Session 5-17: Season 5 Frame Story

Alcarlótë

Active Member
Is that really what he was going for? That seems... a huge unnecessary risk for them to take.
I listened to the podcast again, and I think I understood the SWAT team idea right earlier ^^ Dave mainly explains his idea around 1:26:00 and 1:29:00 in Episode 5-04; a rough transcript of the latter part is "Quite frankly, this is really just a ploy to like...well we had some characters we wanted involved in this season and now we've decided the setting will be Harad and it's like ohoh okay I guess...[Corey: How do we get them there?]...yeah we'll have to get them there somehow."; the characters the hosts wanted to get involved where mainly Ecthelion, Denethor and Thengel (Trish naturally brought up Glorfindel in the beginning, too). Since there were multiple concerns with the idea, the hosts were willing to give up on the idea. I'm not saying we have to, but I don't really see a use for it currently.

For one thing, one of our storylines this season is the uniting of the people of Hador, who are many independent tribes. Showing the Haradrim as similarly divided will dovetail nicely with the Council scenes.
Mabye we can parallel the people of Estolad splitting into Hador's followers and Bereg's followers with a similar split of a people in the frame! That sounds fitting :)
 
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Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Something to keep in mind is that we want the frame story to have thematic parallels to the main story in addition to narrative parallels. How could Gandalf's interactions with the Haradrim bring up different perspectives on change?
 

Alcarlótë

Active Member
Something to keep in mind is that we want the frame story to have thematic parallels to the main story in addition to narrative parallels. How could Gandalf's interactions with the Haradrim bring up different perspectives on change?
One thematic parallel (that's also a contrast, in a way) could be necessary positive change (Andreth seeing the necessity of leaving Nargothrond) vs necessary negative change (Allying with Sauron in the frame to not become exiled, enslaved or exterminated). Both dreams of a peaceful existence just aren't possible under the circumstances.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
If Gandalf is trying to convince a Haradrim leader to form some kind of opposition, the end result has to be a failure, I agree. But that doesn’t mean the leader has to reject Gandalf’s ideas. He could, but he could also accept them but perish, much like Fingolfin’s attack fails. Or the leader could choose to take a group of people and leave the area, move to the East or something.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
If Gandalf is trying to convince a Haradrim leader to form some kind of opposition, the end result has to be a failure, I agree. But that doesn’t mean the leader has to reject Gandalf’s ideas. He could, but he could also accept them but perish, much like Fingolfin’s attack fails. Or the leader could choose to take a group of people and leave the area, move to the East or something.
I guess my question is what the functional difference is between the primary Haradrim character *being* the leader and *becoming* the leader in your mind.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Didn’t get that this was an issue...sorry if I missed part of the discussion! No it doesn’t really matter.
Ok, I just suddenly realized that we were basically looking for the same thing. The reason I was rooting for a young pupil/prince was partially for the connection to T.H. White's Merlin (and Lewis' Dr. Cornelius), and partially to give us some old-fashioned story-telling in the frame.

The Gondorian Commando thing isn't something I'm super attached to, but it gives some tension towards the end of the story that follows the rising action of the frame story, and I was looking to make Dave happy.

It also gives us an opportunity to show that the Haradrim's enmity towards Gondor is not wholly unfounded, without damaging our LoTR-era hero characters.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Ok, I just suddenly realized that we were basically looking for the same thing. The reason I was rooting for a young pupil/prince was partially for the connection to T.H. White's Merlin (and Lewis' Dr. Cornelius), and partially to give us some old-fashioned story-telling in the frame.

The Gondorian Commando thing isn't something I'm super attached to, but it gives some tension towards the end of the story that follows the rising action of the frame story, and I was looking to make Dave happy.

It also gives us an opportunity to show that the Haradrim's enmity towards Gondor is not wholly unfounded, without damaging our LoTR-era hero characters.
Sounds good to me :)
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I think we should definitely include Gondor in this story. I'm not as keen on using the 'commando' storyline, but I think it could be made to work.

