It has been one year since I began posting blogs. I have over sixty posts (I’ve managed that despite taking a month off here and there due to often posting twice a week). That number staggers me at times, because I have barely scratched the surface of my eclectic love of movies. Yes, we’ve done Disney. But I love musicals as well. And action movies. And movie series. I’ve planned out the next couple of months, about until I may break for the holiday season. And I’ve only gotten two categories laid out and doing some rough math…oh boy, there’s still more coming! I originally thought this would be a project for a year. Nope, gonna be more like three. Wow!
After Eragon, we will continue with historic movies, then historic-set romances. Some more modern romances or rom coms (not a long category). Musicals (that’s gonna be a big group). Action/adventure, always fun. The superheroes, including the Marvel cinematic universe. And the pieces that I really want to discuss: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter; those expansive series.
In the meantime, enjoy a quick update on some other movies I fit into my life.
Since I got into Game of Thrones and came to love the character Jon Snow the best, I decided to try some of Kit Harington’s other movies. So far, I’ve seen Testament of Youth and Pompeii. Both of which I want to own. I don’t want to give too much away and I know they may not be widely liked films, but I enjoyed them. Well, the second half of Testament of Youth not too much; it made me cry. But it takes place during the First World War, so you can guess why. But Kit’s character is a dashing, charming young man who likes literature and poetry and my heart melts. I’d love a happier tale, of a young lady falling in love with her brother’s friend; that doesn’t end in heartbreak. I should see if more exist. That part reminded me a bit of Jane Austen. And the lead female character is at Oxford. Me being the nerd that I am, was fairly drooling looking at the library. And realizing this takes place at the same time as Tolkien (brilliant movie, I want it as soon as it’s available. We’ll cover it once we get to the two trilogies).
I was surprised I liked Pompeii; as disaster movies are not my cup of tea. The storyline is not the most original, but it was well done. The action is stupendous and Kiefer Sutherland is surprisingly in it; they timed the opening credits well so his name comes up just as he turns around and you realize, oh, that’s him. This made me want to watch Gladiator. And I was disappointed. I dozed off half an hour into the movie and towards the end, I was fast forwarding, begging it to get to the point. What is a bit frustrating is that I like other Ridley Scott films. And I deeply enjoyed his film starring Russell Crowe again in Robin Hood.
If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations on movies or shows to watch, I will consider. I am in no way promising to watch, partly due to, as I’ve stated previously, I am into enough shows and movies and fandoms as it is. My bookshelves plead with me to return to my first love.
And a thank you to all the followers and all the people who have read this blog! I didn’t realize I would enjoy it the way that I do. It combines my love of movies (and talking about movies, because I find them fascinating) and writing. Happy movie watching and happy reading!
We’ve come to the end of the series. I feel they rushed this series; maybe they were surprised how quick they would have to wrap things up. My one friend came back and asked me where the season was that they end up in modern times, since she had seen pictures of it everywhere (I can find them on Pintrest, maybe they’re on Tumblr; I’m not on Tumblr, I don’t know). Sadly, no, that’s not how this season ends. I feel that they should come back and do that season, or a movie at the very least.
Arthur’s Bane, begins the season in two parts. Three years have passed since Guinevere’s coronation. Arthur meets with his knights at the Round Table. Unfortunately, Gwaine and Percival are missing after an expedition. Morgana is suspected, even though they haven’t heard from her in the three years. Morgana is indeed behind the disappearances; she’s capturing men to work searching for the key to the knowledge of Arthur’s Bane, his downfall. Joined by Liam Cunningham whose character isn’t named until the second episode. (Since I’ve been wandering down the Game of Thrones path, when I saw his name in the opening credits I was surprised. I haven’t seen this season as often as the previous ones, so a lot of this was unfamiliar to me.) Arthur and his knights, and Merlin, go looking for their brethren. Merlin receives a vision that Arthur is in danger and even Gwen worries about Arthur going on the mission himself; he is Camelot’s king, he needs to be cautious. But Arthur is the type of king who will show his people he is not afraid of any task.
Sadly, Gwen’s new maid who is adorable with Merlin is also a traitor, for her father who is harboring Morgana. Her father (played by Liam Cunningham) ultimately rescues his daughter, but also dies in the aftermath. Morgana doesn’t seem particularly bothered, more concerned with the overarching search for Arthur’s destruction. Arthur is injured on their quest and he and Merlin are captured by Saxons, and a familiar looking young man. Mordred is back and now a young man (don’t think too hard on what ages they look). He shows Arthur and Merlin kindness even though Merlin does not trust him. Arthur saved his life as a child and he will repay that debt. Arthur and Merlin manage to escape and sneak into the castle where they find Percival.
Gwaine has been missing for a few days. An alien-looking being (really BBC? Let’s bring aliens into the mix) finds him and heals him after guards beat him. (And they’re all shirtless for no apparent reason. Again, does BBC really need to do this to attract viewers?) Percival starts gathering men and taking out the guards. Morgana comes across Arthur while Merlin is chasing after Aithusa. Mordred is with her and prevents her from killing Arthur. He recognizes that Morgana has gone a bit crazy; she has chosen hate. He has not. He carries Arthur to his knights. Merlin finds Gwaine and the creature. He is granted one question. Who is Arthur’s Bane? Himself.
Everyone is back in Camelot; Arthur knights Mordred. Merlin honestly likes Mordred, but doesn’t trust him. He asks why Mordred saved Arthur. “Because he’s right, the love that binds us is more important than the power we wield.” Merlin knows that for good or ill, the die is cast. Albion’s greatest trial has begun.
The Death Song of Uther Pendragon brings to light Arthur’s doubts whether he is being a good ruler. He does a lot of things his father wouldn’t approve of. He’s then gifted a chance to see his father again when he saves an old sorceress for a horrible death and no trial. And Uther is disappointed with his son. He knighted commoners, he married a commoner and not for an alliance for the kingdom. He feels that his son has failed to strengthen and protect the kingdom; he’s destroying Uther’s legacy. Meanwhile, we, along with Merlin, counsel Arthur that he is better than his father. His people love and respect him and his is a more wise and just ruler. But Uther’s spirit is released and haunts the castle. Percival is attacked. Gwen is almost killed. Merlin and Arthur set out to put Uther’s spirit back. Uther attacks Merlin and discovers that he has magic. Uther tries to warn Arthur, but Arthur sounds the horn dismissing the spirit before he is able.
Mithian’s kingdom is attacked, bringing her back to Camelot in Another’s Sorrow. It’s a ploy between Odin and Morgana. Morgana disguises herself as Mithian’s maidservant so Mithian will persuade Arthur to rescue her father. Merlin suspects the maid and discovers it is Morgana, but she knocks him out before he can warn Arthur. Arthur proceeds with the plan and walks into the trap. Merlin comes to, with magical aid from Gaius, in time to take Gawine and rescue Arthur. Arthur faces Odin and Merlin prevents his friend from killing the other king. There is a better way. Arthur asks for a truce; else, their blood feud will simply continue on. Odin accepts. And we start a trend this season of seeing Merlin injured more often. I think it’s good, because it shows that he is vulnerable and we like vulnerability in our heroes.
The Disir, the mouthpiece of the Triple Goddess, pass judgment on Arthur and find him lacking. He has persecuted sorcerers as a carryover from Uther. His fate is set; while Camelot flowers, already the seeds of its destruction are sown. Arthur argues he makes his own path, but he still wants to protect his people, so he appears before the Disir. He is not respectful the first appearance though and they attack. Mordred takes a spear meant for Arthur. Arthur now has a choice; to save Mordred, he must allow magic to be freely practiced in Camelot again. If not, Mordred dies. We can see Merlin struggle to advise his friend. Merlin desires for magic to return, for his sake and his people. But even Kilgarah warns him that Arthur’s fate is bound with Mordred. So Merlin tells Arthur there is no place for magic in Camelot, thereby sentencing Mordred to die. Yet when they return to Camelot, Mordred lives. This gets terribly confusing for Merlin; every step he takes toward not bring the future to pass actually helps it along.
Morgana kidnaps Gwen in The Dark Tower and tortures her in a way. She locks her former maidservant in a dark room with mandrake root, listening to screams, and seeing visions of people she loves. Elyan and Arthur mount a rescue attempt, though they are waylaid in a magical forest. Merlin trusts his magic and leads them out, but Elyan darts ahead to rescue his sister. An enchanted sword runs him through. At the very end of the episode, we see Gwen sneak out to visit Morgana. She now believes that only Morgana has her best interest at heart; after all, they were close friends for many years, they know each other best.
Gwen begins to work behind the scenes to help Morgana and bring down Camelot and kill her husband. Accidents begin to befall Arthur in A Lesson in Vengeance. (Yes, the stable hand is played by John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones. And due to when this season was filmed, he had already begun playing Sam. So we are correct to gasp, “Oh my gosh, it’s Sam!”) The stable hand Tyr Seward takes the fall and Gwen stabs him to prevent him from talking. Morgana gives Gwen a magical poison to slowly and painfully kill Arthur. She has no hesitation in giving it to Arthur; she plays her part as grieving wife well. Gwen next arranges for Merlin to take the fall; he’s close to Arthur and has access to cause him harm. Gaius helps Merlin out of the cell while Leon pledges the knights to follow Gwen who will succeed Arthur should he die. Merlin ages himself (we can see he is having a lot of fun in his Dragoon character). Only Merlin’s magic can save Arthur, but he doubts he has the strength for both the aging and the healing. Gaius informs his ward that the only one who doubts Merlin’s abilities is Merlin. Merlin cries when he thinks Arthur has died, but Arthur survives. Merlin sneaks back into his cell so he can be released the next day. Arthur never suspected Merlin. Well that’s good, but why didn’t the knights stand up for him? Gwen gets the credit when she finds a new suspect and pins the blame correctly on Morgana.
Arthur meets with potential allies in The Hollow Queen while Gwen arranges a distraction for Merlin. A “Druid” boy sneaks into Camelot and asks Merlin for help. He leads Merlin into a trap by Morgana (she and Gwen are just trying to get Arthur’s biggest defense away while Gwen arranges for Arthur’s assassination). She poisons Merlin and throws him into a ravine. The boy returns for Merlin; the young man had shown him kindness and helps Merlin heal. They make it back to Camelot just as the assassin sets up. The boy is killed helping Merlin. Gwen had fed Arthur the tale that Merlin was sneaking off to see a girl when Arthur began to worry about Merlin. Now Gaius and Merlin know that Gwen is working against them.
They come up with a solution in With All My Heart. Merlin helps Arthur spy on Gwen when she meets with Morgana. They know it’s Morgana’s magic this time betraying Arthur. Which means it will take even more powerful magic to undo the spell. Merlin gets the solution off of an old sorceress and must lead Arthur to a magical lake and summon the White Goddess. Gwen must enter the lake of her own will. Arthur and Merlin sneak Gwen out of the castle, keeping her unconscious. Mordred follows them, which was a good thing because both Merlin and Arthur fall off a cliff and Arthur’s arm is pinned. Merlin has to transform into an old woman so as to not arouse suspicion (though Mordred does note that Merlin is missing at one point). The magic works and Dolma (Merlin in disguise) asks that Arthur remembers that magic can save, as well as hurt. “She” tells him off when they almost forget Merlin and tells Arthur “one day, he will recognize the true worth of those around him.” Mordred finally realizes that Merlin has magic, but promises to keep his secret. They share the dream of magic returning to Camelot.
Alator returns in The Kindness of Strangers; Morgana has hunted him down and tortures him to reveal Emrys’s identity. He refuses, but has recruited others to his cause. An old woman warns Merlin that the great battle is approaching. Mordred and the other knights give chase when they discover the old woman, since Gaius does not trust her. She is not in league with Morgana, but Morgana finds out about her, so she too is hunting for the woman. Merlin goes to help and is injured. The woman sacrifices herself to protect Merlin and he is not discovered. He hears the prophecy of Camlan and receives word that Morgana has declared war.
A familiar face for us pops up in The Drawing of the Dark. Alexandra Dowling (Roslin Frey in Game of Thrones and Queen Anne of Austria in Musketeers) is Kara, an old friend [and love interest] of Mordred’s. She’s injured and Mordred tends to her in the woods. Merlin finds out, but Mordred swears him to secrecy. Arthur and Merlin discover Kara themselves, even after Merlin tries to lure Arthur away. Kara attacks Arthur and is arrested. She proudly defies the king; “I will not rest until you are dead and your kingdom is no more.” Mordred pleads for her life, but she shows no repentance. Arthur cannot risk her being free. Merlin even pleads on Mordred’s behalf, but Arthur believes Mordred will see that Arthur had no choice and eventually forgive him. Merlin suspects that Mordred will try to free Kara, Mordred throws in Merlin’s face, “wouldn’t you do the same for a woman you love?” We know that Merlin tried, but Arthur killed Freya when she attacked Camelot. And Merlin forgave Arthur and serves him faithfully to this day. Merlin does not tell Mordred this (there is a fanfiction story Love Lost by Revhead where Merlin does tell Mordred and changes the story a little).
Mordred breaks Kara out, she kills a guard along the way, but they’re captured. Arthur offers her one last chance, but she will not change her ways. Mordred is in a cell when she is led to her execution. His magic breaks him out of his cell and he goes directly to Morgana. He has information for her, which will lead to Arthur’s death. He knows the identity of Emrys: Merlin.
The Diamond of the Day completes the season in two parts. Morgana sends a mook into Camelot to sneak into Merlin’s chambers, planting some sort of slug. It attacks Merlin’s face and somehow steals his magic. While that happens, Morgana and Mordred attack on outpost. Gwaine rescues a young woman and they make it back to Camelot to give word. Arthur decides to ride out and meet Morgana and her army on the field, to keep the fighting away from the people and other villages. The best place is Camlan, where the path narrows. Merlin sadly cannot accompany Arthur on this great battle; he must secretly journey to the Crystal Cave in an effort to restore his magic. But Gwaine’s new friend is a spy for Morgana, she passes along the information about Arthur and Mordred surmises where Merlin is heading. Morgana is waiting for the warlock and causes a cave in.
Merlin is injured and when he wakes, he sees his father. Balinor urges his son to not let go, don’t give in. Merlin is magic itself; he cannot lose what he is. Rest, he advises, believe in the crystals. When Merlin wakes again, he is healed and sees a secret path that Mordred plans to cut Arthur off with. Merlin warns Arthur in a dream, then bursts out of the cave.
Arthur misses having Merlin with him; the man who has stood beside him in every other instance is now gone for this vital confrontation. Gwen has accompanied him, not to fight, though she will help behind the scenes, but so they can spend what time they have together. She knows there is a good chance that Arthur may not return from this battle. Arthur receives Merlin’s message (Gwen has already begun to suspect there is more to Merlin that appears) and sets the camp to business. Percival and Gwaine will meet the band coming around behind. Arthur rallies his troops; fight for a united kingdom, fight against tyranny. The battle has begun.
Aithusa spews fire on Arthur’s troop, but a sorcerer (an aged Merlin, his true Emrys form) calls him off, then directs lightning on the Saxons, saving Arthur. He knocks Morgana down. Mordred hunts down Arthur on the field and stabs him with a blade forged on Aithusa’s breath. Arthur kills Mordred. Merlin finds Arthur on the field, bypassing Mordred, and carries him off.
When Arthur wakes, Merlin is back to his normal form. Merlin apologizes to his friend; he thought he was in time to defy the prophecy. Arthur doesn’t know what Merlin is talking about. Merlin reveals he was the sorcerer.
Arthur…doesn’t take it well. He responds to Gaius, when the old man finds them, but shies away from Merlin. They need to get word back to Guinevere in Camelot. Leon is giving her updates; but they have not found Arthur. Gaius tells Arthur that Merlin is his friend; he needs him far more than he needs Gaius. The wound is fatal, due to the blade. The only place Arthur could heal is the Isle of Avalon. Gaius can take the royal seal to Gwen.
Back in Camelot, they realize that truth of Gwaine’s traitorous female friend. She is executed, after passing along misinformation to Morgana. Percival and Gwaine set out to take down Morgana. Sadly, she bests them, knocking out Percival, then torturing Gwaine. Percival frees himself in time to watch his friend die. And so starts the “how many stabs does it take to kill Morgana?” Gwen confronts Gaius about the truth of Merlin. She seems pleased and knows that Merlin will care for Arthur.
