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Dec. 13th, 2008

I used to have this, now I have an 'unfinished' tag and an increasing number of half-finished private entries cluttering up my livejournal. *sigh* *deepersigh*


So here are a couple of thoughts about Uther in 1.12, while I'm waiting for a torret for 1.13 to turn up...

The truth is somewhere in between what Morgana, Merlin, Gaius, even the dragon say; they're all prejudiced in their own way and influenced by their own experiences, Morgana by her father's death as seen by a ten year old girl, Merlin by the constant threat hanging over his own head and burdening his relationship with Arthur, Gaius by... friendship, or complicity, or habit, which makes him even defend Uther's readiness to execute everyone even remotely connected to Tauren, which is taking loyalty a bit far, because even Arthur questions that, even if he doesn't like Merlin to do it aloud where everyone can hear; but Gaius has to believe that Uther is right and doing the best for the kingdom to still be able to look into the mirror after having watched Uther execute wizards and witches for two decades [*]... and Uther himself, who is not the most trustworthy witness for his own cause either.

Uther is aware of his faults, at least to an extent, and at least in hindsight, although once again, 'temper' is one hell of an understatement when it regularly ends with people being executed, and all regret in the world cannot bring them back to life.

Is what Uther says about Morgana in the scene at her father's grave true? I doubt it. Is what he said about her father true? Probably more so, but still doubtful, at least the part about him questioning Uther's judgement and Uther recognising the importance of that, unless he's changed a lot over the past decade, and was once able to accept a friend as a true equal, because the Uther we've seen on the series, who also called Gaius, who is anything but an equal, a friend, is no longer capable of that. [**]

But what's important is that in one of those rare moments of emotional clarity [***], kneeling there with Morgana, he wants it to be true, and does recognise what would make him a better king. There and then at least this is heartfelt, and that's enough for Morgana's conscience to finally kick in. Does she believe his claims are completely true? Probably not, but she does recognise the sincerity of his grief and regret, and maybe suddenly stopped seeing the world through a child's eyes, and it was enough to save him.


Gwen is very sure in her judgement as well as her morality; Arthur questions and tries to correct, and he's learning, because he knows it'll be he who'll have to make these decisions and weigh all kinds of interests against each other.



[*] At the same time Gaius, when he hears what he can hardly interpret as anything but a possible conspiracy to kill Uther that Merlin knows of or might even be involved in, does, once again, nothing. Trust is nice and all, but Gaius has become zen/fatalistic to the point of complete apathy. Somehow I think Gaius, like the dragon, like Uther, will reveal himself to be more complex than he seems now.

[**] Then again, Uther's brutal insistence that Arthur must learn that people will die for him in 1.04 makes more sense if that was a painful lesson for him as well.

[***] Although it takes something huge, like the prospect of Arthur's death in 1.09, to finally make him at least for a moment discard the armour of kingship, reason and strategy and allow himself some human emotion. Uther doesn't strike me as a man who'd usually approve of his son forming bonds of any kind with a servant, least of all with one who regularly ends up in the stocks, in fact in he actively discouraged that very thing in 1.04, but faced with the near certainty of his own death he is genuinely glad that Arthur will have a friend who cares for him, and maybe escape the terrible loneliness that Uther himself probably knows only too well.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
fanaddict
Dec. 13th, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
I'm waiting for the download to show up too - ack!

Uther is aware of his faults, at least to an extent

Hmmm, I think I agree with you when it comes to personal relationships. I think he is beginning to realize, at least, what has happened with his relationship with his son. And I think he sees in Morgana some of what he saw in her father - a person of strong principle who he wants to be on his side.

OTOH, I don't think he feels that he necessarily is doing anything wrong in how he governs. I don't see him regretting banning magic, for example, yet that ban has caused the most suffering of anything he's done. I think he has a very insular view of his duty as king to Camelot only, without a more world view that Arthur has (to look at it from a US political perspective - he's US only thinking of George Bush to Arthur's more global thinking Obama. And yeah, talk about insular viewpoint by comparing it to US politics... Sorry!). Uther also seems to view the people of Camelot as secondary to Camelot's royal family and army, which is a viewpoint that many rulers have had until they try to march an army on empty bellies. Arthur understands that the people are the heart of Camelot and are more important than anything else - hence his willingness to sacrifice his own life in the unicorn test. Uther rules but not people's hearts, while Arthur will do both.

I guess I'm just thinking that Uther may regret how he's interacted toward specific people, but not necessarily his kingly acts.

Somehow I think Gaius, like the dragon, like Uther, will reveal himself to be more complex than he seems now

Yeah, this is the second time Gaius just kind of walked away from a threat against Uther. I wonder if he thinks Uther is fated to fail because of his actions or if this is just who Gaius is - someone who silently condones many unpleasant actions both by Uther with his fellow sorcerers and now against Uther as people plot against him. I don't know if that makes him complex necessarily, though. I wonder how old he truly is, how much he's seen and whether in some ways he just lets events happen around him rather than taking any actions of his own. Maybe it's like a sorcerous prime direction - first observe, second take no action.
solitary_summer
Dec. 14th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
(tiny spoiler for 1.13 in comment)
You're probably right, but I think on some level he's at least occasionally aware that things are... maybe less than ideal, but then again I doubt he's a man who believes in ideals any more, if he ever did, or thinks they are attainable. Like Gaius he believes it isn't his job to be liked, but to uphold the laws and keep the kingdom safe. His 'temper' that he keeps making half-hearted apologies for seems to be a shorthand for a whole bundle of unspoken things, an admission that he could be - or maybe rather that he can't be - a different kind of man and king. However, his fight against magic is a different issue - that is a huge blind spot where he can't allow himself doubts because that would mean admitting his own share of guilt in his wife's death.

I wonder how old he truly is, how much he's seen and whether in some ways he just lets events happen around him rather than taking any actions of his own.

I thought there must be something missing, some revelation to make him a bit more than just a very tired old man who's seen too much, but from how he describes himself in the last episode that seems to be true.

un_crayon_rouge
Dec. 14th, 2008 10:33 am (UTC)
I loved the picture of your desktop! Pathetic as it may sound, I need to keep working at being a little more cluttered. This urge to keep everything neat and in its place (inside and outside) is stressing me so much that yesterday I broke down and cried for an hour. Sheesh.
solitary_summer
Dec. 14th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, *hugs*!

And you're welcome to some of my clutter anytime! ;)
(Deleted comment)
solitary_summer
Dec. 14th, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :) Also, oops, I wasn't aware I'd been linked anywhere!

It helps of course that Anthony Stewart Head is a fantastic actor for the part... I really liked how Uther and Arthur's relationship developed and became more emotional over the course of the season, because in the first few episodes it was almost a bit too much like Smallville light. And you're right, their scenes in this episode were lovely; actually I liked a whole lot of single scenes, it's just the episode as a whole that didn't come together for me.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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