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Merlin Club S05E12-13, “The Diamond of The Day” or “That one camping trip where all your friends died.”

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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 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.

Favorite Costume: old 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.

round table

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.

Check out Jessica Jarman’s take on the episode here

Check out Bronwyn Green’s take on the episode here

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12 Comments

  1. I adore your head canon. ADORE.

    I don’t think the writers did a good job (shocker) showing how great a king Arthur was. There a huge time jump between season 4 and 5 when everything is supposed to be fabulous and lovely and good – a “golden age”. But we don’t get to see that. And honestly, I choose to believe that the best is yet to come–when Arthur wakes his ass up and comes back.

    And you are so right…complete emotional porn for me. There’s a reason I’ve watched these episodes so many times. And yes…Merthur is fucking canon. My life is complete…filled with ugly sobbing but complete.

    April 17, 2015
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  2. OMG Yes!!! The stupid, pointless romance! I *would* have changed that! And we really never did get to see what made Arthur all kinds of awesome – I wish there had been some attention paid to that.

    Goddamnit, Jen!!! Now, I’m crying again because of your fucking head cannon. It’s horrible and snotty and just awful and this fucking line GUTTED me: “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.” But it’s true. And this is what I now choose to believe happened.

    And yes…I like it better when all our friends aren’t dead.

    April 17, 2015
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    • Lieke
      Lieke

      I’m with Bronwyn on this one.
      ‘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.’ That is horrible. And perfect.

      There you have it: your headcanon is both horrible and perfect.

      April 17, 2015
      |Reply
  3. Jon
    Jon

    Golden ages are really hard to do well on TV it seems. Still – that’s no excuse for the series.

    I most hated the ‘I have to move him quickly so I’ll leave his 15kg/33lb amour on’ just because.

    April 17, 2015
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  4. noisyninja
    noisyninja

    Ok I was totally merthur for the whole thing: the dream where merlin warns Arthur about Morgana’s troop movements and he’s just like yup, I gotta heed this thing even though I’ve never had prophetic dreams and there is no reason to think it’s not a stress dream; all of his words of love to Merlin, especially at the end when he had forgiven him for lying; all of merlin’s angst about coming out to him (and yes, I see the parallels). I. Was. Sobbing. But I also love your head canon and will adopt it.

    As far as the big deal about Arthur as king, he’s popularly believed to have united all the clans in England, so I think all the alliances and stuff were part of that. Plus, no more druid pogroms.

    April 17, 2015
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  5. Ginger
    Ginger

    I can’t believe it’s over… I watched this series because of you guys and completely got my heart broke! Thanks for the head-canon; it helps.

    April 18, 2015
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  6. Bella
    Bella

    I thought I’d ask, are you planning on watching another show now that Merlin’s done? Or is this the end of Merlin Club?

    April 19, 2015
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      In September we’ll be doing #XIIILegion, a watch of HBO’s Rome. In the meantime, we’re going to do a few movie watches, too!

      April 19, 2015
      |Reply
      • Vivi
        Vivi

        Aw, why not “Spartacus”, if you’re interested in that time period and don’t mind the sex and violence of “Rome”? At least that show featured actual gay couples (and a few bisexual women), no slash-baiting, ‘headcanon’ BS. Seriously, it’s been a while since I watched the “Merlin” finale, and I was looking for it because people had been squeeing about it, but I still don’t get what you think made it actual canon as a romantic relationship. In my eyes, the writers still didn’t mean to convey anything but friendship, which is really rather cowardly in this day and age (and also cynically appropriative, considering that they were fine with baiting, but not with having any actual LGTBAQ+ characters). Even “Vikings” had the decency to write in a proper “I love you” between its lead characters to throw the slashers a bone before killing off one of the characters involved. And don’t tell me it’s because “Merlin” is a kid’s show. If “Doctor Who” could show men kissing goodbye on the mouth 10 years ago, so can “Merlin”.

        (Plus, “Spartacus” may at first glance look like testosterone-fueled, gory soft-core porn, but it’s actually surprisingly good on a number of social justice issues and easily passes the Bechdel Test on every episode, except the pilot and some of the last season. And Atia has nothing on Lucretia and Ilithyia in terms of entertaining villainy. Besides, that show doesn’t require you to root for some slave-owners as the ‘good guys’.)

        April 21, 2015
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        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          LOL, I meant the Merthur ship is as canon as a non-canon ship can get. Canon confirmed ships, to me, aren’t as fun as non-canon ships that get fan service, and I don’t know why that is. Maybe because I feel like I’m in on a secret?

          I really want to watch Spartacus, I’ve had it on my list for a while, but I had a friend who loved it, and we had this huge falling out, and I stubbornly avoided it. Now I’m over it, so once I’m done with Parks & Rec, I’m starting that.

          We’re doing Rome because at least one of us has watched it, and it’s a good, short break in comparison to having just done Merlin (five seasons, yikes). Also, I’m looking for an excuse to drool over Ray Stevenson again. But I’m confused…who were the “good guys” supposed to be in Rome? Because they all seemed morally repugnant to me. (I know, you’re supposed to be rooting for Vorenus. That wore right the fuck off within 5 minutes of season 2, but I say too much…Jess and Bronwyn have never seen it).

          April 21, 2015
          |Reply

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