Merlin continues to care for Arthur, confusing the man. Arthur slowly comes around to the fact that his manservant has had magic all along, but it still takes time for him to get over the fact that Merlin lied about it the whole time he knew Arthur. Merlin insists, it has always been to help Arthur; he is proud of what he has done and he wouldn’t change a thing. Arthur finally apologizes for the way he has treated Merlin. Morgana finds them just as the reach the shore of the lake. Merlin faces her and stabs her with Excalibur. That does her in. He has brought peace at last to Albion. But Arthur is fading fast. “It’s too late,” he tells the young warlock and asks his friend to hold him in his final moments, and says what he has never said before: “Thank you.” We cry alongside Merlin.
Merlin calls Kilgarah one last time to carry them to the Isle. But it is too late, the dragon tells his young friend. Fear not, he has not failed. All that he has dreamt has come to pass. “I can’t lose him! He’s my friend!” Merlin cries. Some lives are foretold, Kilgarah counsels. Arthur is the Once and Future King. When Albion’s need is greatest, Arthur will rise again. Merlin throws Excalibur into the lake, caught by a hand. Again, we cry alongside Merlin as he lays Arthur to rest in a boat and sends it to Avalon. Gwen is crowned queen; Leon, Gaius, and Percival are alongside her in Camelot. The parting shot of the show is a truck passing the tower on the Isle of Avalon and an old man, Emrys, walks along the side of the road.
Gosh, the last two episodes hurt. Part of me expected, hoped, that it would turn out different than legend, that Arthur and Merlin would work together and see the fruits of their labors. There is a chance that Gwen was carrying Arthur’s child at the end, maybe the writers threw in her accompanying Arthur to the camp in order for that to be a possibility. I have no doubt she made a just and wise ruler, but it’s not the same as if Arthur would have been around. Yes, it’s a deviation from legend, but I prefer a happy ending where heroes get some peace and quiet and rewards. You make us love these characters and then you separate them. We have no idea if Merlin even returned to Camelot, or just stayed away. (Check out fanfics, we’ve got lots of ideas. And fixes!)
Heck, I was even beginning to hope that Mordred would turn out alright. Again, doesn’t follow legend, though I like how they wrote around the incest nature of Mordred. And Merlin’s reveal has so little time to sink in. (Again, check out fanfics!) I would have preferred at least another season to the show. Again, I think they were surprised at when they had to wrap and had to bring about so much to end it, it all ended up rushed. Did not like Gwen’s storyline for several episodes. You’ve already done the “Gwen is a threat to Camelot.” They keep her a good character since none of it is her actual fault, she’s always influenced by Morgana. Still haven’t gotten over her turn and sudden descent into madness. “Oh, I’m a witch, so I must turn evil.” I don’t buy it. Never bought that mentality. (That is why my female characters who have magical powers are good. Well, they fight bad ones, but they’re still good after wielding phenomenal power).
I still like the show and I love the portrayal of characters, most specifically the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. Banter is my favorite. Yes, they insult each other, but they genuinely care for each other and they see that, even though they don’t say it (until the end and that makes us cry). I just wish it had ended different. Please, BBC, do a movie!
Next Time: Continuing a bit with fantasy type movies, Knight’s Tale (Well, it fits with the medieval setting).
The intro to season four upgrades Merlin to “young man” instead of a boy. We pick up in the two-parter The Darkest Hour about a year after the events of season three. Morgana is walking with Morgause in a cart and is discovered by knights. They report back to Arthur that she is on her way to the Isle of the Blessed. Arthur has taken over the running of the kingdom; Uther is frail and aged; he has taken Morgana’s betrayal hard. Agravaine, apparently Ygraine’s brother has shown up to help Arthur as a promise to his deceased sister (why there has been no mention of him before, we’re never told). It is Samhain and Morgana sacrifices Morgause, ripping a tear in the veil between worlds, unleashing spirits of the dead to attack the living. Merlin feels this and collapses. Attacks begin in outlying villages so Arthur, Merlin, and the knights ride out, but they can do nothing against the spirits. Then Camelot is attacked. Not even Gaius knows how to defeat their new foe, but he suggests maybe a sacrifice on the Isle of the Blessed. Arthur, being the self-sacrificing hero who will take on any challenge to protect his people, volunteers. Merlin secretly plans to sacrifice himself in Arthur’s stead. Oh, and Agravaine is in league with Morgana, reporting that the throne will be open to the “rightful heir.” The knights of Camelot ride out, Merlin continues to protect Arthur, even jumping into a spirit and collapsing frozen to the ground.
Arthur sends Lancelot back with Merlin to Camelot, despite Merlin’s weak protestations. On their way, Merlin has Lancelot lay him next to a river. Those spirits heals Merlin so he can return to Arthur and fix the veil. There’s an adorable scene when Lancelot returns to the knights and tells Arthur “bad news…he’s still alive.” We see that Arthur has really come to rely on Merlin. They make it to the Isle of the Blessed and Merlin knocks Arthur out before he can make his sacrifice. But while Arthur is dealing with the old woman in charge of the veil, Lancelot has offered himself as a sacrifice. The world is returned to rights, but now Merlin, Arthur, and Gwen must mourn their friend.
Meanwhile, Morgana has begun to receive visions of a powerful old sorcerer, Emrys, who will be her downfall. Merlin overhears Agravaine asking Gaius about the sorcerer.
It is Arthur’s birthday in The Wicked Day (another title from Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga) and a circus arrives in Camelot for the occasion. Uther breaks out of his stupor to attend the festivities. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the castle, the circus owner wishes to kill Arthur. They drug him and then try to attack him. Uther steps in the way, taking the blade meant for his son. Arthur is desperate to save his father and considers asking an old sorcerer “Dragoon” for help. (Really, it’s Merlin in a disguise. Arthur actually almost sees through it; he recognizes the eyes). Meanwhile, Agravaine has gone to Morgana and she places a charm on Uther that will reverse any healing magic. So when “Dragoon” goes to heal Uther, the effect is reversed and Uther dies. Arthur blames Dragoon and Merlin feels like it is his fault. But a new day has come and he and Arthur must face their new roles. Merlin waits outside the great hall for Arthur all night, so the young man wouldn’t be alone. Arthur is crowned King of Camelot.
Merlin and Arthur are drawn into a journey to discover a dragon’s egg (if the thief looks familiar, he is; he played Bonaire, the thief in Musketeers) in Aithusa. Merlin manages to save the egg and takes it to Kilgarah. He calls to it in the language of the Dragon Lords, giving it the name “Aithusa.” A white dragon is extremely rare. Kilgarah tells the young warlock that it bodes well for Albion, Arthur, and Merlin.
Arthur is tested as king in His Father’s Son. Agravaine talks Arthur into killing the King of Carlion. Word gets back to his wife, who marches on Camelot. Morgana joins her, referring herself as Gorlois’s daughter and wishes payback on Camelot as well. Arthur decides to fight single combat against the Queen’s champion in order to spare lives; he’s reconsidering his earlier decision, starting to make his own decisions about what kind of king he wants to be. (He even tries to break off his relationship with Gwen, considering to be inappropriate). Merlin helps a little in the battle; Morgana is helping her side as well, so it’s not really cheating. Arthur gets his large opponent to the ground, but does not kill him. He seeks peace with the queen and she agrees. She has a few choice words for Morgana, telling her she clings to bitterness.
Morgana attempts to turn Merlin against Arthur in A Servant of Two Masters, using magic. Luckily, Merlin is very inept at killing Arthur (it’s a bit funny to see him try, and Leon doesn’t bat an eye when Merlin says he’s going to kill Arthur). Merlin manages to disguise himself as Dragoon, who Morgana takes to be Emrys, and destroy the mother beast that’s inhabiting him. There are a few endearing scenes; Arthur is genuinely worried about Merlin when he’s missing and sends knights out to find him. Even when he gets a more efficient servant, he misses Merlin and the banter they have. Gwen happens to see Arthur without clothes while she’s trying to knock Merlin out.
Morgana and Agravaine suspect that Gaius knows the true identity of Emrys, so they come up with a plan in The Secret Sharer to kidnap the old man and use a magical interrogator to wrangle the truth out of him. Agravaine makes accusations against Gaius, but Merlin won’t listen to them and goes after his mentor. He saves Gaius, but Gaius has unfortunately revealed to the interrogator (played by Gary Lewis, he is Colum Mackenize in Outlander and Hrothgar in Eragon) that Merlin is Emrys. But the interrogator is loyal to the old ways and won’t reveal his identity to Morgana. He helps Merlin escape. Arthur apologizes to Gaius; he knows the old man has always had his best interests at heart. Gaius tells the young king that there are others out there protecting him.
Arthur sends Merlin as a physician to a village in trouble in Lamia. Merlin quickly deduces that the ailment the victims are suffering is the result of magic. He and the knights begin to make their way back to Camelot, until they run into bandits who are tormenting a young woman. Proving themselves gallant, the knights rescue the girl. But she shies away from Merlin and Gwen. And then the knights start arguing with each other and turn on Merlin. (There are several fanfiction stories that detail the emotional toll that takes on Merlin; his friends, who have protected him against others, now scorn him). Merlin determines this Lamia girl is the cause of the problem and it’s due to magic. Indeed, Gaius informs Arthur when they go to investigate that the Lamia were created by the Priestesses of the Old Religion to control men, but they grew too powerful. The knights start falling prey to her; Gwen and Merlin to the rescue, well, Arthur helps a bit.
Lancelot is back from the dead in Lancelot du Lac. Morgana finds out that Arthur proposes to Gwen and decides to bring Lancelot back to throw a wrench in the works. Lancelot enters the jousting tournament held in honor of the proposal. Merlin and the knights are pleased that Lancelot is back, but Merlin quickly discovers all is not well. Lancelot doesn’t remember that Merlin has magic. (That’s because Morgana didn’t know, so couldn’t plant that information in Lancelot). Merlin starts to worry that Lancelot is after Arthur. No, Lancelot means to beguile Gwen, through an enchanted bracelet. Arthur discovers the couple kissing (with some help from Agravaine; it’s all a trap). Lancelot and Gwen are thrown in the dungeon; Lancelot, coached by Agravaine, drinks a potion to die. Agravaine counsels Arthur to put Gwen to the death for her betrayal. Arthur cannot see her dead, so exiles her. They were one day from their wedding; she had waited years, why could she not wait one more day, Arthur asks. Gwen cannot answer. She still loves Arthur but she couldn’t help herself around Lancelot. Merlin, who had figured out that Lancelot was a shade, takes his friend for funeral rights and rids him of the enchantment. Lancelot wakes for a moment to thank Merlin, dying peacefully again. Merlin knows Morgana is behind the events, but cannot prove it to Arthur.
An old mission comes back to haunt Arthur in A Herald of the New Age. The knights accidentally disturb a druid shrine; Elyan drinks from the well. He’s taken over by the spirit of a child who had been slaughtered and goes after the king. The other knights assume he’s acting out due to his sister being banished. Arthur in the meantime is out of sorts after visiting the shrine. Merlin and Gaius investigate the shrine and try to stop Elyan’s attack. Arthur eventually admits to Merlin that Uther had ordered Arthur to lead a raid on a druid camp. Arthur was not able to stop his men from killing innocent women and children, resulting in the restless sprits at the shrine. He was young and inexperienced and wanted to prove himself. Elyan, still possessed, confronts Arthur and Arthur apologizes, offering himself for the mistakes he made. The child spirit forgives Arthur and leaves Elyan. (A little jolt from the episode when I realized that they were using salt circles to repel spirits; a basis of Supernatural, lol).
We catch up with what Gwen is doing in The Hunter’s Heart. She has moved to a village where she has old friends; but it’s attacked by bandits. Their leader spares her and speaks to her. Unfortunately, he’s in league with Morgana. Morgana discovers that Gwen is at the camp and sets after her. She catches her and transforms her into a deer. Meanwhile, Arthur has made an alliance with the promise of marriage to the Princess Mithan of Nementh. Mithan is beautiful an kind and we really can’t dislike her. She gently chastises Arthur for causing Merlin more work. She genuinely likes to hunt, a favorite pastime of Arthur’s. Merlin tries little tricks to put Arthur and Mithan off each other, due to loyalty to Gwen. Then comes the hunt, and they cross paths with a transformed Gwen. Merlin realizes the disguise and goes after the deer after Mithan shoots her. He heals her, but Gwen refuses to return to Camelot; she understands the damage she did. Arthur has also found the ring that he had proposed to Gwen with, that Gwen was still wearing until her transformation. He is in no mood to continue the hunt. Arthur realizes that Merlin was right; he still loves Gwen, despite her betrayal, which confuses him. But he cannot marry Mithan. He draws up a new treaty, giving her the disputed lands. She graciously leaves.
Morgana’s plans come to fruition in the two-parter season finale The Sword in the Stone, bringing in more elements from classic legend. Agravaine signals the attacking army into Camelot. Arthur is injured, but Merlin drags him out of the castle, magically taking his will (though there’s not much left after seeing both Morgana and Agravaine at the head of the army). Gaius, Elyan, and Gwaine are left in Camelot to aid Arthur’s escape. Morgana tortures Elyan for information and makes Gwaine fight to win supper. Leon and Percival are in the woods with the townsfolk who could escape. Merlin plans to take Arthur to Ealdor. They come upon battle couple and smugglers Tristan and Isolde. Arthur acts as a simpleton until his will returns, but Tristan dislikes kings and they butt heads. Arthur also feels defeated; he must not be the king he should be if his family members keep betraying him. Merlin points out that it’s not his fault; they just desire Arthur’s power for themselves. Morgana sends Agravaine after Arthur (I can’t tell if Agravaine truly cares for Morgana or if he just doesn’t trust her and wants to stay on her good side).
Merlin and Arthur do make it to Ealdor, along with Tristan and Isolde. They reunite with Gwen, but have to run again when Agravaine catches up. Merlin offers again to hang back and protect the rear. Kilgarah comes in handy to destroy most of the force chasing them and in the caves, Merlin uses magic to defeat the rest. Agravaine is impressed by Merlin’s deception, claiming that they are more alike than they had realized. Another toss when he makes a move against Merlin and Agravaine is dead. Tristan is surprised that Arthur risks his life to go back for Merlin.
They reunite with the other knights, but Merlin still has to convince Arthur to continue the fight. He spins a tale for his friend, claiming it’s from Gaius, about a sword that the first king of Camelot had buried in a stone. When Camelot’s need was most, only the true king of Camelot could retrieve it. Merlin convinces Arthur to try. Arthur struggles at first, but Merlin urges him to believe. And the sword comes clean out (well, it was Merlin who had put Excalibur in the stone in the first place). Arthur is back and leads his knights into Camelot. Tristan and Isolde agree to fight alongside him. Sadly, Isolde is killed in a face off against the leader of Morgana’s army. Merlin had earlier snuck into Camelot disguised as Emrys and puts a burning straw doll under Morgana’s bed. So when he and Arthur face her, she cannot cast any spells. She flees. She faces off with Gwen and almost finishes the other woman, but Merlin secretly rescues her at the last minute. Morgana is wounded and flees into the woods.
Arthur mends his relationship with Gwen and proposes again. She is crowned queen. And the little white dragon, Aithusa returns and heals Morgana in the woods.
I liked the twist that the sword in the stone was more about raising Arthur’s confidence. Merlin keeps leading Arthur to his destiny to become the greatest ruler Albion has ever known. Gwen’s brief affair with Lancelot did not bring down the kingdom and it was more brought on by magic. Merlin is proving to be Arthur’s most loyal companion and I love that Arthur is recognizing that. There’s times he will be kind and sincere to his friend, but they keep up their banter. I don’t think they would know what to do with themselves if they weren’t giving each other and hard time and calling each other names.
My apologies that I forgot to post this last week.
We come back to Camelot a year after the ending of season two with the two-parter Tears of Uther Pendragon; Morgana has been missing a year. Uther refuses to give up on finding her. She wanders into a camp that Arthur and Merlin are investigating. And for a moment everything seems well. She’s happy to be home in Camelot, telling Uther she’s seen the evil he’s fighting and promises to be a better ward. She puts Merlin’s mind at ease over his worry that she’ll remember him poisoning her. Morgana forgives him; he was just trying to protect his friends. Then, the smirking starts. She rides out to meet Morgause, calling her “my sister.” Morgause has a spell that requires the tears of Uther, which Morgana has collected. They’re put into a cauldron along with a mandrake root, it emits a magical cry. Morgana is to tie the dripping root under Uther’s bed every night. It will twist his unconscious fear and make him lose his mind. Back in Camelot, the root takes effect; Uther starts seeing those who died at his hand, ghosts of the past haunting him.
