Okay, so Jenny Trout and Jess Jarman got me into the show Merlin this past fall. I’d watched a few episodes with my youngest son when it was first airing and then we got busy and distracted and I got way behind. Well, I’m terrible at catching up with things like TV, so I never did. Until Jen and Jess basically browbeat me into watching it.
I’m not complaining, mind you. I got sucked back in immediately plowed through two seasons and part of a third when Jess and Jen started watching it with me. We all got online at the same time, cued up Netflix, opened an IM conference chat window and watched the rest of the season. Not all at once, of course. We stopped for showers. And food. And sometimes to take our kids to school. We’re not monsters.
But we decided some time after we were finished to do a blog/watch along thing. Mostly so we could watch it again. So each week, we’re gonna be watching and blogging with a short recap and a few questions we answer with each episode. So…welcome to Merlin Club.
Also, check out this freaking AMAZING banner Jess’ daughter made for us! It could not be more perfect! I showed my kid, and he said, “It’s like she knows you.” For the record, I’ve never met Jess’ kids. Not yet, anyway.
Here’s the recap: (Things may or may not be in the right order…)
Merlin, a teenage-ish boy, (it’s hard to tell in the Middle Ages. It’s also hard to remember that while Jess is lusting loudly over him. But he’s legal. It’s cool.) is sent to Camelot by his mother. Apparently, he can’t control his magic-using ways in their small, rural town, so his mother, in her infinite wisdom sends him to Camelot because she’s afraid people will discover his powers.
Awww… so adorably innocent. You know…for about another ten minutes.
Ruled by King Uther. The same King Uther who despises magic and is on a personal fucking mission to eradicate magic from the land. So much so that he kills anyone even suspected of using it. Do anything even remotely magical or something connected to the ubiquitous “old religion” and you have a date with the executioner. Merlin witnessed this as his jaunty stroll into town came to a screeching halt.
So yeah…his mom sends him to Gaius, the grizzled old court physician in hopes that he can teach Merlin to control himself and figure out the purpose of his abilities. Now, maybe I’m just a smidge overprotective, but I’m not sure I’d send my magical kid, a kid who’s proven to have poor impulse control, to Camelot. That just seems like…questionable parenting.
So Merlin witnesses the execution of this poor hapless guy as well as the threat of retribution by his elderly witchy mother. We see the king’s ward, Morgana witnessing the death from the window and recoiling in horror and Merlin eventually makes his way into the castle to find Gaius. This doesn’t go particularly well since he startles the old dude while his on a ladder on a balcony. Gaius falls and Merlin has to use the forbidden magic to save his life by moving a bed to break Gaius’ fall. This seems dicey to me. It’s a medieval bed – so wooden slats and a thin (likely flea-ridden) straw-stuffed mattress. I can’t imagine this is going to be terribly helpful from that height, but Gaius with his very strange eyebrows, lives.
His eyebrows do strange, strange things. You’re just going to have to trust me on this.
He susses out who Merlin is and then warns him to never use magic again. (A promise Merlin will break. Over and over and over. But I digress.) He gives Merlin the room, conveniently located off his chamber, and that becomes Merlin’s bedroom where he’s frequently wakened by a disembodied voice calling his name.
Somewhere in here, we see Uther demanding that Morgana attend the feast celebrating the vanquishing of all the dragons in the kingdom (remember that whole Uther hates magic thing? Well, he really hates dragons.) and Morgana yells at Uther for executing that man and there’s a big old argument about magic and some serious sexual tension between the two of them. Uther storms off in a huff wearing his super sexy leather gloves that Jen needs to bestow upon Neil Elwood, and Morgana looks tragic and beautiful.
See? Beautiful and tragic. In my next life, I want to look Katie McGrath.
Back to Merlin and Gaius. Gaius gives Merlin some odd jobs to do like delivering medicine which Merlin totally fucks up. Like the potion for the nearly blind dude whose only supposed to have a few drops at a time. Merlin neglects to tell him that until after the dude has guzzled it. We never do find out if there were any horrible side effects. In the course of running errands for Gaius, he gives Prince Arthur the verbal smackdown about being an asshat to the servant who’s “helping” him train. Merlin, of course, doesn’t realize that it’s the Prince of Camelot he’s snarking at. But, it wouldn’t have stopped him. Because Merlin is really quite sassy and apparently unconcerned about a date with the executioner. Gwen, one of the castle servants and Morgana’s lady in waiting, gives Merlin the medieval version of thumbs up for dissing Arthur.
Oh, Arthur…you pretty, pretty asshat.
Meanwhile, the old witchy woman (actually, this might have been a bit before, but I’m new to recapping and also easily distracted) has a plan to get her revenge on Uther for killing her son. To do this, she kills the famed singer, Lady Helen, who’s traveling to Camelot to perform for Uther and using magic (no surprise there) steals her identity. However, her true form is still visible in mirrors.
She arrives at Camelot and Uther tries to be all suave and debonair. She didn’t fall for it. I don’t know how because Anthony Stewart Head. HE WAS GILES, WOMAN! DOES THAT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU!? *Ahem* Anywhoooooooooo, fake Lady Helen has a private meal with Uther in which she makes some foreshadowy observations about her plans for Arthur while Uther obliviously and unsuccessfully flirts with her.
