wealhtheow: Picture of Gwen from Merlin with the words "Future HQIC" (GwenFromMerlin)
[personal profile] wealhtheow

I've been postponing watching the new season of Merlin.  I've been afraid.  There are universes that I love so much that I can hardly bear to watch or read other people mess with them.  The chance that they'll fuck it up terrifies me.  (This is true even of the original creators of universes--I loved The Demon's Lexicon so much I put off reading the sequel for months, just in case it didn't live up to my dreams.  (It did.  Read Brennan's books, for they are excellent!)  The invective my friends and I have thrown at Chris Carter, Joss Whedon, and Kripke would stun a sailor.)  I love Arthurian myth so, so much, and the writers of Merlin can be ham-handed and thoughtless as often as not.  So it took me a while to steel myself.

I liked it, I really did!  But it reminded me of all the many, many things that frustrate me about Merlin. 

One, the characters are dolts.  Morgana is an awful double-agent--the constant smirking whenever something bad happens to Camelot is pretty blatant.  Gaius is even worse.  Years of protecting his king from constant magical assassination attempts, and somehow it never occurs to him that Uther's abrupt descent into madness could be magic-related?  And then, despite knowing that the murderer is someone in the castle, he tells the entire castle that the one person who knows the traitor's identity is still alive?  I thought for sure it was going to be a sting operation--that Merlin or Gaius would be waiting behind the door to see who tried to kill the guard.  Basically, the only reason Morgause and Morgana are succeeding is because everyone in Camelot is an idiot.

Two, the characterization is incoherent.  From episode to episode, I never know if Arthur and Merlin are going to be bffs who cast longing glances at each other and make grand statements about shared destiny, or if they'll forget they've saved each other's lives a hundred times over and act out the typical nerd-jock rivalry.  It seems like every season the writers reboot Arthur and Merlin's relationship to what it was when they first met.   It doesn't make sense!  Morgana, meanwhile, seems to have completely forgotten that Gwen is her bff and is actively avoiding her.  I can fanwank that as Morgana feeling guilty about trying to destroy Camelot, and not wanting Gwen to realize, but I'd like something on-screen to make me think the writers remember that they were inseparable for years.   And why does Morgana hate Uther so much, suddenly?  She always worked against him--she argued against persecuting magic-users, she begged for the lives of those convicted, and hid magic users when she could.  After he had Gwen's father killed, Morgana even schemed to have him killed--only to change her mind.  So what changed her mind back to wanting him dead?  She never says.  She went from being ideologically opposed to him, but looking upon him like a father, to being maliciously hateful to him.  I'm not saying he doesn't deserve to be overthrown.  But I don't get why Morgana has shifted from "he's not good for this country" to "and I need him to suffer to the utmost." 

But there are things I love about Merlin as well!  One, Merlin and Arthur's friendship, weirdly discontinuous though it may be, is adorable.  Two, Morgause.  She is badass and smart in every single scene, and I love the hell out of it.  I really hope she doesn't get depowered or killed, because I need more scenes of her striding around in chainmail.
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July 2014

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