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I held out watching last week's episode until part 2 came out (did attempt to watch it in the living room initially, but then discovered that the downside to having flatmates is that they tend to talk over the TV and such, and you can't exactly tell them to "Be quiet so I can watch my silly show that I nevertheless take VERY SERIOUSLY")


-Okay, so the time jump: I can see the practical reasons behind it (mostly, Mordred), but I couldn't help feeling...a little dissapointed. Part of me wanted to see how the characters grew into their new roles (Gwen!), though I'm sure this gap can be filled by fic, arguably better than the show would have handled it. It was nice to see the visible change in (most) dynamics, though it also led to some serious problems I'll address further down.

-OH GWEN! <33333 There was nothing about Camelot's queen that wasn't pure awesome in this. I loved the subtle change in the way she holds herself, the way she's Arthur's close advisor along with his wife and the way her perceptiveness (remember when she and Merlin solved crimes? Good times) is as good as ever. And while part of me was intrigued by her decision to execute Sefa (mostly because has been pretty much the only character in this show to never had a morally shady moment), it should have come as no surprise it was merely a ruse-Gwen's compassion and empathy for the people of Camelot, very much connected to her own humble beginnings, is a defining trait of the character, and it shouldn't be lost. On a shallow note, how HAWT in her royal garb?

-And as I was enjoying all the visible ways that Gwen's developed over the years, I was frustrated with how Arthur and Merlin's relationship is in a permanent state of arrested development. Seriously, this bullshit STILL, after three freakin' years? I wasn't even clear on what Merlin's precise role is at this point, FFS! We didn't see him do the more traditional stuff, and the "fool" bit is clearly Arthur trolling him, but seriously, is he Arthur's servant? Personal messenger (ha, I almost wrote massager)? Junior adviser? Just some dude he keeps around? I realise that the important stuff (like MAGIC) have to happen on the show itself, but I would like SOME clue that after three years and Merlin being close friends with the king AND queen his status has somewhat changed. Can be something as simple as, I don't know, a new shirt?

-Now what they did with Gaius, that was the way to do it. Gaius was part of Uther's inner circle and had long history with him, but at the same time, the way he advises Gwen is completely different than how he approached Uther. He was loyal to Uther, but always aware of the potential threat. In that scene where he claims not to know much about druidic writing and Gwen essentially rolls her eyes without doing it-can't imagine that teasing tone in the old regime.
-Morganna has Sir Davos! I mean...whatever the character's name was on the show. Between him, Annis's very Stark-like palace, the carrier crows and Morganna's rather graphic description of Arthur's head on a pike, I had images of a wacky Merlin/Game of Thrones crossover running through my head (and if someone does it, I will love them forever). There was even some gratuitous flesh (ok, so merely shirtlessness, because this is TV, not HBO, and of the male variety, but I'm not complaining)

-Seriously though, I loved how sympathetic both Sefa and her father came off as (and how much of an EPIC BADASS he was) , because nuance is not something this show does well. And now that I said that, it's only a matter of a couple of episodes before Sefa comes back ranting about feeding people's eyes to crows.

-As for Morgana herself...I can't even bother anymore. She almost looked like in danger of going sympathetic after waking up from her nightmare and calling for her dragon, but then she got all "RAH! KILL! VENGEANCE! H8!!!" again (seriously, she seems perma-stuck on that mode these days). Even Mordred kind of looked embarased for her.

-Still on the fence about Mordred. I will say in his favour that unlike Agravaine, he doesn't have that obvious moustache twirling villain quality, which will help in not making everyone around look like a dumbass for not noticing. On the other hand, well, he's Mordred. No way in hell this ends well. I wasn't sure about the actor, but his performance grew on me, as did his "lovechild of Colin Morgan and Benedict Cumberbatch" look. And I'm already getting some mad slashy vibes off him and Merlin, so bonus.

-And on that topic, as much as I have issues with the stagnation of Merlin and Arthur's current dynamic, I'm glad that they're still good for long soulful looks, declarations of how they've got each other's back and much snuggling in the forest.

-Still on shallow things I enjoy about the show, Morganna may be a one-dimentionnal villain, but I can't fault her for two things: her fierce wardrobe and tendency to put her prisoners in fanfic-fodder situations :sexy torture, pointless fights to the death, and no shirts for anyone!

-Even glowy cave creatures can't resist Gwaine. Seriously, was I the only one who saw how blatantly it was hitting on him? Because really, who wouldn't?

- I'm really intrigued with the direction this season's plot seems to be going in, as hinted in the revelation of what "Arthur's Bane" was. Given how the show's subverted the Gweneviere/Lancelot betrayal thing, I don't think the final arc will necessarily be the Mordred thing, at least not in the straightforward way one might expect. This episode put the whole "suppression of magic" thing front and centre, and explicitly pointed out that while Arthur hasn't gone on any purges, he didn't exactly change Uther's laws either. Given what Arthur thinks he knows about everything, and Uther's death in particular, it's not surprising, but I am looking forward to seeing how they deal with the magic reveal when it does happen.
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ishtar79

November 2016

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