Season 4 Protagonists

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I just wanted to do a brief overview of which characters we've chosen as episode protagonists throughout this season.

A few comments on what makes a character a protagonist. First off, each episode can have only one protagonist. There can be other key characters with important roles, but the 'protagonist' slot isn't one that can be shared. Another character may be the key character driving a different subplot, but that does not make them the episode protagonist. If they are working against the protagonist, they are the antagonist!

Secondly, the protagonist can't be passive. It's not enough that the protagonist 'be there' while important events are happening, they have to play a role themselves. This makes it tough for a character like Thuringwethil or Celeborn, who do a lot of 'observing'. You'll note that in the episodes where they step into the protagonist role, they are a lot more active than usual!

Third, the protagonist is meant to be our point of view character throughout the episode. We can have 3rd person omniscient storytelling (we don't have to be literally following this character around), but the protagonist should appear in all 4 Acts of the story - a late introduction or early departure is disqualifying.

To combine the above points - the climax of the episode should occur when the protagonist takes an important action during the 4th Act, and we the audience should be viewing this event from their vantage point.

With that intro out of the way, here are our Season 4 Episode protagonists:
  1. Fingon (The Laughter of Morgoth)
  2. Curufin (The Disposessed)
  3. Fingolfin (Swords and Councils)
  4. Bilbo [Frame is B-plot, but A-plot is the 'secret' of Thuringwethil spying on the Noldor] (Realms of Beleriand)
  5. Lúthien (Mereth Aderthad)
  6. Thuringwethil (The Sun Doth Still Shine)
  7. Thingol (King's Ire)
  8. Díriel (Bottomless Dread)
  9. Angrod (Dagor Aglareb)
  10. Maedhros? (Builded from Sand)
  11. Aredhel (Devices of the Heart)
  12. Celeborn (Mighty Kings)
  13. Fingon (The Long Peace)
So, given that...some comments. I do think we have a nice mix of characters stepping into the protagonist role this season. We have Sindar and Noldor (both Fëanorean and otherwise), and even some surprise appearances of the Frame and the Villains taking a turn. We do have several female protagonists as well.

Who is missing from this list? Most notably, Círdan. He was such a key player in the unearthing of the kinslaying secret, and yet, he's never actually the protagonist there. When that comes to a head, he's the antagonist of Thuringwethil's storyline! (And plays a key supporting role in the Thingol-centric episode where the truth finally comes out fully.) Given how minor a role Doriath will play next season, I think we owe it to ourselves to have Círdan step up in his role as spokesman for the Sindar viewpoint in Beleriand, and the one (outside of Galdor in Gondolin) most actively working with the Noldor. We've set that up this season - but let's make sure we don't drop the ball there.

No, wait, scratch that, where is Galadriel??? She had her own narrative arc this season, and we very clearly separated her from the rest of the Noldor. People talk about her in her absence. And yet...she's never a protagonist? How did that happen??

Another surprising absence is Edhellos. She plays such a major role in Episodes 6, 8, and 9, that you might suspect she was a protagonist at some point. But unfortunately for her, she has a lot of stuff done *to* her, and isn't ever calling the shots. She has choices to make and scenes where she is the point-of-view character, but ultimately she isn't an episode protagonist. She's a supporting character role.

Surprising appearances are likely...well, to be honest, all three of our female protagonists. Thuringwethil is least surprising, as her protagonist role occurs after 2 episodes of her active plotting being made clear to the audience. It seems a natural progression...and is only surprising because she is a villain. But Lúthien and Díriel are more in the 'come out of nowhere' camp. Which is fine; Díriel's role in 'her' episode doesn't need much set-up; she is thrust into it as a prisoner. Just because she's the central character of that episode doesn't change her place in the season or her overall importance to the larger arcs (ie, she remains a minor character overall).

