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Oct. 11th, 2009

Oh, Arthur. *tinysob* And I've been starting to think I'd never like you again. Oh, Gwen.


I thought I'd fallen out of love with the show, but this week's episode was really quite lovely. Loved (as always) Gwen (who is growing into her role as future queen very nicely) and Morgana and their friendship. Angel Coulby was brilliant throughout and Bradley James had some very good moments, too. Katie McGrath was exceptionally pretty. Loved the brief moments between Arthur and Morgana and their brother/sister relationship. Really liked Lancelot, which was a bit of a surprise considering that he didn't leave much of an impression last time, and Gwen/Lancelot already convinced me much more than Gwen/Arthur has so far. And I thought the set-up for the future tragic triangle was exceptionally well done; that's what I missed so far in S2, how the show can be light-hearted and funny and occasionally silly, but also at the same time completely, unselfconsciously serious about Arthurian legend and their recreation of it. There's so much that could have gone wrong there, but I think they absolutely succeeded showing three profoundly honourable people whose feelings will nevertheless bring about tragedy and the fall of Camelot despite their best intentions. The only (slight) problem I have is Lancelot being so concerned with being selfless and honourable that he doesn't even stop to consider Gwen's wishes.

Oh, and the giant naked mole rats were appropriately creepy, too.

Actually loved everything about the episode except for the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. It's improved somewhat on first two episodes, but something there still rubs me the wrong way, as if the whole warmth from last season has gone out of it, now that Gwen is Arthur's main, if not sole, emotional focus. And the way Arthur keeps risking Merlin's life for Gwen without ever even asking is... something Gwen would (verbally) slap him for, if she knew. Although with Arthur saying how painful it was to talk about his feelings for Gwen considering nothing would ever come of it, it occurred to me that if Arthur really does know (or suspect) about Merlin's magic, then in his eyes talking about this would not just be even more impossible, but downright dangerous, especially because Merlin would probably get even more careless than than he already is if he knew Arthur didn't disapprove, and harder to protect. In 2.03 Arthur is trying to protect Merlin from Uther's anger, telling him not to try to get involved with Morgana. Is he protecting him in this, too? I've been going back and forth on this during S1, and I'm still wondering whether the Big Magic Reveal will be along the lines of shockhorrorbetrayalhowcouldyouhaveliedtome?, or 'Just how stupid and blind did you think I was?'

'If you dare tell anyone about this I promise I'll make your life a living hell.' — 'You mean more than you already do?' Merlin's reply is much too serious here, and admittedly Arthur is mostly concerned about Gwen at this point, but he should start paying attention. Something is being built up there; about magic, about the way Arthur is treating Merlin, about Merlin getting genuinely impatient and unhappy with this.

'I see you're still up to your old tricks, Merlin.' Couldn't remember and I think I deleted that episode - so Lancelot knew about Merlin's magic?



'Couldn't disagree with father in public.' — I think that also might be the key to Arthur's lack of opposition in 2.03. He's certainly concerned about finding Morgana, but he does try to stall a bit ('That's going to take time,' when Uther tells him to arrest everyone under suspicion of magic) and never looks enthusiastic about hunting down the druids, but short of outright rebellion there's very little he could have done when it comes to this particular issue where he knows from long experience that Uther isn't prepared to budge even a fraction of an inch.

And while it wasn't a perfect episode, it showed how Uther's obsessive hatred of magic and the enforced secrecy isolates and threatens and almost destroy them all, as well as the relationships between them, making it impossible for them to trust and be honest with each other. Merlin and his inability to confide in Morgana which triggers the whole disastrous sequence of events; Gaius, who after a lifetime of hiding and trying to protect people is almost irreversibly damaged and wants to protect Morgana from herself and both her and Merlin from Uther at any cost; Uther, who genuinely loves Morgana, but I think would rather have her killed if he ever found out than reconsider. And whether or not Arthur knows or at least suspects about Merlin, it's slowly eroding even their friendship, because Merlin is getting increasingly impatient with having to constantly lie and hide an important part of himself. The banter over the flowers shows how strained their relationship has become and in what different places they really are — Arthur is actually being quite nice there, but at this moment this is more or less meaningless to Merlin, because he's desperately trying to memorise the names to save people - people like him - from arrest and very likely execution.




And every time I think I'm bored & done with Dollhouse they come up with an episode that at least fascinates me enough to keep watching. 2.03 wasn't perfect, but intriguing enough, although to be perfectly honest, like with Annie's story in Being Human at this point I could do without all the rampart (and murderous) misogyny even if it's used to make a point about existing misogyny. Even with all the best intentions I found this episode a bit painful to watch, what with the psychopath serial killer nephew, Echo-Caroline offering to sacrifice herself to really and truly kill him, and Echo's assignment of the episode. Not that it hasn't always been obvious that prostitution was the biggest part of what the Dollhouse did, but somehow I found Echo's assignment with the professor particularly creepy, never mind that we're probably supposed to see how pathetic it is that his ideal woman is not just a young student in a miniskirt, but a not very bright student he can enjoy feeling intellectually superior to. And it's not as if she's really in control sexually either, because she's been imprinted according to his wishes. *sigh*

