Friday, April 18, 2014

MERLIN CLUB: Le Morte d'Arthur

Or the One Where Merlin is a BAMF 

RECAP – Merlin and Arthur are out hunting with some knights. There is the typical bickering and banter *cough*flirting*cough* between Arthur and Merlin. They hear a noise and are attacked by a big ass ugly creature. It has the body of a leopard and the head of a cobra. They run away (as you do when attacked by such a thing) but Merlin trips. Arthur and a knight manage to help him and they escape. The knight who helped Merlin, though, isn’t so lucky. 

Back in Camelot, they share their tale and Gaius says that the creature sounds like the Questing Beast. 

Apparently, the Questing Beast is said to appear before a time of great upheaval. Uther totally blows this off. Gaius tries to convince him to take this seriously, that the last time the creature was seen was the night his wife, Ygraine, died. Uther gets all pissy and says Gaius is never to speak of that night. He claims he has conquered the Old Religion...blah blah blah. 
Hey, Uther...
Back in Gaius’ chambers, as Merlin is packing to help Arthur go after the creature, the older man warns Merlin about the Questing Beast. One bite from the creature is fatal and there is no cure.

Morgana has a vision of Arthur dying from the creature’s bite. She runs outside and begs the Arthur not to go. He tries to calm her down but doesn’t succeed. Merlin guides her away, promising to keep Arthur safe. After guards come to escort her back inside the castle, the group leaves.

They track the beast to a cave and split up to search it. It’s not long before Arthur and Merlin are cornered, and the creature goes for Merlin. Arthur pulls him away but is knocked out himself. Merlin uses magic on Arthur’s sword and hurls it at the Questing Beast, killing it. He rushes to Arthur and finds that the prince has been bitten. He and the knights get him back to Camelot.

But things look dire for our young prince. Gaius says Arthur will die and no magic can help him. Though Merlin tries. 

A devasted Uther carries his son out, but falls to his knees in the couryard. Knights come and carry their prince to his chambers. 

Merlin goes to the Great Dragon. He says he will do anything to save Arthur. The dragon tells him that the Questing Beast is of the Old Religion, that only tthe magic of the earth itself can heal Arthur. Merlin must go to the Isle of the Blessed where someone who still practices the old ways will help him. He warns that whatever the cost, Arthur must live.

Merlin tells Gauis what the dragon told him, without telling him where he heard it from, but Gaius warns him that the Questing Beast chose Arthur and that means the Old Religion means for Arthur to die. If Merlin means to change this, another life will be taken in Arthur’s place. Despite Gaius' pleading, Merlin is still determined to go, willing to exchange his life for Arthur’s . 

The following morning, Merlin leaves. Gaius sees him off, gives him a rabbit's foot to protect him from evil spirits. The two seem to make peace with their earlier disagreement and Merlin asks Gaius to keep Artur alive until he returns. 

We see Arthur sleeping fitfully, agitated. Then there's the dragon voiceover telling Merlin how to get to the Isle as he makes his way there. Gwen comes to sit with Arthur, giving Gaius a rest. 

She tells him that he will not die. That he is destined to be a great king who will be wise and bring peace to Camelot.

The people of Camelot hold vigil as their prince dies. 

Uther and Gaius talk about it. Gaius says Arthur still lives. But Uther replies he will die, that he doesn't believe in miracles. I won't even put the Ryan Stiles .gif here because even though he pisses me off in this episode, the thought of his son dying is devasting to him. Enjoy the reprieve, Uther; it won't last. 

At the Isle of the Blessed, Merlin finds Nimueh. 

He's not happy to see her, saying she can't be the one the dragon sent him to, that she tried to kill him and Arthur. She says that she wouldn’t have tried to kill Merlin before if she’d know his importance and that Arthur is not destined to die at her hand. She produces the cup of life. Water from the cup will save Arthur, but the Old Religion demands another life. Merlin offers his own life and Nimueh makes it rain, filling the cup. Merlin takes the water back to Camelot and Gaius wants to know who will die, but Merlin doesn’t answer.

They give Arthur the water.
Seriously, look how Merlin is cradling Arthur's head in his lap.... Le sigh
Uther comes in and they lie, saying it’s a tincture of something or other. Gaius and Merlin leave while the king waits to see if the remedy will work. 

 In the hall, Morgana grabs Merlin and tells him, “Please, Merlin, you must beware. This is only the beginning”.

