Let’s hop back into Merlin, shall we?
Lancelot and Guinevere
Uhhhhhhh… relationship… goals?
Morgana and Gwen go off on a pilgrimage and immediately get attacked and kidnapped by bandits. There is some gross leering. Morgana escapes, but Gwen gets injured and can’t escape with her. The bandits decide to pass Gwen off as Morgana, and Uther is not interested at all in using Camelot soldiers to save Gwen, because she’s just a servant.
It’s OK though, because Arthur and Merlin go after her. Perhaps my favourite part is when Morgana is yelling at Arthur about what a horrible person he is and that he should go save Gwen, and Arthur is sighing and packing for his rescue mission and he’s eventually like, “Morgana, can you not see that I’m packing?” Just like that part with Sokka while Katara yells at him about saving Aang, also a favourite of mine.
Merlin teases Arthur the whole way there for being in love with Gwen. Arthur actually admits it too, which is unexpected and kind of nice.
BUT! Lancelot is there with Gwen, literally in the next cell. He is depressed and doesn’t think his life matters because his ideals have led to nothing, but Gwen telling him she has feelings for him makes him be like “Oh never mind then,” which is stupid. Later, he gets her out of her cell, tells her to run and he’ll buy her time, she’s like “I’m not leaving you here to die” and he says “I would die for you 100 times over” so I guess he still doesn’t think his life has enough value to try to preserve it. He just wanted a valiant purpose to die. This is potentially fine – it’s the chivalrous ideal that the King Arthur mythos is all about, but maybe it needed to be a two-parter or something, to flesh out the chivalrous ideal and all their tangled romantic feelings and Merlin’s messy gossip-houndness and such.
Anyway Arthur and Merlin save them both. Then Arthur is JELLY. He doesn’t handle it well. But Lancelot is like “I gotta give up on this dream for the good of the realm” and he fades into the night, leaving poor Gwen brokenhearted. K.
Annoyingly, there is another giant animal antagonist in this episode, but at least they look cool. Also none of them die, which is good.
Beauty and the Beast – Part 1
I vividly remember this two parter – I believe this may be a highlight of the series. It is so funny. It has it all: Uther being humiliated, Uther being humiliated, and Uther being humiliated.
There’s probably something to unpack about… conventional… attractiveness… but I’m not even sure. Mostly, I’m just happy that a lovely, regal actress gets to do double duty as a lovely, regal charade, and also the troll. It is SO FUN to watch. The only time women get to act even halfway like this on screen is if they’re fat, and
even especially then, it’s not nearly this much fun.
The premise is that a highborn acquaintance of Uther’s is actually dead, but a random troll uses magic to take on her image and seduce and marry Uther so that she can have all his money. Sarah Parish is a lot of fun in these episodes, but to be fully immersed in the delight. you do need to know how terrible Uther is, so you have to watch everything else first. Them’s just the rules.
Beauty and the Beast – Part 2
The best part of this very, very good two parter is that Uther and the troll have sex.
That happens here.
That’s the episode.
Also later Uther and Arthur have an awkward conversation about it, LMFAO.
In all seriousness, Merlin, Arthur, and Gaius all have to work together to save Camelot, and Arthur’s stomping around going “the people are poor, they can’t afford higher taxes, give them their money back” while Gwen smiles, and Uther is a dope the whole time and gets punched in the face by the troll, and Merlin tries to hug Arthur, so this is excellent content.
Merlin does a nifty trick, alerting the kingdom to there being sorcery within. Uther sends for the title of this episode and Gaius yells at Merlin for being stupid.
It’s Charles Dance! Instantly, I am scared. He does tend to play (mostly) competent evil dudes.
Here is no exception. He figures out Merlin is a sorcerer 10 minutes into the episode. But Gaius takes the heat, and it turns out Aredian (that’s the Witchfinder’s name) is just a grifter. Merlin has to prove this and as usual does so by sneaking around other peoples’ bedchambers.
Merlin sneaks around people’s bedchambers A LOT on this show. It’s kind of bizarre, but I suppose it’s a good way to both build tension and fill time.
Refreshingly, in this episode, Gwen helps Merlin solve the crime. Also, was Arthur really going to stand there and watch Gaius get burnt at the stake if Gwen didn’t yell at him?
Uther barely apologizes to Gaius for almost burning him at the stake and Gaius throws him a lot of shade before and after he finally gets to it. Gaius is the man.
This is a great episode.