The episodes with the least clear protagonist are 4 and 10. These are both ensemble-let's-traipse-all-across-Beleriand episodes, and so a single character or storyline through from beginning to end isn't as clear. We did at least try with Fingolfin in Episode 4, and with Episode 10, Maedhros is making (or forcing others to make) the decisions (though obviously Turgon and Finrod feature prominently. Likewise, there's a lot going on at the Mereth Aderthad, but since Lúthien steps up to confront Sauron in the climax, she is the protagonist.

And interestingly, we begin and end the season with the heroism of Fingon. But while he's working very much alone in Episode 1, by Episode 13, he's commanding others and collaborating fully with Celegorm. Interesting to see the Season's reconciliation arc play out in that contrast. Fingon must be a Slytherin, because he gets what he wants! (Just kidding, I know Fingon the Valiant is a foolhardy Gryffindor, through and through.)

[Script Outlines are all viewable here, if that helps with recalling what is happening in each episode:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lYvsNjUcoI1Vsyeq8KV_fQtcRZPThGDt ]
 
Last edited:

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I think Galadriel will be harder to pin down as a protagonist in subsequent seasons, since there is little mention of Galadriel from this time until the end of the First Age.

I wouldn't say that Episode 10 needs to have a clear protagonist. Since it's right after a major battle, it could well be a breather episode like Tales of Ba Sing Se in Avatar: The Last Airbender, which had several characters as protagonists following a single day in the city taking place after the reveal in the previous episode of Ba Sing Se being a police state.
 
Last edited:

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I would argue that in some episodes, there are co-protagonists in a way as we track multiple plots. Edhellos is nearly as much a protagonist in E06 as Thuringwethil, different only in that her story is more ... about her, as opposed to Thuringwethil's being driven by her.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
I would argue that in some episodes, there are co-protagonists in a way as we track multiple plots. Edhellos is nearly as much a protagonist in E06 as Thuringwethil, different only in that her story is more ... about her, as opposed to Thuringwethil's being driven by her.
The same with Galadriel in Episode 2.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I wouldn't say that Episode 10 needs to have a clear protagonist. Since it's right after a major battle, it could well be a breather episode like Tales of Ba Sing Se in Avatar: The Last Airbender, which had several characters as protagonists following a single day in the city taking place after the reveal in the previous episode of Ba Sing Se being a police state.
It's true that you're allowed to have an 'odd one out' episode or one with multiple storylines. But it still has a key scene. So, in "Tales of Ba Sing Se," one of these tales is not like the others. So, it's not that the other tales don't matter, it's that there is a single key scene, despite 'sharing' the screen time. So, yes, there is an ensemble, but there's also an easily identifiable protagonist and climax despite the unusual structure.

Here is the memorable/impactful/most-important-scene from 'Tales of Ba Sing Se':
The reveal that this 'day in the life' has happened on the birthday of Iroh's dead son (who we didn't know about before this episode) is the key take away. Iroh's relationship with his nephew Zuko is cast in a new light when we see that he has been mourning the loss of his own son all this time.

It's a 25 minute episode in a show with characters who are all well-established by the time we get here. Even the cabbage merchant is someone the audience knows well. Here's an overview of the six 'tales' for those who aren't familiar/haven't seen the show lately (I will only add the reminder that Toph is blind; everything else should be fairly well explained):

It's worth pointing out that these six tales were written by different authors. The tales are told in chronological order - we begin with our main characters (who are sharing a house) getting ready for the day, and end at night. The melancholy final note of Momo curled up in Appa's paw print and missing him in the rain certainly thematically ties into Iroh singing 'Little Soldier Boy.' All of the tales have comedic elements, but all have sadder undertones, too (well, except for maybe Sokka's, but Sokka is often comic relief in this show).

So, I feel quite confident in identifying the protagonist of 'Tales of Ba Sing Se' as Uncle Iroh, even if the structure is quite unusual and it's a collection of unified shorts rather than an actual episode.
 
Last edited:
Top