Session 6-09: Beren and Lúthien, Part 3

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Session 6-09 will be held on Thursday April 7th at 10 PM Eastern time.

We will be discussing the Beren and Lúthien story, beginning with all the werewolf fighting in Episode 7. There is an awful lot of it, so how do we make that interesting rather than repetitive?

From there, we have the leap of Beren and Doriath's response to Celegorm's proposal. But more importantly, how are we going to handle Beren trying to abandon Lúthien to continue the quest alone? Beren risks being a rather passive protagonist in parts of this story, so we do want to understand why he is doing this.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Session 6-09 will be held on Thursday April 7th at 10 PM Eastern time.

We will be discussing the Beren and Lúthien story, beginning with all the werewolf fighting in Episode 7. There is an awful lot of it, so how do we make that interesting rather than repetitive?

From there, we have the leap of Beren and Doriath's response to Celegorm's proposal. But more importantly, how are we going to handle Beren trying to abandon Lúthien to continue the quest alone? Beren risks being a rather passive protagonist in parts of this story, so we do want to understand why he is doing this.
Well, how many werewolves should there be? Tol-in-Gaurhoth is known as the "Isle of Werewolves", it would be a real shame if there's only a couple (including Draugluin) to guard the island (three if you include werewolf!Sauron), it would make the island name a misnomer.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Certainly, it makes sense to have plenty of werewolves present. Our challenge is to make all the werewolf fights unique and interesting, rather than rote and repetitive.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Certainly, it makes sense to have plenty of werewolves present. Our challenge is to make all the werewolf fights unique and interesting, rather than rote and repetitive.
You could start out with a lone warg scout or two, some warg riders, then finally the two big heavy-hitters: Draugluin who guards the gate and finally Sauron.
 

Octoburn

Active Member
You could start out with a lone warg scout or two, some warg riders, then finally the two big heavy-hitters: Draugluin who guards the gate and finally Sauron.
We do know there are at least 3 (not including Sauron); the one Finrod kills, the unnamed one Huan kills and Draugluin. It does make sense to maybe include some warg-riders, though were there any among Sauron's troops? I don't recall if they were aligned with a certain sect of Morgoth's forces at the instance of their introduction.

We could definitely have many wolves present at the taking of Tol Sirion, and then throughout the half-season show the slow dwindling of them, at the hands of Beren or others, and finally have the remaining few taken out when Tol Sirion falls.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Session 6-09 will be held on Thursday April 7th at 10 PM Eastern time.

From there, we have the leap of Beren and Doriath's response to Celegorm's proposal. But more importantly, how are we going to handle Beren trying to abandon Lúthien to continue the quest alone? Beren risks being a rather passive protagonist in parts of this story, so we do want to understand why he is doing this.
Well let's look at the timing of things. After Sauron is beaten and Finrod is buried:
  • Beren and Lúthien spend some time together as they did before the Quest was passed to Beren.
  • Huan goes back to Celegorm and Curufin and they are kicked out of Nargothrond when news comes of Finrod's death, perceiving that his people abandoned him; Celebrimbor stays in Nargothrond. They head northward towards Dimbar to avoid Nan Dungortheb
  • Beren and Lúthien come to the forest of Brethil near the western borders of Doriath; Beren has decided to leave Lúthien at the borders of Doriath while he goes alone, but Lúthien says that no matter what he chooses, they will have the same Doom.
  • Celegorm and Curufin attack Beren and Lúthien; Huan turns on Celegorm and Curufin; the latter shoots Beren. Lúthien nurses Beren back to health
  • At Doriath, Beren resolves to leave Lúthien and undertake the quest alone. That's the big question, does he think he can do it all by himself? Does he want to do it without help from Lúthien?
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Beren in mind, Beren has lost everyone he has ever loved up to this point. He knows now he loves Luthien. She has told him they will share the same doom. If he knows he might be going to his death, the fact she is willing to join him in that has to be terrifying.

Taking away her agency by choosing for her is not a heroic or admirable trait BUT it is very understandable.

How she reacts to that is the question. Because she isn't a meek wallflower but we do know she doesn't go in that instance. So what is her reason to stay? What is her bigger mission in that moment? She needs a purpose. Because she wouldn't just let him go to certain death alone unless she was pulled apart from him. And that pulling apart is so tragic for the audience who just want them to be together. Great drama
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Beren in mind, Beren has lost everyone he has ever loved up to this point. He knows now he loves Luthien. She has told him they will share the same doom. If he knows he might be going to his death, the fact she is willing to join him in that has to be terrifying.

