Session 6-01: Big Picture Questions

kanji_d

Member
I want to say that at one point there was a decision to not show the interior of Mandos beyond perhaps the foyer (and certainly none of the Elves dwelling there), but I may be misremembering.
 

Mithrim

New Member
Thank you for the answer. I have been following for over a year now but there is so much content! Mostly I have been listening to the storyline of Finwe's kids and I vaguely remember them talking about Halls of Mandos with Miriel, but it's been awhile.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I think Dior refusing to make a choice is an excellent way to handle that particular conundrum.
Dior is not part of this reason yet, but I think Nimloth should be. Her story is a tragic one, we need to see her starting on her path that leads her to her end. She is not a main part of this reason but would imho appear. Maybe visiting her uncle before his departure to discuss some doubts with him? He married a Noldo, she might be interested why he decided to do that as a Sinda?
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I want to say that at one point there was a decision to not show the interior of Mandos beyond perhaps the foyer (and certainly none of the Elves dwelling there), but I may be misremembering.
Correct, we were supposed to keep Mandos very mysterious...until the arrival of Lúthien there this season. This is what we are saving the mystery for, so we do get to show the place now. Or, well, some of it. The Land of the Dead is allowed to keep some mysteries, I think.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
i felt…Beren between dispair and survival until he met Luthien... and nothing else mattered really anymore for him after he had met her.
I think for me THAT idea is my one great fear for this season: that once Beren and Luthien meet, nothing else matters. It’s what I often hate about certain romance stories. That two people are so utterly co-dependent that the idea of them having individual desires and identities is anathema to the narrative. As you said, we really want rich complex characters who aren’t driven by one single motive. I think if as soon as they meet it’s a brand new fresh start which involves nothing of their previous lives, then we have a very unnatural feeling story. Especially in the world we’ve set up. They will inevitable bring baggage. Doesn’t mean it has to be a sad, tragic, doomed or unnatural love (though, in many ways it is for periods of time). It can still be grand and transcendent. But then…they need things to transcend. They need to bring themselves into the relationship. And also, it shouldn’t be that unhealthy Disney Princess story where lovers lose their unique identities. They need to bring out the best and help each other achieve goals and better themselves in ways they couldn’t alone or didn’t see alone. But that means they need goals and unique identities. Yes, together they form a dynamic partnership, they they should never be just BerenandLuthien, they truly need to be Beren and also Luthien, Luthien and also Beren. And so you need to set up threads and arcs for them separately as well as the one that they both share. I think Beren’s in some ways is simpler as his story starts with loss and his failed attempt alone to come to terms with that can easily be contrasted by finding someone who helps him heal. BUT if we only have the story of a woman healing a broken man in service of his need and goal, that is disturbingly overused narrative. As is the cloistered Princess finding a rough and ready man to teach her about the real outside world. Luthien needs some kind of arc, even if she is this demigod heroine. Maybe it’s specifically finding a purpose. I think there is something in the idea of using her voice to shape the world and unmake darkness. But I wouldn’t want that to be the sort of teen drama of a girl realising women can be strong. Luthien is under no illusions about that. But she needs to go through some sort of change. Conflict and change is the heart of drama. The physical quest they go on together is actually really well laid out by Tolkien. But it doesn’t honestly tell you much about how either characters grows or what real challenges they face internally. Audiences need to emotionally connect with our two protagonists which means they biggest thing to work out is who they are. Each of them. We have huge scope to do that and that really ought to be the core of the story. Events have to have purpose. They need an emotional core or they are hollow. We all know that. It’s been done beautifully through past seasons. We just need to make sure we don’t view our protagonists as this singular entity, but two characters gelling together.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
I think for me THAT idea is my one great fear for this season: that once Beren and Luthien meet, nothing else matters. It’s what I often hate about certain romance stories. That two people are so utterly co-dependent that the idea of them having individual desires and identities is anathema to the narrative. As you said, we really want rich complex characters who aren’t driven by one single motive. I think if as soon as they meet it’s a brand new fresh start which involves nothing of their previous lives, then we have a very unnatural feeling story. Especially in the world we’ve set up. They will inevitable bring baggage. Doesn’t mean it has to be a sad, tragic, doomed or unnatural love (though, in many ways it is for periods of time). It can still be grand and transcendent. But then…they need things to transcend. They need to bring themselves into the relationship. And also, it shouldn’t be that unhealthy Disney Princess story where lovers lose their unique identities. They need to bring out the best and help each other achieve goals and better themselves in ways they couldn’t alone or didn’t see alone. But that means they need goals and unique identities. Yes, together they form a dynamic partnership, they they should never be just BerenandLuthien, they truly need to be Beren and also Luthien, Luthien and also Beren. And so you need to set up threads and arcs for them separately as well as the one that they both share. I think Beren’s in some ways is simpler as his story starts with loss and his failed attempt alone to come to terms with that can easily be contrasted by finding someone who helps him heal. BUT if we only have the story of a woman healing a broken man in service of his need and goal, that is disturbingly overused narrative. As is the cloistered Princess finding a rough and ready man to teach her about the real outside world. Luthien needs some kind of arc, even if she is this demigod heroine. Maybe it’s specifically finding a purpose. I think there is something in the idea of using her voice to shape the world and unmake darkness. But I wouldn’t want that to be the sort of teen drama of a girl realising women can be strong. Luthien is under no illusions about that. But she needs to go through some sort of change. Conflict and change is the heart of drama. The physical quest they go on together is actually really well laid out by Tolkien. But it doesn’t honestly tell you much about how either characters grows or what real challenges they face internally. Audiences need to emotionally connect with our two protagonists which means they biggest thing to work out is who they are. Each of them. We have huge scope to do that and that really ought to be the core of the story. Events have to have purpose. They need an emotional core or they are hollow. We all know that. It’s been done beautifully through past seasons. We just need to make sure we don’t view our protagonists as this singular entity, but two characters gelling together.
I have isse with the "growing character" angle to Luthien. She neither human nor fallen. So she has no inner demons to face. Even if she would stay completely as she is at the beginning she would be fine.
That is different for Beren - as he is human. But she is not. Imho we cannot treat her as one. Even when she loses her powers and becomes mortal, she does not take part of the Fall of Men. As such she simply has no evil to fight in herself. And she doesn't seem particularly "overshadowed" (like e.g. Eol) either.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
But she literally needs a story. Like, you have to tell a story with her. Or she is a prop. You can have her as a supporting figure to the hero if she is merely an accomplice but if it’s a two hanger with two lead characters, she needs a story. It’s literally fundamental. She is an elf learning to love a mortal. If you are telling me that involved no change for her as a person, especially having lived so long in Menegroth, I don’t know what to say.