Merlin stumbles upon the root, hiding under Uther’s bed and witnesses Morgana change it. He follows her and discovers her meeting Morgause. He’s subsequently captured, tied up, and left to die. Those creepy scorpions are back and sting Merlin. He cannot break the chains, even with magic. He calls Kilgarah and the dragon saves him. The dragon counsels the young warlock; the boys did what he thought was right, which takes courage. But his seeing goodness in people could be his undoing. Morgana is the darkness to Merlin’s light, the hatred to his love. Back in Camelot, Cenred’s army marches on the citadel (I equate it to Helm’s Deep). Morgause and Morgana are aligned with Cenred, Morgana their traitor on the inside. Merlin and Gwen show their support for Arthur, who has to take control while his father is incapacitated. Merlin tells his friend “it is your fate t be the greatest king Camelot has ever known…victory today will be remembered for every age until the end of time.” Gaius follows Morgana when she sneaks away and discovers that the young woman has raised an undead army. Merlin rushes down to stop her. Morgana makes the same mistake as Morgause and underestimates Merlin, not knowing he has magic. He triumphs and the skeletons collapse. Cenred leaves when that force fails.
Goblin’s Gold is a lighter story, after the dramatic start to the season. Merlin accidentally releases a goblin into the castle. When he tries to capture the devil, it flies into Gaius and overtakes him. He then plays tricks on the castle, at one point hilariously giving Arthur the ears and bray of a donkey. The goblin, as Gaius, frames Merlin for magic and he’s arrested. The young man escapes and takes refuge at Gwen’s home. They come up with the plan to temporarily kill Gaius to force the goblin out. Things get hairy when they have to scramble for the antidote, but everything is put to right. Arthur believed Merlin about the goblin and even laid a trap for Gaius; he knew that Gaius would never condone Merlin executed. It shows that he views his servant truly as a friend.
Gwaine is introduced in the episode named after him. He ends up helping Merlin and Arthur during a bar fight; he’s injured in the process, so they take him with back to Camelot for Gaius to heal. Merlin instantly befriends the young man. A melee is to take place in Camelot and two of the thugs from the tavern intend to kill Arthur for standing up to them, using magic blades that appear blunt but really aren’t, and crystals to disguise themselves as knights. As knights, they harass Merlin. He stumbles upon the truth and intends to get proof for Arthur. Gwaine helps and takes the blame. But Uther is firm in his knight’s code; a peasant cannot accuse a knight. Gwaine is banished from Camelot. Arthur tries to argue for his new friend, but Gwaine distrusts nobles (even though his father was one) and willingly leaves. During the melee, Merlin has no choice but to secretly use magic to protect Arthur. It ends up Arthur against the two thugs, though another knight steps into help. The thugs are killed and Gwaine is revealed. Uther holds to his decision to banish the man, even though that’s twice he’s saved his son.
The Crystal Cave recalls common elements of Arthurian legend. (The Crystal Cave is the first book in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian saga series). While Arthur and Merlin are out in the woods, they’re attacked and Arthur is injured. Merlin tries to use magic to heal when an old man appears; Taliesin. He heals Arthur then shows Merlin to the Crystal Cave, where magic began. Merlin is a powerful sorcerer and can use the crystals to see all of time. Merlin sees a future where Morgana stabs Uther. Back in Camelot, Gaius cautions that all may not be as it seems. But things start happening that Merlin saw in his vision. Arthur gives Morgana a dagger for her birthday, matching the one that Merlin saw, at Merlin’s inadvertent advice ironically. When Morgana sneaks off to see Morgause, Merlin follows and causes her to fall down a flight of stairs. She’s slowly dying. When Merlin can no longer stand watching everyone else’s grief, he goes out to call Kilgarah. The great dragon at first refuses to help save Morgana, but Merlin uses his power as Dragonlord to force the dragon. Merlin has also overheard Uther reveal to Gaius that Morgana is actually his daughter, begging the older man to use magic to save her. Gorlois was away fighting and Viviane had gotten lonely, he explains. No one can know, for Arthur’s sake. We see Morgana’s eyes move minutely. Later, after Morgana is healed, she tells Morgause. The older woman realizes that this gives Morgana a legitimate claim to the throne. Now they’ll redouble their efforts to kill Uther. Merlin’s vision proceeds, he’s stopped nothing. He races after Morgana who decides no time like the present to kill the king. She uses magic and accidently starts a fire and blows a window, waking Uther, but smoothly covers, cowering like a damsel in distress. Life is more complicated now; Arthur is all that stands between Morgana and the throne.
The Sidhe return in The Changeling, the hid a faerie in a baby princess and twenty years later, she’s old enough to wed Arthur in an effort to permanently bind the two kingdoms. This will put a Sidhe at the heart of Camelot (and that can’t be good). Her nurse, Grunhilda, is played by Professor Sprout from Harry Potter. Turns out, Grunhilda is a pixie, servant to the Sidhe. Arthur struggles with his love for Gwen, which Morgana has begun to notice. Uther insists that Arthur for the sake of the kingdom, his own feelings be damned. Arthur goes through with the proposal. Merlin slips Elena a potion to eject the faerie, killing it, Grunhilda, and the leader of the Sidhe. An instant effect takes on Elena; she’s more polished and prim, but still her personality (which is kind of awesome). She and Arthur stand in front of Camelot, prepared to take their vows, but come clean to each other that they don’t have feelings for the other. The wedding is called off and her father tells Uther that Arthur has the makings of a great king; times are changing. Merlin tells Arthur he knows what it’s like to have a destiny you cannot escape, for everything to be planned out and have no say.
Gwen is reunited with her brother, Elyan in The Castle of Fyrien. She is kidnapped by Cenred as a way to get Arthur. Cenred threatens Elyan if Gwen does not bring Arthur to him. She doesn’t want to tell Arthur, but Merlin convinces her that the best way to have help is to tell Arthur. Merlin, Gwen, and unfortunately Morgana ride out with Arthur to rescue Elyan. They’re caught, since Morgana is a traitor and Cenred plans to torture Arthur. The young people escape, grabbing Morgana in the process. Elyan is reported to have been away for four years and felt like he couldn’t come home, even when his father died.
Arthur takes on a quest in The Eye of the Phoenix to prove that he is worthy of the throne. He is to retrieve the trident from the Fisher King in the Perilous Realms. Legends state that the Fisher King was a powerful sorcerer and when he was wounded and it became infected, so did his land. But he’s supposedly still alive. Arthur is to undertake this quest alone and unaided. Merlin worries for Arthur, but the prince orders him to stay home. Then Merlin spots the bracelet Morgana gifts Arthur and its strange stone. Gaius uncovers that it is a phoenix’s eye and it will consume Arthur’s life force. Merlin races after Arthur, but stops for help; Gwaine. Arthur, steadily weakening, makes it to the bridge in the Perilous Lands, guarded by a dwarf (we recognize Warwick Davis, famed as Wicket from Return of the Jedi, Professor Flitwick and Griphook from Harry Potter and Nikabrik from Prince Caspian). He informs Arthur “you must be Courage,” he will need Strength and Magic to complete his quest. When Arthur dismisses magic, he warns the lad not to. Arthur almost drowns, due to the bracelet and Merlin and Gwaine come to the bridge, meeting the dwarf. Magic and Strength have arrived. Back in Camelot, Gwen reveals to Gaius that she suspects Morgana to have magic. Wyvern, an offshoot of dragons, almost eat Arthur in the Dark Tower, but Merlin’s there to save him. He’s separated from Arthur and Gwaine and speaks to the Fisher King. The king has been waiting for the right time. This was truly Merlin’s quest. The real prize is water from the lake of Avalon. When need is greatest, it will show Merlin what to do. In exchange, Merlin gives the king the cursed bracelet so he may be released to death.
An old friend of Gaius’s return in Love in the Time of Dragons. Alice was his fiancée years ago, right before the Purge. Gaius helped her escape, but stayed behind to not draw suspicion. Now she’s returned to Camelot with magical remedies, and a creature in a box: a manticore. Merlin hears them speaking one evening and doesn’t trust Alice. Gaius won’t hear it. Alice helps Gaius with his potions, including one for Uther. She drops poison in it one day and administers it to Uther. At that point, Gaius believes Arthur and they rid the world of the manticore. Uther blames Alice (Arthur figured out she was the one to give Uther is remedy) and sentences her to death. Gaius cannot plead with the king, but still manages to help his old love escape.
Morgana tries to split up Gwen and Arthur in Queen of Hearts when she has a vision of Gwen as queen. She gets the couple to spend alone time in the woods (it is a rather romantic picnic), then arranges for Uther to ride by them, catching the couple kissing. Uther orders Arthur to end the relationship, Arthur refuses. Morgana then plants an enchantment in Arthur’s room, so Gwen will be arrested as a witch. Merlin plans to invent a sorcerer to get Gwen freed; he’ll disguise himself as an old man, Dragoon the Great. That part works. The changing back doesn’t. He’s arrested and sentenced to be burned at the stake; though he gets a chance to tell Uther and Arthur off. Gaius works out a potion to change him back and Merlin escapes long enough to down it. This is the start of the running joke that if Arthur cannot find Merlin due to magical needs, people claim the young man is in the tavern. Gwen is free and the young couple’s feelings haven’t changed, but they cannot show it.
Another sorcerer comes to Camelot for a tournament in The Sorcerer’s Shadow. Ghillie (Harry Melling again [Dudley]) is tired of being bullied and uses magic to help in the tournament. Morgana has also pitted Uther and Arthur against each other (probably hoping that Uther will be killed in the tournament). When the two face each other, Arthur has to let his father win to save face. Then Uther has to face Ghillie in the finals. Merlin tries to get Ghillie to promise not to use magic, but Ghillie is enjoying the fame he’s gotten. He even shows the other man his powers; he understands how lonely it is to be more powerful than any man you know and live like a shadow. To be special and pretend to be a fool. Merlin has to make the choice; let Ghillie kill Uther, or protect Uther and harm another sorcerer. Kilgarah cautions that if Uther is killed by magic, it will harden Arthur’s mind. Thus, Merlin works against Ghillie. Uther spares the boy in the end (obviously not knowing about the magic). Uther reveals he knew what Arthur had done; he’s followed his son’s progress all along, but he’s grateful for the actions. Arthur is truly ready to be king.
Another two-parter ends the season, The Coming of Arthur. It opens on a scene of slaughtered knights, figures moving through them. They come to Sir Leon and heal him with a magical cup. Sir Leon returns to Camelot and reports that Cenred was responsible for the attack and it was the Druids who healed him. Gauis and Uther realize that the Druids have the Cup of Life, as Gauis informs Merlin, it was not destroyed on the Isle of the Blessed, it is eternal. Uther wants the cup and sends Arthur after it, for there is another legend attached to the cup; a warlord used it to create an immortal army. Camelot is in danger. Arthur doesn’t tell Merlin where they’re going but takes him anyway. Morgana overhears the plans and reports to Morgause, who instructs Cenred to be ready. But a slave trader captures Merlin and Arthur first. There, they’re reunited with Gwaine, whom Arthur has to face in a challenge. The boys try to throw the fight without appearing to do so, but Merlin causes a distraction that gets them out. The trio continue on the search and find the Druid camp. The Druids hand over the cup to Arthur, but really to Emrys. An attack from Cenred’s men injures Arthur and lets the cup fall into enemy hands. Morgause creates an immortal army, then kills Cenred and marches on Camelot. The trio does eventually make it back to Camelot to discover dead littering the streets from the attack, they discover Elyan and make their way into the castle. Arthur and Merlin go after Uther, the rest are to wait for them in the woods. Uther is being led into the great hall, facing Morgause. She takes his crown and Morgana steps out. She claims the throne, as daughter to Uther. Arthur is shocked by the news and he and Merlin withdraw.
The second part picks up a week after that ending; Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwaine, and Elyan are hiding in the woods. Morgana is trying to persuade the knights of Camelot to her side, but they resist. She lines them up in front of a firing squad and instead shoots the crowd. Gwen plays along as a loyal servant, but plans to help Sir Leon escape; Leon will know where Arthur is hiding and he is the only hope Camelot has. Morgana and Morgause eavesdrop and figure they can use Gwen as a way to find Arthur, a simple tracking potion in a drink does the trick. Merlin uses the water from Avalon that the Fisher King gave him, revealing Freya. She tells him that only one weapon can slay the dead, a sword burnished by dragon fire, which lies in the lake. Kilgarah still serves Merlin and helps the young sorcerer retrieve the blade, but has him swear that when he is finished with the sword, he put it where no man can wield it. If the blood is emptied from the Cup of Life, the immortal army will fall.
Arthur and his companions are forced to retreat once Leon and Gwen finds them. They’re aided by Lancelot and a new man, Percival (Merlin had sent word to Lancelot), taking refuge in an abandoned castle from the time of the ancient kings. Inside, Arthur discovers a round table. He instructs his companions to sit and speaks of the old tradition of equality for all. Tomorrow, he will rescue his father, who is with him. Lancelot is the first to stand. These men believe in the world that Arthur will create. All join him; well, Merlin tries to stay seated as a joke, but he doesn’t have a choice. Arthur then does something he know his father would disapprove of, he knights Elyan, Lancelot, Gwaine, and Percival. Lancelot comments to Merlin that evening that the servant is the bravest of them and Arthur should really be knighting him, but doesn’t know. The men make their way back to Camelot, Lancelot planning to help Merlin destroy the Cup. Gaius enters the fray against Morgause after she flings Merlin, giving Merlin the chance to knock over the Cup. The immortal army explodes. Morgana enters to find an injured Morgause and screeches. Her magic is out of control, the walls start crumbling and they disappear.
A new time is dawning. Arthur may need to take charge; Uther is very distressed by the events with Morgana and her betrayal. Gaius tells Merlin, since no one else will, “Well done.” Merlin follows his promise and sticks the sword in a stone.
I liked the inclusion of more traditional elements of Arthurian legend, such as the Crystal Cave, but Merlin does run into the problem that often arises from prophecies; as Yoda has taught us, the future is always in motion. This is one possibly future and Merlin gets consumed by it. In trying to prevent that future from happening, he almost causes it. But he also doesn’t get the best instructions. Downfall of many fantasy wizards: I’m going to warn you about this but be very cryptic. Like the dragon. The Fisher King story was a nice inclusion as well and more and more Arthur is being shown that magic is not inherently evil, but circumstances always come about that he can’t trust it. Woo at seeing the knights of the Round Table, finally! Arthur is coming into his own now. Merlin still staunchly supports him, even behind the scenes. They’ve come a long way from wanting to kill each other.
Now, my Shide and Fae are not like the ones in this show, but it’s good to see differing views, so I can craft my own. Pick and choose which bits I like. As much as Morgause is the enemy, there is something I admire in the way she deals with Cenred, an attitude I hope to emulate in my characters: commanding, she does not outright threaten Cenred until the end. She pulls him along and I swear Cenred wants to sleep with her and she may even let him, knowing that ultimately she has the upper hand.
I finally gave in. I have now seen all of Game of Thrones; I managed in about a week and a half, though considering I started on Memorial Day and had the day off and there are only ten episodes at most per season…this is also coming from the young lady who managed to catch up on nine seasons of Supernatural in about a month. When I get hooked on something, I get hooked.
My best friend lent me the DVDs of Seasons One and Two (about a year ago) and I kept meaning to watch them. Circumstances came along that I thought I’d give them a try. I had previously watched the first episode and thus was a bit wary. The rampant nudity, sex, and gore are not to my taste. I figured at the very least I could use it as inspiration as to what I didn’t want to happen in my own series. But I was going to stick it out. And in that respect it has been helpful, crafting my own characters in how they would respond to situations and what sort of elements I may actually want. By the end of season one, I was popping in the first disc for season two. As I was wrapping that season up, I was debating how I was going to watch the rest of the show. And luckily, it was available on demand. While some of the plot points and storylines are not my favorite and as a writer, I would have done things differently (no, haven’t read the books…yet)…okay, let me rephrase; I think there was a less graphic way to tell the story. And while I do like to torture my characters…not that much.
I’m still surprised I liked the show. About midway through season one, I was thinking, “how do my friends like this? There’s so much violence and how can the women stand seeing all those nude scenes?” Then, as with other series I’ve come to love, I want to know what happens. Maybe not for everyone, but I quickly came to care for certain characters. And yes, I concur with many fans that the last two seasons were not the best. But that often happens with series in my experience; the middle seasons tend to be the best honestly; they’ve built the world and situation and the characters have a chance to grow. Then things get complicated when it’s time to wrap it up.