Taking away her agency by choosing for her is not a heroic or admirable trait BUT it is very understandable.

How she reacts to that is the question. Because she isn't a meek wallflower but we do know she doesn't go in that instance. So what is her reason to stay? What is her bigger mission in that moment? She needs a purpose. Because she wouldn't just let him go to certain death alone unless she was pulled apart from him. And that pulling apart is so tragic for the audience who just want them to be together. Great drama
Well, that's why she and Huan find what's left of Thurwingwethil and Draugluin right? Beren intended to infiltrate Angband with just himself and his purloined knife.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Beren in mind, Beren has lost everyone he has ever loved up to this point. He knows now he loves Luthien. She has told him they will share the same doom. If he knows he might be going to his death, the fact she is willing to join him in that has to be terrifying.

Taking away her agency by choosing for her is not a heroic or admirable trait BUT it is very understandable.

How she reacts to that is the question. Because she isn't a meek wallflower but we do know she doesn't go in that instance. So what is her reason to stay? What is her bigger mission in that moment? She needs a purpose. Because she wouldn't just let him go to certain death alone unless she was pulled apart from him. And that pulling apart is so tragic for the audience who just want them to be together. Great drama
I think Beren considers it his own quest. How can he earn Thingol"s respect for himself and his house if Luthien does it all for him? This is something Luthien can see also - she cannot treat Beren like a child unable to accomplish anything on his own.

Does she herself not consider this whole quest a basically "childish" thing and actually rather offensive to herself as it treats her like a "prize" to be won and as such as an object to be "sold"? Having just almost lost Beren and actually lost a cousin (Finrod) she might be angry at Beren for risking his and others' lives for such silly male dominance games?
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
It is exactly that as presented in the text. I suppose that’s why I e previously included the idea that his desire for vengeance or at least his sense that it’s somehow his duty to avenge his father when realising Sauron is puppet master (and thus Morgoth his). It removes the very unpleasant make domination and objectification of Luthien by a figure we are supposed to want to see her with. For me, and others watching this fresh, for him to actively treat her like a prize is something it’s hard to get past and keep rooting for here to be with this man. BUT if his purposes align with Thingol’s quest and both he and Luthien can see a bigger reason for him to go alone, you give them each a mission with motivations and you remove Beren’s chauvinism while still also showing a struggle between the couple in that he still has some personal baggage to work through.
I feel there needs to be just a bit more depth to the quest than winning Luthien. She obviously wants the land liberated so would happily see the removal of dark forces. But why wouldn’t she be part of that. Sure, she doesn’t want to dominate or patronise Beren. But does she genuinely believe he can win solo? That just seems naive. I mean, they could have this exchange I guess. He could state his reasons aren’t to win her. He wants to stop the darkness spreading, like she does. She doesn’t think he should go alone. I Toby want him to argue from a place of make strength - he doesn’t see himself as stronger than her and I don’t want him threatened by that strength. I don’t want to give Beren a Fragile snake EgoTM. But he says that hurts her in that moment but that also helps her see she needs to remain for now. So she does but a wedge is caused? So while our characters are separate, the audience wants them to reconnect physically and emotionally? Making the rescue have deeper impact?

I guess the question is stil, why does he turn her away? Wanting to do it on his own is just childish and ignorant and offensive really. He can be flawed but this seems like the wrong time for him to take issue with the idea of a Luthien being the stronger half. If his desire to go is part motivated by revenge, could he be afraid that Luthien’s long-term perspective might allow her to see redemption possible for Morgoth and thus stay his hand? Is he scared because she has that morality that his short-term view clouds with emotion?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
It is exactly that as presented in the text. I suppose that’s why I e previously included the idea that his desire for vengeance or at least his sense that it’s somehow his duty to avenge his father when realising Sauron is puppet master (and thus Morgoth his). It removes the very unpleasant make domination and objectification of Luthien by a figure we are supposed to want to see her with.
1. Beren is an orphan who used to live in a male only context for some formating years. This is what he understands. For his own male self-worth it is far more crucial to gain recognition in Thingol's eyes than even his romantic interest in Luthien itself. The audience gets it.

