It’s called a cupboard.
Onward with Merlin.
The Mark of Nimueh
I remember Nimueh from Mallory’s version. In it, Merlin tries to date-rape her so she turns him into a tree. He stays as a tree to this day, according to Mallory. How sad.
I know nothing about the historical relevance of these legends, the themes, the character motivations and such, but I do remember how much terrible sex and romance and attempted rape is in the Mallory version. I remember how the female characters make no sense, and in some cases are cartoonishly ridiculous (like Elaine fainting twice, ten minutes apart, because she sees Lancelot’s wounds, which was freaking hilarious). Also that Mallory wrote the whole thing while in prison for rape, so GO FIGURE.
In this episode, the first real depiction of Gwen and Morgana’s friendship appears. I like this friendship a lot, until eventually Morgana, who goes evil for reasons, gets jealous about Gwen inevitably becoming queen even though Morgana has never actually wanted to marry Arthur.
Anyway, I’m sure all of that will become clearer when I get there. For now, Nimueh is causing a ruckus. Arthur thinks Gwen is a sorcerer because Merlin has gotten carried away. This is awkward.
One of my favourite aspects of Gwen’s character in these early episodes is that she’ll say something, and then quickly apologizes for making assumptions when she hasn’t really made any. It’s cute and relatable.
Morgana teases Arthur into helping her and Merlin save Gwen, and that’s my favourite part.
The Poisoned Chalice
Nimueh part 2!
Merlin acts as a poison-checker and almost dies, but still manages to intervene in everything Arthur does anyway.
Uther acts like a world-class villain and throws Merlin’s antidote that Arthur just risked his life getting on the floor. But it’s worth it in the end because Arthur teams up with Gwen to secretly get the antidote to Merlin anyway.
But why Nimueh lured Arthur out there just to not kill him is definitely a question I have. She says, “It’s not your destiny to die at my hand,” and, I do wish they would have lightened up on the destiny stuff. It doesn’t even pay off well, as far as I can remember.
That said, this was an exciting episode.
Lancelot saves Merlin from Buckbeak. Arthur pronounces his name “Lance… a lot.” And is mean to him. They knight him, then immediately find out he’s not knight material for whatever reason. A commoner? Probably.
I wish they’d made him French, like he’s supposed to be, but prejudice about commoners is already an established issue for Uther and Arthur, whereas prejudice about different countries never is, so, whatever.
Lancelot kills Buckbeak with Merlin’s help, and here’s another wish I have: I wish this show were less like Dungeons and Dragons, wherein usually when encountering a magical creature you have to fight and kill it. Or maybe that’s just what happens during the campaigns I play. Either way, every once in a while if Camelotians would just… be nice to the beast, stop destroying its habitat or return an object that belongs to it or what have you, this would be a better show. In this particular episode Buckbeak has zero motivation except the taste for human flesh. Which is amazing, but wouldn’t it be nicer if Merlin used magic to befriend it and teach it about plant-based substitutes?
Lancelot is way too heroic for no reason. Everyone except Merlin and Gwen treat him like garbage and he’s really nice about it, so, OK.
Here’s how King Arthur’s Disasters did it – and yeah, he’s definitely supposed to be French in this version, despite the lack of accént.