Before I proceed further, just in case you have not had a chance to see the last season yet, be cautious of spoilers. And now, what you probably all are interested in and what every fan debates: what do I think of so-and-so or a specific episode or what happened, etc, etc, etc.
My favorite episode of Season One is the very first; “Winter is Coming.” Watching the episode again after the series finale makes me want to cry at points; seeing everyone happy. Watching Jon say goodbye to family members he’ll never see again. Him hugging Arya. I chuckled when Jon got to the Wall and just handily beats any of the other recruits. He’s barely trying. Ned tries through season one to do the honorable thing, but he doesn’t know how to play the game. Heck, I hate the game; and this is why I hate politics. When Ned dies in the penultimate episode, I was too shocked to cry the first time; even though I knew it was coming (also, it fits with the joke that he dies in everything). Poor Sansa, having to witness it and plead for her father. Arya is luckily spared the actual sight, but I can tell her journey is only just beginning.
By Season Two I was more closely following the story of Jon Snow. The backstabbing of King’s Landing continued to annoy me; more for a want to beat them all with a stick and make them behave like proper people. I was a bit horrified at the effects of Wildfire. I cheered for Tyrion to lead the men. And then Cersei was the cruel person she always is. Season Three is when I really started liking the show. I found Jon’s interactions with the wildlings interesting and was entranced by his relationship with Ygritte, especially “Kissed by Fire” and afterwards. I did remark that Jon Snow was a stupid boy when he left her. “I didn’t have a choice,” well, you could have chosen to take her with you. Glad he didn’t die though. And Bran and Rickon were so close to Jon!! Gah! Wouldn’t have helped Jon any, but I just want their family back together. Jamie underwent some good character growth, I think Brienne is good for him. She’s not my favorite character, just due to being stuffy most of the time. I was rendered shocked and speechless the first time I saw the Red Wedding. I didn’t cry. Now, I don’t watch because I know I’ll cry. Horrible. Simply horrible. And Arya was so close! I had hoped that she would reunite with her family then, though it was good that she didn’t. Hurray for the Hound for getting her out of there, though she had to see her brother’s mutilation. I agree with her idea of stabbing them, maybe not so gory.
Season Four I enjoy for the Jon storyline. My favorite episode of the whole show is “The Watchers on the Wall.” I enjoy a good fight sequence (one of the reasons I will repeatedly watch Lord of the Rings. And parts of the second How to Train Your Dragon movie). Jon kicks butt!! Woo! And then I was heartbroken when Ygritte died. I hoped for a minute…and Olly ruined it. That’s probably when I started to not like the boy. Tywin is still horrible. Jamie continues to show a good character arc; I like his interactions with Tyrion. They’re true brothers and just shows Tyrion that his whole family doesn’t hate him and Jamie is trying to get out from under the thumb of Cersei. Honestly, Arya should have gone with Brienne. I understand why she didn’t, but I was hoping. And again, she was so close to meeting up with Jon! And so close to Sansa and didn’t know it.
Season Five continued to be good for the most part. I still want Arya anywhere but where the Faceless Man is. I’ve never trusted Melisandre and the first time I cried for the show was when she burned poor Shireen. The religious order that takes over King’s Landing can go crawl back into whatever hole it sprang out of. I did feel genuinely sad when Myrcella died; she was innocent, sweetly in love with her prince and had nothing to do with her mother’s plots. As a loyal follower of Jon Snow, I agree that saving the Free Folk was the right thing to do with the White Walkers pressing down on them. He made a good Lord Commander and this is why heroes always need a Sam. And I believed Olly the first time through, when he said Benjen Stark had returned. Then I gasped alongside Jon when Thorne shoved a dagger into him. And I cried (even though I knew Jon was in later seasons; on the one hand, a drawback to watching the show after everyone else, you don’t get to be fully surprised. On the other hand, not quite as stressful). And immediately started Season Six.
Still don’t trust Melisandre, but at least she brought Jon back. I cheered for the few men who stood alongside Jon and aw, those hugs afterwards. Favorite scene from season six is Sansa’s and Jon’s reunion. Finally, two Starks are back together! Now, go get the other ones. The Battle of the Bastards was epic (I’ve watched some of the behind-the-scenes bits and yes, I agree very cool, it will personally never top Lord of the Rings for me). Gotta say though, that the production team does an excellent job; they’re pulling out battles that would be the centerpiece of a two-three hour movie for an hour-long show. It was a bit terrifying when Jon was almost buried alive. Yeah, the ending, Ramsay, you had that coming. You killed Jon’s baby brother mere feet from him, yes, he will pound you to a pulp and we will sit back and cheer. Sansa was poetic in her justice. I cheered when Jon became King of the North. Lyanna Mormont is an awesome young woman. Theon has redeemed himself by rescuing Sansa, hurrah. The flashbacks to a young Ned Stark are endearing. I want to hug Arya and drag her back to Winterfell. I silently cheered when she hid Needle when she was ridding herself of her old identity, silently pleading, “Jon gave it to you.” Cersei has finally lost it, blowing up a holy building. That was the real turning point in the storyline that almost turned me from the show, aside from I wanted to find out what happened to Jon and his siblings. Cersei can go rot. But hey, if those Sparrows or whoever hadn’t shown up, probably wouldn’t have happened.
My dislike for Daenerys hiked with her initial treatment of Jon in Season Seven. Lady, there are more important things going on in the world than someone calling you “Your Grace.” I object to Jon’s decision to bend the knee, but I can’t hate him too much because once again, he’s trying to save lives. The battle beyond the wall was intense; they keep a tight grasp on my heart, putting Jon in danger constantly. Sad to see a dragon go and horrified to see it with blue eyes. Finding out that Jon is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen was a bit of a shock (though, I had read a few things ahead, so I had a feeling). The Targaryen family tree confuses me, trying to remember whom is whom and related to whom. Though, cheers to Gilly for actually being the one to discover the loophole, that Rhaegar had annulled his previous marriage. Sam, you should give your wife some credit.
We have come to the point where, if you haven’t seen the final season, feel free to skip down to “The Maesters…”
I noted that when Jon and Daenerys ride into Winterfell in the Season Eight opening, the music playing is “The King’s Arrival,” which was used all the way back in the first episode when King Robert arrived in Winterfell. Hurrah, Baleish is dead! Hurrah, Arya and Jon are reunited and I want to cry. Wish Bran acted like himself. Sansa admittedly makes a good ruler and I kind of like how she dislikes Danerys, mainly on behalf of her brother. And I actually cheer that Jon attempts to steer clear of her once he finds out their relation. The battle was epic and Arya was awesome! And that duel earlier against Brienne was also cool! Gosh, cried during the funerals, but I adore the scene afterwards when everyone is celebrating. Love that kind of thing and Tormund is hilarious and adorable. Thought we were going to lose him last season beyond the wall.
And here it comes; I dislike the last two episodes. Now, would I ever sign a petition or even seriously suggest that the writers re-do them? No. I side with the cast that the crew put in a lot of work and we should not ask more. Should it have been written better from the beginning? Yes. But too late now. However, that is why fanfiction exists! Cersei should have run when she had the chance. Cersei actually should have done a lot of things different for a while. I think the death of Joffrey started her downslide. The Hound and Mountain battle was gruesome. Tyrion crying for his siblings was heartbreaking. I kept wanting Arya to find Jon. And poor Jon, his men turning into raging monsters. Never been fond of Grey Worm and his actions in the city clinched that. Jon killing Daenerys was noble and I feel bad that he was the one who had to do it. Grey Worm left, goody. I hate that Jon was banished. He’s the King of the North and sacrificed so much and he’s thanked by being sent to the tundra. I cried more when Jon left Ghost to go South then other characters’ deaths, and was so happy they were ultimately reunited. Arya shouldn’t have left. Yay, she gets adventure, but I feel her family still needs her. Sansa will rule fairly, but she’ll be made kinder if she has her siblings around. The ending political debate was a bit funny between characters that we’ve come to admire.
The Maesters as a whole turn out to be a bunch of gross old men who stick their heads in the sand. Maester Amon at the Night’s Watch was cool and I felt bad when he died Maester Luwin from Winterfell was kind of cool too. I dislike heavy religious overtones and the whole bit with the militant Religion of the Seven (or whatever) honestly pissed me off. When someone becomes so self righteous…
I feel bad for the Night’s Watch. They have a noble purpose but have been degraded so much. Slynt was horrible, deserved to die, most especially for his dereliction of duty during the battle at Castle Black. After he puffed himself up so high and mighty. I have mixed feelings about Jeor Mormont. Overall, a good person, but I do side with Jon Snow that his acceptance of Craster does not sit right with me. Did he deserve the mutiny? No. Are those who mutinied against him wrong and evil? Yes. Jon’s friends are good lads. Samwell Tarly just proves that when you into danger, take a Sam with you. And further proof that book knowledge is just as important as brawling. Jon’s a good enough man that he recognizes that. And Sam’s adorable with Gilly and the baby. A wee bit dense at times, but he’s a man. I wanted Olly to work out, but I could see he wasn’t able to see the whole picture when Jon brought the Wildlings south. And it was a jab in my heart when he dealt the killing blow in the mutiny. Disliked Thorne from the start. Now, he was a well rounded character. A mean man, but he understood duty. He stood aside and let the lads take Slynt when the other stood against the rightfully elected Lord Commander Snow. He had grudging respect for Jon once the younger man proved himself. He took good command during the attack on Castle Black. He honestly felt he was right to mutiny; my argument compared to his is that, if you felt he did what he thought was right, why did you kill him?
I respect Mance Rayder. I understand why he didn’t kneel, but I don’t agree with it; I side with Jon. Again, Jon was an honorable man to save Mance the agony of being burned alive. Tormund is hilarious; I love him and love the relationship he developed with Jon. He glomped Jon and interrupted his reunion with Edd. And his comment to Edd “I’ve always had blue eyes!” made me chuckle in the middle of a tense moment. And I adore the scene after the Battle of Winterfell during the feast between Tormund and Jon, toasting and cheering. Even before Jon returned to Castle Black, Tormund cared about the little crow and tried to keep him alive. Ygritte was awesome! Well rounded character, badass, but her intimate scenes with Jon Snow made me all squishy inside. I ship her with Jon Snow more than anyone else. (And I think it’s adorable that the two actors married each other!)
King’s Landing crew: Renly should not have made a big for kingship, he was not suited for it. I couldn’t decide for several seasons if I trusted Lord Varys, but I ultimately believed him when he said he fought for the realm, for the little people. Grand Maester Pycelle was creepy. And you could tell he was in the pockets of the Lannisters. Qyburn was also creepy. Quite honestly, I fast forwarded through some of his scenes because I could tell I did not want to watch. Littlefinger was a manipulative bastard; I kept hoping he would die. He did finally get his just deserts.
The Lannisters: There are times I almost respect Tywin. He was a reasonable master to Arya when she was at Casterly Rock. He treated all of his children horribly, though. But was determined to bring Joffrey into line. Tyrion is the kindest of the bunch, has some snappy one-liners (he’s my friend’s favorite character). He was genuinely kind to Sansa, even before they were married and was a friend to Jon. He did make mistakes, but he was honest about them. I respected Cersei more at the beginning of the show; I could see she was politically astute. There is something about the way her face looks and way she speaks at time that she reminds me of Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean. But then power made her crazy. I wanted to hate Jamie; he pushed a boy out of a window in the first episode! Then he had character development once he teamed up with Brienne of Tarth (and lost the look of Prince Charming from Shrek). And I would feel sorry for him. Then he’d do something that reminded me he could be a horrible person. Bronn was good when he was with Tyrion, but I always knew he was mainly in it for the money. Pod was kind of adorable; a decent character who got back up every time someone shot him down (mainly Brienne, but she came around in the end). Once Brienne loosened up, I got to like her better. The narrow worldview of “duty and honor” can be a bit off-putting. And Tormund’s crush was hilarious. I’m glad she hooked up with Jamie. And the duel between her and Arya was awesome!
The Tyrells: Mace is a simpleton. Loras was kind and honestly would have made a decent husband to Sansa. I liked Margaery, at least until the whole fiasco with the Religion of the Seven. She came back for a glorious moment. She and Olenna were kind to Sansa and were a good way for her to get out of King’s Landing; pity it didn’t work out. Olenna was sassy and savvy. And their sigil looks a dead ringer for the Tudor rose (which I find a wee bit ironic since the actress who plays Margaery portrayed Anne Bolyen in The Tudors).
The Greyjoys: The father was cruel. I got to like Yara as time went on. I initially didn’t trust Theon, he was kind of mean from the get go and could kind of tell he was out for himself. Then he betrayed the Starks and I wanted him dead. Then he was tortured (again, I honestly fast forwarded through a lot of that because “nope, don’t need to sit through that bit”) and yeah, at the very beginning, he kind of deserved it. Then it went too far. And I pitied him by the time Sansa returned to Winterfell and was genuinely sad when he died. That is a pairing that could have worked out.
Targaryen supporters: I have the unpopular view that I am not fond of Daenerys. She wasn’t as outright insane as her brother, but certainly by the end. She started out as a reasonably moral character. She found some happiness with Khal Drogo (I liked it when he supported her bid for the throne and they would call each other moon and stars. I was sad to see him die, particularly so early in the series). But when she started to use violence or threaten it to get her way, that’s when I saw her true character come out. And I strongly dislike her insistence that Jon Snow kneel to her and be demoted from King of the North. I do like Ser Jorah Mormont (it took me a little bit to realize the connection between him and the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch). He’s got a good head on his shoulder and really, Daenerys shouldn’t have been so black-and-white about his original spying on her; it was before he got to know her and fall in love. If he had been around more at crucial points, she might not have made some of the mistakes that she had.
My favorite house is Stark. They’re noble and good; but human, they make mistakes. Not the most fond of Catelyn, mainly for her treatment of Jon. I don’t think she should have left Winterfell. She jumped into action without thinking of what to do down the road. Aye, it was nice for her to join up with Robb, but her youngest two needed her more. Poor Rickon, there’s not much of a chance to get an opinion on him. He was loyal to Bran and ultimately died a horrible death, within a hand’s reach of hope. Bran was cute when he was younger; I don’t like him as the “Three-Eyed Raven.” Too emotionless. I pity Sansa when she’s held prisoner in King’s Landing and her marriage to Ramsay Bolton is a toss up to whether it was worse than marriage to Joffrey would have been. She learned to play the game and so I can’t trust her fully. Arya is badass, which is cool, but she went through so much. Here is where I would say, you can make someone badass without doing all that (though I may not be entirely innocent in what I’ve put characters through in my stories). So I can’t trust her fully either, not a trained assassin. And I think she should have stuck around at the end. I respect Eddard, though as stated previously, he didn’t play the game well. He was trying to be honorable in a dishonest place. For all that King’s Landing will spout their admiration of honor, it’s full of cutthroats. He raised his children well; they remember his teachings long after he’s gone. I genuinely like Robb. Again, he made mistakes. But I put more of the blame of the Red Wedding on the Lannisters and Freys. Aye, he gave his word, but he fell in love. He made the decisions he thought were right.
It’s probably not a surprise that my favorite character is Jon Snow. He lives by Ned Stark’s example, always trying to do the honorable thing. He spends time amongst the Free Folk and realizes they’re no different and ultimately befriends them. He is born for leadership, but is smart enough to not want command or the crown, but he’ll do his duty and he’ll do it well. I did not like his relationship with Daenerys. On the one hand, glad he’s happy, on the other hand, I don’t trust her. She barely listened to him and he has to trail along picking up the pieces.
Let’s play a game: Hey, It’s That Guy! Game of Thrones is filled with actors that I have seen elsewhere.
Karl Tanner (the Night’s Watchman that betrays Joer Mormont) is played by Burn Gorman who played Owen Harper in Torchwood; he wasn’t a terribly kind character in that show either.
Orell, the warg of Tormund’s Wildlings is played by Mackenzie Crook, Mr. Ragetti from Pirates of the Caribbean.
The High Sparrow is also familiar from Pirates of the Caribbean, Governor Swann, played by Jonathan Pryce. Pryce also plays the villain in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Osha, the Wildling woman who protected Rickon and Bran, is played by Natalie Tena, Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter
Other Harry Potter cast mates include David Bradley who plays Walder Frey here, was Argus Filch in Harry Potter. Knew we shouldn’t have trusted him.