The scene I *want* is for Gandalf to visit the court of Minas Tirith. The reason for his visit is definitely connected with Sauron declaring himself openly, but he is going to try to lay out what he thinks the risk from Harad is: a very populous region is being courted by agents of Sauron - a region with both historic ties to Mordor and a history of being an enemy of Gondor. What will Gandalf urge them to do about this? Not go to war with their neighbor to the south! He'd only suggest that if he is convinced his mission has failed, or if someone in Harad is openly campaigning for war with Gondor right now. Would he, rather, urge them to make peace with their human neighbors, before Sauron takes hold of the land? That would be considered quite radical (and not necessarily welcome) news in Gondor.

The court of Gondor contains all the characters we need. Recall that we are 70 years before the War of the Ring (TA 2951). The agéd steward is Ecthelion's father Turgon - he's 96, and he'll be dead in a couple years. He is unlikely to go along with any radical suggestions from Gandalf, but also unlikely to provoke a war at this point of his reign (sending 'commandos' would not be his idea!). Ecthelion is probably likely functioning as steward already - he is 65, and as one of the Dunedain, likely looks younger than his years. One of Ecthelion's policies will be to invite young men from outside Gondor to enter his service. Now, Thengel of Rohan, who took service with Turgon, could be the impetus for this policy. But it could also be something that Gandalf says now that will set that in motion. [If we don't include that in this frame, it can definitely be part of the 'Thorongil' frame - perhaps the Dunedain from the north meets a young man of Harad in Ecthelion's court, and is inspired to travel south himself (we know Aragorn does this!)] Thengel is only 46 years old, but he's also from a shorter-lived family (he will live to 75, not 98 like Ecthelion). The fathers of Ecthelion and Thengel will both die 2 years from now, leaving them as official rulers at the same time. Currently, Thengel lives in Lossanach with his wife and two young children: Théoden is a three-year-old; he has one older sister. Ecthelion has 2 daughters, and of course his son Denethor is an unmarried young man of 21.

So, this allows for a lot of potential different reactions to Gandalf's news and proposals. Gandalf is all about kindling minds and hearts, and he is the enemy of Sauron. So, his goal is to unite people against Sauron, not allow them to fight amongst themselves. He *has* to be urging a peaceful, diplomatic action here, right? But the reality is that...people do fight. Perhaps Gandalf is seeking military aid for the beleaguered underdogs who have not yet fallen to Sauron's sway in Harad? If they knew they had the support of Gondor, would that change their situation or how isolated they feel?

Thengel moved to Gondor because he famously did not get along with his father. And he's content to stay there until his father dies. When there is that sort of fighting within the family, the idea of making friendships with a different people more commonly seen as 'the enemy' is difficult to swallow. On the other hand...he has been a 'foreigner' living in Gondor, and he might have some perspective on what it is to be different and yet accepted, and understand exactly what Gondor can offer these folks in Harad.

Turgon is 96, dying at 98. It is difficult for me to believe that he's much interested in what is happening outside Gondor's borders right now. He's had a very peaceful rule. I would be comfortable painting him as an insular leader, focused on the safety and prosperity of Gondor, and not much worried about what is happening in Harad. And no, it's not just because he's elderly - his name is Turgon, so we should definitely lean into Aredhel's complaints about her brother.

Ecthelion, on the other hand, will prove during his own time of leadership that he is interested in diplomatic outreach towards other lands. I would love for him to invite 'this young man of Harad Gandalf speaks so highly of' to visit the court of Minas Tirith.

Denethor is going to grow to distrust Gandalf over the years. Might as well start now. What is Gandalf doing, consorting with the enemies of Gondor, and then trying to persuade the aging steward to accept them and go 'soft' on them? That is how Minas Tirith falls! Denethor can see through his pretty words, and recognizes what Gandalf is attempting to do - he wants no part of it. Too bad his grandfather is all 'I remember when you learned how to talk' and ignores his warnings/advice.


I see the 'Gandalf goes to Minas Tirith' as a one to two episode break in the frame, so that time can pass in Harad while he is gone - allowing the situation he walks back into to have progressed. Gandalf has to have a reason to go, so he is trying to get help of some sort for the Haradrim. Whether or not he manages to win over anyone in Minas Tirith is an open question, and whether or not the 'help' he brings is welcome in Harad is another question.

