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Merlin Club S01E05, “Lancelot,” or “The one where Merlin is way more concerned with the bro-code than with the outlawing of magic.”

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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 rundown of episode five: Merlin is out pigging for truffles when he’s attacked by Buckbeak, who has recently escaped from Hagrid’s garden. Fuck you, Hermoine and your time thing. A dude with gorgeous hair comes along to save him, and it’s Lancelot, a wannabe knight with a really punny name. He can’t be a knight because he’s not of noble blood, and that’s like, the number one requirement for being a knight in Camelot. Merlin gets this super great idea to fake a thing saying he’s a noble, and he gets knighted to help in battle against the griffin who is just out there terrorizing people. But then Uther is all like, let’s check this shit out, and he finds out Lancelot is a fraud, so they kick him out of the knights and exile him forever. So then Merlin is all like, “This isn’t fair!” and helps Lancelot use magic to kill the griffin, and Arthur respects him, so you know that’s going to come up somehow later. Did I mention that Gwen’s panties basically incinerate whenever Lancelot is around? So, yeah, it coming up again later.

If I had written this episode, I would have changed: Merlin’s weirdly intense anger over the Camelot bro-code that excludes all knights. He’s all, “That’s not fair!” Well, what did you expect, Merlin? You live in a place where someone is just accidentally magic and they get their head cut off. You really expect Uther to be fair? Why couldn’t the storyline have just been, “thanks for saving me from this griffin?” rather than, “thanks for saving me from this griffin, now let me JOIN YOU IN THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY FOR ALL PEASANTS!” It doesn’t ring true, considering how he doesn’t use any of this magic to help, you know. STOP THE PERSECUTION OF MAGIC USERS.

The thing I loved most about this episode: Geoffrey of Monmouth. GEOFFREY OF FUCKING MONMOUTH.

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Look at this swaggiest of swag motherfuckers.

The reason I love this guy– besides the fact that he looks like one of the dudes from the original version of the “Guess Who?” game, is that Geoffrey of Monmouth was a real guy back in the day. He wasn’t just any dude; he was the dude who is the entire reason we know anything about Arthurian myth. He claimed to have a book all about king Arthur and the prophecies of Merlin, and he wrote all about them. He told everyone else to not write about English kings, because he was the only one with the copy of the book that had the “real” story, so I’m guessing it was bullshit to protect his career. But it’s so funny that they included him as a genealogist in this show. Very cool.

The thing I hated most about this episode: In the last episode, Arthur couldn’t save Merlin’s life because Merlin is just a peasant and Uther wouldn’t risk him going into a fucking cave, but this time around, Uther sends Arthur out to save a whole bunch of peasants under way more dangerous and griffin oriented circumstances.

Something I never noticed before: At the beginning, when Merlin is out gathering mushrooms, I always thought he had a pig with him for some reason. But he doesn’t; he’s just digging with his hands.

Favorite Costume: Merlin’s blue shirt, sans neckerchief. Rrrrowrrr.

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Here is proof of some random headcanon I created: In this episode, Arthur is looking all sexy like at Morgana. Unless the writers were trying to intentionally make us ship a brother and sister, this feeds into my “they didn’t quite know what they were going to do with Morgana yet” theory.

What object would Bronwyn steal from this episode? Morgana’s ponytail.

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What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? There wasn’t a lot of Merlin/Arthur interaction in this one, but I bet she ships Lancelot with both of them.

Check out Jessica Jarman’s take on the episode here

Check out Bronwyn Green’s take on the episode here

Or check out The Merlin Club drinking game, which, you know. I’m sober, so I can’t endorse it. But it’s still funny.

That’s it for this week. Join us on Monday as we watch S01E06, “A Remedy to Cure All Ills” at 8pm EST on the hashtag #MerlinClub.

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7 Comments

  1. I do want Morgana’s ponytail. Why can’t I have good hair?!

    I do love the whole Geoffrey of Monmouth angle. It delights me to no end.

    Maybe Uther was down with saving a bunch of peasants vs. one peasant because he needs the mass of peasants to work the field and provide him with the ridiculous amount of food that’s always on his table?

    February 21, 2014
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  2. The lack of Merthur in this episode is disturbing. However, the addition of Lancelot…very nice. And when they come stumbling out of the room all hung over…I can’t be the only one who thinks that maybe some drunken…er, fumbling happened between them the night before. ROWR.

    Thank you for pointing out the whole Merlin being shocked that Uther’s freaking code is unfair. Really? It’s Uther, Merlin. OY.

    And Geoffrey of Monmouth… The pic is freaking perfect. Random fact of the day…Did you know the actor wore fake eyebrows to play our friend Guess Who man? (Why do I know this shit?)

    February 21, 2014
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  3. anita
    anita

    So I understand the icky factor with the reactions to Arthur and Morgana, but isn’t that part of the legend? I know the roles of Morgana/Morgause/Morgan le Fey get conflated and confused a lot, so maybe I’m wrong with this iteration of the story. Still, the whole reason Arthur dies and we aren’t living in Camelot today is that Arthur and his half-sister did the dirty and had a wee little one named Mordred who killed Arthur later.

    (Sometimes I wonder if the moral of the story isn’t “don’t be incestuous” but rather, “don’t name your child something that basically means death because that’ll probably bite you in the ass later.”)

    Anyway, maybe it’s bad because Merlin is supposed to be a kid’s show, but it’s still fairly true to “Le Morte d’Arthur,” not to mention all the modern retellings like “The Once and Future King” and “The Mists of Avalon.”

    February 21, 2014
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    • anita
      anita

      Followup, but…is Mordred even a character in this series? Who’s the main antagonist? Because from the episodes so far, it seems like Uther is.

      Subquestion…why does this show seem like it’s trying to make Uther a complicated character when it’s also clearly characterized him as a genocidal maniac?

      February 21, 2014
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      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        Your comment just came in, but I can totally answer these questions: 1) yes, he is, he shows up in just a few episodes here, and 2) because they had no idea what they were going to do with the characters in the long run when they started them out.

        February 28, 2014
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  4. Desolace
    Desolace

    I saw the series twice so far, and when I saw it the second time, all the “flirting” between Morgana and Arthur made me really uncomfortable :S very strange, and I start to believe you when you say they had no idea what to do with Morgana in the beginning…. Oo

    February 22, 2014
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  5. laine
    laine

    I never thought about it until you pointed it out, but I agree that Merlin’s anger is weirdly intense.

    What I thought was weird about this episode was how mellow *Lancelot* is about the whole thing. He’s all like, OK sure, I’ll go along with your fraud scheme I guess. And then when he gets kicked out of the kingdom he’s all, oh well, you know, I totally deserve it. He’s so brave! … and yet SUCH a wiener. Martyr complex, maybe?

    February 22, 2014
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