Michelle Fairley, who plays Catelyn Stark, briefly appears as Mrs. Granger in the first part of Deathly Hallows.
Archmaester Ebrose is played by Jim Broadbent, who in addition to being Professr Slughorn in Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, was Professor Diggory Kirke in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. He’s also appeared in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Moulin Rouge.
Of course, we recognize Jason Momoa now from Aquaman and Justice League, who played Khal Drogo
Edmure Tully, the bit dim brother of Catelyn Stark nee Tully is played by Tobias Menzies, who plays a double role of Frank Randall and Black Jack Randall in Outlander, and it looks like Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on The Crown.
Jojen Reed is played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who we’ve seen as young Tristan in Tristan and Isolde, Romulus Augustus in Last Legion, and he too was part of Doctor Who.
Incidentally, he’s in the same episode as Harry Lloyd, who plays Viserys Targaryen. Lloyd was also Will Scarlett in BBC’s Robin Hood series.
Let’s not forget “Holy crow, it’s Mycroft!” Yep, Sherlock‘s Mark Gatiss (both a creator and actor of the show) pops up every once in a while as a member of the Iron Bank. Mark Gatiss is also in the recent Disney film Christopher Robin and acts very Mycroft-like (as in, no fun).
Davos Seaworth, probably the most sane man in the bunch, is played by Liam Cunningham. As many others in the cast, he’s been in BBC productions including Merlin and Doctor Who. He was Agravaine in First Knight and was in 1995’s version of A Little Princess.
King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder, is played by Ciarán Hinds. He does play Albus’s brother Aberforth Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows, but I know him more from Phantom of the Opera and Amazing Grace.
Margarey Tyrell, who marries both Joffrey (extremely briefly) and Tommen is played by Natalie Dormer and played another famous queen, Anne Boleyn in The Tudors (also had gratuitous sex, though not as much violence). She did appear briefly in Captain America: First Avenger.
Her father, Mace Tyrell, is played by Roger Ashton-Griffiths, who was Friar Tuck in Princess of Thieves amongst other roles.
Stannis Baratheon’s wife, Selyse is played by Tara Fitzgerald, who portrayed Marie de Medici (Louis’s mother) in BBC’s Musketeers; not a warm-hearted woman there either.
Also jumping over from Musketeers is Alexandra Downing, who briefly plays Edmure Tully’s Frey wife, but shined as Anne of Austria in the swashbuckling series.
Famous name Clive Russell is Blackfish Tully, Catelyn’s uncle.
Another famous name is Julian Glover, who plays Grand Maester Pycelle.
King Robert Baratheon is played by Mark Addy; he was Roland in A Knight’s Tale and Friar Tuck in Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood.
Also from Robin Hood is Max von Sydow who was Walter Loxley there and plays the Three-Eyed Raven here. He has credits going back to the fifties.
Sassy Olenna Tyrell is played by Diana Rigg, who has a credits’ list going back to the sixties, but most recently has appeared in Victoria and a small part in Doctor Who (her character in that was very creepy; I prefer her as Olenna).
Charles Dance, who played head of the Lannister House, Tywin, appeared in BBC’s Merlin as the Witchfinder. Not a likeable character and bound and determined to ruin people’s lives.
Donald Sumpter, Maester Luwin of Winterfell had a small role of the Fisher King in Merlin as well.
Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, was also in Merlin, as Merlin’s best hometown friend, and he was also in Doctor Who.
Tom Hopper, the second version of Dickon Tarly, is Sir Percival from Merlin.
Ygritte was played by Rose Leslie, who appeared as Gwen Dawson, a servant in the first season of Downton Abbey.
Jorah Mormont is played by Iain Glen, who also appeared in Downton Abbey, but a season after Rose, as Sir Richard Carlisle, a potential suitor for Mary. He also was in Doctor Who as Octavian, fighting against the angels, and appeared in The Last Legion and Kingdom of Heaven.
His father, Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night Watch, is played by James Cosmo. He’s very kindly as Father Christmas in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. He’s been in other historical action films like Troy, The Last Legion, and Braveheart. (He was in Highlander, but I cut out on that movie twenty minutes in) and appeared in Castle, Merlin, and a version of Ivanhoe.
Ser Alliser Thorne (pain in the ass Night Watch Commander) is portrayed by Owen Teale, who has several credits to his name. He’s recently been in the biopic Tolkien (I highly recommend), appeared in Last Legion, King Arthur, and Torchwood.
Sansa Stark is played by Sophie Turner who is now the younger Jean Grey/Phoenix in the newer X-Men films (she does not appear in the same segment as Peter Dinklage; they missed each other by a movie).
Tyrion Lannaster is famously played by Peter Dinklage who has appeared in the Avengers and X-Men franchises, and plays the no less sarcastic dwarf Trumpkin in Prince Caspian.
Noble Robb Stark is played by Richard Madden, who recently appeared in Rocketman (another movie I recommend), though sadly Richard Madden’s character turned out to be not nice, so I put on Disney’s live action Cinderella (he’s Prince Kit, which now makes me chuckle), so I could see him be a good guy.
The only other credit I know Kit Harington, the brooding Jon Snow, from is voicing Eret, son of Eret in the latter two How to Train Your Dragon movies. I am interested in checking out some of his other credits.
And if you lot don’t know Sean Bean, as honorable Ned Stark…He’s Boromir from Lord of the Rings, Zeus in Percy Jackson, Odysseus in Troy, stars as Sharpe in that collection of films, the antagonist in the first National Treasure, the villain in GoldenEye opposite Pierce Brosnan (one of my favorite Bond films, and I think the first one my parents got me to watch) and the villain in Patriot Games opposite Harrison Ford (my favorite Jack Ryan movie; I should read that book sometime).
I would love to hear your thoughts on the show. Considering I am re-watching it and want the series on DVD, I believe it is safe to say I enjoyed it. What’s your favorite season? Episode? House? Character?
My plan is to finish up Merlin, then take another (hopefully) brief hiatus to work on some other writing, though if I manage to balance well, mayhap I will post some movie reviews at the same time.
First, let me apologize for the delay. I actually had this almost ready to post, barring my round up at the end a month ago; but life got complicated for a bit and then I found Game of Thrones (check out my other post today). But, I’m going to get back into this; enjoy!
Merlin: Season 2
The second season begins with Merlin dealing with The Curse of Cornelius Sigan, an evil sorcerer brought back to life when his tomb is opened. People being their greedy selves release the soul of Sigan into a living host, a bootlicker named Cedric (played by Mackenzie Crook, Ragetti from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) who manages to cause trouble for Merlin so he becomes Arthur’s servant in order to get a hold of keys to the tomb. Merlin bemoans “everything I do is for him [Arthur] and he just thinks I’m an idiot.” Arthur even throws him in prison. He breaks out so he can ask the dragon for help, but the dragon extracts a promise that Merlin will set him free in exchange for information. When Merlin faces Sigan, the sorcerer goes all Darth Vader, “join me and together we can rule.” Merlin, like Luke Skywalker, refuses. It is better to serve a good man. He’s almost consumed by the soul of Sigan but off camera gets it back into its crystal. Uther, being dense as usual, figures that they must renew their efforts to eradicate sorcerers. How ’bout, Gaius said don’t open the tomb and you wanted riches, so did so anyway?
In The Once and Future Queen, Arthur wants to be judged as his own man, not as the prince. So he concocts an idea for the upcoming jousting tournament. He won’t compete as himself; he’ll have an unknown man do all the public appearances and compete in the joust in the helmet so his opponent won’t pull up at the last moment in order to not harm the prince. (Bit like part of Knight’s Tale). Arthur secretly stays at Gwen’s home for the tournament, but still acts like a rude prince at times. Gwen stands up to him and he listens. Yet trouble still lies in wait; an assassin has been sent to kill Arthur. The assassin spots Merlin and follows the boy, finally discovering Arthur. The assassin takes the place of Arthur’s final opponent and uses a tipped lance to injure the prince. Arthur (with the secret magical help of Merlin) defeats the assassin; he still wants to prove to himself that he is a good and worthy knight. There’s a funny rant by Merlin in the episode of all his duties. He still has to clean the leech tank at the end, though.
Morgana’s magic becomes apparent in The Nightmare Begins. While she dreams, her eyes flash gold, starting a fire. Uther suspects outside magic, but Gaius knows the truth. Merlin deduces it as well and wants to help Morgana. Some of his actions are seen by Arthur, who interprets them as affection for the king’s ward. (We the fans have on occasion paired Merlin and Morgana together). Merlin thinks that the Druids may be able to help. When he asks the dragon for help, the dragon warns Merlin that the “witch” cannot be trusts and it would be better if she never knew the extent of her powers. Merlin won’t abandon her, so the dragon won’t help. Merlin manages to track down the answers and sneaks Morgana out to their camp. Which Uther sees as someone abducting his ward and sends Arthur and his knights to kill all the Druids. At the camp, Morgana meets up with young Mordred again and is so pleased to have some answers, she doesn’t want to go back to Camelot. She tries to flee but an earlier injury hampers her. Merlin secretly manages a distraction; Morgana is recovered and Mordred flees (but not before Merlin witnesses the boy’s power and Mordred calls him Emrys).
Lancelot and Guinevere are reunited in the next episode. Gwen accompanies Morgana on a day trip to visit Morgana’s father’s grave. On the way, they are ambushed by bandits. Morgana manages to get away, but Gwen is still prisoner. Uther won’t send Arthur after a servant and in public, Arthur agrees. In private, he prepares for a rescue. Gwen is held for ransom (believing her to be Lady Morgana) by Hengist (played by James Cosmo, who has appeared in Last Legion, Game of Thrones [Lord Commander Mormont], and is Father Christmas in Chronicles of Narnia). He likes his entertainment in the form of cage fights (cause those were a thing in fantasy medieval times). Who should appear and win his bout but Lancelot? He recognizes Gwen and knows that Uther will not pay the ransom, so he must get her out. He is aided by Arthur and Merlin (once they pass the wildren [“giant…baby rats”] by spreading gaia berries on their face). Arthur and Gwen are sent through the tunnel first, Merlin stays back with Lancelot so he can use magic more openly. Once they are free, Merlin notices that Gwen and Lancelot have shared some tender moments, and he knows that Arthur has feelings for Gwen. Lancelot and Arthur even speak about their shared feelings for the young woman. Lancelot, being the chivalrous knight that he is, won’t come between Arthur and Gwen, so he leaves again.
An “old friend” of Uther’s visits in the two-parter Beauty and the Beast, Lady Catrina, the last of a noble house. However, the Lady Catrina is actually a troll (who most likely killed Catrina and took her place). The troll uses a potion to look beautiful, but still prefers to eat rotten food and sleep in filth. Uther is utterly enchanted by the Lady Catrina – figuratively and literally; she enchants him to marry her so she will gain riches and power. Merlin figures out the truth of her and goes to Arthur. While Arthur is put off by the sickening romantic gestures of his father, he won’t hear Merlin call the woman names. Until she reveals herself as a troll when Merlin switches her potions. But Uther is blind. The only way to break the enchantment is for Uther to cry tears of true remorse, per the dragon (after he has a laugh). Arthur is not sure it will work; Catrina has dismissed Merlin for a crime (that Arthur knows he didn’t commit) and had Uther disinherit Arthur. Gaius knows that Uther truly loves his son, so concocts a potion that will make Arthur appear dead. Merlin just has to get him the antidote in time. (There’s a bit of a stutter there, when Merlin gets knocked out and vial smashed, but it turns out alright in the end). The plan is ultimately successful and Arthur stabs the troll.
In his continuing pursuit to rid Camelot of magic, Uther calls in The Witchfinder. Merlin was almost seen playing with magic. Aridian [Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones] arrives in Camelot and quickly finds three women who have also witnessed magic (which reminded me of the Salem witch trials) and accuses Merlin of being a sorcerer. Arthur scoffs and Merlin insists he has nothing to hide. Aridian “searches” Gaius’s chambers (more like destroys) and discovers a magical bracelet. He arrests Gaius and “questions” (read: interrogate) the elderly man. Aridian reveals that he suspects Merlin and Morgana and will have them exectued, unless Gaius confesses. Gaius confesses. But Aridian won’t hold up his end of the bargain with the comeback that he doesn’t bargain with sorcerers. Merlin (with some help from Arthur this time) sees Gaius. The bracelet wasn’t either of theirs. They realize Aridian is a fake. Now they just have to collect proof. With some help from Gwen, they uncover that the three women all had bought eye drops which caused hallucinations. Merlin magically leaves evidence in Aridian’s chambers, so he’s implicated upon a search. Then he helpfully falls out a window. Gaius is thus released and Uther attempts to apologize. Gaius calls his old friend out that he suffered at Uther’s hands, not Aridian’s. He was not the first falsely accused. Gaius shares a joke with Merlin after that the boy should promise to never save his life again.
Arthur finally discovers the true circumstances of his birth in The Sins of the Father. Morgause rides into Camelot as a knight and challenges Arthur. She almost has him beat in the fight, but extracts a promise for him to meet her later and submit to her challenge there. She also stops to speak to Morgana and gifts the young woman with a bracelet to help ward off bad dreams. Gaius sees the bracelet and realizes who Morgause is; Morgana’s half sister. The bracelet bears the crest of the House of Gorlois; Gaius admits to Uther that he was the one who smuggled the girl out of the castle after her birth to be raised by the High Priestess. (How does Morgana not recognize the crest on the bracelet?) They fear what Arthur will discover from Morgause and Uther forbids Arthur from leaving. Arthur of course sneaks out. His challenge before Morgause is to willingly place his head on an execution block. She swings the axe up, but sets it aside. As a reward, Arthur may have one wish. His heart’s desire is to see his mother. Arthur wonders, as Morgause casts magic, maybe his father’s view has been wrong. Merlin gets his hopes up a little; he and Arthur even bonded over never knowing one of their parents (Merlin never knew his father). Igraine appears to her son and admits that Uther used magic to aid in his conception and the Old Religion demanded a life in exchange. Arthur rides back to Camelot to confront his father. They fight and Arthur calls his father out. Merlin breaks in and stops the fight; claiming that Morgause lied. He has to protect Arthur and that means saving Uther. Arthur would never forgive himself for killing his father. Afterwards, Arthur thanks Merlin for showing him that magic is evil and dangerous. Uther is grateful for Merlin’s loyalty and views the young man as a “trusted ally in the fight against magic”. Gaius is proud.
Merlin meets a young Druid woman named Freya in The Lady of the Lake, locked in a cage, supposedly cursed. He frees her, even after Gaius warns him not to. Merlin falls for the kind girl, telling her she doesn’t have to be scared of magic. Unfortunately, a beast begins attacking people in Camelot, one that can fly and leave human footprints. Gaius discovers it is a Bastet. Meanwhile, Merlin decides to get Freya out of Camelot; he’ll go with her to protect her. But Gaius makes him see the truth on Freya’s condition. Arthur corners her in beast form and mortally wounds her. Merlin cannot save her, but takes her to a lake to die in peace. He sets her pyre alight, tears streaming (we cry too). Arthur sense Merlin’s sadness and tries to cheer him up with some jokes.
A visiting king tries to stir up trouble in Sweet Dreams, having his jester enchant Arthur to fall in love with Lady Vivian (played by Georgia Moffett, the daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, married to Tenth Doctor David Tennant and played the Doctor’s daughter in the titled episode opposite Tennant…ain’t BBC great?) Vivian is rude at first, but is also enchanted to fall in love with Arthur so war will be declared between Uther and King Olaf (played by Mark Lewis Jones, who among other roles, was Uther in The Mists of Avalon…which makes it very funny to think that he’ll challenge Uther). Arthur’s enchantment also causes problems with Gwen, because he tells Merlin he wants to demonstrate his love to a woman, whom Merlin assumes is Gwen, causing Merlin to leaves flowers and a note for Gwen. Merlin eventually needs Gwen’s help, after Arthur breaks her heart a bit not showing for a date; true love’s kiss will break the love potion (just like in every fairy tale). It works! Arthur keeps the peace between the kingdoms. Vivian’s spell is not broken, but hopefully the right man will come along for her. Gwen tells Arthur that she cannot be his queen.
