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 four: After Merlin and Arthur get into a brawl with some dudes trying to shake down a tavern wench, they meet Gwaine, a rugged potential sex offender with Pantene commercial hair and Disney prince eyes. Gwaine is injured, so they take him back to Camelot, where Gaius can tend to him. Meanwhile, some magic dudes get really sharp, blunt looking swords and head to Camelot in magic disguises. Their plans are to sneak these secretly sharp swords into the melee, a non-lethal combat tournament at Camelot. When the knights are dicks to Merlin, Gwaine steps in and helps him. They talk about their daddy issues and hug it out, until Gwaine’s protection of Merlin lands him in the dungeons for being disrespectful to knights. He’s banished from Camelot, but hangs around to kill the fake knights who are going to murder Arthur, then goes off to be banished.
If I had written this episode, I would have changed: A lot. Brace yourselves.
Okay, so, this is the first time we meet Gwaine, and he spends an entirely too-long scene harassing Gwen, long after she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want anything to do with him. I’m supposed to like this guy? How, when he makes me so uncomfortable? The answer is because everyone is out of character. How can Gwaine be out of character, you ask? Because after this episode, he’s like a totally different person. It’s jarring to come back to this episode and go, “This is the guy I have the hots for? He’s so gross.”
Also, because I’m coming off of vacation, I needed more than just this little bit of Anthony Head to recharge my fangurl batteries. And Uther was written so out of character in this one, too. How many times has Arthur begged Uther to value someone’s life because they saved his? And it has never, ever worked before. There’s always had to be some dramatic rescue or some shit from the dungeon, but this time Uther suddenly sees that somebody saving his son’s life is a thing he should not throw them in the dungeon for? Why this one time?
It also didn’t make any sense for Sir Oswald to not just kill Arthur when they spar the first time. He could have easily gotten the job done, in front of fewer witnesses and people to block their escape.
But most of all, the thing I would change is how everyone is making a bigger deal out of the melee than they ever have over a life-or-death duel. Even Arthur, who fights most of those aforementioned duels, acts like a melee is such serious business in comparison to all the other really scary shit he’s done in fights.
The thing I loved most about this episode: The tavern wench. They could have cast a conventionally attractive actress, but they went for the bigger girl, didn’t slap a bunch of makeup on her, and she still gets to be the damsel in distress for three hot male characters to rescue. The “yay, a fat girl on TV!” intersects with “gross, damsel in distress trope,” in some troubling ways, but whatever. They tried, right?
I also love Merlin’s sass. I know I complained about characters being out of character, but I feel like Merlin spends the entire episode saying exactly what we’re all feeling about the scenes we’re watching.
The thing I hated most about this episode: Merlin doesn’t try to use magic to save himself all that much, which annoys me. Yes, the fangirl side of me is like, “Yay, Gwaine is going to save Merlin and now they can fall in love in my fanfic opus!” but I’m a little let down that Merlin couldn’t get himself out of dangerous situations in this.
Something I never noticed before: How super out of character everyone seemed. Only Arthur and Gwen were themselves.
Favorite Costume: None for this episode, unless Gwaine’s thick, lustrous mane counts.
Here is proof of some random headcanon I created: Nothing in this one. It’s not headcanon, it’s just a fact that Merlin and Gwaine would do it with each other. You know. Do the sex.
What object would Bronwyn steal from this episode? Let’s be real here: all three of us would steal Gwaine. But maybe not this Gwaine. The Gwaine that shows up in later episodes and isn’t a creepster.
What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? This entire episode is a Merthur moment. I’m guessing that the entire build up of Merlin being disobedient and sassy to Arthur, broken in a single, orgasmic moment when Merlin senses that Arthur is in trouble, is what she likes most about this show.
That’s it for this week. Join us next week for S03E05, “The Crystal Cave,” Monday, 8pm EST on the hashtag #MerlinClub.