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 episodes twelve and thirteen: Morgana has this black sentient tongue thing, and she sends it to rob Merlin of his magic. Meanwhile, Arthur and his men are going to go after Morgana’s army at Camlann, which, savvy viewers may recall, is where Arthur is foretold to die. So, Merlin can’t exactly go with them, and he ends up going to the crystal cave instead, where Morgana uses a rock fall to trap him inside. But magic and merlin are like this *holds up two sets of crossed fingers* and Merlin’s magic dad comes back Mufasa style in a vision and Merlin gets his magic. He busts ass out of the cave in full on Dragoon The Great regalia, and goes to Camlann, where the knights are already engaged with Morgana’s forces. Merlin uses Morgana’s dragon against her, and unleashes some sick ass lightning magic to take out her army, but the damage is done, because Mordred stabs Arthur and Arthur stabs Mordred back, and now they’re both going to die (Mordred sooner than Arthur). Morgana freaks that fuck out once Mordred is gone, and she’s suddenly not like, “I want revenge on Arthur,” she’s like, “I want him dead.” And she’s in luck, because he’s super dying. Merlin tries to take Arthur to the Isle of the Blessed to save his life, but it’s far away, and fate wants him real, real dead, because they keep getting delayed and their horses run away, and Arthur is super mad that Merlin never told him he was a sorcerer. Finally, after Merlin has killed Morgana and he’s just about to get Arthur to the Isle of the Blessed, Arthur dies. Kilgarrah comes back and all the great, snotty tears roll out of my face and my wounded heart pours upon the floor.
If I had written this episode, I would have changed: Okay, so…this is a show about magic, right? So…why can’t Morgana just use some kind of scrying or divination or a nosy ass crow to see where Merlin and Arthur and random people are going? Why did we have to endure another Hail Mary romantic betrayal? The relationship between Gwain and the blond girl… was that strictly necessary? It ate up so much time, and for no reason. It was yet another one-episode-meeting-to-love-to-unthinkable-treason storylines, like the one we just had. All so this random character could feed information to Morgana.
Also, Gwain saves this girl during a raid. So we have to assume she was planted in that raid so that she could make a knight rescue and fall in love with her and tell her all of the army’s plans.
Wow, that is actually a totally in-character plan for Morgana. Never mind.
This is the first episode where Morgana’s desperate, reckless decisions in her quest for revenge actually make sense. She’s getting close to the finish line, and she’s so afraid of stumbling, she stumbles. In this episode, all of her horribly thought out, ridiculously intricate plans make total sense. But I still would have axed the spy plot.
The thing I loved most about this episode: ALL OF IT. But seriously, all of it. Even the stuff I hate. Even the stuff I know is super bad and full of plot holes. Every piece of this finale is a perfect send off. There are very few television shows whose finale has moved me on such a level as the Merlin finale. And a part of that is the fact that, warts and all, this show is good. It’s entertaining, and the characters are real. None of them are wholly good or wholly bad. When I saw this for the first time, I had to pause it at Morgana’s death, because I couldn’t hear the tv over my crying. Even though she was the villain, I felt for her, and I still liked her, like a friend you have a bad falling out with, but you remember the good times. And you walk away knowing that Gwen is going to be sad about Arthur, but it’s not going to kill her. Camelot’s going to be stronger than ever. And every time I watch it, I have hope that it’s going to end differently. It’s somehow masterful, despite all its flaws. And that’s really a good way to sum up the series. Plus, the shock cut at the very end is amazing.
The thing I hated most about this episode: Well, the part where all my friends die is a pretty strong contender.
Something I never noticed before: I hate to say it, but I never noticed that we really don’t ever get a sense of why Arthur is the greatest king who ever lived. Or maybe I’m missing something. Maybe he’s coming back because he hasn’t been the greatest king who ever lived yet? I don’t know. I’m just confused, because in the fanfic outline I wrote down there in the head canon question, Gwen is a way better king than Arthur.
Proof of some random headcanon I created: After Gwen’s coronation, she strikes down the prohibition of magic and decrees that Camelot will financially compensate the families of the people Uther killed for magic. Three-quarters of the population of Camelot turn out to be secret magic users. They gather at the castle to pull down a statue of Uther and smash it to bits. After a period of mourning and meditation in the crystal cave, Merlin returns to Camelot, and Gaius does have his favorite meal waiting, as he has every night since he last saw him. Merlin and Gwen bond over their shared love of Arthur and the pain of the tragedy of his death and fall deeply in love, finally fulfilling the promise of all that season one flirting. But there is always a tragic understanding between both of them that if Arthur were alive, they wouldn’t be together, because they would both pick Arthur over each other. Merlin and Gwen rule Camelot together, but he never takes a royal title. They have three children, and they give them whatever the Merlin equivalent of the Harry Potter spawns’ names is. Merlin and Gwen grow old together, but Merlin doesn’t die, he just keeps living on. His children rule Camelot together, forming a small representative democracy with progressive tax laws, and he spends a lot of time in the crystal cave, remembering his friends and accepting his sacred duty of watching over Arthur.
Oh, and Kilgarrah eats Gaius during an argument over what conflicting advice to give Merlin.
What object would Bronwyn steal from this episode? Have I mentioned this before? That Bronwyn would like a beautiful round table for her living room? But I think she would like this one even better because ALL OF OUR FRIENDS ARE NOT DEAD.
What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? There were no naughty Merthur thoughts here. Just horrible snots everywhere. This episode is emotional porn to Jess. It would be ridiculous to say anything about any scene other than Arthur asking Merlin to hold him, because every ship has a life raft, but Merthur has the R.M.S. CONFIRMED IN CANON in their harbor because of that. fucking. scene.