Also, I couldn't help thinking that if this had been a Torchwood episode, Victor-as-Kiki would have ended with a snog instead of a blow, and Ballard having to pry him away from some guy. I'm still trying to figure out whether finding the whole scene a bit uncomfortable is due to me having issues (not that Kiki wasn't cringe-worthy enough, but why would it somehow be more embarrassing to watch her behaviour in a male body?), or if it really was a bit problematic. Once again, there's probably a point in there about gender stereotypes and violent homophobia, but the first time they cross the gender lines like that it's (mostly, if perhaps not entirely) played for laughs and ends with violence, even if it's the bad guy on the floor in the end? Or am I overreacting?

Still not sold on Ballard/Echo-Caroline. Still adore Adelle ('Yet somewhat incomplete, yes? I encourage candour.'), who wouldn't let Victor's body be used for murder by the creepy nephew's serial-killer mind, and I'd really love to see their relationship developed a bit further, even if it's probably never going to happen since Victor/Sierra seemed pretty much set up in S1. I wonder what's the history there. Who exactly is it she has feelings for - the real person, before he became an active? Or is it all just her fantasy?

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
yehnica
Oct. 11th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC)
I watch Merlin but it's one of those shows that I refuse to analyse, cause it would totally kill my enjoyment of it. That said, I liked this week's episode, too. Some Merlin/Arthur moments reminded me of Blackadder/Baldrick, and I mean that as a compliment.

Dollhouse I thought was damn near perfect this time around. I adore the show but last week's ep was very, very boring. Misogyny doesn't bother me as long as it doesn't go unchallenged, and in Dollhouse it never does. Besides, the way Echo's been glitching it's a given that pretty much any assignment she gets will end in tears and/or a stay at the hospital for the client. She should come with safety instructions. And I thought it was so well done, the juxtaposition of the scenes with Echo and the professor and Ballard and serial-killer-Victor.

Loved the gender-swap thing, too. It was played for laughs, but in a smart way, and at least in my opinion what saved it from being a little too predictable (on the Victor side, I don't have a problem with how it went down on the Echo side), was Ballard's 'you got a problem?' when people were staring at Victor clinging to him in the club. There was even a bit of hair petting. If Ballard had been put off or embarrassed it would have been different. The homophobia doesn't go unchallenged, just like the misogyny doesn't, and now I think of it it's amusing how the latter is done by a bit of tenderness, and the former by means of letter opener to the creepy professor's throat.
solitary_summer
Oct. 11th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
I never thought I'd analyse Merlin, until mid-S1 I suddenly did, and now I can't seem to stop. *sigh* I'm embarrassed myself, sometimes.

It's actually the first time Dollhosue really bothered me, misogyny-wise; I never thought it was much of a problem during S1. Maybe it was Echo/Caroline telling the women to kill her to in order to kill Terry... I sat there, thinking, why should she? She wasn't the one who put him into her brain. Caroline never abducted or killed anyone. Why should she die for his sins?

About the gender swap thing... I can't even say it wasn't well done, it was, Enver Gjokaj was pretty fantastic, the hair-petting was cute, but somehow and for a reason I can't quite pinpoint it totally hit my embarrassment squick. And maybe it was a little too much... having it both ways? Because for all the homophobia-is-wrong statements it's clearly still impossible to have two men kissing on the show, or even make the whole thing sexy instead of funny. But like I said, this is most likely over-interpreting...
yehnica
Oct. 11th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I concede on the second point, because that's true, but I try to remember that this is an American show, and a Fox show to boot, so it was never like I expected it to go to the man kissing, or even the girl kissing. I think the best we can hope for are hints and positive messages, and that blows but still. I can't think of any other American (or otherwise) scifi show at the moment that wouldn't have made a horrible mess of that scene, instead of it being slightly problematic.

The first point is harder for me to see. Echo has a bunch of personalities in her head at the same time, with the serial killer personality trying to take over, caught in a situation where she couldn't think clearly enough to see another way to end it. And it's not like the women all jump to kill her. There's a discussion, that most likely wouldn't even happen if these weren't women that had been imprisoned and tortured for who knows how long. I guess my point is, no one decides that Echo should die in order to kill the serial killer - the Dollhouse obviously wants their active back in one piece and the women are driven to violence by an impossible situation. It's a bad judgement call by Echo, and I can't fault her for that seeing as her brain is pretty much fried.

And while I don't see any misogyny there, where I do see it is in how little we see of the male dolls' missions. It's true that they focus more on Echo, but the only male doll we ever really saw working was Victor. But well, there's time for that if they don't cancel the show and let it develop properly.
solitary_summer
Oct. 11th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
but I try to remember that this is an American show, and a Fox show to boot, so it was never like I expected it to go to the man kissing, or even the girl kissing.

I know, I know. :) I blame Torchwood. And it's just such a pity, because the Dollhouse premise would be ideal to explore all kinds of questions about gender and sexuality.

