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Merlin Club S05E06: “The Dark Tower” or “This explains so much…”

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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: On her way back from visiting her father’s grave, Gwen and the knights are attacked by the most unconvincing CGI snakes in the history of television, and Gwen gets kidnapped by Morgana. Morgana uses a ritual or spell or whatever with mandrake roots and psychological torture (you know, like how Morgana and Morgause were driving Uther crazy with mandrake roots in season two or three or whatever?) to turn her evil. In what is basically her best plan ever, Morgana’s snakes poison the knights with visions that will lead them to Gwen, but Morgana being Morgana, she uses this trap in the stupidest possible way, luring them all there just to send Gwen back into Camelot, rather than luring them all there, killing them, and sending Gwen back to be queen at Camelot under Morgana’s control.

If I had written this episode, I would have changed: Only one thing, because I really like this episode (mostly for the fan theories I’ve built in my head for it). I would have added a line where it’s made clear that Morgana had been put through the same ritual. Because that’s what I believe happened.

The thing I loved most about this episode: It finally gives fans a satisfying reason for Morgana being evil, but not effectively evil. Whether the writers intended that to happen or not. See: Headcanon section.

The thing I hated most about this episode: I know that it’s the storyline and it’s on purpose and this is literally just me quibbling with a character I like getting fucked with, but goddamn. I wish Gwen didn’t turn evil.

Something I never noticed before: In the past, I never noticed the glaring disparity between the way Elian reacts to his sister being missing and his sister being exiled. Here he’s all, “without her, I’d be nothing,” but when she was exiled he was like, “Okay, bye.”

Also, Arthur is talking about the Dark Tower, and he’s like, “It’s a place every knight is taught to dread,” and I’m like, “But then why do these knights not know about it?”

Proof of some random headcanon I created: Let’s look at the facts here: Morgana used the mandrake spell thing on Uther, with Morgause’s help. So, Morgause knows how to do it. And Morgause takes Morgana with her for a while, then she returns super evil, but not very good at being super evil. Kind of like how Gwen becomes after this episode. Morgause was better at evil than Morgana and Gwen are, it’s the same spell…I think Morgause used this ritual on Morgana, and that’s why she had such a sudden and irrational change of character, not because she found out Uther was her father. Well, not just because she found out Uther was her father. That probably gave direction and shape to the evil Morgause planted there. Combine that with similar visits to their fathers’ graves and the fact that they each lose a sibling after going through the ritual (one could argue that their siblings sacrificed themselves after the ritual)…


Favorite Costume: I loved Gwen’s dress, but I couldn’t tell if it was gold and white or blue and black…


What object would Bronwyn steal from this episode? You know, nothing in here really struck my fancy. Sorry, guys.

What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? This isn’t a particularly Merthur heavy episode. Probably the part where Merlin was able to talk some sense into Arthur about how they all had to stick together. But there were barely any Merlin/Arthur scenes at all.

Check out Jessica Jarman’s take on the episode here

Check out Bronwyn Green’s take on the episode here



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  1. TayciBear

    There was a look Morgana gave when she was talking to Gwen about how she knows what it likes to be alone or something. I take that as proof.

    February 27, 2015
  2. I think you’re right about the Mandrake Mindfuck having been used on Morgana, too.

    Also, I’m dying at the dress color. I can’t tell you how much time was wasted here last night with that. o.O

    February 27, 2015
  3. I’ve just basically mainlined your entire blog over the last two weeks. I greatly appreciate the 50sog recap of dooom (so that I don’t have to read them) and the general awesomeness herein.

    Also thanks for the Merlin recaps, as I got frustrated and gave up after s3, largely because the only non-evil women who ever showed up were Gwen and occasionally Hunith, Designated Villain Morgana was so very gaslighted, and everyone else female was either evil or the pawn thereof. I still want to know the rest of the story arc so that decent fanfiction makes sense, though, and this is super helpful.

    February 27, 2015
  4. Regarding the Dark Tower being a place that knights are taught to dread, I thought it was strange that Arthur was all like (and I’m paraphrasing)- “We hope never to find ourselves there because it’s horrible and all knights who go there die,” but it’s not exactly a place you can stumble upon. It took them significant effort to get through the Impenetrable Forest. I mean, it seems more like a ghost story you tell small children, not an actual piece of advice you tell your knights.

    February 27, 2015
  5. Candy Apple
    Candy Apple

    The dress is Sky Blue and Harvest Gold, obviously.

    February 27, 2015
  6. There was a distressing lack of Merthur, to be sure.

    But YES, this episode it what solidifies my complete and utter belief that Morgana was mandraked. 🙂

    February 27, 2015
  7. Lili

    Thanks to you I have started watching Merlin! I am currently on Season 3 and have a question I’m hoping you, the expert, can answer: WHAT DID GWEN DO THE YEAR MORGANA WAS MISSING? Without Morgana she didn’t have a job in the castle, right? Or did she stay on and just dust M’s room and keep the bedclothes fresh? Any insight would be most appreciated. It’s bugging me more than what most would consider normal.

    March 3, 2015
  8. Tracy

    Wanted to say I don’t watch Merlin, but I love your cute illlustration!

    March 3, 2015

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