I’m not saying it isn’t a challenge. One option is certainly to make this Beren’s story and have her as a supporting role but what a diminishing of her that would be. We can’t just say ‘she doesn’t need to be interesting’ and move on. That might be the primary challenge

EDIT: Also, other elves totally have arcs in this show
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
But she literally needs a story. Like, you have to tell a story with her. Or she is a prop. You can have her as a supporting figure to the hero if she is merely an accomplice but if it’s a two hanger with two lead characters, she needs a story. It’s literally fundamental
The story is that she does not have to fight, she chooses to. Out of love for Beren who might personalise "Arda marred" for her. But we cannot make her a human with human inner-stuggle issues imho. She is all but one.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
The story is that she does not have to fight, she chooses to. Out of love for Beren who might personalise "Arda marred" for her. But we cannot make her a human with human inner-stuggle issues imho. She is all but one.
But you literally said it right there. She makes a choice. A choice. She changes. She goes through a process in this journey. She has a character. I think you’re just not understanding what I’m getting at. Maybe I’ve not explained it well
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
But you literally said it right there. She makes a choice. A choice. She changes. She goes through a process in this journey. She has a character. I think you’re just not understanding what I’m getting at. Maybe I’ve not explained it well
What I mean there is no inner compulsion for her to choose one way or the other. She is completely free in that choice. She would be fine as a person even if she would not have made it.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
What I mean there is no inner compulsion for her to choose one way or the other. She is completely free in that choice. She would be fine as a person even if she would not have made it.
That’s just poor storytelling though. It utterly negates the core relationship of the season as the audience sees it’s one sided and has no bearing on one character. It needs to wisely matter. Otherwise why tell this story? I’d be surprised if Corey agrees that Luthien should be static and stagnant with no motivation or growth
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
That’s just poor storytelling though. It utterly negates the core relationship of the season as the audience sees it’s one sided and has no bearing on one character. It needs to wisely matter. Otherwise why tell this story? I’d be surprised if Corey agrees that Luthien should be static and stagnant with no motivation or growth
But she is a immortal half-Ainur elf. Not just a human with superpowers added on. That core distiction should be visible. Her struggle is most of all externally. She has no problems with herself - why should she? At most with her father and with the limited extend to which most of her elvish companion understand her.
You could force her maybe into having some guilt about having impacted her mother in a negative way - as Melian refuses to get pregnagt again as her experience with Luthien was so demanding on her. But I do doubt Melian ever told her this - at most she might have heard some courtiers speaking of it when they were whispering about why Thingol has no heir. Luthien might have wished for a sibling in her childhood so as to not be alone in her mixed-blood position and to have someone who does "get" her. This is as much "internal struggle" as I think credible for her. Up to now she is the only mixed-blood out there and she might feel a little lonely. But I do not think we want to go there.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
But primarily you have to tell a good story. You need arcs. And I agree. She should be different from him. But to say we are allowed therefore to be a passive actor in this story and not give her choices or agency or growth is frankly super boring to watch. It’s not engaging. Not for a lead character. We work with the world we’ve built. But it’s a world in which elves make poor choices, elves feel greed, elves feel fear. So too the Maiar. They are emotional beings our audiences can connect with. Otherwise they wouldn’t have sustained five seasons. I agree, the struggle is too portray her as none human but still tell and emotional story our audiences can connect with. The recent comic run of Eternals does a very good job of balancing this. But if you don’t believe she should have any internal drives and is rather this solid carved unmoving object that cannot be bent to swayed and tested by anything, that is a choice, characters can be very stoic. If you are saying that nothing happens behind the eyes, that they simply follow plot without question, if they have no choice in the matter, and no real reason to chose the action, no motivating