If the 'commandos' happen, it would be because Gondor refused Gandalf aid, but decided the threat in Harad was real enough. Denethor is the right age to be with this group, but I doubt Ecthelion would send his only son on this mission to Harad.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
If the 'commandos' are going to happen, I suggest that Denethor be the guy waiting at the border between Gondor and Harad, as a lifeline to the rest in case something goes wrong. He certainly can fight, but he's not a guy to step on the battlefield; he prefers moving pieces around from a distance. Compare with a guy like Tywin Lannister who rarely participates in open battle and if he does, he does so from the reserve forces.

"Denethor laughed bitterly. ‘Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! [Sauron] will not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand.’"
 

Alcarlótë

Active Member
I think we should definitely include Gondor in this story. I'm not as keen on using the 'commando' storyline, but I think it could be made to work.

The scene I *want* is for Gandalf to visit the court of Minas Tirith. The reason for his visit is definitely connected with Sauron declaring himself openly, but he is going to try to lay out what he thinks the risk from Harad is: a very populous region is being courted by agents of Sauron - a region with both historic ties to Mordor and a history of being an enemy of Gondor. What will Gandalf urge them to do about this? Not go to war with their neighbor to the south! He'd only suggest that if he is convinced his mission has failed, or if someone in Harad is openly campaigning for war with Gondor right now. Would he, rather, urge them to make peace with their human neighbors, before Sauron takes hold of the land? That would be considered quite radical (and not necessarily welcome) news in Gondor.

The court of Gondor contains all the characters we need. Recall that we are 70 years before the War of the Ring (TA 2951). The agéd steward is Ecthelion's father Turgon - he's 96, and he'll be dead in a couple years. He is unlikely to go along with any radical suggestions from Gandalf, but also unlikely to provoke a war at this point of his reign (sending 'commandos' would not be his idea!). Ecthelion is probably likely functioning as steward already - he is 65, and as one of the Dunedain, likely looks younger than his years. One of Ecthelion's policies will be to invite young men from outside Gondor to enter his service. Now, Thengel of Rohan, who took service with Turgon, could be the impetus for this policy. But it could also be something that Gandalf says now that will set that in motion. [If we don't include that in this frame, it can definitely be part of the 'Thorongil' frame - perhaps the Dunedain from the north meets a young man of Harad in Ecthelion's court, and is inspired to travel south himself (we know Aragorn does this!)] Thengel is only 46 years old, but he's also from a shorter-lived family (he will live to 75, not 98 like Ecthelion). The fathers of Ecthelion and Thengel will both die 2 years from now, leaving them as official rulers at the same time. Currently, Thengel lives in Lossanach with his wife and two young children: Théoden is a three-year-old; he has one older sister. Ecthelion has 2 daughters, and of course his son Denethor is an unmarried young man of 21.

So, this allows for a lot of potential different reactions to Gandalf's news and proposals. Gandalf is all about kindling minds and hearts, and he is the enemy of Sauron. So, his goal is to unite people against Sauron, not allow them to fight amongst themselves. He *has* to be urging a peaceful, diplomatic action here, right? But the reality is that...people do fight. Perhaps Gandalf is seeking military aid for the beleaguered underdogs who have not yet fallen to Sauron's sway in Harad? If they knew they had the support of Gondor, would that change their situation or how isolated they feel?

Thengel moved to Gondor because he famously did not get along with his father. And he's content to stay there until his father dies. When there is that sort of fighting within the family, the idea of making friendships with a different people more commonly seen as 'the enemy' is difficult to swallow. On the other hand...he has been a 'foreigner' living in Gondor, and he might have some perspective on what it is to be different and yet accepted, and understand exactly what Gondor can offer these folks in Harad.

Turgon is 96, dying at 98. It is difficult for me to believe that he's much interested in what is happening outside Gondor's borders right now. He's had a very peaceful rule. I would be comfortable painting him as an insular leader, focused on the safety and prosperity of Gondor, and not much worried about what is happening in Harad. And no, it's not just because he's elderly - his name is Turgon, so we should definitely lean into Aredhel's complaints about her brother.

Ecthelion, on the other hand, will prove during his own time of leadership that he is interested in diplomatic outreach towards other lands. I would love for him to invite 'this young man of Harad Gandalf speaks so highly of' to visit the court of Minas Tirith.

