This is essentially Gothmog's attempt to show the boss how essential he is.
I have two points to counter that. First, I'm not sure Gothmog needs to be the main antagonist, and, second, I think it would be possible for Gothmog to be the main antagonist and Sauron still be the one to kill Edhellos.I want to look at the episode structure, and see what makes the most sense based on what we have planned, and start *there*.
So. Who is the main antagonist in this episode? I think it is clearly Gothmog. He is the one planning and executing the Dagor Aglareb, and thus most of the time the heroes are responding to his actions. Now, obviously, Morgoth is an overarching Big Bad who has a role to play here (Spell of Bottomless Dread), and surely Sauron can continue his ongoing storyarc of capturing elves. But the main, primary villain of this particular episode is Gothmog.
Thus, Gothmog should be acting in the event that makes this worst for the elves. The tension point I described as the 'nadir' (from the viewer and elvish perspective) should be the moment of Gothmog's almost-triumph. He should be doing something that they have to react to and deal with. He should...be villain-y.
This is the *only* episode in Season 4 in which Gothmog is the primary villain. Sauron has been hogging the spotlight all season, and Morgoth has been off being mysterious offscreen. We aren't going to see Glaurung until Episode 13. And so, I recognize that it might seem a bit unusual or a break from what we've been doing thus far, but it's rather important to see Gothmog acting in this episode. All of this talk about how Sauron could kill Edhellos seems to ignore the more pertinent question, which is - what is Gothmog doing right then? How is he bringing about the despair of the Noldor engaged in battle with his army?
I do *not* think it's a good plan to have Sauron sweep in during the final Act and kill off one of the protagonists under Gothmog's nose, robbing him of the spotlight and relegating him to an inconsequential villain role in his own battle episode. That seems unnecessary and defeats the purpose of having Gothmog be the primary villain in this episode.
Were Sauron and Thuringwethil the primary antagonists of Episodes 5 and 6? Sure. He was definitely personally involved in Edhellos' capture and torture. But that storyline had its conclusion when he got the information he wanted out of her. After that, she was tossed in the slave pit (general pop) rather than being kept in her private cell where he had a special use for her. Sauron essentially handed her off to Morgoth in Episode 8.
So...*why* does Sauron need to come swooping into this battlefield he doesn't even belong on to kill her? What's so personal or important that he needs to complete this task himself? Hasn't he moved on to other captives, starting to develop his own version of Morgoth's spell to overcome their wills? Wasn't she just planted as a spy?
There was nothing wrong with suggesting that Sauron could kill Edhellos. Of course he could. And there were positive aspects of the scene you wrote. But once it was established that Gothmog is the villain this episode is focusing on, Sauron slaying Edhellos makes significantly less sense.
Giving Gothmog some time in the spotlight isn't about being fair. It's about reminding the audience that Gothmog is not simply a naysayer to Sauron's brilliance. Yes, this episode could be seen as a continuation of Sauron's arc, but if he isn't leading the attack, it shouldn't be. He is not the one threatening the protagonists through the episode, making him a side-plot at best if he were added into this battle. And honestly, we're chock-full of plotlines in this episode already. Explaining what Sauron is doing there in a way that doesn't make him look like a traitor or a fool would take valuable screen time away from the other events of the episode, and I'm just not willing to make that sacrifice.The main reason I think Gothmog doesn't need to be the primary antagonist is that Sauron has been playing a pretty big role in this season so far. He and Thuringwethil were the primary antagonists in Episodes 5 and 6; Sauron was a major character in Episode 8; and Episode 4 turned out to be all about Thuringwethil's spying. Gothmog has been kind of sidelined, but I don't think we need to give him a turn as primary antagonist just to be fair. Rather, this battle, even though it is Gothmog's initiative and he will be leading the troops, could be seen as a a continuation of Sauron's story arc.
