Well this is interesting.
I'm not about to wade into all of this.
I am a bit frustrated by the approaches to plot happening in this thread. It might be unintentional, but it seems *very* much as though we're starting with desired outcomes, and then attempting to force the characters to dance like marionettes to make certain things happen. That is not at all how I think we should go about planning an episode.
We are telling a story. So overall story goals are important. We have developed characters, given them motivations and goals and personalities. We have planned out 4 seasons of this show.
Here is what is meant to happen in this battle:
- Angband takes the offensive.
- Gothmog, commanding troops of balrogs, trolls, and orcs, attacks the Noldor. The attack is focused on Minas Tirith.
- A secondary attack on Vinyamar is meant to take the Noldor by surprise. It succeeds in occupying Turgon.
- The Noldor are ultimately successful, and Gothmog's forces are driven back to Angband. Neither Minas Tirith nor Vinyamar fall.
The audience's experience of tension should look like this (leaving aside the Turgon subplot - that affects the tension, but let's focus on the main plot here):
- Morgoth's darkness spreading across the land is ominous and foreboding.
- Dorthonion mobilizes, and Edhellos killing the messenger should raise levels of CONCERN. What will she do next? Will the elves discover her treachery?
- Fingolfin's forces are mobilized, and Aredhel being left behind in Barad Eithel should be a nod to Eowyn left behind in Dunharrow. The audience trusts that this army will be enough to confront the orcs, but they do have to get there.
- Minas Tirith looks vulnerable as an army of enemies puts it under siege, but the elves defend it valiantly and look like they may be able to outlast it.
- Reinforcements arrive! Dorthonion and Fingolfin to the rescue. The elves easily rout the orcs. The audience has a moment of relief, but it is short-lived.
- But wait...there's *another* army of bad guys. Aredhel wants to warn her father and brother; Rhogrin goes instead. Rhogrin's message does not arrive. The audience anticipates that Fingolfin, Finrod, and Angrod will be unprepared for the approaching army.
- At the Fens of Serech, the Noldor armies encounter an entrenched army of orcs waiting for them. It's larger than the one they routed. They are stalled, and the army of Gothmog comes down on them. Now the fighting is grimmer, and the audience should have some growing concern for the elves' success. Balrogs are scary and deadly.
- Nadir of hope. Now, the elves lose hope that reinforcements are coming. Turgon has turned back, and Angrod's messenger never reached the Fëanoreans. Angrod is devastated by Edhellos' treachery. Death of Edhellos.
- Eucatastrophe - Arrival of Fëanorean cavalry in a pincer move devastating to Angband's forces.
- Gothmog retreats; aftermath of battle; mourning the dead, etc.
This battle is Episode 9 out of 13. We're just past the midpoint of the Season...this would be a way to come back from a 'break' in the TV scheduling. We're not trying to end the Season, and what happens here has to fit into the bigger picture. Since there are practically no Sindar in this episode...the focus is on the intra-Noldor conflicts. Allowing the Fëanoreans to save the day unlooked for goes a long way to ingratiating them to the Host of Fingolfin who have not forgotten their long ordeal crossing the Helcaraxë.
Certainly, there's more than one way to achieve this outline of the battle. One can alter the details as necessary to tell the story. But I am not a fan of this endless invention of subplots just to make something play out in a particular way.
There is no reason not to have Gothmog kill Edhellos. None. It's something Gothmog would do, they're both on the battlefield, and it makes sense as an end to her arc. Are there other ways she could die? Sure. She could simply run into the front line and get taken out by orcs/trolls in a suicidal rush. She could run away and drown in the swamp. A bolt of lightning from the blue could strike her dead. I'm not worried about coming up with alternate ways to kill her. I am concerned with why
we think it important to do so.
I know you have written Sauron killing her, Rhiannon. And it is true that Corey Olsen spoke positively of the scene you wrote (with the light through the clouds and the stone troll, etc). But he also said he didn't think it fit the story to have Sauron kill Edhellos. He essentially vetoed that idea. One can disagree with him, sure. But, at the end of the day, one does have to accept that this is his project, and recognize that his decisions will stand moving forward.
You have the opportunity to try to convince people, but if you fail to convince, the answer isn't always to keep arguing for your own personal vision. Sometimes, you have to try to figure out how to preserve what you think is essential while working with someone else's idea.
So, if you want my honest feedback, it would be to take the parts you liked best about the Edhellos death scenes you've written, and substitute Gothmog for Sauron. There's no reason to lose the ray of sunlight and her final prayer for Angrod. But all of this effort to put Sauron in that scene looks and feels contrived and unsatisfactory.
I am not at all convinced that we lose *anything* by not having Sauron personally kill Gil-galad's grandmother that he will never meet. Sauron's torture of Edhellos was sufficiently personal, no? Nor do I think it important that Sauron personally break Aegnor's Valinorean sword to inspire Maedhros to commission a dwarven-made replacement that will be Narsil. Narsil being a replacement for a broken sword is sufficient dramatic irony. Sauron is going to have some very personal run-ins with characters - Finrod and Celebrimbor, for instance - but it's not necessary here. Obviously Tolkien didn't write it that way, and it's not required for our story, either.
I remain thoroughly unconvinced that Angrod needs to survive this battle. Sure, he *can* survive, and I'm fine with that, but I don't think it's very important one way or another if he dies now or dies in the Dagor Bragollach. Corey Olsen likewise isn't set on his survival, though he would actually prefer if Angrod die now. So, yes, you were granted a reprieve with the death of Angrod being postponed until late Season 5. But that reprieve was conditional. It was conditional on the death of Edhellos satisfying the balrog rule by having the balrogs in the battle kill a major character the audience knows and cares about.
But I don't think it's even a question of which is more important to you - the survival of Angrod, or having Sauron personally kill Edhellos. You were able to convince Corey Olsen that the death of Angrod was unnecessary (because the death of Edhellos filled that role). As our two hour discussion of Episode 9 showed, you were not
successful at convincing him that Sauron should be on that battlefield or the one to kill Edhellos. Nick and I weren't convinced, either. Neither is Haakon. Please keep that in mind moving forward.