2. Luthien is several millenia old and a powerfull half-Ainu. She has to accept that she cannot "mother" Beren. Males have some strange in-group rules which - however ridiculous they seem to a reasonable female - she has to endure if she does respect him.

3. Both have to learn to respect each other - they both have different outlooks and different ways to do things. They can work together but one cannot dominate the other.

Do not see how the vengeance angle adds anything here?
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
I agree with 3 but one comes across as pretty unpalatable. You say the audience will ‘get it’. I’m not saying it won’t be understood, it’ll just drastically change their opinion of him. Which is fine. We can portray a pretty unpleasant Beren. That’s okay. But people seem to want to lean more to the mythic hero archetype and if we want the audience to root for this man, then we need to decide if by this point we still have a man who doesn’t understand the equal value of women and the ethereal superiority of Luthien. It seems to clash with what we are building for their relationship.

Likewise for 2, having Luthien need to mother and placate a silly man is another troubling stereotype. If we want to build these two into a functioning couple, we don’t want her to be an old sitcom Exhausted Wife who has to roll her eyes and let her husband get on with his silly plan of the week because she couldn’t possibly convince him.

We could make it Their quest, even if Beren is the one physically taking an initial journey. But I don’t think having Beren be bullheadedly sexist or Luthien be submissively undermined or undermining are the right call. It’s a moment where they can empower each other rather than tolerate.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
[...]then we need to decide if by this point we still have a man who doesn’t understand the equal value of women and the ethereal superiority of Luthien. It seems to clash with what we are building for their relationship.
Explain how Beren could have gained an deep understanding of the "equal value of women" or even understand what most women consider important in life given that for the most of his life as an adult he barely saw one? Women are more "an idea" and "an ideal" for him that an actual reality - a cherished idealised memory from childhood and teen years long left behind. But male hierarchy and its rules of "honour"- that he gets - that is what he has lived and that is what Thingol has called into question.

Likewise for 2, having Luthien need to mother and placate a silly man is another troubling stereotype. If we want to build these two into a functioning couple, we don’t want her to be an old sitcom Exhausted Wife who has to roll her eyes and let her husband get on with his silly plan of the week because she couldn’t possibly convince him.
How can that not be her starting point? He is just a baby both in years and in power compared to her.

We could make it Their quest, even if Beren is the one physically taking an initial journey. But I don’t think having Beren be bullheadedly sexist or Luthien be submissively undermined or undermining are the right call. It’s a moment where they can empower each other rather than tolerate.
I think Luthien accepting Beren's quest and Beren accepting her taking an active part in it is the compromise where both move towards each other from their different original starting positions. Each has to conquer their own "prejudices" to meet and work together as a team. But why not include their natural original positions? They do not have to be perfect from the start?
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
If I’m being honest, that’s closer to the take I personally would go for. I’d much sooner have them be complicated, not entirely heroic figures having to find belonging and meaning.

I was attempting to steer more towards the general accepted interpretation we seem to be going for of them as legendary paragons.

If we are happy for the audience to not like Beren and Luthien and their choices at times, then I’m personally glad to go down that root. What Tolkien has written is obviously very problematic to a modern audience and I don’t mind shying from that acknowledgment and play it as a place of learning and a genuine poor choice in their moments.

My preference is for this relationship get tied and tested and be broken and battered, both internally as well as without. I want their baggage and prejudices to weigh heavily. I don’t think it should be easily easily. Though much tougher to convey that journey in a single season, I admit
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
If we are happy for the audience to not like Beren and Luthien and their choices at times, then I’m personally glad to go down that root. What Tolkien has written is obviously very problematic to a modern audience and I don’t mind shying from that acknowledgment and play it as a place of learning and a genuine poor choice in their moments.
I would think "poor choices" a bit too much, more like "poor unreflected attitudes" - which have never before been challenged and also never really have been an issue before due to lack of circumstances - which are being challenged now...
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
If I’m being honest, that’s closer to the take I personally would go for. I’d much sooner have them be complicated, not entirely heroic figures having to find belonging and meaning.

I was attempting to steer more towards the general accepted interpretation we seem to be going for of them as legendary paragons.

