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New Merlin, and not only a) do I still have a (probably irrational) soft spot for that show even after S2 ('In a land of myth...', and there suddenly was a stupid grin on my face that I couldn't quite wipe off), but b) the first episode was, minor quibbles notwithstanding, rather impressive.

Complaints first—whether it's the fault of the writer, the director or the actress, I'd really have liked to see more nuance in Morgana, and I hope we'll get that in the next episode, because right now the way she is written/played takes away from her story, her motivation and the legitimacy of her grievance. Her and Uther's relationship is (or could be) so complex and interesting, and their story should be about the fact that sometimes people can be pushed beyond the point where it's still possible to fix things; that he and the atmosphere of stifling fear and secrecy he created drove Morgana—who unlike Merlin had no prophecy of a better future to cling to—to this, because in the end it's impossible to love someone who'd have you killed if he knew who you really were; that sometimes there are consequences, and that the person who betrays him is the one he loves maybe more than his son. Of course even then Uther would probably never admit it was his fault, still blaming it all on the corrupting influence of magic, but the show shouldn't reduce Morgana to simply having suddenly turned 'evil'. She should be convinced that she's doing the right thing, and if she's going to be Uther's opponent, she needs to be at least as complex as he is. I actually do believe/hope that it's going to be more complicated than that, because when she tells Merlin that she's 'seen the evils of this world', I think she means it, just as she is sincere saying that, like him, she'd also do everything to protect her friends, and there's Uther seeing Igraine in the well, and the drowned child, and the fact that ironically Morgause and Morgana magically create—or evoke—the conscience that usually doesn't torment him, but with this show it's impossible to predict, because one moment there's all kinds of ambiguity and character development, and the next someone decides to push the reset button and it all vanishes into thin air again...

And I'd like for Arthur to finally start behaving a bit less like a jerk. Maybe I do lack a sense of humour after all, but I didn't find the 'joke' with the bucket or Arthur mocking Merlin's fighting funny at all [*], and at this point of the story their relationship needs development desperately, not so much now as half a season ago. Arthur taking his shirt off and all the slashy innuendo is maybe fanservice (and personally I'd say the kind of fanservice that has become rather tired and overused by now, but people are apparently squeeing and gif-ing, so clearly that's just me), but it's not a substitute for actual relationship development. So much wasted potential there. What I liked so much about S1 was that it was rather like a happier Smallville, without all those impossible trust issues and Lex's road to hell already paved by decades of canon, but at least Lex and Clark's relationship had development. Gah. Seriously, show, take a deep breath and jump. It's time. It's beyond time. Change is possible. There are so many possibilities, so many interesting stories-lines open to Arthur, once he does find out about Merlin's magic.

When Morgause asks Merlin why he keeps risking his life for Camelot and Arthur, this actually is a good question after the way Arthur still treats him. Obviously there are also all the issues of Merlin potentially abusing his power, but at the same time one wonders how long someone who has the power to kill with a thought and command a dragon will let himself be insulted and humiliated for the hope of a better future and the reality of a questionable friendship, and when Merlin's breaking point will be reached, because IMO he's been dangerously close to that through much of S2 already (The Lady of the Lake).

And I already miss the friendship between Gwen and Morgana that I suspect will be irrevocably lost now, because I don't think Gwen, whose father after all was also killed by Uther, can forgive this.

And Gaius... I think Arthur is half right; it's not exactly treason, but Gaius wouldn't weep to see Uther gone. Gaius mind is a complicated place, and probably not one it's very comfortable to live in, seeing as he still calls the man who ordered to have children drowned his friend, or at least supports him for the sake of the stability of the realm. Of course Arthur himself is probably afraid and guilty... afraid of having to make all those decisions himself, and guilty, because not so long ago it was his sword at Uther's throat, and there are probably a lot of doubts still lingering in his mind that he doesn't allow himself to acknowledge, certainly not now... Arthur was ready to kill Uther when he found out the truth, before Merlin denied himself and told him it was a lie. Gaius knows the full truth and still supported Uther for two decades.

What sometimes makes me almost angry is that this show has so much potential, but half of the time seems almost afraid to explore it.

[*] Sometimes IMO the show has serious problems balancing its funny and serious elements. Am I the only one who found Arthur and Merlin bickering right after the scene with Uther and Gaius at least a bit incongruous? I guess you could argue that they were trying to juxtapose Uther's solitude ('I have no time for friends') with Arthur and Merlin insulting each other, which implies at least greater equality and less isolation, but it still doesn't completely work for me. I'd say it's either my brain, or maybe some kind of British humour thing I simply don't get, but DW or TW went from funny to tragic and back again all the time, and it never bothered me there in the least.

Switching fandoms for a moment, on the whole I'm trying to stay away from all TW S4 related interviews and discussions because I want to get spoiled as little as possible, but I read this interview with John Fay yesterday, and leaving aside the whole killing-of-Ianto issue, there's something he says about Jack that I found interesting:

In my mind, I was always aware that Jack had gone through this situation many times before, and that was really interesting to me. How do you have a relationship and fall in love with someone when you know – absolutely know – you will be around to see them die? That’s a real tragedy that Jack has to carry around with him, as well as a fascinating weight to hang around a character’s shoulders.

Becasue, really, this. And not only because it's always nice to get a bit of (unintentional) validation.

Obviously authors are dead, there is no right or wrong way to read a story, &tc., & so forth, but the acceptance of mortality is the central struggle in (RTD's) DW, especially for Ten, and although TW approaches this from the other side where death is a already a given, and the problem is to find meaning in life, the issue of mortality is equally important there and it's absolutely central to every aspect of Jack's story. Without this, nothing makes sense. S2 was maybe a bit deceptive in this respect, since Jack came back from LotTL so very determined to be as human as possible, but CoE picks up again right where S1 left off.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
I'd just say word to your Merlin post. I'm very much disappointed with the All Out Evil Smirking Morgana they've chosen to portray currently, although I'm hoping flashbacks of what had happened during that whole year she was missing might at least give us some insight of what had made change her so completely cold like that.

I totally cringed during all the Merlin & Arthur scenes, but at least there's some satisfaction in seeing that Merlin is not going to just sit there and take it anymore without dishing something back.

To be honest, I'm having a hard time finding anyone sympathetic or likable on the show right now, but there are also a lot of other things that I'm still intrigued about. I hope the show will get much better this season.
Sep. 16th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
I don't know whose idea the Evil Smirk (tm) was, but it was incredibly annoying and someone should have realised that. *sigh* Why is Uther the only one who is allowed to be evil and complex?

I totally cringed during all the Merlin & Arthur scenes, but at least there's some satisfaction in seeing that Merlin is not going to just sit there and take it anymore without dishing something back.
That made it at least a little better. I assume these scenes are supposed to be funny, but Merlin so obviously hates it when Arthur does that, so it's hard to even try to see it that way...

I really would like to see the show live up to its potential a bit more this season...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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