Denethor is going to grow to distrust Gandalf over the years. Might as well start now. What is Gandalf doing, consorting with the enemies of Gondor, and then trying to persuade the aging steward to accept them and go 'soft' on them? That is how Minas Tirith falls! Denethor can see through his pretty words, and recognizes what Gandalf is attempting to do - he wants no part of it. Too bad his grandfather is all 'I remember when you learned how to talk' and ignores his warnings/advice.


I see the 'Gandalf goes to Minas Tirith' as a one to two episode break in the frame, so that time can pass in Harad while he is gone - allowing the situation he walks back into to have progressed. Gandalf has to have a reason to go, so he is trying to get help of some sort for the Haradrim. Whether or not he manages to win over anyone in Minas Tirith is an open question, and whether or not the 'help' he brings is welcome in Harad is another question.

If the 'commandos' happen, it would be because Gondor refused Gandalf aid, but decided the threat in Harad was real enough. Denethor is the right age to be with this group, but I doubt Ecthelion would send his only son on this mission to Harad.
Good thoughts! I especially agree with bringing Gondorians in via actually visiting Minas Tirith :) It gives us more opportunities to show the future conflict from different perspectives and makes a lot more sense than future rulers sneaking around Harad - and on Gandalf's request nonetheless!
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
I find myself unconvinced that the ‘commandos’ idea will work, or seem like something a lord of Gondor would come up with or accept. It sounds like it would be risking Gondorian lives, or throwing them away. The fellowship of the Ring is a novel idea that the council of Elrond comes up with. It would feel weird I think if Gandalf has had experience from such an idea before - especially if it’s not successful.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Good thoughts! I especially agree with bringing Gondorians in via actually visiting Minas Tirith :) It gives us more opportunities to show the future conflict from different perspectives and makes a lot more sense than future rulers sneaking around Harad - and on Gandalf's request nonetheless!

Yeah, none of that scanned for me.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
If the 'commandos' are going to happen, I suggest that Denethor be the guy waiting at the border between Gondor and Harad, as a lifeline to the rest in case something goes wrong. He certainly can fight, but he's not a guy to step on the battlefield; he prefers moving pieces around from a distance. Compare with a guy like Tywin Lannister who rarely participates in open battle and if he does, he does so from the reserve forces.

"Denethor laughed bitterly. ‘Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! [Sauron] will not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand.’"
One thing that Tywin Lannister and Denethor in the War of the Ring have in common is...their age. They both have adult children at this point in the story, and are comfortably in charge.

In this tale, Denethor is 21 years old, the grandson of the ruling steward. His future wife is a 1 year old baby. He is not yet a 'great lord' by any measure. We know that Denethor has no brothers, only two older sisters. I don't think we know about Echthelion's siblings, if any. If Ecthelion happened to have a younger brother (named Glorfindel, naturally!), then Denethor would not be the only potential heir of the leader. He would, rather, be one of the (grand-)children spent instead of the ruler.

I am not saying that the 'commando' idea makes a lot of sense, nor that Ecthelion would want to send his son to Harad on this mission - I don't think he would. But Denethor was no doubt trained as a soldier as a young man. I think that it's important that we keep in mind the difference between 21-year-old Denethor and 89-year-old Denethor. Also, Denethor's bitterness stems from the death of his wife, which won't happen for decades.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
So, there's a few things I want to nail down about the tail end of the frame so that we can have a good story arc there.

I don't think anyone would disagree that having Gandalf's pupil decide to renew his people's fealty to Sauron is more emotionally powerful than having him killed or him simply taking his people elsewhere. If we decide to go in this direction, we would need a plot point which facilitates that.

In addition, we should have some source of rising tension that matches the tension generated by the Dagor Bragollach in the main story.

Whether we like the "assassin" plot or not, it does give us these things. What I'd like to try to discuss is a possible alternative that accomplishes the same thing.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
For the Frame: we could have a book-end type set of scenes where we have Gandalf in Minas Tirith speaking with Turgon Steward of Gondor about stirrings in the South, with Ecthelion and Denethor present. Then at the end of the season Gandalf debriefs with Turgon (he's not dead yet), reporting on the rebuilding of Barad-Dur and the less than favorable results in Harad.

For @Phillip Menzies: what sort of music to have in the Frame? I opened a thread in the Season 5 subforum in the Music category.
 
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