+ The whole episode feels so rushed. I say again that I wish this whole thing had been stretched out over three eps or for the cup quest last week to've been cut short. That said, I'm pleased with so many things, SO MANY.
+ Aw Leon! This scene sets up the Gwen subplot/guise nicely. And everything's so stark and bleak and echoe-y. Such a deliberate contrast to Morgana's vision of Gwen being crowned, all washed in light.
+ Love Morgause standing at Morgana's side, as her First Knight/Royal Consort/~Lovahhh~/whatever the kids are calling it these days.
+ Reaction shot from Gwen! Notable for the glaring lack of one at the end of the last episode. She looks so anxious but also determined.
+ omg did y'all really send Merlin out into the forest full of Morgana's men ALONE to fetch supplies? Perhaps the knights weren't there before. At least he's armed. And aw, Gwaine running out to protect him/Elyan with the water and offering to be the one to get more.
+ Aw, poor Arthur in the corner. He can't even.
+ Shooting arrows into a crowd of harmless citizens? CLASSY, Morgana. You know, this seems over the top but at least it's consistent. Uther getting ousted is a good thing in general, but last week during the coup, as Z points out, there wasn't any mention of Morgana taking the kingdom back for oppressed magic users, oppressed ANYONE really. There hasn't been any of that EVER from her, actually. It's always been about what Uther did to her, which was exacerbated by finding out that he refuses to acknowledge her. The other innocents were always collateral and I guess, as Queen, they still are. I still think this is way too ham-fisted a portrayal that does her and everyone a disservice, but it's not without basis.
+ LOVE THIS UTHER/MORGANA SCENE. From the start, when she calls him "father" -- she is so relieved not to have to pretend anymore, and it's hard not to feel some satisfaction for her despite everything. Meanwhile I'm trying hard not to feel bad for Uther and FAILING. UGH, eff you Anthony, you and brilliant acting and your tears, emotionally manipulating me. UGH. But anyway, she is modeling her behavior after him, SADLY, and even says that to him. It's nice to see him confronted with what he's done even though it's messed up that Morgana thinks getting in there and doing the same thing he did makes her better. And she doesn't want to kill him yet, she wants to make him suffer. Just like in 3x02 when she took extra time to torture him with the mandrake root.
Uther: "If you must kill someone, kill me."
Morgana: "You'll get your wish. But not yet. First I want you to suffer as I've suffered. To know what it's like to be alone and afraid. To be disgusted with who and what you are."
Uther: "Do you really hate me so much?"
Morgana: "You cannot begin to know how much I hate you."
And that's it, that's everything, those are her motivations laid out plainly. She finally gets to voice them. I've always thought she was stuggling with internalized hatred of her own magic and how could she not? She's Uther's daughter just like Arthur's his son and they've both internalized his way of thinking on different levels. I wish more had been done with this as Morgana's story unfolded but it's damn nice to see it finally put out there.
+ Meanwhile in the bat-cave, Merlin sweetly tries to cheer Arthur up, and the reference to the cooked rat hearkens back to S1, when he ate it during the famine. Arthur doesn't have it in him to be rude this time when he dismisses him. I was frustrated at first that Arthur couldn't seem to rouse himself but given everything he just found out and how hopeless it all seemed, it's understandable. I like the opportunity it gave for Merls to be wise and tell him what he needed to hear. Merlin, btw, has grown SO MUCH.
(Of course, at the same time he's continuing to withold info about Morgana's magic and the real situation. When Arthur brings it up "how could she do this to us", Merlin's all "IDK MOVING ON GET UP".)
+ I felt genuinely anxious when this Gwen/Morgana scene began, damn.
"Being Queen is not so simple, Gwen."
HA, i c wut y'all did thar. And I see Gwen calling her "Your Majesty" now. Looks like Morgana probably chats to Gwen a lot about her problems, which is darkly amusing/typical, and how uncomfortable must that be for Gwen? I like that she sees an opportunity to get in contact with Leon and takes it, LIKE A BOSS. Also, backstory! Gwen's mum as a maid in Leon's household, and the two of them grew up together. I enjoy that this gives Gwen a relationship with basically all the round table knights now save Percy. Previously there was no connection with Leon.
Another interesting bit: Gwen bringing up her father's death to convince Morgana that she supported her. Shows two things: that Gwen knows Morgana well enough to realise how much she values personal hurt as a motivator, and is clever enough to use it instead of saying more generally that Uther is a tyrant, or similar. Naturally and characteristically, Morgana totes forgot about what she claimed was the reason she wanted to kill Uther in S1. "I forgot that you too had suffered." SIDE-EYE. Guys, as clunky and faily as it's been written, Morgana has ALWAYS been heading in this direction, even then. This moment was just everything she ever did in a nutshell.