Morgana slides further towards the villain side in The Witch’s Quickening when Mordred sneaks in to Camelot to persuade Morgana to steal a crystal. Merlin hears the commotion and has Arthur knock on Morgana’s door. She refuses to let Arthur search her room, which makes Arthur tell Merlin off. Merlin knows that Morgana is the one who steals the crystal, rumored to show all time: past, present, and future. The dragon warns him that a union of evil is foretold between Mordred and Morgana. Merlin follows Morgana to Mordred’s camp where they plot against Uther. Gaius helps send Arthur in the right direction, reporting to Uther on Alva, a charismatic fanatic magician. Morgana warns the camp and Merlin leads the knights to the camp, where they’re ambushed. Merlin trips Mordred, but the boy shoves spears through two knights. He won’t forget what Merlin did, but still escapes. Only Alva is left standing. Arthur has Merlin guard the crystal; Merlin fears the power, but it compels him to pick it up. He sees a vision of Camelot in flames. Alva stands trail and doesn’t give away Morgana. Morgana confronts Uther and disowns him for hunting down sorcerers, then sneaks down and eases Alva’s escape. Both Merlin and Uther suspect her involvement. Uther issues a warning that his persecution of magic will continue. Merlin fears the future he saw and Gaius tries to comfort him; the future is not yet written, he’s only seen one possibility. But the dragon calls to Merlin to fulfill his promise.
The ante is upped in The Fires of Idirsholas. Like the Nazgul, the knights of Medhir are raised from the dead to bring doom to Camelot. Morgause uses Morgana as the host for her spell to put everyone to sleep in Camelot. Merlin and Arthur are away, investigating the knights. They’re the only two of their guard to escape and make haste back for Camelot. The dragon insists on another promise of freedom before he offers help. Merlin swears on his mother’s life; he’ll follow through. The dragon tells Merlin he must kill Morgana to save everyone else. He puts hemlock in his waterskin and gives it to Morgana. She realizes what he’s done and Morgause bursts in to save her half sister (Morgana still doesn’t know). Merlin bargains the antidote for Morgause to stop the spell. She agrees to save Morgana and magics her way out. There are a few funny bits when the three teenagers are trying to save Uther, and Merlin at first does not give away that Morgana has magic. Arthur is very brave when he fights the knights by himself. Gaius reassures Merlin that he did the right thing. And now, Merlin must keep his promise. He frees the dragon.
Which leads to the dragon attacking and burning Camelot (like the vision) in The Last Dragonlord. Arthur and his knights are no match for the dragon. They must find the last dragonlord, who Gaius reveals is Balinor (remember the visiting priest from The Musketeers?). Gaius comes clean to Merlin before he leaves with Arthur that Balinor is the boy’s father. At first meeting, Balinor is not who Merlin thought he would be. He needs the man’s help healing Arthur from a dragon scratch (the young knight received it saving Gwen). Balinor does not want to help Camelot; Uther betrayed him. He had Balinor call in the last dragon, under the guise of peace, instead to chain him up and hunt Balinor down. But Merlin reminds him of Gaius, so he’ll come. In the woods, Merlin reveals he is Balinor’s son. But they only have a few hours to enjoy their family; soldiers attack and Balinor is killed protecting Merlin. Merlin can’t even tell Arthur why he mourns the man; the son of a dragonlord would be suspicious to Uther. Arthur will make a last stand against the dragon. Merlin insists on coming. Most of the knights are killed and Arthur is knocked out. But Merlin is able to draw on the powers of a dragonlord (since his father is dead) to make Kilgarah stop. He shows mercy when Kilgarah pleads with the warlock to not end a noble race. Kilgarah feels that they will meet again. Arthur wakes after the dragon flies off and Merlin informs him that the prince dealt a mortal blow. Gwen hugs Arthur when they return and Gaius hugs Merlin, calling him “my boy.”
I liked the evolving relationship between Arthur and Merlin; they’re definitely friends, even if a bit lopsided. Arthur is comfortable enough to joke with Merlin, even if he doesn’t treat him with the best respect. This is the reason I love the show; the banter between Merlin and Arthur. Our characters are tested this season; you pity Morgana for her fear of magic. She’s raised by Uther to view magic as evil and then finds out she has it and cannot control it. I wish Merlin hadn’t had to poison Morgana; it would have been nice for him to have a confidant his own age within Camelot. And poor Merlin, to find his father and lose him within a few days’ time. Never completely trusted the dragon. He thinks that killing hundreds of innocent people is the proper recompense for one man locking him up?
As always, let me know your thoughts or questions. (I’ll add any further thoughts that come about)
In a land of myth, and a time of magic…The destiny of a great kingdom lies on the shoulders of a young boy. His name…Merlin.
Ran on BBC for five seasons from 2008 to 2012 featuring younger characters; young adults, before they became famous. For those who watch British television, it has some familiar faces and names (a whole bunch have appeared in Doctor Who). Colin Morgan (he was the teenage boy in the episode Midnight, and did go on to have a small part in The Huntsman: Winter’s War) leads the cast as Merlin with Bradley James by his side as Arthur. Angel Coulby (again, a small role in Doctor Who, The Girl in the Fireplace) is Gwen and Katie McGrath (a variety of roles; leading lady in A Princess for Christmas opposite Sam Heughan [before he became Jamie Fraser in Outlander] and Roger Moore, a small part in Tudors, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, she was Zara in Jurassic World and has had reoccurring roles in Dracula and Supergirl) is Morgana. Veterans Anthony Head (has appeared in Doctor Who, Buffy, Galavant, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) is Uther Pendragon, Richard Wilson (who has also been in Doctor Who) is Merlin’s mentor Gaius, and John Hurt (The War Doctor, Ollivander in Harry Potter among over 200 credits and recently passed in 2017) voices the Great Dragon. It’s not specifically set in England; all of the place names being fantasy related. The show centers in Camelot, though the features a castle that actually exists in France.
We open with The Dragon’s Call, the dragon narrating that no young man, no matter how great, can know his destiny (this is before the opening was used before each episode). Merlin walks into Camelot just as Uther decrees a sorcerer executed. He has banned magic from his kingdom and they have enjoyed twenty years of peace. An old woman curses Uther and disappears. Merlin heads for Gaius’s chambers and demonstrates his innate magical ability when he saves Gaius from falling. Yeah, that’s going to be an issue; the boy was born with magic and cannot help it. And now lives in a city where he will be executed if found out. Morgana opposes Uther’s harsh law on magic (she’s not aware of her legendary abilities at this point), and shows herself to be a strong female to openly stand up to her guardian. Merlin meets Arthur as the prince is tormenting a servant; Merlin refuses to show proper decorum, referring to Arthur as a prat. He ends up in the stocks, twice, meeting Gwen as well, who is Morgana’s servant. The old woman from before has transformed herself into a famous singer in order to get into the palace (played by Eve Myles who is Gwen Cooper from Torchwood and Doctor Who and was Mrs. Jenkins in the Victoria series).
Throughout the episode, Merlin hears a voice calling him. He eventually ventures below the castle and encounters a dragon. The Great Dragon informs the young warlock that his and Arthur’s destines are entwined. Arthur is the Once and Future King, destined to unite Albion and bring magic back. Merlin’s role is to protect the young man; a duty that Merlin is not keen on at the beginning. Nevertheless, when the witch puts everyone to sleep and tries to kill Arthur, Merlin uses his powers to save the prince. Uther “rewards” him for his loyalty by making him Arthur’s servant; neither boy is terribly happy about the appointment.
Valiant brings a tournament for knights to compete. Arthur is expected to win since he’s the prince. The knight Valiant however has a magical trick up his sleeve to ensure his victory; a shield with three snakes that can come to life and do his bidding. Merlin eventually discovers the shield and tries to convince Arthur to drop out of the tournament. The servant manages to get the prince to believe his accusations, but they have no proof and Arthur is embarrassed in front of the king. He dismisses Merlin, but Merlin will see his duty through. Morgana also has dreams of Arthur dying and even tries to persuade him to save himself; Arthur cannot back down from the fight. Merlin discovers a way to bring the snakes to life on his own and quietly does so in front of the whole court. Morgana throws a sword to Arthur, who dispatches the snakes and Valiant. There’s almost a tender moment between the two after, but they bicker with each other. Merlin is once again Arthur’s servant and their lives carry on.
A plague breaks out in The Mark of Nimueh, caused by the sorceress Nimueh (played by Michelle Ryan who was in the Doctor Who episode Planet of the Dead). Merlin struggles to learn when it is appropriate to use his powers. (He is often in the position of: “Merlin, don’t do this thing.” And Merlin does the thing). He heals Gwen’s father when he falls ill, but that simply causes more problems. Gwen is accused of being a sorceress and Merlin tries to cover for her. Arthur talks him out of any consequences by saying the boy is in love with Gwen (they are adorably awkward around each other at times) [reminder, no Arthur does not know that Merlin has magic, he’s simply saving a friend]. Gaius and Merlin figure out it’s an Avank monster and gather Morgana and Arthur to destroy the beast. Gwen is saved, but Gaius and Uther both know the sorceress responsible.
The Poisoned Chalice is one of my favorite episodes, since it shows the tight friendship that Arthur and Merlin have already built. Nimueh sneaks into Camelot as part of King Bayard’s court, there to sign a treaty with Uther. Nimueh poisons a cup that is given to Arthur, then disguises herself as a servant and speaks to Merlin, spurring him to take the cup to save Arthur. When the poison takes effect after a moment, it drops him to the ground. Gaius figures out what the poison is and the antidote, but it’s a dangerous mission. Arthur barely hesitates, agreeing to retrieve the ingredients. Uther forbids his son from the mission. Arthur, encouraged by Morgana, disobeys his father and rides out. He battles a few beasts and encounters Nimueh, who leaves him to die by giant spiders (why did it have to be spiders?) While a fever rages through Merlin, he mutters magic, which Gaius has to cover in front of Gwen. He conjures a blue sphere to light Arthur’s way, and even urges the young man to save himself. Arthur grabs one vital flower and escapes. Uther puts him in the dungeon for his disobedience; he’ll just have to get a new servant when he’s let out (Uther has a habit of being cruel). Gwen manages to sneak in and get the flower and Gaius has to secretly use magic to make the antidote. Again, it takes a moment for the draught to take effect, but Merlin recovers. Huzzah!
We meet Lancelot in the self-titled episode (remember, played by a fresh faced Santiago Cabrera; later to be Aramis). He saves Merlin from a griffin attack and is injured in the process. Upon waking in Camelot, he expresses his lifelong desire to be a knight. One problem: the First Code. Knights must be from noble families; Lancelot is not. Merlin magics his way around that, including his friend in the lineage of a noble house. He encounters the librarian, Geoffrey of Monmouth (as in the writer of The History of the Kings of Britain, one of the earliest developed narratives of King Arthur). Lancelot proves himself in a test against Arthur and is knighted. But it’s all ripped away when Geoffrey discovers the lie. Arthur has no choice but to imprison Lancelot. Meanwhile, the griffin has come to the castle. It is a magical beast and can only be vanquished with magic. Merlin has a plan and is aided by Lancelot (who, upon being let out of prison by Arthur, insists on staying and goes to Gwen for weapons and aid. Gwen in turn fetches Merlin). Lancelot charges at the beast while Arthur lies knocked out. Merlin mutters his incantation and the lance glows, defeating the griffin. Uther refuses to reinstate Lancelot’s knighthood after his heroic deeds. While Arthur fights his father, Lancelot quietly reveals to Merlin that he knows of the boy’s magic; he heard the incantation. But he won’t reveal the secret. He does agree to leave Camelot.
Morgana becomes very ill, “all but dead” in A Remedy to Cure All Ills. A man comes to Camelot spouting that he has a remedy to cure all ills and will see to Morgana. In fact, the man is a sorcerer and caused the illness (with a creepy bug). He cures Morgana, which was something Gaius was unable to do, calling into question Gaius’s outdated methods and age. Uther offers the position of court physician to the man, retiring Gaius. Gaius intends to leave Camelot, though Merlin begs for him to stay; the man has been more than a father to him and Gaius admits he looks on Merlin like a son. The sorcerer causes Uther to fall ill next. Gaius confronts the young man, realizing he recognizes him; he was a boy during the Purges and his parents were burned by Uther for using magic. We also find out that Gaius knows the great dragon beneath Camelot. The dragon counsels Gaius that Arthur cannot unite Albion until Uther is dead. Merlin manages to rescue his mentor and reverse the sorcerer’s illness. Gaius is reinstated and Uther is none the wiser to the magical ailments that went on under his nose.
The Sidhe (an Irish term for faeries, a carryover from when they were considered gods) make an appearance in The Gates of Avalon. Merlin and Arthur are out hunting and come across bandits attacking and father and daughter. Arthur rescues them (with secret magical assistance from Merlin) and escorts them to Camelot. They’re invited to stay and Arthur clearly is infatuated with the daughter Sophia (played by Holliday Grainger. Among other roles, she is Anastasia in the updated Disney Cinderella movie). Arthur has Merlin cover for him so he can spend time with the young lady, landing Merlin in the stocks twice (this is the season Merlin spends in the stocks).
Meanwhile, Morgana has been having dreams of Sophia drowning Arthur; she saw Sophia before the young woman stepped foot into the castle. Indeed, Sophia is trying to drown Arthur; Merlin follows her father to the woods one evening and overhears their plan to sacrifice Arthur so Sophia can regain her immortal life as a Sidhe. Morgana goes to Gaius, who believes her and sends Merlin after them. He destroys the Sidhe and rescues Arthur. And still ends up punished.
The Beginning of the End (very ominous) introduces the Druids. A young Druid boy (who looks like a young Merlin) and his father are chased by guards; the boy is injured and the father is captured. The boy calls to Merlin – mentally, for aid, calling him ‘Emrys’. Merlin helps him and hides him with Morgana. Morgana quickly becomes attached to the boy, holding him as they hear his father executed. Uther demands the boy be found; any who harbor him will face execution as well. The boy’s wound becomes infected and Merlin is hesitant to bring in Gaius. Merlin seeks counsel from the dragon, and the dragon reveals that the boy will be Arthur’s downfall. Morgana, Gwen, and Merlin try to sneak the boy out, but Morgana and the boy are caught. Uther is furious at Morgana. Arthur is more sympathetic than his father and agrees to help get the boy to the Druids. Morgana will dine with Uther so she cannot be suspected. Arthur will get the boy out of the dungeon, but he needs Merlin’s help. Merlin almost doesn’t follow through, heeding the dragon’s caution of future danger. But he comes through and Arthur manages to get the boy to the Druids. Only then do we find out the boy’s name: Mordred. Uh oh.
Another element from the legend comes into play in Excalibur. Nimueh raises a knight from the dead on the same evening Arthur is officially crowned as prince of Camelot and Uther’s heir, now that he is of age. The knight breaks into the festivities and throws down a gauntlet. Sir Owain picks it up and will face single combat. Arthur would rather face the knight than have his knights be sacrificed. Gaius suspects and with the help of Geoffrey confirms the black knight is Sir Tristan du Bois, Uther’s brother-in-law, killed by Uther’s hand when Tristan challenged him after his sister Igraine’s death. Owain is killed by the black knight in combat and the gauntlet is thrown again. Uther stops Arthur from picking it up, instead, Sir Pelenor will face the challenge. He fares better the next day, but still falls. Merlin has noticed both times that wounds that should kill the black knight don’t. He’s once again dealing with a magical entity. Arthur this time throws down his gauntlet; he will face the black knight. Everyone tries to talk Arthur out of it; he will be killed. Nimueh visits Uther and we discover they used to be friends. Uther had asked for her help to give his wife a son. But she was not to know that it was Igraine’s life that would be lost to gain Arthur’s. This is why Uther despises magic. Uther finally goes to Gaius for help; a sleeping draught.
In the meantime, Merlin has been working on another plan. A sword burnished by dragon fire can kill a wraith. Merlin gets such a blade, promising to the dragon that only Arthur will wield it. It gains an inscription that reads on one side: Take me up, and on the other: Cast me aside. There’s a hiccup when Arthur is sleeping and Uther takes his place, including the sword. It’s does its job, but the dragon is furious. He orders Merlin to take the sword where it can never be found; the young man throws it into a lake (this is the sword from the opening sequence). Arthur confronts his father about his actions and Uther finally admits to his son that he is not a disappointment.
