Merlin 5.05

Nov. 4th, 2012 11:38 pm
corilannam: (Merlin - pendragon)
[personal profile] corilannam
Oh God, I'm so far behind this week! I hope people still want to talk about this, because I'm all abuzz from this episode.



Well, holy shit, that was quite a ride. I loved this episode even while I was relentlessly, infuriatingly frustrated and discomfited by it.

I've become such a Mordred apologist simply because Alex Vlahos is so damn adorable I can't stand it. He wants to be a good knight! He wants to be friends with Merlin! He loves and admires Arthur and believes Merlin that some day Arthur will see the truth about magic!

YES HE DOES SHUT UP.

When the Great Dragon told Merlin he had to take his next chance to ensure Mordred's death, I wailed, "nooooo, you can't kill Mordred!" And my best friend, in solidarity, chimed in, "Just sleep with him instead!" Yes, perhaps the little death would do the trick. I feel it's worth a try, at the very least.

I very much liked watching Merlin struggle with his feelings about Mordred. He wants to like Mordred, he DOES like him, just like everyone else in Camelot. But he can't ever let his guard down around him because of that damn prophecy. Every moment of camaraderie, every step Mordred makes into acceptance into Arthur's brotherhood, is a splinter in Merlin's heart. Mordred's presence and Arthur's enthusiastic acceptance of this Druid boy should have been a joy for Merlin, the way the acceptance of the other knights was. It's so sad to me that it can't be.

Mordred is destined to kill Arthur. But fate and destiny aren't the same thing. This destiny could be averted. Merlin just has no idea how.

Poor, poor Merlin. He's been responsible for Arthur's life for so long now. At some point in the last few years, he must have thought he was done, but now the burden is back on him worse than ever. It's become his obsession, to the point where he can't distinguish between Arthur's destiny and Camelot's. That's an interesting contrast with Arthur, who all season has been pointedly putting the well-being of his men and his kingdom above his personal safety. He doesn't equate himself with Camelot the way Merlin (or Gwen) does. He seems to believe that the kingdom of justice and peace will sustain itself after he's gone, despite his lack of any official heir.

Of course, history and legend both indicate that Arthur's a bit naive on that front, so Merlin is not totally wrong here, even if his motivations were purely political (which they clearly are not). It's interesting that Merlin would rather have Camelot eternally without magic than allow any risk to Arthur's safety. I'd really like to see more of the reaction of the magical world to what Emrys is doing (and not doing) now. Wish he'd had a chance to have a chat with the Disr or even Osgar.

So Merlin has no idea what to do. And he really has no one to rely on for advice. Gaius isn't terribly helpful with stuff like this, and the Dragon can be extremely single-minded. Arthur looks to Merlin to tell him what to do, but Merlin has no one. He has to make the best decision he can.

And it's the wrong one. In the end, he puts Arthur's safety over the long-term prosperity of Camelot (if we're going with the assumption that accepting magic would be to the benefit of Camelot, which I think the show has always done). If Arthur had all the facts, it's the opposite of the decision he would have made. But Merlin manipulates him once again into rejecting magic, because in the end, Merlin is more terrified of losing Arthur than any other consequence. Nothing else can ever come before Arthur's life, no matter how painful it is for Merlin personally or who else he has to sacrifice.

This is such good stuff, but man, it is hard to watch. Even worse than before, that campfire scene had such an aching, empty space where the reveal should have been. To hear him say that magic has no place in Camelot - wow. You have to wonder how much of that he believes at this point. He was so defiant to Uther about magic at the heart of Camelot in 5.03, but there must be a reason why he still doesn't feel safe in revealing himself to Arthur and taking that final step to convince him to bring magic back to Camelot. It's so obvious that Arthur would listen - why doesn't Merlin seem to believe that?

I feel like I mostly understand why Merlin did it, but I dislike the passivity of his attempts on Mordred's life. If he was convinced enough of Mordred's danger to Arthur that he would sabotage this situation solely to let Mordred die, then why isn't he convinced enough to just kill Mordred properly? They spent the first part of the episode talking about how they just can't be sure that Mordred is really a threat - so Merlin isn't willing to just take him out, but he's really hoping someone else will do the dirty work for him and he's willing to help it along in that weird, passive-aggressive way. I guess I understand that, but it bothers me.

