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.

Date: 2012-11-05 05:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] killabeez.livejournal.com
It looks like this ends in mid-sentence, but I'm going to reply anyway!

I'm really glad to hear that you enjoyed the episode, and also that you feel hopeful as well. I'm kind of keeping my mouth shut about the show, mostly because I'm a newcomer and I know how that can make for a different viewing experience than when you've stayed with a fandom for years, and become invested in the story at a different pace. But I loved this episode! And I'm anxious, but I do feel hopeful that in Arthur's fate as in everything other aspect of the legend, the show will have a creative take. :)

Date: 2012-11-05 06:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
Oh, good grief. Thanks for pointing out that the entry got cut off. I have no idea why I can't get this damn thing to post. It's fixed now, so you can see my much more cheerful thoughts about the episode. *g*

I am hopeful! They've worked hard to give Arthur a happy ending when it comes to things like his marriage, so I don't see why we can subvert the legend when it comes to things like his death, too. *g*

Date: 2012-11-05 07:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] killabeez.livejournal.com
Aw, I'm glad I got to read your happy thoughts! The OT3 moment was one of my very favorite things ever. That's like, the kind of thing I'm forever writing into fic, but never expect to get in my shows. ♥

The equality of Merlin and Arthur's relationship this season is taking my breath away. Arthur still makes a half-hearted effort to keep up the old "terrible servant" line, but it's so much for show that Merlin barely even acknowledges it any more. And even Arthur seems to be tiring of it—but it reassures him.

Merlin needing to hear that Arthur would have gone back for him kinda broke my heart a lot, but in the good way.

Date: 2012-11-05 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
And even Arthur seems to be tiring of it—but it reassures him.

That's a great way to put it! The whole "why do I put up with you?" shtick seems to be something they both reach for in moments of stress. It's like a little touchstone representing the fundamental strength of their relationship.

Date: 2012-11-05 06:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] destina.livejournal.com
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!"

I just...I can't make myself be sorry; I want him dead! I'm not sad that Merlin can't like him, I was PROUD OF HIM for refusing Gaius's unsubtle request to use magic to heal him. You know, I want to love this kid, and his wee earnest face, and the way he looks at Arthur with such hero worship. But I am so completely convinced that he's going to ruin EVERYTHING that I am tense from the moment he appears onscreen, to the moment he leaves. Either he's going to kill Arthur, or he's going to destroy the trust and relationship between Merlin and Arthur by weaseling in between them, or he's going to be the one to be like, "I have magic and you love me like a son, therefore magic is not evil (but I'm totally going to end you and/or Merlin with it) AND LOOK MERLIN HAS IT TOO" and ruining a reveal, and in any of those cases, I will have to slay something. If the writers are too far away, I'll have to find something closer.

I have many thoughts and feelings on this topic. MANY. Too many for comment space. I've already spewed all over my own and others' LJ for two days and I'm still having feelings. *g*

It's interesting that Merlin would rather have Camelot eternally without magic than allow any risk to Arthur's safety.

Yes. Merlin puts Arthur above all else, and Arthur puts the common good of his kingdom above all else, and never the twain shall meet again on this road. Even more troubling, Arthur has come to rely on Merlin for advice, and this is really the most wrong that advice has ever gone. And on such a hugely important topic, ugh, I am getting emo just thinking about it.

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.

Well, there's saving, and there's saving. Is putting Arthur in a boat to Avalon to be called again when the world needs the Once and Future King 'saving'? Maybe. I have been a firm believer in a twist, up til now, and I'm trying to reel myself back from Scully mode and embrace my inner Mulder because I WANT TO BELIEVE. Today I was obsessing about Morgana's vision of Camlann, and how it contrasts to Merlin's vision, and the differences there. And the presence of old!Merlin. And then I started to get a headache. Heh.



Date: 2012-11-05 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
(answering in pieces because LJ is still giving me fits when I try to post anything)

Killa helpfully pointed out that my entry cut off right before I listed all the happy things I liked about the episode, so I meant to end on a more upbeat note. *g*

Hee! Yes, thinking too much about it can definitely bring on a headache. And after hearing the actors at Cold Con this weekend saying that TPTB don't really have a plan or pay much attention to continuity, I suspect it's not worth twisting our brains into knots trying to figure out exactly what all this means! The Js have probably long forgotten that they put Dragoon in Morgana's vision of Camlann.

Date: 2012-11-05 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
But I am so completely convinced that he's going to ruin EVERYTHING that I am tense from the moment he appears onscreen, to the moment he leaves.

See, and this is totally how I was back in S1. I refused to even watch Mordred's first episode for about 2 years after it aired. I only knew poor little Asa Butterfield from screen caps I couldn't avoid.

But I guess I just really don't think *anything* is set in stone at this point. Mordred could go evil, or he might not, or he might be sincere now and then turn evil later. For now, I think he's sincere and I think there's still the possibility that destiny can be averted and everyone can have a happy ending.

Yes, I recognize that this is probably a bad case of denial, but I don't know how else to get through this season without a nervous breakdown. *g*

Date: 2012-11-05 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] planejane.livejournal.com
Well I think I shall just frame this post. You must have spent so long on it! And I have to say, I pretty much agree with everything you said. It was a beautiful episode, in its sadness and pain as well as in its breathtaking love. And it was charming.