factors or issues to resolve, then they are not a protagonist. Luthien needs agency and character. It’s a challenge but that’s what a writing team does. I agree that she responds to the world differently to him. And we shouldn’t make either one of them correct in how they see things. But neither should be totally perfect either. Everyone else seems to agree she can learn from him. But then what is she learning? Why? Why does she stop to pay attention? It can’t be that she wishes she had a sibling and that’s it. That’s not really the reason. The reason could be that she feels alone. That’s great. Why though? She’s a child of two worlds? A person understood by no one? So is Beren. He is alone? What does Luthien try to fill her world with? Duty maybe? Service to her House?Beren tried that in vengeance. Didn’t get him far. He feels alone. Being the expected son wasn’t enough. Maybe Luthien feels he hasn’t lived long enough to see the effects of loyalty. But how long should a person feel alone? Can they be loyal to each other, even if they know it don’t last? There’s something there, right? You can have inscrutable leads. Westerns often do. Action films less so. The pain is on the surface. Pain or loss is often a motivator. In Westerns you can have the unknown stranger who acts on some internal code. But generally we learn who they are. To have a character with nothing beneath the surface is great for ‘alien’ characters. They are supporting though. Jackson doesn’t a good job of making elves unknowable in his films. But it’s because they are supporting. And it leaves them feeling rather cold. It can’t sustain a protagonist. Unless it’s perhaps an unconventional indie piece which is meant to leave you questioning. We need to like Luthien. We should already from what we’ve seen of her. She’s already made choices about who she is. We are allowed to test those choices. That’s good story
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
But primarily you have to tell a good story. You need arcs. And I agree. She should be different from him. But to say we are allowed therefore to be a passive actor in this story and not give her choices or agency or growth is frankly super boring to watch. It’s not engaging. Not for a lead character. We work with the world we’ve built. But it’s a world in which elves make poor choices, elves feel greed, elves feel fear. So too the Maiar. They are emotional beings our audiences can connect with. Otherwise they wouldn’t have sustained five seasons. I agree, the struggle is too portray her as none human but still tell and emotional story our audiences can connect with. The recent comic run of Eternals does a very good job of balancing this. But if you don’t believe she should have any internal drives and is rather this solid carved unmoving object that cannot be bent to swayed and tested by anything, that is a choice, characters can be very stoic. If you are saying that nothing happens behind the eyes, that they simply follow plot without question, if they have no choice in the matter, and no real reason to chose the action, no motivating factors or issues to resolve, then they are not a protagonist. Luthien needs agency and character. It’s a challenge but that’s what a writing team does. I agree that she responds to the world differently to him. And we shouldn’t make either one of them correct in how they see things. But neither should be totally perfect either. Everyone else seems to agree she can learn from him. But then what is she learning? Why? Why does she stop to pay attention? It can’t be that she wishes she had a sibling and that’s it. That’s not really the reason. The reason could be that she feels alone. That’s great. Why though? She’s a child of two worlds? A person understood by no one? So is Beren. He is alone? What does Luthien try to fill her world with? Duty maybe? Service to her House?Beren tried that in vengeance. Didn’t get him far. He feels alone. Being the expected son wasn’t enough. Maybe Luthien feels he hasn’t lived long enough to see the effects of loyalty. But how long should a person feel alone? Can they be loyal to each other, even if they know it don’t last? There’s something there, right? You can have inscrutable leads. Westerns often do. Action films less so. The pain is on the surface. Pain or loss is often a motivator. In Westerns you can have the unknown stranger who acts on some internal code. But generally we learn who they are. To have a character with nothing beneath the surface is great for ‘alien’ characters. They are supporting though. Jackson doesn’t a good job of making elves unknowable in his films. But it’s because they are supporting. And it leaves them feeling rather cold. It can’t sustain a protagonist. Unless it’s perhaps an unconventional indie piece which is meant to leave you questioning. We need to like Luthien. We should already from what we’ve seen of her. She’s already made choices about who she is. We are allowed to test those choices. That’s good story

