I don't know that she needs to be wholly absent from episode 1. She could be one of the first to change her song to match Melkor's. This would give her all of three or four seconds of screen time, but it could be valuable if we do want to make her a major player in the proceeding episodes.I agree with you that the 'unprovoked' attacks on the Maiar make Ungoliant a little bit more clearly evil - in a completely depraved kind of way. It also seems rather in character for her to try to eat light whereever she finds it, though, and if there is some illumination around the Maiar and Valar as they travel about Arda...that's going to attract her attention. I am fine with dropping this side story, though, if it creates too many problems. The purpose of it was to:
So, basically, it's a set-up for a bunch of things that will come into play later, but Episode 4 can likely survive without it. Setting up the need for Lorien could happen in the aftermath of the destruction of the Lamps, but that may seem too convenient if, after the first injury in thousands of years, they suddenly meet a healer who has been there all along.
- Create a mystery to generate audience curiosity for the next episode
- Allow for a problem-that's-not-directly-Melkor's-fault *after* his arrival
- Generate wounded Maiar who cannot easily be healed to explain that 'physical' danger is a reality for our angelic beings (relevant to the audience buying that Nessa is in true danger) as well as highlight the need for the gardens of Lorien.
I think we are all agreed that Ungoliant makes no appearance whatsoever in the Music of the Ainur (Episode 1). So, we have three Episodes in which we could 'introduce' her prior to her main appearance in Episode 5.
If we introduce her in Episode 2, then she is being defiant to the Valar directly prior to Melkor entering Middle Earth. This seems to me to be problematic as it immediately takes away her 'mysterious outsider' vibe. Having her speak at the gathering at Almaren is almost as out of place as having Tom Bombadil speak there. Yes, both of them are loners who would reject Manwë's invitation for communal living....but they are such loners that they would never respond to the summons or take part in the group debate either. Right? Having them there feels rather artificial - they don't belong. Also, any motivation she would have that would be tied to Melkor wouldn't make any sense at all, because the audience has not yet seen him interact with her. It also removes a lot of the mystery from her meeting with Nessa later on, which concerns me. I am fine with a brief wordless teaser cameo of her being 'missed' when everyone is gathered, but I am uneasy with her showing her face in front of such a large gathering. It also will make Nessa's invitation to 'come, join us' into a bit of a duplicate of Manwë's invitation that she's already rejected - that can either strengthen or weaken it, I suppose.
Introducing her in Episode 3 allows us to show that the first person she ever met/spoke with was...Melkor. Thus, her twisted nature is tied to him (and the potentially corrupting nature of the Void) very explicitly. It would be possible to introduce her in Episode 2, and then show her meeting Melkor as a flashback in Episode 3 as well. Giving her a prominent role in Episodes 2, 3 and 5 and then dropping her until the penultimate episode of Season 2 might feel like a cheat, though. The audience is going to wonder why she was played up so big and then just disappeared. I'd rather have her interaction with Nessa be the first time we see her speak with someone within Arda. That makes her into a bit more of a one-time villain who is scared off, clearly capable of returning later...which is what she is.
Anyway, that's my understanding of how things stand: a brief appearance in Episode 2 (no dialogue), an appearance in the Void with Melkor in Episode 3, off-screen attacks in Episode 4, and then the interaction with Nessa and Tulkas in Episode 5, only to be scared off and flee into a cave at the lighting of the Lamps....and then not to be seen again until Season 2.
Does having her appear again in Episode 2 to announce she wants no part in the Almaren project really shatter her status as a mysterious outsider? If anything it seems to me to make it more explicit. Maybe that's a telling moment instead of a showing one, but I would kind of like a bit of a hook in the main story to take us into the next episode, and if Ulmo gets on board, then there kind of isn't one. I don't want to end this episode with the sense that everyone is totally 100% into Manwe's plan, but if the main dissenter comes around, how exactly do we make it clear that the ones who do leave are in fact leaving and not coming back? Either some one needs to speak up, or Elrond's needs to do a voice over, it seems to me. If we want to give that line to Elrond's so that we don't have to have Ungoliant or anyone else explaining themselves, maybe that could preserve some of their mystery? Something to the tune of: "So they all got together and started work on Almaren?" "Well, not ALL of them...." Etc., etc.