Session 5-10: Elves

Alcarlótë

Member
How would Curufin influence Fingolfin into doing something suicidal? He's going to be on the run and not like he has access to a raven (Game of Thrones reference).
I guess he's going to be less than constructive during the assault debate before the Dagor Bragollach, because you're right about them not meeting during or shortly after it. To be honest, I don't really have a clear vision on the whole Assault Debate plotline after this session and I don't feel like I should get into it too deeply. So many characters that need motivations for their (sometimes pretty new) stances on the issue...
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
As outlined last night, Fingolfin's plan is one that doesn't focus on a strategically sound military action, but one that could be described more as a 'Hail Mary' attempt, aimed at the hope of intervention from the Valar. So, talking anyone into being on board with his plan is challenging, because it seems rather foolhardy and rash.

  • The current situation, or status quo, is an ongoing (mostly) successful Siege of Angband. This has been in place for nearly 400 years, and apart from the Dagor Aglareb and the incursion by Glaurung, there has been nothing more serious than a minor skirmish in that time. In other words...what the elves are doing is working, despite there being no guarantee that Morgoth is permanently contained.
  • The Siege was Fingolfin's plan, but it was introduced as the temporary measure until the Noldor were ready to attack Angband. Early on, it seemed that it was just a matter of the Noldor getting their realms established, building some fortifications, and forming up their armies. As time went on, those plans shifted. Finrod and Turgon built secret realms that aren't part of the Siege. The Kinslaying reveal means no help from Doriath. The need to attack Angband became less pressing for most of the characters. Time passed...
  • We know the Dagor Bragollach is coming. The Noldor don't know that.

Into that background situation, Fingolfin comes up with a daring/risky plan of attack. It's really not surprising that he can't get buy-in. His plan is the sort of thing you do when you are desperate and out of options...and none of them feel that desperate. They're comfortable, and content to let the status quo stretch a bit longer. So, sure, Hador should be on board - let's attack now, in my lifetime! And Aegnor will be on board, expressing some hope that the Valar will surely come now, if they told Fingolfin they would. But the natural reaction is going to be...reservation.

The main issue was that there are very few circumstances in which Fingon and Maedhros would show reservations about attacking Angband. Tolkien tells us that only Aegnor and Angrod were on board with the plan, though. So, what gives?

The idea that the Fëanoreans would have to renounce the Oath first would make the plan a non-starter for Maedhros and his brothers (well, except for Amras). While we can intellectually have Fingon and Maedhros oppose this plan based on weak strategy, a demand to renounce the Oath is more visceral and ends the discussion. So, the Fëanoreans cannot join and are not on board. Doriath won't get involved. Turgon is MIA. Finrod has his own message from Ulmo to live out. So, while they have the Men of Dor-Lomin and the Elves of Dorthonion....Fingon has to be able to do the math and realize that their numbers are too few for such an ambitious plan. It's not going to work...and he's probably not willing to risk everyone's life on the hope that the Valar will intervene.

Gandalf's plan to attack the Black Gate with about 6,000 men at the end of Return of the King is a very risky and foolish action -- militarily speaking, they have zero chance of defeating Sauron's army with this maneuver. But...it's not a bad distraction to give the Ringbearer a chance to complete his mission. This is a similarly risky proposal. The difference is that no one is feeling as desperate, or that they will inevitably lose if they don't do this. Very few of the Noldor have reached the 'we're gonna lose' level of despair at this point in time. Amras is there, sure, but no one else. Maybe some of the people in Gondolin (but not Turgon, I don't think).

Ange1e4e5 said:
How would Curufin influence Fingolfin into doing something suicidal? He's going to be on the run and not like he has access to a raven (Game of Thrones reference).
So, no, Curufin is not going to directly influence Fingolfin to take the suicidal action he does at the end of the Season. What was suggested was that Curufin's reaction to learning of this plan might be...so...the High King wants to plan a reckless and foolhardy battle? Well, if he dies in it, then we get to choose a new High King. A better one. And why not a Fëanorean? So, he may see an opportunity for a change in leadership among the Noldor, but he's not going to voice that out loud directly. He's not going to encourage Fingolfin to get himself killed or anything. And once he hears about the demand that they renounce their Oath, his reaction is going to boil down to 'how dare you.'
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
As outlined last night, Fingolfin's plan is one that doesn't focus on a strategically sound military action, but one that could be described more as a 'Hail Mary' attempt, aimed at the hope of intervention from the Valar. So, talking anyone into being on board with his plan is challenging, because it seems rather foolhardy and rash.

