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The irritating thing about the stomach-problem now manifesting itself mainly in a scratchy throat is that it was only when I half lost my voice yesterday that I realised that the current sore throat had nothing to do with what I'd eaten. Should have started gargling Friday evening.

Finally catching up with Merlin...

Overall, I really dislike what they're doing with Morgana, constantly insisting that she's now evil, evil, and in case anyone still had any doubts, confirmed not just by the morally more than ambiguous dragon in ep. 2, but even by the goblin in ep. 3, evil. It's badly handled, badly written, and Katie McGrath's acting skills, or lack thereof, don't help either. The Evil Smirk™ is simply annoying.

OTOH there are scenes like when she fights Merlin in 3.02, where she says things one cannot but agree with, and it makes me wonder again. Because she's absolutely right there. She's alone, has been afraid for her life since S2, she's been driven into a corner she doesn't see a way out of, and one might wonder what Merlin would have become if the dragon hadn't promised him a better future with Arthur since the first episode, a vision that, regardless of the dragon's agenda, Merlin still clings to. Merlin absolutely trusts Arthur to accept his magic once he can safely reveal it, and he always had Gaius to confide in, and before that, his mother, and at least one good friend. Morgana had no one. Telling Morgana now would probably do more harm than good and only give her another weapon against Merlin, but telling her in S2 might have made all the difference, and both Merlin and Gaius let her struggle alone, too afraid to help her. This undercurrent of stifling fear ruins them all, and when Uther finally dies, it'll be too late at least for Morgana.

Going through my stickies ysterday, I found some old notes about SV S5 that at the time I never cared enough to turn into a post, and something I wrote about Lex there is also true for Morgana. Some people have more patience and goodwill, but some you can only push so far until something is damaged and changed irrevocably. With Lex there were plenty of moments where you could see something break, bit by bit, until it was too late. For Morgana it probably was too late when Merlin and Gaius lied to her in S2 and left her ignorant and alone. She could forgive her father's fate, especially since Uther really seemed to regret it, but she can't bear to live under a constant threat of death. Arthur's relationship with his father had all kinds of rocky moments, but they were all handled so that they wouldn't damage Arthur too much. What Merlin does in The Sins of the Father, even if it's at a terrible cost to himself, is to prevent Arthur become another Uther, someone tortured by regret and quite possibly lashing out at others, looking for someone else to blame, because Merlin knows Arthur is going to be an important player and the only hope for a better future. The ending of that episode wasn't unproblematic, and Merlin's self-denial drove him straight to Freya in the next episode, but it gave Arthur time, to grow up, to look at his father and judge him more rationally. No one paid any attention to Morgana, the girl, the apparently unimportant one, and she is the the one who is now fighting Uther with as much hatred and determination as he persecuted and persecutes people like her. In a way it's poetic justice, that it's Morgana doing this to Uther. Handled better, this could be Greek tragedy material. As it is, it's faintly irritating.

3.02 The Tears of Uther Pendragon (Part 2)

# 'Your determination to see goodness in people will be your undoing.' Which is where I remember S1 and episodes like The Moment of Truth where the four of them were friends, and, *sniff*. Probably the most depressing line in all three seasons.

# Loved—loved!—Merlin riding the dragon, finding himself, being able to use all that power for once, and the joy of it.

# Liked Gwen and Arthur, but Gwen really needs a storyline beyond 'future queen'.

# I'd willing to buy this trope where Arthur and Merlin (but especially Arthur) are men and therefore can barely ever have an emotional moment without embarrassment, a follow-up insult, or the immediate need for comic relief, if it weren't for S1 episodes like The Moment of Truth or The Labyrinth of Gedref. Going back on established canon like that is really rather annoying.

# What with Arthur's (most of the time pretty awful) behaviour towards Merlin I was at least slightly tempted to return to my S1/early S2 theory that on some level Arthur does know, or suspect, but tries very hard not to acknowledge his suspicion, and it makes him angry, with Merlin, with the impossible situation, with his father, and with himself. And that maybe on some level he's trying to provoke Merlin into doing something and revealing himself. Or not. *sigh* Can't wait for the reveal, if it ever happens.

3.03 Goblin's Gold was both less painfully embarrassing and funnier than I expected it to be from the preview. Richard Wilson obviously had a lot of fun playing goblin!Gaius, and Gwen and donkey ears!Arthur were the most adorable thing ever. I'm still not sure they convince me as a (future) couple (yet), but I love seeing them as friends, and I like their interaction this season a lot more than the rather sudden and forced romance of S2.

And I really liked that Arthur trusted Merlin's claim about Gaius being possessed even without proof. He's already learned that outright contradicting Uther when it comes to accusations of magic will get him nowhere, so he decides to quietly get the proof he needs, if it exists. Clever, sneaky, effective, and it shows a lot of insight and trust balanced with good judgement. Essentially, I like it when Arthur isn't written as an idiot.

Also, Gwen and Merlin! It really hurts that the fourth from the group is missing now.

3.04 Gwaine

Somehow, the episode felt more like S1 than any of the episodes since, well, S1, and not just becasue it was ridiculously slashy ('What am I doing in this bed?'). The equality-theme was much more present, and Arthur and Merlin's relationship seemed somehow more balanced, although I can't pinpoint what exactly gives the impression, because Arthur is still a bit of a jerk.

Arthur's character development is all over the place half of the time, but there really is a new-found maturity that shows in his arguments with Uther. He knows exactly what he can get from him, and how to get it, even while assessing what Uther does wrong and what he would—and will—do differently. You can see the power building silently, the man and the king slowly emerging, and now it isn't just in emotional moments where it's a question of doing the right thing, it's in the control, the deliberation. He had a taste of what it is like to bear the whole responsibility in the first two episodes, and he found out that he can do it, even while he may have been glad to be able to give up the burden again for a while yet, because there are also a lot of things he has to learn yet. But the next clash between him and Uther will probably be fundamental and extremely dangerous. And it's bound to happen sooner or later, because there are simply too many skeletons in Uther's closet.

The interesting thing is how especially after Arthur managed to prove himself during the siege, justifying everyone's trust in him, almost everyone, without even being aware of what they're doing, is already counting on Uther's death and wishing for Arthur's reign, where things will finally be different. Gwen, Merlin, Gaius, Gwaine, even implicitely Arthur, when he says that his father is wrong banishing Gwaine, and if it were up to him, he'd act differently. We're probably not going to see a revolution on this show, with this canon, but Uther's position is slowly becoming rather precarious, with so many people essentially wishing him dead, albeit less ardently than Morgana, and if it came to a serious clash between him and Arthur now, Arthur would have already greater support. The balance of power is definitely starting to shift, and I wonder how Uther will react to that.



solitary summer

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