The twist at the end was obvious, but I liked it -- primarily for Merlin's stunned and horrified reaction. I liked that he immediately recognized and berated himself for his stupidity. Though I don't think it was stupidity so much as Merlin being incapable of seeing past his devotion to Arthur to the bigger picture, even while he's selling the bigger picture to overcome Arthur's concern for his poor baby knight. Merlin has a certain amount of wisdom, but he's kind of a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of guy.


Okay, so let's get down to the real question here: has destiny become fate? Is Arthur's doom now sealed?

Well, I don't think so. On a practical meta level, we still have 8 episodes to go, so it's gonna be hard to build up any suspense if there's not still a chance Merlin can save Arthur. Also, we don't really know what power the Disr have and how it compares to Merlin's. By saving Mordred, they may have already executed their judgement, but it doesn't mean there's not still something Merlin can do to change it. Of course, all the lines about it being Arthur's last chance and how another chance wouldn't come was a bit worrying, but magical beings say all kinds of shit on this show and Merlin still prevails. Can they do anything else? Or are they just declining to save Arthur from the destiny already in motion? Is their judgment any more powerful than the prophecy Merlin's already heard?

So, we'll see. But I think Merlin's destiny is always to save Arthur and since his name is still the title of the show, that trumps everyone else's efforts. *g*

YES IT DOES SHUT UP.


Now for some other things I liked, because I want to end on a more positive note:

* The lighting. Wow, some very pretty shots of our pretty boys.

* Merlin standing alone in the cave for that last moment facing the Disr and deflecting their final attack with a contemptuous flash of his eyes. I really wish there had been more to their interaction, but yowza, Merlin was hot in that moment.

* The knights' very mild hazing of Mordred, their new little brother. These are definitely guys who bust each other's balls to show affection.

* Arthur being so concerned with Merlin's bad mood. AWWWWW. "I haven't seen you smile in three days." Yes, Arthur notices Merlin's smiles and is bothered when he doesn't get them on a regular basis. This makes me giggle and squeak.

* Their dynamic was a little off - mostly on Merlin's side, what with all his awkward and OOC "my lords," but I didn't mind it since a) Arthur noticed and b) Merlin was pretty upset and distracted and trying to repress it all.

* Arthur just gets dressed and undressed by himself now -- though of course, Merlin still needs to stand there, mostly so that he and Arthur can talk.

* On a related note, even though Merlin's advice-giving abilities are a little... unreliable right now, I LOVE SO MUCH that it's Merlin Arthur goes to for real advice. He listens to Gaius and Gwen, but when he needs real life-and-death, metaphysical advice, he wants it from Merlin and he won't stop until he gets it.

* Speaking of Gwen, I loved her scenes with Arthur this week. So sweet! She is a perfect helpmate to him. She could probably rule Camelot just fine if he died, which I'm sure adds to his comfort level risking his life every week. I love the affection between them (even though I still think Merlin is the more important relationship in Arthur's life).

* And of course, the adorable Merlin/Gwen moment when she commends her husband into the care of his other spouse. Yes, Arthur may have many fine knights, but Gwen knows perfectly well who really takes care of him. <3 OT3!

More seriously, I love how parallel Gwen and Merlin are with their focus on Arthur's safety above all else. Whether you want to view it as a concern for Camelot's future or the selfish need to protect the person they love most in the world, they are certainly of one mind on the subject. Either of them would cheerfully sacrifice any other person in Camelot for Arthur. It's no wonder Gwen admonishes Merlin to keep Arthur safe, rather than going to, say, her brother the knight.

* I really did love the conversation about magic and the future of Camelot between Merlin and Mordred. Just for a moment, Merlin chilled out and we got a glimpse of the kind of friendship these two could and should have. At the end, I blurted out loud, "I SHIP THEM SO HARD."

* But to close out with my real 'ship, it was a truly beautiful moment when Merlin explained to Arthur how he knew that this place was sacred, how he could feel the beauty of nature there. I half expected Arthur to mock him for being a girl, but he just looked at Merlin with all that affection and even a little envy in his eyes. Arthur understands on an instinctive level that there's something special and sacred about Merlin himself, even if he can't quite put his finger on why.
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Cori Lannam

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