We obviously don't want the audience to forget about the Balrogs or stop being afraid of them, yet we also want to make Gothmog the one held responsible for their loss in the Dagor Aglareb. This means we have to be careful not to make Gothmog too stupid. If the only episode in this season in which Gothmog is the primary antagonist is the one in which his biggest failure occurs, I think we run the risk of doing just that.
Not as much as we risk it by making him responsible for the Dagor Aglareb and then sidelining him during one of the more personal moments of the battle. Gothmog exacts no personal cost from us, the viewers. He just makes an error in judgement.We obviously don't want the audience to forget about the Balrogs or stop being afraid of them, yet we also want to make Gothmog the one held responsible for their loss in the Dagor Aglareb. This means we have to be careful not to make Gothmog too stupid. If the only episode in this season in which Gothmog is the primary antagonist is the one in which his biggest failure occurs, I think we run the risk of doing just that.
This is all a matter of construction. Aegnor and Angrod are fighting against Gothmog's center, having the largest and freshest forces. Edhellos and Angrod are not way behind the lines. They are just not at the very front. There are no safe places on this battlefield, as the Elves are in a desperate fight for their lives. The enemy is likely a hundred feet away at most. Their forward command post is near the middle of their deployment line, which is directly opposed to where Gothmog is located, and for similar reasons, being able to command and control their troops as effectively and quickly as possible. So Marie's version (which she typed as I was working on this response) makes perfect sense in that regard. Alternatively, Gothmog, flanked by his bodyguards, could even cross the earthworks, and catch her before she even reaches the front. This only needs to be constructed poorly if that is how we construct it.Also, Gothmog killing Edhellos would not seem very villan-y. It is certainly cruel. Killing anyone is cruel. But, when I have Sauron killing Edhellos, she runs towards him because, having (mostly) overcome or been released from the Spell of Bottomless Dread, she recognizes him and wants revenge for what he did to her. This would not be the case with Gothmog. Either Gothmog would have to come over to where Edhellos is or she would have to run to him. If Gothmog comes to Edhellos, that would look ridiculous. Why would he be targeting her? Yes, she's a commander, but she's not currently commanding anyone. She's way behind Elven lines, talking to her husband, and, if Gothmog wants to kill an Elven commander, he should be going after someone more important than Edhellos, like Fingolfin, Fingon, or Finrod. Yes, Gothmog knows she has been Sauron's pet project, but would he really go that much out of his way to kill her? If Edhellos runs to Gothmog, that would mean changing her state of mind when she is not under the Spell of Bottomless Dread. She would have to be so distraught that she runs into Gothmog because she doesn't know where she is going, and Gothmog would kill her simply because she was there. This doesn't show any kind of motivation on Gothmog's part. Gothmog would kill a puppy simply because it was there. Also, Edhellos wouldn't be putting up any kind of a fight, so Gothmog killing her would not be a demonstration of how terrible the Balrogs are, nor would it seem triumphant. To both the viewers and the characters, it would look like Edhellos went mad and then just so happened to run into the biggest thing on the battlefield to be killed by. Her death by an Orc or a Troll would have the same effect. For Gothmog, killing Edhellos would be even easier than killing any other Dorthonion soldier, and the Elves would be most concerned about why Edhellos suddenly decided to run into a Balrog, not the presence of a Balrog on the battlefield. Really, I think Gothmog killing Edhellos would make less sense and do less for the tension of the Episode than Sauron killing her.