  • The current situation, or status quo, is an ongoing (mostly) successful Siege of Angband. This has been in place for nearly 400 years, and apart from the Dagor Aglareb and the incursion by Glaurung, there has been nothing more serious than a minor skirmish in that time. In other words...what the elves are doing is working, despite there being no guarantee that Morgoth is permanently contained.
  • The Siege was Fingolfin's plan, but it was introduced as the temporary measure until the Noldor were ready to attack Angband. Early on, it seemed that it was just a matter of the Noldor getting their realms established, building some fortifications, and forming up their armies. As time went on, those plans shifted. Finrod and Turgon built secret realms that aren't part of the Siege. The Kinslaying reveal means no help from Doriath. The need to attack Angband became less pressing for most of the characters. Time passed...
  • We know the Dagor Bragollach is coming. The Noldor don't know that.

Into that background situation, Fingolfin comes up with a daring/risky plan of attack. It's really not surprising that he can't get buy-in. His plan is the sort of thing you do when you are desperate and out of options...and none of them feel that desperate. They're comfortable, and content to let the status quo stretch a bit longer. So, sure, Hador should be on board - let's attack now, in my lifetime! And Aegnor will be on board, expressing some hope that the Valar will surely come now, if they told Fingolfin they would. But the natural reaction is going to be...reservation.

The main issue was that there are very few circumstances in which Fingon and Maedhros would show reservations about attacking Angband. Tolkien tells us that only Aegnor and Angrod were on board with the plan, though. So, what gives?

The idea that the Fëanoreans would have to renounce the Oath first would make the plan a non-starter for Maedhros and his brothers (well, except for Amras). While we can intellectually have Fingon and Maedhros oppose this plan based on weak strategy, a demand to renounce the Oath is more visceral and ends the discussion. So, the Fëanoreans cannot join and are not on board. Doriath won't get involved. Turgon is MIA. Finrod has his own message from Ulmo to live out. So, while they have the Men of Dor-Lomin and the Elves of Dorthonion....Fingon has to be able to do the math and realize that their numbers are too few for such an ambitious plan. It's not going to work...and he's probably not willing to risk everyone's life on the hope that the Valar will intervene.

Gandalf's plan to attack the Black Gate with about 6,000 men at the end of Return of the King is a very risky and foolish action -- militarily speaking, they have zero chance of defeating Sauron's army with this maneuver. But...it's not a bad distraction to give the Ringbearer a chance to complete his mission. This is a similarly risky proposal. The difference is that no one is feeling as desperate, or that they will inevitably lose if they don't do this. Very few of the Noldor have reached the 'we're gonna lose' level of despair at this point in time. Amras is there, sure, but no one else. Maybe some of the people in Gondolin (but not Turgon, I don't think).

Ange1e4e5 said:


So, no, Curufin is not going to directly influence Fingolfin to take the suicidal action he does at the end of the Season. What was suggested was that Curufin's reaction to learning of this plan might be...so...the High King wants to plan a reckless and foolhardy battle? Well, if he dies in it, then we get to choose a new High King. A better one. And why not a Fëanorean? So, he may see an opportunity for a change in leadership among the Noldor, but he's not going to voice that out loud directly. He's not going to encourage Fingolfin to get himself killed or anything. And once he hears about the demand that they renounce their Oath, his reaction is going to boil down to 'how dare you.'
So why is Fingolfin starting out with "Plan A" being a Hail Mary? He seems like an idiot.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Because Ulmo has indicated to him that, if Fingolfin does this, the Valar will show up and save the day. It's risky, but Fingolfin thinks it's worth the risk.
 

