He may be an idiot, but he’s a brave idiot

(game of thrones spoilers)

(for some reason)

So there’s this fantasy show in which a young woman with incredible power eventually goes full villian, and though it is foreshadowed pretty much from the beginning, in small ways and then slowly in larger ways, it still doesn’t really make sense with respect to her characterization throughout and it seems like the biggest reason for it to have happened at all is because some authorial intent exists out there in the netherverse that hath ordained that it must needs be this way, though we are still unsure why, and maybe it’s a little bit misogynistic and maybe it’s fine, but would have been far more compelling, entertaining, and would have been material actually worthy of the actress if they’d… tried harder.

It’s called Merlin.

Thankfully, Merlin is saved from being extremely disappointing in the end because it’s mostly about the bizarre and often touching friendship between the title character and the young Prince Arthur, and that remains good throughout, even if the Morgana subplot never makes much sense.

At least, that’s how I remember it.

So now, as I have finally fallen hard out of love with A Song of Ice and Fire, and to be clear it’s not because Dany went rogue, but instead because Dany going rogue was not earned, it’s time to rewatch Merlin and recap the episodes, a few at a time, in brief, because Emrys knows, I need it.

DISCLAIMER OF ZERO IMPORTANCE: I studied the King Arthur canon or whatever in university. I took several classes on it. One was strictly Tennyson’s poems, one was Medieval Romance, most of which was different early versions of King Arthur, and one was King Arthur retellings for children. And I have no clue. Not one clue. I don’t know what the King Arthur legend is supposed to be about, or what the importance of its themes are, or why any of the characters do what they do. I don’t know. I just like Merlin.

The Dragon’s Call

We meet Uther murdering a sorcerer. Great guy. Gaius almost dies and yells at Merlin for saving him, because MAGIC IS OUTLAWED. A major theme in this show is persecution, using magical ability as a metaphor for whatever you like. It starts pretty much right here, with Merlin crying at one point and wondering why he was born this way, and if maybe he’s a monster.

The villain is a particularly scary sorcerer woman whose son is the one who was murdered. Her being scary and killing a couple of random women so that she can get her revenge is effective. We understand why Uther has the prejudices he has – which kind of makes the magical ability=real life persecuted identities thing not work, but that’s OK. We also understand that every bad thing that happens in this episode is because Uther acted out of prejudice and murdered this woman’s son at the beginning.

There’s a chained dragon. We love a chained dragon being set free – but  I think that takes a while.

The episode’s highlight is Merlin standing up to Arthur’s bullying of some random servant, and later they fight.

I especially like “How long have you been training to be a prat?” and Arthur’s chuckling “You can’t address me like that.” I think he finds it refreshing, secretly.

Gwen shows up and talks to Merlin while he’s in the pillory, which is also cute.

Merlin=Prince Arthur’s manservant in the end. Lol.

Valiant

I got distracted during the first quarter of this episode, but I think today’s villain is a Knight called “Valiant.” But maybe I made that up. His house sigil is some snakes.  I wish just once we could have nice snakes in fiction. Jeez.

Nerd alert! Gaius needs venom from the snake to make an antidote. He’ll also need a horse. You inject snake venom into horses, who then create natural immunity, which is isolated from blood samples and turned into anti-venom. It’s why anti-venom is rare and expensive, and also a good example of something I hope we soon create an alternative for because that job sucks and was not consented to by the horses, lol.

A mouse dies in this episode, fed to shield snakes. I’m not a fan. Magic shield snakes shouldn’t even need to eat.

Uther is surprisingly not trigger-happy when it comes to executing sorcerers, but in this episode his reasonableness gets in the way. But so does the toxic masculinity of the Uther/Arthur father/son relationship. Arthur’s big problem here is appearing not 100% like a perfect, idealized knight in front of his father, and the court. And appearing like a perfect, idealized knight is his duty, and he will die doing it if he has to.

That’s dumb, Art. But I get it.

Merlin conjures a rottweiler out of stone, which is very exciting for these Medieval times in which he does so and these modern ones in which I’m watching. (I looked it up and apparently Rottweilers have been around since before Medieval times, who knew – well, obviously whoever added one to this episode knew.)

This is the beginning of the lists Arthur gives Merlin all the time. These are my favourite parts of the show. It’s relaxing to know that Merlin has way more on his plate than I do at any given time.

WELP that’s it for one day! Thank you, Merlin.

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