I see this more like a chance. She acts, she is not simply reacting to circumstaces outward or inward. That's a glorious position to be in - one humans never achieve but long for. As such seeing this longing personified in her might be very satisfying to watch.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
That’s my point. Having a reactionary protagonist is dull. They need to have reason and drive and a purpose behind their actions. That’s in variably personal. Are you saying you want her to have a long view abd be focused on acting for long term success of the wider land? I like that. Her motivations are wider than her direct vicinity of her own lifetime. Which would be in great contrast to Menegroth and provide reason for her to want to act beyond it. And great contrast to Beren
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
That’s my point. Having a reactionary protagonist is dull. They need to have reason and drive and a purpose behind their actions. That’s in variably personal. Are you saying you want her to have a long view abd be focused on acting for long term success of the wider land? I like that. Her motivations are wider than her direct vicinity of her own lifetime. Which would be in great contrast to Menegroth and provide reason for her to want to act beyond it. And great contrast to Beren
I think her perspectives are even wider than that, wider then Arda and Ea actually. Imho she is (and perceives herself - aware or not) as part of a cosmic fight, not just of "local politics". Imho she is another level altogether.
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
Sure, but the results can be the same. All I meant was, she needs a reason to step out the door. Something happens in the world but WHY does SHE take that step NOW. Those are the three points you need to nail. And the journey in some way changes her. Even if it's only her now being more active in the world's fate. But she has to want that and achieve it. You can have moments of doubt or considering returning home. There's a great inbuilt moment where she choses not to go with Beren but remain. That would be a tearing of loyalties. But ultimately, she does choose again to go and reaffirms who she is and believes herself to be
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Sure, but the results can be the same. All I meant was, she needs a reason to step out the door. Something happens in the world but WHY does SHE take that step NOW. Those are the three points you need to nail. And the journey in some way changes her. Even if it's only her now being more active in the world's fate. But she has to want that and achieve it. You can have moments of doubt or considering returning home. There's a great inbuilt moment where she choses not to go with Beren but remain. That would be a tearing of loyalties. But ultimately, she does choose again to go and reaffirms who she is and believes herself to be
Go ahead, but do not make her a "torn" human. Would not be internally consistant. Her doubts - if any - should have more similarity with those of a Manwë than those of an Andreth.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Go ahead, but do not make her a "torn" human. Would not be internally consistant. Her doubts - if any - should have more similarity with those of a Manwë than those of an Andreth.
As long as there is drama in her. If she is stagnant, there's no storyline, nothing to keep audiences engaged. Conflict is drama.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I 'm okay with both as long as it doesn't feel forced. When Luthien is not Luthien anymore then we're not telling Beren and Luthien. I still think there is some room for interpretation, just take her serious as the literary figure she is.
 
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