Alcarlótë

Member
I think the Ulmo explanation can work, but it's a careful balance between Ulmo not looking stupid for being too vague/misleading on the one hand and Fingolfin not looking like a complete fool on the other hand. He has been a good King in Tirion and a great leader through the journey over the Helcaraxe, he shouldn't look bad in his final moments in the series for reasons we only just came up with and didn't consider when telling his story in previous seasons. It would be disharmonious with the story we told so far and depart from the text in ways that may have far-reaching and detrimental consequences.

I'm a bit worried, but I'm also looking forward to face this challenge during the detailed script discussions :D We have lots of time and creative talent here.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I think the Ulmo explanation can work, but it's a careful balance between Ulmo not looking stupid for being too vague/misleading on the one hand and Fingolfin not looking like a complete fool on the other hand. He has been a good King in Tirion and a great leader through the journey over the Helcaraxe, he shouldn't look bad in his final moments in the series for reasons we only just came up with and didn't consider when telling his story in previous seasons. It would be disharmonious with the story we told so far and depart from the text in ways that may have far-reaching and detrimental consequences.

I'm a bit worried, but I'm also looking forward to face this challenge during the detailed script discussions :D We have lots of time and creative talent here.
I think you mean Barad Eithel, since Tirion is in Valinor.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, there are definitely some pitfalls here.

There were some challenges inherent in the original story, though, too - so by avoiding one misstep, we don't want to take another. In the story as written, Fingolfin is a leader who gives into despair, abandons his people and responsibilities, and throws his life away (in an epic duel, true, but still...it's not good leadership there, either). It's pretty much exactly what his father Finwë did, but with the important distinction that Finwë was on the defensive, not the offensive.

We have to put that duel into some sort of context, make it so Fingolfin is attempting to accomplish something with his ride-to-certain-death. Because, without doing that, I think we do diminish Fingolfin as a leader.

Now, also in the text, Fingolfin fails to rally the Noldor to this offensive attack against Angband. So, we are going to see him formulate a plan and fail. The alternative is to have him trust that the Siege will last forever, which is also...going to be proven spectacularly wrong. So, no matter what we do, we aren't going to show Fingolfin as the greatest High King of the Noldor...despite his being the longest reigning (well, until Gil-Galad) and otherwise most effective.

Certainly, Fingolfin can bring up Ulmo's promise. But just saying 'Ulmo said...' doesn't generate instant trust. The last ALL of the Noldor heard from the Valar was the Doom of Mandos, which was a very clear, 'you're on your own.' I think they are right to be a bit skeptical that, if they follow through with Fingolfin's plan, help from the Valar will arrive. Also, Turgon and Finrod have their own messages from Ulmo, which were much more 'settle in for the long haul and hide out in safety.'

I think we can convey that, had Fingolfin's plan been followed, Ulmo would have delivered...but it tragically wasn't, so no help arrives. That shows Fingolfin in the right, even if a failure, and his failure to convince the Fëanoreans to abandon their Oath won't be too surprising to the audience at this point. If anything, it will make Maedhros look to be in the wrong - he acknowledged Fingolfin as High King, but when it comes to actually following the High King's plan...he balks. That is where the failure is, and that's not really on Fingolfin's head. His challenge to single combat is his way of saying, well, fine, I will do the right thing, even if no one else will, which is a bit more noble than simply brash.


But at any rate, I do agree with you, wholeheartedly, that how we handle Fingolfin this season is tricky. We do want him to go out on a positive, albeit tragic, note. We do not want the viewer to dismiss him and say, 'Well, that was stupid.'
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Yeah, there are definitely some pitfalls here.

There were some challenges inherent in the original story, though, too - so by avoiding one misstep, we don't want to take another. In the story as written, Fingolfin is a leader who gives into despair, abandons his people and responsibilities, and throws his life away (in an epic duel, true, but still...it's not good leadership there, either). It's pretty much exactly what his father Finwë did, but with the important distinction that Finwë was on the defensive, not the offensive.

We have to put that duel into some sort of context, make it so Fingolfin is attempting to accomplish something with his ride-to-certain-death. Because, without doing that, I think we do diminish Fingolfin as a leader.