Alex has snared a lot of us. I was talked into signing up for the reverse big bang, on a hint there may be some Mordred art to write for. But even if there isn't, I'm going to have to write him a story after NaNo. That final scene where Arthur lifts him up was absolutely precious.

But yes, this was a sad and hard episode. I feel like Meriln is teetering on the edge more than ever. :(

Date: 2012-11-05 11:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] archaeologist-d.livejournal.com
I'm also hoping for Mordred art for merlinreversebb because I want to read it!

Alex is adorable with his tweets and his smile. I just love his take on Mordred, too.

Date: 2012-11-05 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
Well, I didn't spend so much time writing it, but I did spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to get LJ to post it!

I can't wait to read your Mordred story! Whether he turns out evil or not, I think I'm going to need a large amount of Mordred fic by the end of this season.

I do think Merlin is teetering on a very sharp edge. Everyone with knowledge of this prophecy is pressuring him to act fast to save Arthur, but he's just had a horrifying demonstration of how much he's in over his head.

Date: 2012-11-05 11:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] archaeologist-d.livejournal.com
I still don't know what to think about this episode. I've watched it a couple of times (and last night with my daughter who was furious with Merlin). There was so much good stuff here but I can't seem to get over Merlin telling Arthur no.

TPTB have no idea what they are doing so I'm not really sure what to expect for the future. If it were me, I'd have Mordred be the good guy until the end and the vision that Merlin saw was of Mordred fighting someone else to save Arthur and Arthur getting stabbed by a 3rd party (maybe Morgana). And then Merlin using magic to heal him - while Arthur is awake!

I just don't know. But I will be a wreck if they really kill off Arthur.

Date: 2012-11-05 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
There was so much good stuff here but I can't seem to get over Merlin telling Arthur no.

I know, that's really hard to get past. I completely understand why he did it, but it felt so very wrong even before the Disr's revenge became clear. I think it's worse now than when he did it to keep Arthur from killing Uther in S3.

If they kill Arthur, I will not cope well at all. I can't even wrap my head around it at this point, as much as I worry about it.

Date: 2012-11-05 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alba17.livejournal.com
Excellent summation. I'll just post a link to this instead of my own review. It killed me whenever Arthur mentioned that Mordred had saved his life more than once. Merlin's saved you 100's of times! Argh.

I really don't think they'll kill off Arthur, but then, I said the same when the rumors started about Ianto getting killed. Look how well that turned out.

Date: 2012-11-05 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
Ugh, seriously. I mean, I'm convinced that the producers have a soft spot for Arthur and will find a way to subvert the legend yet again to his benefit. But then again, I was convinced that RTD had a soft spot for Ianto and would never kill him right up until the moment Jack started weeping over Ianto's corpse.

Date: 2012-11-05 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] floating-fog.livejournal.com
Once again you wrote everything I feel! <3

This ep killed me! Like really crushed my heart with Merlin's poor poor state, he was really ooc this time but I guess it can be explained with everything that he needs to carry over these thin shoulders of his.

I mean, he's got this huge destiny and for the last 8 years he's been SO busy in keeping Arthur and saving their destiny that he can't think of anything else anymore, can't imagine making a decision that will risk Arthur's life, especialy if Kilagarrah tells him to kill Mordred, so I can get why he told Arthur that magic has no place in Camelot but still...my heart bled and thanks to Colin's amazing acting I actually cried.

Date: 2012-11-06 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corilannam.livejournal.com
Yeah, he was OOC, but that's okay when it's the kind of OOC that the other characters notice and comment on. *g*

I do feel so sad for him. This is such a burden on him and he really has no one to help him carry it. Gaius just blows him off and the Dragon isn't much better. The only other person he can talk to about magical things at all is Mordred, and... yeah, that would be kind of an awkward conversation!

Date: 2012-11-06 11:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] floating-fog.livejournal.com
I think that that was the only reason for his oocness (that is a word!) so that we can see Arthur being all concerned and stuff :)

That would be one conversation I would like to see ;)

Something along the lines of:

"Hey Morderd?"

"Huh?"

"So you know they call me Emrys and I have this huge destiny thingy with Arthur right?"

"Yeah and?"

"Well, the thing is... You can't be a part of it."

"What?"

"I'm truly sorry. Oh wait, no I'm not."

Kills him. Or err, erases his memories and send him somewhere far away? I'm open to suggestions here ;)

Date: 2012-11-06 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riventhorn.livejournal.com
I'm too tired to form a coherent comment, but YES to all of this. I felt so crushed after this episode, but like you, I keep holding on to hope/denial that things will work out okay. I cannot handle Arthur actually dying on my screen in front of me. NO.

I also love how Leon is always the one giving reports to the Council--I always imagine Leon as the stickler for protocol among the knights. :D

Oh, and I actually like it when Merlin calls Arthur "my lord" because it's a huge kink for me! ;)
Edited Date: 2012-11-06 04:11 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-11-08 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ella-bane.livejournal.com
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.

That was my second favorite moment of the episode. I think I NEEDED to see that. Merlin's whole life for the past seven? years has been save Arthur, save Arthur, save Arthur to the point he simply can't think things through rationally. A part of himself has been lost, I think, because of his single-minded devotion to Arthur. It simultaneously thrills me and saddens me.

Your last observation about what you liked was another fave moment for me too. Colin's voice was so freaking sexy too. The fact that Arthur didn't tease him was amazing in itself!

Great review, Cori, as always. <3

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Cori Lannam

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