Yes. So…Giles. I mean, Neil. No! Uther, yes, that’s it. Sorry…the gloves. Distracted…
Meanwhile, Arthur and his posse are strolling through the streets of Camelot being badasses, and they happen upon Merlin. Arthur taunts Merlin. Merlin is having none of that shit and challenges Arthur to a fight. Arthur chooses the weapons, and it’s morning stars – which of course Merlin can’t wield well. But you know what he can wield? Magic. That’s right. Merlin busts out the magic and almost beats Arthur, but instead, Arthur ends up knocking out Merlin and he wakes up in the dungeon where he again hears the voice calling his name. Then, he’s brought to the stocks and pelted with virtually all the fresh produce in Camelot. Let’s just waste that food, people.
At some point, Merlin goes to deliver a sleeping potion to Morgana. Morgana, who’s changing clothes thinks he’s Gwen and is talking to him about the feast and what she should wear now that she’s suddenly no longer protesting over the death of that guy and planning to attend. Gwen comes in and catches Merlin but instead of being concerned about Morgana, she just shoos Merlin out of the room with a smile. Seriously, Gwen – you *just* met this guy.
Later that night (I think) the disembodied voice again wakes Merlin and he follows the sound down beyond the dungeon sneaking past the guards with some handily timed magic. He ends up in a big cavern and demands to know who’s waking him the hell up. It’s a giantass dragon. Surprise! And the dragon tells him that his destiny is to protect Arthur and make sure he becomes king because he’ll unite the land, blah blah, blah, insert Arthurian mythos here. Merlin is *not* down with this because Arthur is a pompous, arrogant douchecanoe. A different term might have been used.
Yay! The disembodied voice has a body, now!
Later the next day, Merlin drops off a potion in fake Lady Helen’s chambers, but she’s not there. He investigates the poppet (voodoo type doll make of cornhusks) on her dressing table where there’s a cloth draped over the mirror in order to keep her true identity a secret. He’s wondering WTF and accidentally knocks the cloth askew. She returns and hurriedly rushes out of the of the room and a young female servant enters to help fake Lady Helen get ready and she spots the witch’s true face in the mirror, so the witch grabs her wrist and magically kills her.
It’s finally time for the feast and Morgana sashays in a completely anachronistic gown that looks like it belongs at Club 54 during the late 1970s. There are the obligatory remarks from the young men including Arthur, about Morgana. Which ends up being way weird later in the series.
A world of no, Morgana. Just…no.
Eventually, everyone is seated in ye olde great hall and it’s time for fake Lady Helen’s performance. Merlin is serving food at this shindig and is standing near the head table. Fake Lady Helen enters singing an ethereal song and suddenly everyone begins to doze off. Merlin notices something’s up and covers his ears. And as the spell and the sleep deepens, huge, giant cobwebs spread all over the people in the hall and fake Lady Helen heads toward Arthur with her vengeful intent obvious. Also, she totally had a dagger. If she can kill with a touch, why bother with weaponry?
Merlin uses magic to drop the huge wrought iron chandelier on the witch crushing her and breaking her enchantment and turning her back to her haggy self. Everyone wakes up and looks around in a daze. Uther is horrified as he sees that Lady Helen is the witch from the courtyard. Only Merlin notices that she’s still alive and still attempting to kill Arthur. She throws the dagger (with surprising force and accuracy for someone who’s crushed under a huge amount of wrought iron) and Merlin jumps into action and knocks Arthur to the floor saving his life.
Uther, at his most benevolent, insists on rewarding Merlin…and awards him a place in the royal household…as Arthur’s manservant. The expressions on Merlin and Arthur’s faces are priceless.
1. If I’d written this episode, I would have changed…
For fuck’s sake, I would have changed Morgana’s dress that she wore to the feast. Yes, I know there are more troubling plot issues, but damn it, that dress drives me insane.
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode.
I love the interaction between Arthur and Merlin. No, it’s not realistic. Merlin probably would have been killed for being so disrespectful, but I do love the hate/hate relationship they have going on and I particularly enjoy their dialogue.
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.
The little glittery stick on beauty mark thing Morgana had on her face. WTF, Morgana? This isn’t Cochcella.
4. Favorite Costume
*NOT* Morgana’s feast dress. I really love her blue and purple number that she wore in the beginning of the episode.
5. Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created.
This is the first episode, and I hate to be a poop, but I don’t really have an answer for this one, yet.
6. What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about?
I’m gonna go with when Merlin was in his bed…looking all alone…and vulnerable.
7. What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode?
Uther’s leather gloves which I feel certain inevitably led to spank-y thoughts.
You can find Jen’s recap here
. And Jess’ recap is here
Join us on Twitter, Monday January 27th at 8pm EST when we watch episode two of season one – well, watching. And tweeting. And probably snarking. #MerlinClub is the hashtag you’re looking for.
Then check back on Friday, January 31st for the recap blog posts!