+ Merlin sent for Lancelot! And he knew where he last was. I bet they're pen pallies. <3
+ BACK TO GWEN. Holy god. This scene was so well-played by Rupert and Angel. I liked when she told him Morgana had sent him and he spit out his food, and she was all "Listen to me" in this fierce whisper. AND THEN. Sending that guard for water and sounding SO commanding and sure - and she knew that mentioning the Queen would make them listen. Maybe she knows about the magical bond. GWENNIEBEANS. <3
She is the actual greatest.
+ The sisters overhearing was like a bucket of water on the whole thing, but it added some tension. LOL at Morgana being genuinely hurt at Gwen's betrayal. Still want that twisted!Morgana fic btw. She wants to have Gwen executed asap and predictably, Morgause is all "slow your roll sweetums", informing her how they can make use of the situation.
+ The next Gwen/Morgana scene was cool, because they're both lying and both have their own agendas. Will never be tired of that even under the circumstances. I would not have drunk that wine (it's clear on her face she doesn't want to but is scared not to), but it was immensely satisfying to watch Gwen blithely lie about friendship and loyalty. These weeks in Morgana's court have made a better liar out of her. IDK what it says about me that I enjoyed that, haha.
+ So we cut from Merlin being pretty in the cave, trying to figure out how the vial works, back to Gwen as she retrieves the key, observed by Morgause. :D Faily interviews aside, comparing this (and 3x08 for that matter) to Julian Jones' usual episodes, he's much better at using Gwen - and more importantly not just in one scene, but throughout the episode. This ep had a lot of parallel storylines throughout and hers was one of them. Anyway, interesting that the keys to the dungeon are kept in Morgause's chambers. Gwen is once again super-clever, choosing not to steal the key so it can be found missing (compared to when Morgana stole it from Arthur's room back in 2x11) but to press a copy of it. GUYS, guys.
Also, I enjoy that these scenes of Gwen carrying out her scheme and Merlin figuring out what he needs to do with the water are paralleled and cut back and forth with each other. Almost like the detectives working side by side. ALSO, HOLY FUCK SHE IS FORGING THE KEY HERSELF, WITH ROLLED-UP SLEEVES EVEN, GETTING ALL SWEATY. Hnnng, this is only ALL I EVER WANTED. Look at this shit:
kajfkl;jdfklsghjklshklsfg BRB PERVING, also, SHE ROCKS HARD.
+ This scene with Merlin and Freya was beautiful, visually and emotionally. I felt the tears. Colin's face, I swear. lol that all he had to do in the end was break the vial. Interestingly, they had Gwaine wake up for this scene, only to leave in time for the magic to happen.
+ I like that Merls always calls Kilgarrah for a ride. But SHUT UP with "the witch". He remains gross; there's no goddamn difference between his vengeful scorched-earth joyride last season and what Morgana's doing now.
+ The Excalibur theme music is one of my fave bits of score. I'd hoped to see Freya come totally out of the water but I guess they could only afford so much. XP
+ Back to Gwen! !!!!!! Strategically falling by the airhole of the dungeon, MY GIRL. Quite a convincing fall, too.
+ GWEN NOW HAS A SWISHY CLOAK BTW. Looks like Morgana's, which means Morgana clearly gave it to her as a token for her loyalty. hehehe. LOL @ her putting Leon inna dress, this episode is AMAZING.
Gwen: "STFU, just get pretty so we can bounce."
+ Then helping him with his dress later, being all impatient and adorable, PRECIOUS. Leon is precious too and I like their rapport; they were able to find this friendly chemistry that makes you believe they've known each other for years even though this backstory development is brand new.
+ Arthur scene! It's stuff like this that makes me sure that the writers are intending his backhanded affection to be how he'll always relate to Merlin, as part of their ~buddy comedy rapport~. It's just not always fun to watch because of the power differential. This scene though: I appreciate the sentiment but it's almost word for word the same scene they already had in... was it 3x02? About reluctantly admitting Merlin's wisdom? Yeah.
+ Anyway, they go on to run smack into Gwen and Leon. Man this ep is so rushed. But I love that Arthur literally grabs her and then looks so boyishly delighted before he ~mans up~ to address Leon. Oh Arthur.
HUGS ALL AROUND, AW. I love that she hugged Gwaine and Merlin too. BESTIES.
+ Lookout!Elyan warning them!
+ Fuck yeah Lancelot! And... Thor!
+ I like the small exposition/regrouping scene afterward because we get to meet Percival who is hilariously monosyllabic, and because Merlin can finally admit to Arthur something he did to help, bringing Lancelot in. That and the awkwardness between Lancelot and Gwen. Lancelot's lingering feelings are clear (he even stares at her as they hike up the hill toward the castle later) whilst Gwen's are less so; she's all "um, hey...!... . . . ...." with all the natural awkwardness of being around an ex (and one that caused her a lot of pain) after a long time.