Merlin returns home during The Moment of Truth. His mother, Hunith comes to Camelot begging help; raiders are attacking their village. But they lie in another kingdom and Uther cannot send knights, it would look like an act of war. Merlin will return with his mother, intent on staying so he can look after her. Gwen and Morgana accompany him and they’re joined later by Arthur. Arthur encourages the men of the village to fight and stand up to Canan and his goons. One young man is outspoken against him, Will, Merlin’s old friend. His father had been killed serving a king and so he doesn’t trust nobles. Will incidentally knows that Merlin has magic and debates with him on using it, so he can spare the village. But Merlin must keep it a secret from Arthur. Gwen and Morgana join the men in the fight (wearing impractical mail). Merlin finally has to use magic, which Arthur witnesses. But Will was standing next to Merlin so it could have been either of them. Will takes a bolt for Arthur and as he dies, he takes credit for the magic; what can Arthur do? Kill him? Hunith talks her son into returning to Camelot; she sees that he and Arthur are friends; two sides of the same coin. The day will come when the truth will be known.
Arthur slays a unicorn hunting one day in The Labyrinth of Gedref, causing a curse to befall Camelot. Overnight their crops die, then the water turns to sand. An old man appears and tells Arthur he must face several tests to lift the curse. One evening, Arthur and Merlin, while looking for the old man, come across a peasant stealing food. Arthur lets the man go. Water returns. But when they venture to the woods, the peasant taunts him and Arthur fights him. The remaining grain rots and Uther decrees that the food must be saved for the army. But Arthur cares more for his people than for himself and refuses to give the order. Merlin persuades the old man to give Arthur a final test. Then follows Arthur through a labyrinth. At the end, Merlin sits across from Arthur at a table, two goblets, one filled with poison. Merlin tries to talk Arthur into letting him drink the poison; he is only a servant. But Arthur tricks him and drinks all the contents. ‘Twas ultimately not poison and Arthur wakes. The crops re-grow overnight and Camelot is saved. Arthur buries the unicorn horn and proving that he has a pure heart, the unicorn lives again.
Gwen’s father is caught consorting with a sorcerer in To Kill the King and sentenced to execution. Morgana takes pity on him for Gwen’s sake and tries to help him escape. He is killed. Morgana is furious for Uther for the way he handled the situation. If it involves magic, he loses all rational sense. He locks her in the dungeon overnight for her backtalk. Arthur pleads with him off camera in the morning to release his ward. So she decides that Uther must die and allies herself with the sorcerer. Under the pretense of visiting her father’s grave, Morgana gets Uther into the open. Merlin follows and takes care of the other men. But at the grave, Uther reveals he looks upon Morgana as a daughter and appreciates that she makes him question his actions, like her father did. From now on, he tells her, I want to listen more and quarrel less. Morgana no long wishes Uther dead and when the sorcerer attacks, she stabs in him the back as he tackles Uther.
The first season ends with Le Morte d’Arthur (like Malory’s tale). Arthur, Merlin, and his knights are in the forest, hunting the Questing Beast. They lose Sir Bedivere to the beast (like in the tale). Morgana has another dream of Arthur dying and in distress begs him not to go back out. He does and in a cave is scratched by the beast. Gaius states that a bite from the Questing Beast is fatal, there is no cure. Uther tries to carry his son to his room, but falls to his knees in the courtyard. Gaius tries to make the lad more comfortable, but Merlin searches for another answer. The Questing Beast is tied to the Old Religion and carries the power of life and death. Merlin goes to the dragon for help. He’s instructed to go to the Isle of the Blessed and strike a deal, a life for a life. Merlin willingly gives his life for Arthur. But he meets Nimueh on the Isle. She gives him water from the Cup of Life. With it, Arthur is healed. And Merlin strangely doesn’t die.
Instead, his mother arrives back in Camelot, gravely ill. Merlin is furious at the dragon for misleading him. The dragon insists that Merlin must do everything in his power to free the dragon, to free magic. Merlin tells the dragon he will not be back. Now, Merlin can’t find Gaius. He races after his mentor, who has chosen to give his life for the boy. Merlin strikes out at Nimueh, bringing lightning upon her. The balance of the Old Religion has been appeased. Gaius lives, Arthur lives, we see some tender moments between Uther and his son, along with a moment between Gwen and Arthur. Merlin tries to say goodbye to Arthur without really saying goodbye and being the men they are, they can’t really tell each other how they feel; that they’re friends and they’d miss each other. It’s another of my favorite episodes.
The theme of destiny runs throughout the series. The Great Dragon harps on it anytime Merlin asks for help. Gaius refers to it. Others speak to Arthur about his destiny as king. It’s a lot for two young men to take on, particularly when they don’t know the full extent. We as the audience know they’re ‘destined’ to become legends. For now, though, they’re teenagers. Merlin has to hide a part of himself from the person he’s supposed to protect. They all make mistakes. It’s fun to see these characters more human. Not as legends, but as young people, relatable.
Morgana’s costumes in particular have a modern flair. This is a fantastical take on the legend, rather than a historical take (Last Legion, King Arthur. Those have their places. This is fun). What made these characters into who they are? How did Arthur and Merlin have such a strong bond? It’s adorable to watch Arthur become protective of Merlin so soon. While he was raised by a sometimes-tyrant like Uther (he truly loves his son, he just has a funny way of showing it), Arthur is a different man than his father. He puts everyone else before him; well, he still gives Merlin a list of chores to do.
We will continue this discussion in Season Two next time.
Four years have passed and we’re thrown straight into the war. Athos is leading a charge in Spoils of War. He’s knocked down and the Spanish begin their attack, but his brothers Porthos and D’Artagnan defend their commander until he is up. Frustratingly, the general insists that the field must be taken, even though the French have no artillery to support them (“Go out there and die for [the king]” is not the most sound military advice). D’Artagnan remains reckless and leads another charge. They blow up the Spanish’s powder and win the day. But the three intend to discover what happened to their promised re-supply.
During the course of their investigation, they come across Aramis, now a monk at a nearby monastery, watching over children. This season’s new villain, Grimaud brings the weapons (stolen from the French army) to the monastery. One of Aramis’s charges, Luc, is quite brave and helpful, eagerly soaking up any stories Aramis tells of his companions. Aramis works with his brothers again and discovers that God made him to be a Musketeer, not a monk. He joins them as they ride back to Paris.
Meanwhile, in Paris, things are not as they left. The only musketeers at the garrison are cadets and they have to put up with the Red Guard, under the leadership of Captain Marchaux and taking orders from Marquis Ferron, the Governor of Paris (why we’ve never seen him before if he’s the governor, and Louis’s bastard half-brother [same father, different mothers, thus does not show on official family trees], I’m not sure. ‘Tis a plot hole). Constance, known now as Madame D’Artagnan runs the garrison while Treville continues to advise the king. Louis and Anne have grown distant; Louis only cares for his son, who is now five years old. Marchaux despises Constance, calling her an unnatural woman. Treville does manage to punch the man in the face (to our cheers).
Grimaud works with Ferron and he’s content to stay in Paris now that the musketeers have returned. The three elder musketeers report to Treville, who has them reassigned to Paris to keep order; D’Artagnan has gone ahead to the garrison to surprise his wife.
He gets thrown in prison in The Hunger, defying Marchaux when the man accuses refugees of stealing grain. Hundreds have fled to Paris for protection when the war ravages their land. One of their leaders is Sylvie, who encounters Athos when he discovers her pamphlets on equality for all (which equals to sedition at that time). He ends up working with her as the musketeers attempt to discover what happened to the grain (she even gets a few fight scenes). Treville argues for justice; there has been no evidence found against the refugees; though it turns out that the villainous trio of Marchaux, Grimaud, and Ferron are working together to frame them. Our heroes win out the day; Athos and Sylvie even kiss, starting a new relationship.
Brothers in Arms brings Louis’s younger brother, Gaston, the Duke of Orleans (this is historically factual), into play. Treville and Anne notice that the king is not acting like himself. Louis wants to build bridges with another family member who wanted to overthrow him (remember how well that worked last time, trying to forgive his mother). Louis does reveal to Treville (with Ferron overhearing) that he has the white plague; this will be his last summer. That is why he is spending all the time he can with his son. He swears his Minister to secrecy; just after Treville has admonished Athos that they should tell each other everything. The Queen does not even know.
Constance maintains her friendship with Queen Anne, though when the queen asks when the garrison will be treated to a child now that D’Artagnan is home, Constance shares her worries about bringing a babe into this chaotic world. Athos has to learn his place as Captain of the Musketeers, according to Treville. He should not be riding out constantly with his friends: I argue that he’s more effective that way and Athos is not one to abandon his brothers. He’s a Captain just returned from war, where his position was at the head of the charge, not sitting back and devising strategy. D’Artagnan is coming along nicely, tutoring the cadets and passing on the wisdom of “head over heart.”
Gaston manages to insult a group of veterans. Due to being the king’s brother, Gaston faces no recriminations while Louis doesn’t mind arresting the veterans. Gaston was carrying letters between him and the Duke of Lorraine (a cousin), raising an army against Louis. Of course Gaston doesn’t want those lying about, but he’s not the loyal family member that Louis desires. Tensions rise between the veterans and the royal family, with the Musketeers stuck in the middle. Porthos and Treville attempt to talk peace, but are held hostage. Porthos is disgusted that “I left a good clean war for this,” meaning the machinations going on in Paris. The Red Guard are given permission to fire on the veterans, only after Athos has had a chance to rescue Treville and Porthos. Of course, thanks to Grimaud, the attempt fails and an all out battle ensues. The Musketeers and veterans join forces against the Red Guard, aided by Constance and the cadets, and Sylvie and the refugees arriving. Treville punches Marchaux again. In the end, Ferron throws Gaston in the Bastille once he reads the letters.
An old face, Emile Bonaire reappears in The Queen’s Diamonds [it’s been a while since I’ve watched season three and I forgot the plot line for this one when I saw the title and thought it was similar to 2011’s movie]. Louis’s sister, Henrietta Marie is married to King Charles I of England (I doubted this was true, but looked it up and yes, it is), and has traveled to France for help from her brother; Cromwell has taken over London [I can give you a rant on Cromwell, if you’d like]. She was to meet with a Dutch financier and use her crown jewels as collateral to raise an army against the uprising. But her diamonds are stolen. By Bonaire. When the Musketeers catch up to him, he’s already sold them, so now they must track down the buyers and get them back. D’Artagnan is instrumental in retrieving the first set of stones, using his knowledge as a farmer to approach a horse that’s causing the other men difficulty. There’s a firefight to retrieve the second batch.
There’s a small side story involving Aramis and an old friend, Pauline. Turns out, Aramis grew up in a brothel before his father retrieved him. Pauline grew up in the same brothel and they were childhood friends. Pauline is due to be married to a wealthy noble, but she’s being blackmailed about her past by a servant. She ultimately kills the servant because she will not tell her future husband the truth. She has a break down right before the wedding (and we’re not entirely sure what happens to her). The story crosses over with the main plot when the last diamond is to be used as her wedding ring. The gems are returned to their owner and Bonaire will double the English queen’s money, if she lets him remain with his new wife, her lady in waiting. They’re free, but they can never return to England.
A prison escape occurs the same day as the dauphin’s birthday in To Play the King. This is all Ferron’s planning; while the court is occupied with the birthday celebration, Grimaud will sneak in and rob the gold vault underneath the palace, accessed by the prison, hence why the prisoners needed to be out of their cells. The Musketeers are sent to round up the escapees. Grimaud blackmails one prisoner, a former locksmith, to get him to build a new key in order to get into the vault.
Unfortunately, one crazy prisoner was in the mix, who thinks he’s the actual king (played by Stephen Walters, who is Angus Mhor in Outlander). D’Artagnan takes pity on him when he discovers the man was a soldier, caught in a siege that addled his mind. The young Musketeer takes the man to a convent to heal. The king remains mercurial; he wants his subjects, starting with Ferron, to swear fealty to his son. But he’s embarrassed when Ferron’s weakness (his spine pains him and makes walking difficult) causes the older man to fall to the floor. His adversary, Treville and Athos help him up and even little Louis comes to his aid. Anne leaves when Louis makes his remark. At the same time, the prisoner D’Artagnan took pity on is very dangerous, killing the nuns, and continues to the palace, coming upon the queen. Anne plays along for a while, but just as the prisoner begins to suspect her, D’Artagnan and the others come to her rescue. Louis is pleased she’s not dead, but that’s as far as his grace extends.
Treville still suspects that Ferron wishes to overthrow Louis, but he cannot tell the king, or Ferron will spread word of Louis’s illness across the continent. The Minister does overhear Ferron and Grimaud plotting that they need Gaston and Grimaud will ensure that the Aramis, Porthos, Athos, and D’Artagnan will not stand in their way again.
Death of a Hero starts ominously, Ferron talking about the day you die, and you don’t see it coming, narrating over the opening shots. Aramis is blindfolded, Athos faces a pistol, and a knife is held to D’Artagnan’s throat. So we fear that at least one of our heroes will not survive. Yet, they are safe for the moment. The pistol held at Athos belongs to Sylvie and they spend a rather interesting morning together (who knew the former Comte could be kinky?) Aramis is doing trick shots with Porthos, and Constance is shaving D’Artagnan. Ferron forges Treville’s signature, telling Grimaud that this will the Musketeers’ day to die; he has issued orders for Aramis, Porthos, and D’Artagnan to meet a messenger from the front. Grimaud handles Athos, finding him at Sylvie’s and brutally attacks him (none of the other refugees can bother to help Athos). Sylvie fires two shots at Grimaud and thinks he’s dead. When she returns with Athos, he’s gone. Athos fears for his brothers and calls Treville to the garrison. They ride out after their friends.
Porthos and D’Artagnan are ambushed on their trip. Grimaud comes along to blow up the building they’re hiding in. The two musketeers discuss that they don’t want to die yet. D’Artagnan still wants children (um, you should really have a talk with your wife, get both of yourselves on the same page). Porthos still wants a wife and child. “We refuse to die!” they resolve. And the roof caves in, trapping them. That is the state that Athos and Treville and the cadets find them. Athos frantically searches, until he fears that his brothers are dead. Porthos manages to come to, grasping D’Artagnan’s hand, echoing their earlier statement, calling attention to them. They’re rescued and now must go for Aramis.
In the meantime, Louis has decided to go on a pilgrimage to his father’s grave on the anniversary of his death. He’ll go with one guard, Aramis. Grimaud, when he finds out that Aramis is not with Porthos and D’Artagnan, orders Ferron to kill him, and the king. Ferron has already helped Gaston escape the Bastille. Ferron lies in wait, but cannot bring himself to kill his younger brother, especially after Louis places his trust in him to look after the dauphin and shows Ferron that he will be buried next to their father and acknowledged as family. Later, Louis confronts Aramis about the truth of his affair with the queen. Louis knows. He threatens to hang the musketeer (not helped along by Aramis telling the king that his wife was lonely; Aramis darling, while that may be true, don’t say that to the king). Outside, Grimaud confronts Ferron. Ferron stands up to the villain and is rewarded with being stabbed. He fires a shot in the air to warn Louis and Aramis of danger. A fight breaks out, Louis even helping shoot one guy. When he discovers his brother, Louis declares him a hero, worthy of a full state funeral. It comes out to the musketeers that Louis is dying, and Aramis warns the queen.
Fool’s Gold has our heroes pursuing Grimaud for his crimes. They come across a camp of women, displaced by the war. The four men wrangle an agreement to use the camp as a base for their search Another man in currently staying there, Bastian (played by Harry Melling, Dudley Dursely from Harry Potter), claiming to be an injured solider. The four musketeers soon discover that he’s not a soldier, he’s a deserter and worse, a convict. He and his men are searching the camp for loot they had stolen. Athos doggedly continues on the search for Grimaud, locating a cabin in the woods. The leader of the camp locks him in; she had acted as a mother to Grimaud when the man’s own mother tried to drown him since he was the result of rape. The mother still lives and is in the camp, Juliette. Athos escapes, but the woman poisons him. He stumbles upon the search party and is plagued with horrible nightmares as he fights the effect of the poison, layered on top of the hideous wounds he received from Grimaud two days before.
Back at the palace, Anne tries to make inroads with Louis, now possessing the knowledge that he is dying. She asks to be named Regent. Louis refuses at first, keeping their son from her; he cannot forgive her for her adultery (double standard; what do you call Milady de Winter? Treville even points this out). Anne does persuade Louis to name her Regent; she wishes to still be friends with him. They accept they never truly loved each other, but their marriage was a political alliance.
Porthos meets a young, pregnant widow at the camp, Elodie. While his brothers face off against Bastian and his friends (bar one who agrees to defend the women; he never wanted hurt them and is repulsed by the others’ actions), Porthos helps Elodie deliver her daughter. He offers to stay at the camp for a while, to help, but Elodie insists that France needs him.
