Welcome to the first installment of Merlin club. Much thanks to Jessica Jarman’s daughter for drawing what is an eerily accurate representation of all of us. Let me make it clear: this kid has never met me in person, and she managed to come up with a more truthful likeness of me than a camera does.
Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.
Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.
Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.
So, here’s a quick run down of episode one: Merlin rolls into Camelot looking for Gaius, the court physician who also spent some time wizarding around. Merlin was born with naturally powerful magic that he can’t really control, so his mother sent him to Gaius in the hopes that the old man can teach him how to use his powers for good. Oh, and also, so he doesn’t get persecuted by the tyrannical king Uther Pendragon, who hates magic the way I hate any food not dusted with bright orange cheese powder. Uther hates magic so much, there are executions all the time, and Merlin just happens to show up when one is going on. When the man being put to death turns out to be the son of a powerful sorceress, Merlin must face down a powerful enemy to save Camelot, and in doing so, he saves the life of the prince, Arthur, who is like 100% testosterone fueled dickishness. Despite their protests, the king rewards Merlin by making him Arthur’s servant, and they all live miserably ever after until episode two. Also, Merlin meets an imprisoned dragon who is full of sass and can communicate with him via telepathy.
If I had written this episode, I would have changed: Okay, so, at the beginning, when the sorceress staggers out of the crowd and delivers her warning to Uther, it’s clearly Eve Myles in old woman drag. Later, when the sorceress seeks out a singer headed to Camelot for a command performance, the singer is clearly Eve Myles with spectacular hair. The old sorceress sucks the life out of the singer, taking on her likeness… which… was her own likeness to begin with? Except old? If I had been in charge, Eve Myles would have played the singer, and someone else, someone who looked much different, would have played the sorceress. Because it just seems too coincidental that they would look that much alike.
The thing I loved most about this episode: In the Merlinverse, magic is treated from the very beginning as an allegory for homosexuality. When Merlin tearfully asks Gaius, “You don’t know why I was born like this, do you?” and expresses that he would rather die than hide who he is, it’s a gut punch, and it’s handled beautifully.
The thing I hated about this episode: You have Eve Myles in the first episode. And you use her for a one-off character that gets killed. Great work, guys. It’s not like she wouldn’t have made a fucking amazing recurring character or anything. You had one job.
Some things I never noticed before: In one scene, Arthur warns Merlin, “I’ve been trained to kill since birth.” Later in the series, we learn that Arthur’s mother, Igraine, died in childbirth.
Favorite costume: This amazing dress, worn by Uther’s ward, Morgana.
Here is proof of some random head canon I’ve created: Nothing in this episode, but believe me. More to come (see also: my face in the banner up top).
What object would Bronwyn steal from this episode?: These lamps, found inside the singer’s tent.
What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about?: When Arthur tells Merlin, “I could undo you with a single blow.”
Check out Jessica Jarman’s take on the episode here.
Check out Bronwyn Green’s take on the episode here.
That’s it for this week. Join us on Monday as we watch S01E02, “Valiant,” at 8pm EST on the hashtag #MerlinClub.