It's cute and effectively leaves all that on the back burner. The writers have closed the book on that for now whilst not delving toooo much into it in case they decide to do something with it later.
+ This Morgana/Morgause scene is interesting. No smirking from Morgause - even she looks surprised at Morgana's new plan to start offing knights.
+ There's basically nothing I don't love about this entire castle sequence that follows. Some cute character moments here. Gwen lighting candles, Merlin stoking the fire, and sweet, massive Percival bringing Gaius some water. And then the round table. UGH GUYS I AM SUCH A SUCKER FOR
EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS SCENE.
Arthur looks all inspired as he calls everyone over. And the way he takes Gwen's hand and offers her a chair at the round table right beside him. JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZ. ♥
+ His speech, his speech. Oh I do love Arthur still. He's got so far to come yet (talking about inclusion and equality is nice but he hasn't lived that ideal very much this season), but he gets major points for acknowledging what each of them did to get them all to that table. (The way they cut to Merlin's sweet smile after Arthur acknowledged this was a really nice touch because he's so rarely acknowledged by Arthur or anyone.) And then when everyone got up and said their piece, all of them in such adorably characteristic ways, I got choked up, negl. I'm going to go on about it for a while, just saying.
Lancelot, ever the poet. ♥ Standing up first, still so idealistic and pure-hearted. It's significant that he looks at Arthur when he says "justice" (as the one who's best placed to exact it), Merlin when he says "freedom" (because he knows how trapped Merlin is), and Gwen when he says "all that's good" (because it's her who's inspired him so much). AW LANCELOT.
And Elyan, showing he shares his sister's nobility and humilty, and that he places a lot of stock in the fact that Arthur saved him, a commoner. He came up in Camelot and he knows how significant that is. (whether or not he was doin' it for Gwen. XP)
Leon's so steadfastly devoted and the knight's code has always meant a lot to him, so this was a nice moment for him. And Gwaine's characteristically cavalier about it all to cover up that he's probably a bit verklempt. And LOL @ Percival, just lol.
Then Gwen, Gwen. Just: "You know the answer." Nothing else need be said. And then they just looked at each other, and ... AUGH. ♥
I appreciated that she was included in every part of this even though she didn't actually go with them, because it's symbolic of Gwen's growing importance on the show and in Camelot's future. Her sitting there at the round table DID THINGS TO ME.
And Merlin's moment, EEEEEE. Arthur already knows Merlin's coming with, so he says his name all aggrieved and Merls is all "nahhhhhhh" and Arthur's all "yeah well you don't have a choice" -- which, not actually true because last week Arthur made a point of giving Merlin a choice of going to the woods or staying, and that was important. So it worked out to be pretty damn adorable.
OH GOD BUT THAT ISN'T EVEN IT BECAUSE THEN ARTHUR GOES AND KNIGHTS EVERYONE. Well, everyone with fighting skill I guess. BUT STILL. He knighted all those commoners, when all season they've made a point of him saying to Gwaine "AH WELL GUESS YOU CAN'T STAY 'COS OF MY DAD'S CODE". I have no idea whether this will stick in season 4, but to me it was a big moment for Arthur's growth, even more so because no one advised him to do it.
AND OH, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL
When Arthur reached Elyan, the camera cut to Gwen, who looked so proud of her bro. God I so, so appreciate when the show slips those little moments in. KIDS. <3
+ Cue The Merlin and Lancelot Subplot of Amazingness. I love their relationship SO MUCH.
I'm glad that Lancelot's still the only knight who knows and that the show always makes use of that when he comes around. He is extremely sweet and everything Merlin needs in the moment - someone to talk to, and someone to help him carry out his plan. And the part where he goes "you know Merlin, you're the one Arthur should knight." Ahhhhh <3 Then they work really well together - from making sure Arthur sends Merlin with Lancelot to off the warning bell, to everything after that.
+ AUGH THIS PENDRAGONS MOMENT, DEAR ME.
I don't exactly have words so this bit may not contain complete sentences. They keep trying to out-OTP themselves in my heart. They start out all business, and probably with a hefty side of Arthur wanting Gwen to stay safe -- and make a point that Gwen will have a job to do in her own right. While I'm not crazy about the "womenz duties" undertones or the fact this would be off-camera stuff, she's been doing this sort of job - making bandages, tending the wounded, mending armor, sharpening swords - for the whole series, so it's hardly inconsistent, and I do not get why she needs to swordfight to be competent and awesome so I'm not totally in line with fandom on this one. The only point that annoyed me was that they had Gaius go back and not her, but I'm digressing.