As for the second point - you're probably right there. It really was more of en emotional reaction that analysis; sometimes I think I'm just not watching DH carefully enough to say something intelligent about that show...
un_crayon_rouge
Oct. 12th, 2009 08:35 am (UTC)
Speaking of TV, I FINALLY got to watch Torchwood CoE. Obviously, I could never be as articulate as you, so suffice it to say it was soooo sad, but bloody brilliant. The only thing that really bugged me is that Jack is not able to say he loves Ianto even at the very end. Come ON, why??
solitary_summer
Oct. 12th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know. The first time I saw it I thought that was one of the saddest moments, not even so much because of Ianto, but because of what it said about Jack. It still is, in a way, but after two rewatchings I've somewhat reconciled myself to it, because 'I love you' is there from Jack's 'I take it back, but not him' to 'Don't leave me, please' anyway...

On a meta level Jack doesn't say it because GDL and JB hated the first draft of the scene, where Jack actually did say 'I love you', thought it was too tacky or something, and wanted it changed, or at least that's what transpired from a recent convention.

On a in-character level? (IMO; embarrassingly long Jack/Ianto post is in the making...) Because Jack is feeling guilty as hell - because he helped bring about the situation in the first place, because he miscalculated so badly, because he allowed Ianto to come along, quite possibly right down to hiring Ianto in the first place (not even so much for his skills, but pretty much mostly because he fancied him), or not firing him post-CW; maybe also because of all the times when he should have said it, but didn't. 'Don't' in the sense of 'You shouldn't, I don't deserve it.'
un_crayon_rouge
Oct. 12th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Thinking about it, maybe it would have been too tacky. But then, almost anything even a tiny bit sentimental that Jack says is bound to look tacky because he's just *that* handsome. So there you are. They were probably right, and you're right too, it's all there, but it's just that I personally always would opt for that extra tackiness just to hear the actual words. But that's just me, so yeah.

So, I guess I'm going to go read up on all your posts about that. Thank god for tags :-)
solitary_summer
Oct. 12th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
No, me, too. There's a part of me that's all artistic this and that, blahblahblah, but mostly just I wanted Jack to say it, egal wie kitschig.
un_crayon_rouge
Oct. 12th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
See, that's exactly what fanfiction is for :-))

Btw, I think I need some pretty Torchwood icons, you wouldn't happen to know where I could steal some?
solitary_summer
Oct. 12th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
*points to boring, dusty & here-since-forever icon* ;)

Sorry, not really. The newsletter (torchwood_three) has a section for icons and graphics, and there's also torchwoodicons...
un_crayon_rouge
Oct. 12th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I could have found those on my own, but I was too lazy...

So, I read through your CoE meta-post, and I basically think you're brilliant, but you already knew that. The one thing that didn't see exactly as you did was the Big End with a capital E in the end. I don't know, maybe it's because I'm not as emotionally invested in the show. I mean, I was still horribly sad and totally horrified, but I guess was more able to watch it as just pretty damn great TV. And just the fact that Gwen is pregnant at the end made that scene not at all hopeless to me. I think if Gwen really needs him or (god forbid) her child, or even Rhys, he'd come back. *Because* he did what he did. Because CoE, after all, was about Jack taking responsibility, and even if he's been walking out and not caring, or pretending not to care, for centuries, that's not an option for him anymore.

Or, possibly, this is all just bad fanfiction I'm writing out in my head. Anyway, yeah, pretty much agree with everything you say. Didn't really get the abused!Ianto thing. For the most part, I actually thought all their interaction as a couple was, well, cute. Jack's still being Jack, and Ianto is being Ianto, but in the end they are just like any other couple who's adjusting to being a couple, to people seeing them like that.
solitary_summer
Oct. 12th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
I honestly can't decide. Or predict. The second and third time I saw it the reaction of course wasn't as strong, and it does make a difference knowing that they're already in talks about S4, and RTD seems to know how he'd continue with the story...

In any case I do think it's a sort of huge break for Jack, a turning point, the start of something new. He's been in a sort of in-between state for so long, waiting ever since he's got stranded on Earth, waiting to find out what happened to him, waiting for the Doctor, never really taking control of his life until S2, and even that mostly was just continuing to do what he'd done for the last, oh, hundred years. He's running away now, but I think that's also the most he's ever stopped to think about himself for a very long while, who he is, what he is capable of doing, and that he'll have to find a way to live with it, because now he knows for sure that it won't change, and God, stop me rambling, will you? :)


I think some people identified way too much with Ianto and brought a lot of issues into it, and I've been honestly starting to wonder if it isn't maybe a female thing, or at least predominantly female thing, looking at a relationship as this kind of power struggle. I know I do it, too, even in this case I really didn't see the problem. But then every time I'm making this argument in my head I don't get any further than Tonio Kröger and 'Wer am meisten liebt, ist der Unterlegene und muß leiden', so obviously not just a female thing...

Edited at 2009-10-12 10:19 pm (UTC)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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