If we are happy for the audience to not like Beren and Luthien and their choices at times, then I’m personally glad to go down that root. What Tolkien has written is obviously very problematic to a modern audience and I don’t mind shying from that acknowledgment and play it as a place of learning and a genuine poor choice in their moments.

My preference is for this relationship get tied and tested and be broken and battered, both internally as well as without. I want their baggage and prejudices to weigh heavily. I don’t think it should be easily easily. Though much tougher to convey that journey in a single season, I admit
But at what point is disliking the main characters too much? There has to be a balance between liking and understanding why characters take certain courses of action otherwise they make no sense.

Take the ambiguous relationship between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark in Game of Thrones and its' parent book series A Song of Ice and Fire. George R.R. Martin, who prides himself on being realistic and complexity, is going to have a lot of explaining about that relationship on a number of things. The popular in-universe interpretation is that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna; we know that Rhaegar was looking to sire the Prince that was Promised to fulfill a prophecy that would save the world. Other characters like Barristan Selmy and Daenerys believe that Lyanna eloped with Rhaegar.

So, if consensual, herein lies the rub: Ned Stark also knows that Lyanna was reluctant to marry her betrothed, Robert Baratheon, because of his womanizing ways (his eldest known illegitimate child Mya was born before Robert and Lyanna were betrothed). So it's real rich of Lyanna, who disliked Robert for his womanizing ways, to elope with a married man (Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell at the time). The show takes this further: apparently, Rhaegar annulled his marriage to Elia without her knowledge (in her own homeland to boot) and bastardized their two children (since this is an annulment) before marrying Lyanna in secret (and to rub salt in the wound, Lyanna names her child (aka Jon Snow) Aegon, the same name as Rhaegar's son with Elia). And none of this takes into account the war that resulted because of their disappearance, which led to the deaths of Rhaegar's wife and children...

Overall, the audience is supposed to see this as a Romeo and Juliet-esque situation of star-crossed lovers, but instead makes both Rhaegar (whose motivations surrounding the Prince who was Promised are left out) and Lyanna look quite selfish.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
But at what point is disliking the main characters too much? There has to be a balance between liking and understanding why characters take certain courses of action otherwise they make no sense.
I do not think understanding a character makes him unlikeable per se. Actually to be able to grow s/he has to start of somewhere less than perfect. If the romance is a win for both, both of them have to gain something from it - a growing of understanding of oneself and others and the world is one of such possible gains.
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
I honestly think this is the main problem with the roundabout way seasons are planned, we don’t work our who our main characters up top.

For me, I just watched The Batman and that character is my Beren but I know that isn’t everyone’s.


Overall, the audience is supposed to see this as a Romeo and Juliet-esque situation of star-crossed lovers, but instead makes both Rhaegar (whose motivations surrounding the Prince who was Promised are left out) and Lyanna look quite selfish.
I think that interpretation depends on, firstly, how you view Romeo and Juliet. Romeo at least I don’t view entirely favourably but boy does that tale have pathos. In addition, I can certainly care for characters who act selfishly. In your example it’s hard as those characters we never truly follow. But other characters we know make bad choices based on emotion and experience and we ache to see them do it but still understand why and want to see them come back from a dark path.
 
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Kathrin

Well-Known Member
I think for me it would maybe be more interesting to frame the conflict between Beren & Luthien & who is going on which quest and how a bit away from the, let's say, "who is in charge" question. I think another way to look at it is through recklessness, fear of death or not, how to deal with danger etc. Bc there, the human guerilla warrior from a chaotic warzone and the daughter of an long time isolationist immortal elf are going to have very different outlooks *regardless* of how we frame their attitudes about gender, their power dynamic or how they view the quest.

My favorite Beren is one who is very informed by his trauma, and through that definitely has gotten used to the perspective of death and really bad odds. That is maybe also a part of why that moment in Doriath is even more enchanting as this oasis of peace, safety, beauty (while ofc also containing Luthien) That doesn't mean Luthien doesn't understand danger per se, but she has grown up in a place where danger is locked out by design, and where you have warriors that methodically go after all danger, wardens. He has that extra bit of desperation and "nothing to lose" that the doriathrim simply don't have. (Or that is not a recent memory)
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Question: if Beren wanted to cut and run in Dorthonion, why does he choose the quest and what makes his will so set on taking Angband alone with just him and his knife? Did he honestly think he'd succeed?
 
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