Now, also in the text, Fingolfin fails to rally the Noldor to this offensive attack against Angband. So, we are going to see him formulate a plan and fail. The alternative is to have him trust that the Siege will last forever, which is also...going to be proven spectacularly wrong. So, no matter what we do, we aren't going to show Fingolfin as the greatest High King of the Noldor...despite his being the longest reigning (well, until Gil-Galad) and otherwise most effective.

Certainly, Fingolfin can bring up Ulmo's promise. But just saying 'Ulmo said...' doesn't generate instant trust. The last ALL of the Noldor heard from the Valar was the Doom of Mandos, which was a very clear, 'you're on your own.' I think they are right to be a bit skeptical that, if they follow through with Fingolfin's plan, help from the Valar will arrive. Also, Turgon and Finrod have their own messages from Ulmo, which were much more 'settle in for the long haul and hide out in safety.'

I think we can convey that, had Fingolfin's plan been followed, Ulmo would have delivered...but it tragically wasn't, so no help arrives. That shows Fingolfin in the right, even if a failure, and his failure to convince the Fëanoreans to abandon their Oath won't be too surprising to the audience at this point. If anything, it will make Maedhros look to be in the wrong - he acknowledged Fingolfin as High King, but when it comes to actually following the High King's plan...he balks. That is where the failure is, and that's not really on Fingolfin's head. His challenge to single combat is his way of saying, well, fine, I will do the right thing, even if no one else will, which is a bit more noble than simply brash.


But at any rate, I do agree with you, wholeheartedly, that how we handle Fingolfin this season is tricky. We do want him to go out on a positive, albeit tragic, note. We do not want the viewer to dismiss him and say, 'Well, that was stupid.'
So who do we want to have in the wrong?
 

Alcarlótë

Member
There were some challenges inherent in the original story, though, too - so by avoiding one misstep, we don't want to take another. In the story as written, Fingolfin is a leader who gives into despair, abandons his people and responsibilities, and throws his life away (in an epic duel, true, but still...it's not good leadership there, either). It's pretty much exactly what his father Finwë did, but with the important distinction that Finwë was on the defensive, not the offensive.
The Hosts said that these challenges emerge in the process of adaptation and not in the text itself, and I'm inclined to agree with them. Many characters make choices that look foolish from a more rational or even cynical perspective, but that's not the criterion the Silmarillion goes by in judging and describing their actions. Fingolfin isn't making a rational decision concerned with his responsibilities or his own survival, but he is portrayed as heroic and even receives the implicit approval of Manwe considering Thorondor attacks Morgoth to bring Fingolfin's body to Gondolin, where his tomb becomes a hallowed place that repels orcs.

I can't speak for everyone, but from the Silmarillion readers and broader fandom culture I know, the common impression seems to be that Fingolfin was a great hero, not someone who abandoned his people and essentially commited suicide. The thing portrayed as foolish was him following Feanor to the Kinslaying and into Exile.



Now, also in the text, Fingolfin fails to rally the Noldor to this offensive attack against Angband. So, we are going to see him formulate a plan and fail. The alternative is to have him trust that the Siege will last forever, which is also...going to be proven spectacularly wrong. So, no matter what we do, we aren't going to show Fingolfin as the greatest High King of the Noldor...despite his being the longest reigning (well, until Gil-Galad) and otherwise most effective.
He fails, but that's mostly on the people not following him in my opinion. He's not in a position to compel everyone to follow him just because he is High King, and many Noldor grew content and refused to listen to his, according to the knowledge of the Noldor at that point, wise counsel.


We have to put that duel into some sort of context, make it so Fingolfin is attempting to accomplish something with his ride-to-certain-death. Because, without doing that, I think we do diminish Fingolfin as a leader.
Personally I'd just portray him as actually having a chance to win since there's nothing to suggest that his battle was especially hopeless. At the end of the First Age Morgoth will be more diminished than Second Age Sauron, so at this point he might be about Second Age Sauron's equal, who of course gets killed by Gil-Galad and Elendil. It wouldn't be absurd to think Fingolfin in his mighty wrath could equal that pair. Considering the Doom of Mandos and Feanor's foresight, we know it was beyond them to actually win this war; but by that logic anything the Noldor do in Beleriand is in vain, which of course it isn't; it will lead to the Downfall of Morgoth. The Noldor almost won the Nirnaeth, but Fingolfin probably had a fair shot here as well.