Arthur wakes. He tells Uther that he feels like he has someone watching over him. Uther says he needs a guardian angel, then leaves to tell the court that their prince will live, Gwen comes in with clean linens. He tells her he heard her talking when he was unconscious. She is embarrassed and feigns ignorance as he teases her.

This is Merlin's reaction to hearing Arthur will live....

I love him, you guys. 
Merlin gets ready for bed, looking a bit scared. In the thunder and rain, we see a cloaked figure walking through Camelot. The figure enters Gaius chambers, there are sores/boils on this person's hands. Suddenly Morgana is waking up with a cry. 

Then it's morning. Merlin wakes, shocked to be, you know, waking and not dead. And we are going to take a moment here to appreciate something. Or I am at least. I have a thing for Colin Morgan's hands. As he's waking, there is a close up of one of them and...GUH. I just can't stand it. 
shameless hand porn....oh yeah...

But things aren't so great. The figure we saw is Merlin's mother, Hunith, is there and she is dying. Hers is the life exchanged for Arthur’s. Poor baby, he is devastated. I just want to hold him. 

He runs down to confront the dragon, sayng he was sent to murder his own mother. The dragon says that it is Merlin’s destiny to protect Arthur until he becomes king, and magic will be restored and the dragon will be free. Angry, Merlin says he will never let that happen. He will do everything he can to make sure the dragon is never released. The dragon is piiiiiiiiissed, breathes fire at Merlin who says, as he leaves, “You won’t see me again.”

Merlin is on returning return to the Isle of the Blessed to demand his life be taken instead of his mother. Gaius argues with him, telling him he has a great destiny. Merlin says that this is his mother, that his powers mean nothing if he cannot save her. He says Gaius has taught him many things, including to do what is right. 

He visits Arthur to say goodbye. There is the normal banter between them. And then this....

Merlin says Arthur is a great warrior, and one day, Arthur will be a great king, but he must learn to listen as well as he fights Arthur is a bit confused but seems touched by Merlin’s words.This scene, guys, THIS SCENE..
My reaction to this scene.
Merlin returns to find Gaius on an errand and Gwen sitting with Hunith. Merlin tells his mom that he will make her well again and he will miss her.

The next morning, Merlin readies to go. He notices Gaius is still gone and finds a note from his mentor. He has gone to the Isle of the Blessed. He says he is old and Merlin has much ahead of him. He believes Merlin will be a greatest warlock of all time, but he has to be careful. He says Merlin is like the son he never had. Merlin kinda freaks out and races out after Gaius.

Back at the Isle of the Blessed, Nimueh is surprised to see Gaius, that he would sacrifice himself for Merlin. According to her, he is a traitor who stood by and did nothing with Uther killed their friends. He says that he believes Merlin is the only one who can return magic to Camelot and he and Arthur will make the world a better place. Merlin arrives as Gaius dies.

Merlin yells that he bargained his life, not Gauis’ or Huniths. Nimueh says that the Old Religion doesn’t care whose life is given as long as there is balance. Merlin counters that it was Nimueh who chose to take his mother. Nimueh asks Merlin to join her, that together they could be so powerful. Merlin refuses.

There is a magical battle.
BAMF Merlin....LOVE
It seems Nimueh is the victor when she hits Merlin in the chest with a magical ball of fire type thing. She is a bit pouty, saying they could have ruled the world together. Merlin isn’t  dead though. He stands and says “You should not have killed my friend.” Merlin kills her, striking her with lightning he conjures. 

He goes to Gaius, mourning the loss of the older man. But it would seem Merlin did more than simply kill Nimueh. With his actions, her death ends up being the one to restore balance for Arthur’s survival, and Gaius is saved (brought back to life?). The older man is amazed at what Merlin was able to do - that he wielded the power of life and death. In Camelot, the dragon throws a temper tantrum, screaming Merlin’s name, and Morgan wakes up, panicked, from another dream.

If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… I would explain why, when Gaius offers his life, Nimueh is all sure thing, but when Merlin does, it's his mother that is taken. When I first watched, I was like, oh Merlin messed up; Gauis knew to be specific with his request. But that's not true (and I've watched this many-a-time, my friends.) Merlin is quite specific about it. He wants to trade HIS life for Arthur. 

So I would either explain it. I think they may have tried a bit with Merlin saying it wasn't the Old Religion that is taking his mother, that it's Nimueh. That she made that choice of who to take? But I don't think it's clear enough. OR I would write it the way I *thought* it happened. Merlin not being specific enough. Not stating clearly enough that it's HIS life he's offering. 