Anyway, then Gwen tries to move past him, all reserved especially after the events in 3x10, but Arthur holds her up.
jeeeeezzzz. Says he doesn't care. (The way her expression goes all melty at that. ♥) He wants her to know, in case he never sees her again. Then her hands all over his face and then TRADEMARK MARATHON KISS, then their faces nuzzling just a little because Gwen lingers before she pulls back, then ARTHUR'S FACE is all intense and very adult and breathing her in, then ksjslgsjsg
This is not the full version of the kiss, this is the kiss after I cut off 75 frames because the full version of the kiss would've been about 5mb. MARATHON.
+ Lancelot, forever alone. :( Ah well, plenty o' fish.
+ Sweet Gaius/Merlin moment before they all head out.
+ So when they get to the castle there's loads of Merlin and Lancelot working together, Elyan/Gwaine/Percival/Leon working together with Arthur fighting and trapping guards and stuff, and it's awesome. I wish there'd been time for an Arthur/Morgana confrontation.
+ Even though Elyan didn't get much, he was so very lovely, and I love this moment where he's all "RARRRRRR" jumping back into the battle even though he was injured. WHY. SO. FLY.
+ Interesting Arthur/Uther scene - he apologizes (presumably for lying?) and Arthur decides now is not the time. (I missed what he said there before "now isn't the time", I tried listening to it back but it's a mush.) Anyway I like the brief consternation on his face, mixed with duty and determination.
+ I am so disappointed that neither Morgana nor Morgause found out about Merlin's magic, that they had Gaius return (particularly given the fact they still left Gwen behind) improbably quickly and just in the nick of time. I was sure one of them would find out. It was a copout and left the season without a hell of a lot changed. My other disappointment - how the actual hell does Gaius kill Morgause. MORGAUSE. I mean, no way she's dead, but to even be able to incapacitate her when we've seen him do like two spells ever with grinding effort? Come on.
+ IDEK with that Morgana scene. Her distress for Morgause was very affecting, but what was with the shrieking? I don't even want to unpack that, it's actually gross when I think about why the writers felt like they had to make her ~hysterical~ there, I just wanted her to hurry up and Disapparate. What WOULD have been gorgeous would've been her disappearing in billows the way Morgause did with her when the sitch was reversed last season. lol writers, always missing the most obvious of opportunities. Julian even WROTE both episodes.
All that said, she needs moments like this that show she's NOT heartless, just twisted inside - much like Uther. I think Morgause is alive (or they would've let her find out about Merlin presumably) and even if they can't get Emilia back it makes me happy that Morgana won't be out there all alone hurting. Although this would provide opportunities for her to find Mordred and/or Alvarr for next season.
+ The last Arthur/Merlin scene was genuinely adorable with Merls telling Arthur to do his own boots, calling back what he said at the round table.
A light moment that I think should mean something later. Because Arthur still has to live up to all these ideals in practical, everyday ways. Also, I'm interested that Merlin is urging Arthur to take charge and become king with Uther still apparently alive. Last we saw of him he looked genuinely broken though, and all season he's been increasingly kind of useless/oblivious, so this is an interesting way to have Arthur assume at least a small measure of power before the real deal. He needs more chances to shine, so that's encouraging.
+ AW HIS GLEEFACE WHEN GWEN RIDES IN. Leading the knights like a boss.
Slo-mo kiss and hug of epic - a very public one, too. I was spoiled rotten for this scene but at least it was shown from a different angle and slowed down - plus they used the take of the kiss that I liked best from the Pierrefonds photos. <3
+ I appreciated that Gaius was all "No one else is going to say this to you, but I will: Well done". Though in my head canon Lancelot totally did as well. (andthentheymadeout)
+ Closing the season with Merlin putting the sword in the stone was suitably epic, super-pretty, and appropriate. I actually like that Arthur has yet to wield Excalibur. It isn't his time - this whole season has been about how it isn't his time yet, really. It's fitting that Merlin is the crucial player in the end as he's been all season.
+ brief rant: Really pissed at Elyan barely having any lines then having to ride in behind Thor, almost completely eclipsed by him and Leon. Look, for most of this ep I was feeling charitable toward Percy, but when the show does this type of shit, I get compelled to start in about how he was useless and personalty-free. HE DOESN'T EVEN GO HERE yet he rides in ahead of Elyan, who's an established character with relationships and who I might also add is considerably SMALLER than Percival and Leon. It would've made sense for him to ride in first for that reason alone. /rant But I did love his bashful smile as he watched Gwen and Arthur.
+ Went into this with low expectations after last week's ep underwhelmed me, so I'm overall really pleased with how it turned out, as rushed as it was. I'm a little disappointed that we leave with no drastic changes beyond Morgana's treachery being open/not reset for Arthur and Uther. Everything else is the same - no one knows about Merlin, no one dies, and Morgana's missing.
Anyway, TY if you actually read all this! I figure I won't be doing any more of these for a while so I went super-spammy. XD
crossposted like yeah | comments