I can live with the whole "Fingolfin believes the Valar will help" plan though, it's more difficult and dangerous but not unworkable. There's just a lot of questions to answer, especially about the Valar's stance and how these events influence the eventual success of Earendil's plea for help. Manwe or Varda might work better in the role than Ulmo because Ulmo is not often among his people and in a weird middle-ground position; neither the leader of the Valar, nor a mere messenger that informs the Noldor about what was decided in Valinor. I'd rather have more other Valar and leave Ulmo with all the things he already has in the text, but I can see why you might make the opposite argument to have even more focus on him.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Oh, you do raise an interesting point about, why Ulmo?

After the Hiding of Valinor, most of the Valar are very hands-off regarding Middle-earth. But Manwë still has his Eagles, and we know that Oromë and Yavanna in particular have great love for the lands of Middle-earth and aren't likely to forget them in Valinor. And Varda in particular was always close to the Elves. So, if not Ulmo...who would promise Fingolfin aid??

Since this plan seems a little counter to the plan Ulmo has already set in motion (he's definitely playing the long game with Gondolin), it would make sense to consider having it come from a different source. Especially since this plan is more 'prove yourselves, then we'll help', and Ulmo's plans don't typically go that way. Ulmo is more 'I have a cunning idea, so I'll give you the heads up on how to prepare for it.' But regardless, I think it would be possible to give this plan to someone else.

So...who? Who among the Valar is itching for the War of Wrath? Or who thinks that the Noldor deserve a chance at redemption post-Doom of Mandos? Can this be Olorin? After all, this plan is very, very like Gandalf's plan to attack the Black Gate with Gondor's army at the end of the 3rd Age, and he's adept at visiting dreams, so....
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Oh, you do raise an interesting point about, why Ulmo?

After the Hiding of Valinor, most of the Valar are very hands-off regarding Middle-earth. But Manwë still has his Eagles, and we know that Oromë and Yavanna in particular have great love for the lands of Middle-earth and aren't likely to forget them in Valinor. And Varda in particular was always close to the Elves. So, if not Ulmo...who would promise Fingolfin aid??

Since this plan seems a little counter to the plan Ulmo has already set in motion (he's definitely playing the long game with Gondolin), it would make sense to consider having it come from a different source. Especially since this plan is more 'prove yourselves, then we'll help', and Ulmo's plans don't typically go that way. Ulmo is more 'I have a cunning idea, so I'll give you the heads up on how to prepare for it.' But regardless, I think it would be possible to give this plan to someone else.

So...who? Who among the Valar is itching for the War of Wrath? Or who thinks that the Noldor deserve a chance at redemption post-Doom of Mandos? Can this be Olorin? After all, this plan is very, very like Gandalf's plan to attack the Black Gate with Gondor's army at the end of the 3rd Age, and he's adept at visiting dreams, so....
While I’m not onboard with changing Ulmo’s plans, the Valar who would be most itching to go to war would be Tulkas and Orome, while Nienna would be the most likely to believe that the Noldor deserve a chance at redemption, something Olorin discussed with Frodo since it’s noted that Olorin spent some time in Nienna’s tutelage where he learned pity and patience.
 

Alcarlótë

Member
It might even be better to involve multiple Ainur, so it's not just one of them convincing the others. Nienna, Olorin and Varda are the ones in Valinor that seem most concerned with the Elves and their troubles; Manwe is somewhat in the same camp but traditionally against war and has the big picture as well as Mandos' Doom in mind. Tulkas would certainly be in the pro-war party for different reasons; he just wants to chase down Morgoth now that Ungoliant isn't protecting him anymore. But I don't think Tulkas would get why they would wait with their attack until Feanorians repent and the Noldor attack Angband apart from "Manwe said so".
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I can live with the whole "Fingolfin believes the Valar will help" plan though, it's more difficult and dangerous but not unworkable. There's just a lot of questions to answer, especially about the Valar's stance and how these events influence the eventual success of Earendil's plea for help. Manwe or Varda might work better in the role than Ulmo because Ulmo is not often among his people and in a weird middle-ground position; neither the leader of the Valar, nor a mere messenger that informs the Noldor about what was decided in Valinor. I'd rather have more other Valar and leave Ulmo with all the things he already has in the text, but I can see why you might make the opposite argument to have even more focus on him.
But are we packing too much into the season?
 