And I don't know if I explained that well or not. In my head it makes perfect sense. 

The thing(s) I loved about this episode – Oh, so many things. 
1. The merthur-y loveliness.
2. The relationship between Gaius and Merlin. How upset Gauis is that Merlin is ready to sacrifice himself and how he quickly he is ready to take his place so Merlin can live. Definitely shows how close they've become. 
3. Merlin's love for his mama. 
4. Arthur saving Merlin, at great risk to himself. And Merlin willing to trade his life for Arthur without hesitation (I guess that falls under merther but it just speaks to the characters individually as well)
5. BAMF Merlin. We've seen his magic before but this is the first reallly HUGE display of it. And when Nimueh says something about helping make Arthur a king, and he responds: "I will make Arthur king!" ROWR

The thing(s) I hated about this episode – How quickly Uther blows off Gauis' advice. Seriously, the guy never learns. Trust Encyclopedia Gauis, FFS. Also his utter BS about "conquering the Old Religion" and it having no power over him. Um, there are magical threats all the freaking time. Exactly how have you conquered anything, Uther? Oh that's right, you killed lots of people, innocents like Gwen's dad. Oh, you great conquerer you. 

The dragon kinda ticked me off. If he'd shown an ounce of sympathy about Merlin's mother (because he didn't know it'd be her, though he knew the cost would be great), instead of Oh geez, bummer, but we are going to be awesome, and I'll be freeeeeeeeeee, perhaps Merlin wouldn't have been so enraged. He wouldn't be dead set on making sure the dragon stays locked up. That bugged me a bit. But I guess they needed a reason for Merlin to turn his back on the dragon. 

Something I never noticed about this episode before – Seriously, I watched like an eagle trying to spot something new. Because, my dear ones, this is another episode high on Jess' Rewatch Multiple Times List. So...what I never noticed is we actually know the name of the knight that was killed the first time they encounter the Questing Beast. 
Dearest Sir Bedivere, thank you for helping save Merlin's life. I'm sorry the big snaked headed thing bit you. Your sacrifice is appreciated, and I'm glad we learned your name. RIP Sir Bedivere.

Favorite costume – Most of the costumes are ones that we've seen before. I will say I hate that Uther is wearing the poncho/cape thing again, but at least Arthur is not wearing the red jacket. 

So I'll just leave you with this as my favorite costume.... Merlin's costume. Wet. 

Here is proof of some random head canon I’ve created – All right, when Arthur is dying, for the most part he's pretty much just still in bed. EXCEPT for when Merlin rides out for the Isle to save him. 
He start moaning, moving around, and is quite agitated. This is further proof to me that Merlin and Arthur are magically connected. Remember how it was for Merlin when Arthur went off to save him by getting the morteus flower. How, even unconscious, he knew Arthur was in danger? I think it's the same for Arthur because of their bond. Only Arthur is unable to help him out magically the way Merlin did for him. 

What would Bron steal from Camelot The Isle of the Blessed in this episode? I will say the little container thing that they put the water from the cup of life in. I don't know what she'd  use it for but it's a cool little trinket. Or maybe she'd just like the damned cup. :-)

What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? The plot holes involving Nimueh, and there are many. Also, all the talk of the "Old Religion" but no mention of what replaced it. But characters say things like "Thank God." "God help me."  and so on. Uther talks about guardian angels.

But then Merlin says to his mother that the "gods" will watch over him. What gods? Are they part of the old religion, the new? Later there's talk about the triple goddess of the Old Religion but not about gods, so it's all very confusing. 

Until the next episode – The Curse of Cornelius Sigan – which we’ll be watching Monday, 4/21, at 8pm EST. We’ll be on Twitter with the hashtag #MerlinClub


  1. I would take that little nifty container.

    I would put wine in it.

    And keep it in my purse.

    Also, hey...yeah...about Arthur getting agitated. Nice parallel, Jarman.

  2. I never thought about that ... Arthur getting agitated as Merlin is in danger. Cool.

    I remembered it was Sir Bedivere, but I never knew what he looked like, so thanks for that.

    The thing that always bugged me about this ep is that Gaius says the Beast's "bite" can kill. Arthur isn't bitten. He's clawed. At least it looks like he's clawed not bitten.

    As for Merlin's hands ... check out how large Arthur's are when Gwen holds them. Mmmmmmm. Just sayin'.

    1. Yeah the bite from the Questing Beast isnt clearly shown at all.

      I'll be looking at Arthur's hands. Believe me. :)