You seem to be arguing from a premise with which most of us disagree, that there are plausible reasons for Sauron to be on the field which free him of responsibility for the battle's failure. Thus far, the most plausible reason in my mind is that he is screening for Gothmog. If he is doing this, the failure of the battle would seem to land squarely with Sauron doing a poor job. And if he does his job and Gothmog ignores him, then why is he even there? Morgoth has not thus far forced any of his lieutenants to work together. If anything, Morgoth has actively fostered this rivalry, stopping just short of pitting his captains against each other. That makes any attempt to place Sauron on the battlefield look like he is there purely to kill Edhellos.Sauron killing Edhellos would not be him swooping down to the battlefield to kill a protagonist right under Gothmog's nose. Sauron would be present for a plausible reason (I have several possibilities), and he would murder Edhellos because she is no longer useful to him as a spy, might reveal even more of his plans if she is left alive, and, as a bonus, killing her makes the Elves very sad. Sauron could certainly get someone else to dispatch her, but he is the one who makes the calculation that it is her time to die, and, if he is right there, why not do it himself? Moreover, killing Edhellos himself, especially in front of her husband, especially while wearing Angrod's face, reaffirms that Edhellos is his and has been his since her capture. This is not only important for Sauron and Edhellos, but as synecdoche for the prisoners in Angband and Spell of Bottomless Dread as a whole.
Part of the issue is that we aren't showing the specifics of what is happening in Angband leading up to this. We can show Sauron being involved in Rhogrim's capture, as Marie suggested, but we could also have him up in Hithlum. If the orcs can pass the north end of the mountains unopposed and undetected, so can he and his forces. It would be easy enough for someone to mention in E10 that whole villages went missing overnight while their armies were otherwise occupied.Especially given Sauron's prominence in the season up to this point, I think he has to be present in this episode. If not, the viewers will wonder where he is and what he is doing. Morgoth may be controlling Edhellos now, but Sauron is the one with the intel to know what she needs to do to prevent the message from Angrod and Aegnor from reaching the Feanorians. Sauron is the one who (via Thuringwethil) knows the plans for Minas Tirith. Sauron's forces may not be directly on the battlefield, but they are on the fringes to capture Elves like Rhogrin, and would be useful in a number of other ways as well. Also, if we want Sauron to be ascendant, he has to show himself willing to work for what Morgoth wants. Morgoth wouldn't approve of Gothmog's plan to capture Minas Tirith then let Sauron sit out of it just because Sauron doesn't like Gothmog. Sauron won't look favorable in Morgoth's eyes if Gothmog comes back from losing a battle that Sauron intentionally chose not to take part in.
Honestly, I think this is completely untrue. Nothing about the Sauron we've depicted up until this point suggests someone who would be entirely onboard with the killing of Edhellos. I don't think he'd be super-thrilled that Morgoth ungagged her either. The language we used when we described that happening in the discussion was, "Morgoth can't help himself." Sauron isn't like that. At least not the Sauron we have been working with up until this point.If Gothmog goes back to Angband bragging about how he killed Edhellos, Sauron's response would be something like, "Wow, thanks, Gothmog! Had I been there, I totally would have killed her too!"
That depends on what we want to do with his capture. In one version, I have Rhogrin saving Annael’s wife and son (but not Annael) from some giant cats and getting captured. In another version, I have Rhogrin apparently killed be a Balrog, but the family gets away.How about when Rhogrin is captured, we have a sickening "crunch!" sound as if to indicate that he got his head smashed, then it turns out he got captured?
My suggestion is seeing it from Rhogrin’s perspective, then the screen cutting to black when the “crunch” is heard.That depends on what we want to do with his capture. In one version, I have Rhogrin saving Annael’s wife and son (but not Annael) from some giant cats and getting captured. In another version, I have Rhogrin apparently killed be a Balrog, but the family gets away.
Ok.No, you are right, taking captive elves is very much Sauron's 'project' and should continue to be so. Professor Olsen expressed support for the idea that Sauron would capitalize on the opportunity presented by the battle and seek out messengers on Ard Galen to kidnap in the wake of Gothmog's army. Balrogs have taken elves captive in the past, which led to the creation of orcs, but during this Season, it's been very much Sauron's initiative to do that, and we want it to continue into Season 5. Balrogs prefer killing the elves they hunt.
So, the version where Sauron's cats capture Rhogrin and Annael is the preferred version to use.
If a balrog attacks Rhogrin, the viewer would assume he's dead, but...so would I. The balrog wouldn't have any reason to spare him.