebor after Dain is killed. I didn't want it to be someone Bilbo knew because then that character would have had to join the conversation or at very least expressly greet both Bilbo and Balin, which I thought would interrupt the flow of the scene. That's why I also had Dain just call him "Stonehelm." Bilbo would have had to mention something about the Thorin he adventured with, which would also be a distraction from the focus of the scene. If we do end up adding more of Bilbo's companions from his first adventure to the frame, I can change Thorin into one of them.

I think you're right that a lot of Maedhros' training would take place within the walls, but I wanted Fingolfin to arrive while he was in the middle of a fight so Fingolfin could see Maedhros in action and be impressed. If Fingolfin showed up at the gate while Maedhros was inside the fortress, Maedhros would probably realize that Fingolfin had arrived and stop training to greet him before that could happen. Maybe Maedhros' sword training can start in the courtyard when he is only going against a few opponents and then need to move outside when he gets to fighting more people.

I'll take out the line about his brothers. It's probably clear from their characters which ones are more or less likely to hold their tongues.

Edhellos could be Angrod's herald, we would just have to make it clear that the king's herald is not necessarily his spouse (I think there was some mention of Fingolfin having a female herald who was not Anaire). Would we not have already introduced the role of Herald? Eonwe is the Herald of Manwe.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, we do have Sindar moving into the North at this time. Maybe we can manage to imply that some came from Mithrim with Turgon, but this is also before the time that Fingon is inviting Annael to come live in Mithrim with his people. These scenes happen in chronological order.

The easiest solution would likely be to imply that some Sindar have been 'hired' to work on the building of Vinyamar by Turgon, and that Círdan is now saying that others would like to come live in Nevrast. That would allow for 'some are already here' while giving Círdan a reason to introduce this topic in conversation as asking for permission.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Fingon already has some Sindar in Mithrim before he meets Annael. I also had Finrod mention that the Sindar helped him with Minas Tirith. While he doesn't mention this until Act III, one of the first scenes shows Minas Tirith under construction. My thoughts were that, after the Noldor arrived and made the North relatively safe, the Sindar started slowly venturing out of Doriath and the Falas. Some went directly to the Noldor strongholds, others (like Annael) just sort of wandered around or made their own temporary settlements. However, if we want to have the Sindar move to the northern realms later, I can just take out references to them already being there and make Annael one of the first to go north.
 
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