Alcarlótë

Member
We're certainly having a lot of different plots and new characters this season, but I think that's good rather than bad because it gives us a lot of room for individual and cooperative creativity and contemplation. In the end, noone here has a good idea on how much screen time or even script pages all of the things we have discussed amount to yet. Will the "Men don't do well in Nargothrond" scenes be 10 or 30 minutes long? Who knows :D
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
I like the idea that a Vala (or a group of Ainu) indicate that Fingolfin should attack and thereby find sympathy enough to get some kind of assistance from Valinor. I think Olorin could be the messenger, but he’s not taking a solo initiative. Nienna could be behind the plan, and even Varda. Perhaps we have to show them meeting resistance from Manwë (and others) in a scene (but I feel reluctant)?
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Oh, you do raise an interesting point about, why Ulmo?

After the Hiding of Valinor, most of the Valar are very hands-off regarding Middle-earth. But Manwë still has his Eagles, and we know that Oromë and Yavanna in particular have great love for the lands of Middle-earth and aren't likely to forget them in Valinor. And Varda in particular was always close to the Elves. So, if not Ulmo...who would promise Fingolfin aid??

Since this plan seems a little counter to the plan Ulmo has already set in motion (he's definitely playing the long game with Gondolin), it would make sense to consider having it come from a different source. Especially since this plan is more 'prove yourselves, then we'll help', and Ulmo's plans don't typically go that way. Ulmo is more 'I have a cunning idea, so I'll give you the heads up on how to prepare for it.' But regardless, I think it would be possible to give this plan to someone else.

So...who? Who among the Valar is itching for the War of Wrath? Or who thinks that the Noldor deserve a chance at redemption post-Doom of Mandos? Can this be Olorin? After all, this plan is very, very like Gandalf's plan to attack the Black Gate with Gondor's army at the end of the 3rd Age, and he's adept at visiting dreams, so....
Why Ulmo? Because for all intents and purposes Ulmo is the only Vala who seems to have any sort of hand in the Noldor’s efforts against Morgoth from a canonical point-of-view. His efforts in inspiring the building of Gondolin and Nargothrond and warning Orodreth and Turin of their folly is the only sort of guidance the Valar give.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Going back to show the Valar in Valinor at this point will seem jarring. If we didn't do it to set up Ulmo's plan, why this one?

I think that we can convey all that we need in Fingolfin's dream (if that's where we go with this). So, say Olorin is the messenger. He could identify which Vala sent him with this message (Varda, Nienna, whomever). If Fingolfin tries to ask about Manwë, Olorin can explain that Manwë's hands are tied while the Noldor remain in open rebellion, but if the Sons of Fëanor repudiate their father's Oath, and if the Noldor make a good faith attack against Angband, then Manwë will join their cause. Or something along those lines. But I don't think we have to go to Valinor and hear the Valar interact directly with one another to know what they are thinking. Maybe a reaction from Manwë, seeing Fingolfin's death through the eyes of Thorondor, would be called for?

And I would like to use Olorin as a brief cameo this season, since we have Gandalf as our protagonist in the Frame.

But are we packing too much into the season?
Probably, yes. We may have to trim some things a bit later. But "Fingolfin's motivation for challenging Morgoth to a duel" cannot be one of the things we decide to trim! In other words, for now, we're laying out all the stories we want to tell. We might decide as we put the episodes together that, no, we can't work in every aspect we've discussed to this point. In past seasons, we've discussed (for example) the stories of Eöl and how Glaurung came to be - these things did not appear on screen at all. We are (basically) making sure we knew what happened, so if we ever want to flash back to those events or refer to them, we have the idea set. Same with Morgoth's role in the Fall of Men - there was a *brief* teaser of him at the eclipse, but now that we have Men on screen, there may be more allusions to that time. Some of what we're discussing now might be relegated to offscreen backstory this season, too - but we discuss it to get the full picture of the story we are trying to tell.
 
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