Sadly, all of the work Anne had been doing with Louis is undone in Prisoners of War. Anne had secretly been negotiating with Spain through Aramis; not even Treville nor Athos knew. Grimaud captures Aramis and his plan is to discredit Anne; turn the people against her. Anne firmly tells the musketeers “I have been a French queen longer than I was ever a Spanish princess.” “Spain” (actually Grimaud) has asked for the release of Spanish prisoners in exchange for Aramis. The Musketeers have the unhappy duty of getting the prisoners from Marchaux and the Red Guards just as Marchaux is ready to hang them in front of a crowd. D’Artagnan releases his cousin, at the young man’s pleading (I didn’t want to trust him, and it’s a bit out of place for him to show up out of the blue). Of course, the musketeers (assisted by D’Artagnan’s cousin) rescue their friend and Grimaud frustratingly escapes again.
Treville and Constance try to counteract the bad publicity by having the queen support Sylvie’s education of the poor. She can spread her message farther with the use of a printing press. But it’s turned against her when someone (Grimaud) uses her seal to print scandalous drawings of the queen. And, to make it even better, Milady is back in town. Treville wants to hire her services as an assassin for the crown. He warns her against seeing Athos. She doesn’t listen, visiting Athos’s Captain’s quarters. One of the naive cadets unfortunately reveals that Athos is involved with Sylvie. Athos is not pleased to see his former wife (I would think it’s safe to assume they could be regarded as separated by now), despite a kiss. He fears she’s moved against Sylvie. Marchaux in fact arrests Sylvie and plans to whip her for her transgressions, even trying to get the woman to turn on Constance. Milady is hidden in the crowd when Athos arrives and releases Sylvie, shouting “to hell with the law!” A turn on his reaction to Milady’s deception; it was his duty to execute her for killing his brother. Athos tends to Sylvie and Milady agrees to Treville’s offer. At the end, Louis is angry at Anne and Treville is furious at Aramis for his actions and secrecy in the negotiation process.
The Prize startlingly begins with Louis’s death. One moment, he’s recovering from a simple sparring match with Treville, the next he’s coughing blood and dying in Queen Anne’s arms. Treville puts a plan into immediate action; Athos is to hide the dauphin, now king, in Paris, and tell no one; not even his brothers, especially not Aramis. “Civil war is coming to Paris and that child is the prize.” Gaston and Lorraine have an army stationed outside the city. Anne is furious when she discovers her son missing, not helped when the council reveals that Louis named Treville Regent at the last minute. The excuse used it that with the country at war, it’s better to have a solider at the head.
Treville does have another plan; he needs to separate Gaston and Lorraine. Step one is to convince the queen to pardon Gaston so he can enter the city under the ruse of seeing his brother laid to rest. Treville offers Gaston money so he won’t try for the crown. While Gaston is at the palace, they stage the dauphin leaving and Treville rides with Porthos to visit Lorrain and work that angle.
Athos asks Constance and Sylvie for help. The women disguise the prince and hide out with him at the abandoned tavern the veterans had used [episode 3, Brothers in Arms]. Louis, not exactly understanding all that is happening; sneaks out. He’s quickly recovered, but now they must hide in Bonacieux’s old house. Anne approaches Constance, begging to see her son. Constance compromises, but Marchaux and Grimaud are notified that the dauphin is in Paris and suspect Constance. Marchaux tries to take the dauphin when Constance meets Anne at a chapel, but Aramis is luckily to the rescue. He’s unhappy that Athos kept the information from him and Athos begins to suspect that Aramis has a point; secrecy will destroy their brotherhood. D’Artagnan is eager to help his wife. He takes charge of the child, hiding at the laundry that Constance had used when the boy was an infant. They almost escape Grimaud, but the man is clever and stabs D’Artagnan through the floor, revealing the pair.
Everything comes to a head at Lorraine’s camp. Treville has managed to work out a treaty with the Duke, granting him the independence he wants and warning the man that Gaston cannot be trusted. Lorraine knows his cousin and knows that Treville is correct; he even tells Gaston when the young man shows up that he was “a tiresome and vindictive child,” and he “has not changed.” He does not stand for Grimaud abducting the dauphin and a fight breaks out. Grimaud stabs Lorraine several times. Gaston escapes. Treville grabs the boy and manages to pass him off to Porthos to escape, after taking one bullet. He turns, ready to face his last stand and is shot another time. Grimaud, in full view of Aramis and Athos, shoots their leader a final time. Grimaud escapes again and the musketeers are left to mourn their fallen leader. My tears echo theirs.
The show concludes with We Are the Garrison [and if you note, when a character dies, their actor’s name does not appear in the opening credits]. The Musketeers bury their leader, the four bearing his coffin, and mourn his death at a tavern. Athos is so grief-stricken that he cannot even drink. Constance suggests that Sylvie tell Athos some good news, but the woman says that the time is not right. Constance and Brujon return to the garrison for more wine. The rest of the musketeers toast their former captain. Bombs are thrown into the tavern. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan are the only four to emerge a few minutes later, in time to see an explosion from the direction of the garrison. D’Artagnan heads their race back, worried for his wife. The garrison is on fire; Porthos tries to hold D’Artagnan back, but the younger man breaks free and rushes in to save his wife. Another explosion tosses the other three back. Porthos is ready to rush in and save their comrade, but Athos tells him D’Artagnan is gone. They start finding some survivors and Sylvie arrives with refugees. As Athos is about to start grieving for their loss, D’Artagnan emerges, carrying Constance. He tells his friends that Brujon is still inside. We fear Constance is dead for a few minutes, D’Artagnan begging Aramis to save her, sobbing “she’s a Musketeer” (I was crying; I still cry every time I see this episode, despite knowing how everything turns out), but she coughs and opens her eyes.
Grimaud reports to Marchaux that only D’Artagnan died in the explosion (he left before seeing the man reemerge). They take Sylvie and send a note to Athos. D’Artagnan is their advantage. When they arrive at the refugee camp, Grimaud sends Porthos and Aramis away to be executed and threatens Sylvie. Athos tells Grimaud that Sylvie does not fear death. Girmaud’s dagger moves lower, pointing to the woman’s belly. A nod confirms; Sylvie is pregnant. D’Artagnan jumps onto the guards just as they’re about to shoot Aramis and Porthos. Aramis sends two shots up, so the Grimaud will think they’re dead, but they come out swinging. D’Artagnan lands some hits on Grimaud, stabbing his shoulder and leg. Then D’Artagnan turns and fights Marchaux. He’s incredibly vicious, but the coward deserves it. Marchaux’s dead, but Grimaud slinks off (will that man die already!)
Athos is terrified and elated at the news that he is to be a father. The child will have the best uncles, who will teach a boy to fight. “And if it’s a girl?” “Then we’ll teach her to fight off the boys.” Good answer! Athos thanks Porthos for his plan; he saved both Sylvie and their child. Later, Athos recommends to Queen Anne that Porthos be promoted. Anne inquires whether Athos is willing to take Treville’s place as Minister. Athos instead suggests Aramis. Anne will consider it. She informs the musketeer captain that a celebration will be held the next day, and all citizens of Paris are invited.
Elodie has shown up; the war found the women’s camp. Porthos has her stay with Constance for the time being. Constance comes across Grimaud in the cellar of the old tavern, though she doesn’t realize who it is. She offers to help him, but he’s gone when she turns around. The next day at the ceremony, Elodie recognizes him in the crowd, entering Notre Dame. Aramis takes charge of the queen and dauphin. Porthos, Constance, and Sylvie get everyone out of the cathedral, and D’Artagnan and Athos go after Grimaud. They pull the fuses on the kegs of gunpowder and chase after the fugitive. He and D’Artagnan trade blows for a moment, Grimaud landing a cut on D’Artagnan’s face. Then Athos insists that he faces the villain alone. D’Artagnan orders his mentor, “I will not raise your child.” Athos and Grimaud each stab the other, and Grimaud doesn’t give up until Athos holds him under water. Their enemy is finally defeated.
The ceremony continues, Athos wrapped in his cloak so his wounds can’t be seen. Anne disbands the musketeers, and reforms them to be protectors of all Paris citizens. The depleted garrison will be recruited from the city. The crowd cheers. As they all leave, Anne promotes Porthos to general; he will return to the front to continue the war. Louis adorably asks Aramis if the man is his new servant (I think this is the only thing the boy says the entire series). Anne begs him to consider becoming her Minister. Athos advises Aramis later to take the position; he’ll be able to watch over his son. While he won’t be known as the boy’s father, wasn’t Treville a father to them all in a way? Anne secretly contracts Milady. Her first target: Gaston.
At the garrison, the Musketeers promote Brujon to a full musketeer and gift him his pauldron. he will accompany Porthos to the front. Porthos has married Elodie so she’ll be provided for in case he dies, and suggests Marie Cessette as a name for the baby (his mother’s name). (I cry this entire ending). Porthos instructs D’Artagnan to only take the best candidates. D’Artagnan is puzzled; that’s the captain’s duty. Athos is taking a leave of absence. “You will return?” the young man almost pleads with his mentor. “Then we will continue this later.” Athos leaves a hat for his pupil (the lad finally gets a hat! And it looks good!) In the end, Aramis does take the position as Minister. Anne is pleased, considering she sneaks a kiss with him in the garden. I adore Athos’s closing quote (I am going to make a pretty art piece to hang on my wall sometime soon).
“What lies ahead of us, I wonder?”
“Really doesn’t matter.”
“Not if we face every challenge the way we always have. With great passion, hearts that stay true to all they hold dear. Courage, no matter how many enemies lie in wait for us. Father, that daylight will always follow the dark.”
“Above all else.”
The costumes are great this season; they’ve evolved. The Musketeers’ are more militaristic; they have extra padding – you really see it with D’Artagnan. Athos in particular has longer hair (I like it). Constance’s new gowns are awesome, far more practical, bordering on masculine.
I still feel a bit jipped by this last season; there could have been so many more stories (and this is why fanfiction is wonderful!). We could have seen more of Constance and D’Artagnan together, D’Artagnan coming to grips with what his wife has been doing. There are some pleasant scenes, like the beginning of Death of Hero, when Constance brushes hay out of D’Artagnan’s hair. As for the other relationships: I like that everyone gets a happy ending, but I’m still not quite happy with the sudden pairings. It took two seasons for D’Artagnan and Constance to get together and Aramis and the Queen were in love with each other almost the entire show. Suddenly, Athos has a new girlfriend, with vastly different politics. She’s for equality and he serves the king. Yes, I am glad he is happy; he deserves it. But it still feels sudden. I can see how Porthos and Elodie work; but she was only in three episodes total. How coincidental that Porthos wishes for a wife and child and one appears for him. Again, I’m glad he’s happy and he deserves it, but I don’t see a relationship built. How well will it work out when he returns home?
As with Richelieu, I have a little bit of sympathy for Ferron (not much). In a way, he’s trying to do what’s best for France. He doesn’t want to kill Louis. He’ll certainly take advantage of his death. And he obviously dislikes the Musketeers, which does not endear him to me. Marchaux is a coward and a bully, content hiding behind stronger players (and as D’Artagnan points out; he’s an able-bodied solider who is not at the front). And being cruel to Constance makes me want to punch him, or have Treville punch him harder. And Grimaud is just evil. He delights in pain – and won’t freaking die!
So, what is your favorite version of The Three Musketeers? Do you like the 70’s version with Michael York and Christopher Lee? Who’s your favorite musketeer? [Mine is typically D’Artagnan, influence by Chris O’Donnell’s portrayal, but I adore Athos from The Musketeers]. Let me know!
Since I have spent the past watching various Three Musketeers and reading their fanfiction, my brain has been in Paris. I am still in a bit of shock that Notre Dame burned; it hits a little harder. I am fascinated by medieval architecture and the cathedral is a prime example of the Gothic style. The history of the building that may have been lost. The citizens of Paris are in my thoughts.
Okay, happier thoughts:
Gaelicspirit, most notably The Details and Broken Places
Richefic, especially All for One which takes place over the entirety of season one
Tea, Coffee and Sibling Rivalry by Forest Archer; the kitten chapter had me laughing until I had to stop for air
Up Next: We move into Arthurian legend (a favorite of mine), starting with Tristan and Isolde
The second season opens with Cardinal Richelieu’s funeral (this was due to Peter Capaldi being cast as the Twelfth Doctor and having to leave the show) in Keep Your Friends Close. At the same time, Anne is giving birth to her child. The four Musketeers are riding to collect a man with vital information for the king. Unfortunately, that man is the Comte de Rochefort (played by Marc Warren, who does appear in one episode of Doctor Who), and I hate him from just about the first minute. He’s about to be hanged and when the Musketeers endeavor to help him, he ruthlessly kills one of his captors, who had let him go when ordered. Athos does punch him in the face later (Huzzah!). A prince, or dauphin as known in France, is born to King Louis and Queen Anne. Louis wishes for Treville to take the Cardinal’s place on his council, but Treville declines, stating he is more of a soldier. Louis is not pleased.
Enter Rochefort, who is an old friend of Anne. He tutored her prior to her marriage to Louis. And he’s just escaped a Spanish prison; he is a hero in Louis’s eye. His information for the king – General DeFrois is also in a Spanish prison; Rochefort advocates a rescue. There is tension with Spanish Ambassador Perades and we find out that Rochefort is secretly a Spanish agent. He plans to kill the Musketeers; their loyalty to the king is legendary and Rochefort intends to get close to both the king and the queen. In the meantime, Queen Anne has asked Constance to join her household as a confidante (remember, in several other versions of The Three Musketeers, Constance is one of Queen Anne’s ladies in waiting).
Rochefort accompanies the four musketeers. They escape the ambush he had planned; D’Artagnan has also gone ahead. (Santiago’s Chilean descent comes into play when Aramis speaks fluent Spanish) He swims beneath the prison and encounters the general’s sister. The rest of the plan continues as expected, though the musketeers continue to thwart Rochefort and they are still alive to return to Paris. Further threads are started for the season; Rochefort intends to drive a wedge between the king and queen. Constance and D’Artagnan still struggle with their feelings for each other and how they can live their lives. Constance has several valid points; if she leaves her husband for D’Artagnan, she’ll be surrounded by scandal. Any children would be illegitimate; and if D’Artagnan falls in battle there would be few paths for Constance. Aramis finds out that the Cardinal knew about him and Adele and Richelieu had the young woman killed for it. And General Defrois and Captain Treville may have information regarding Porthos’s father.
An Ordinary Man makes me angry at points. The king decides he wants to know what it’s like to be a normal person. The Musketeers sensibly try to talk him out of it; but he is king, so they must go along. Louis continues to behave like a child and he and D’Artagnan end up abducted by a criminal gang. Anne is frantic; their son’s christening is the next day and the king is expected to be present. Her faithful musketeers manage to solve the puzzle, while Milady shows up again and helps D’Artagnan and Louis escape. She enchants Louis, who pardons her, while he blames the musketeers for the whole debacle in the first place.
The Good Traitor deals with a Spanish General who wishes to defect to France, due to persecution in Spain for being a Moor (dark skinned and Muslim). He has a secret formula for white powder, but does not have the cipher key. He will give it to France in exchange for help rescuing his daughter. Events are not as simple as that. In one attempt, Porthos is injured and taken. The daughter tries to tell Porthos that he does not belong in France; eventually his friends will turn on him for his skin. Porthos firmly states that he is French. The musketeers and general try another gamble; resulting in the general’s death, on his own terms and his daughter safely away. Louis is once again disappointed in the musketeers and turns to Rochefort. Rochefort has also been making inroads with the queen, banking on their old friendship and after the events of the previous episode, now holds letters in her hand allying Anne with her brother, the king of Spain, for protection for her son, in case anything would happen to the king.
The subplot for the episode involves a feverish dauphin. Constance questions Doctor Lemay’s methods, such a bleeding. She ends up secreting the infant out of the palace and to a local laundry house where the steam can ease his breathing. The kings orders her executed for kidnapping the crown prince, but a moment later, when her actions are declared to have saved the babe, she is spared. She gains Doctor Lemay’s trust, but also Rochefort as an enemy. Louis has also taken Milady as a mistress – leading to an embarrassing scene where the queen enters to inform the king that his son is missing, only to find him finishing an evening with Milady.
Emilie also tends to rile me up. A young woman, Emilie, who is called Joan of Arc reborn, has dreams telling her that France must invade Spain; for Spain is the devil. She’s got a peasant army and tensions are such that Spanish citizens in Paris are being attacked and killed. Anne cannot stand by and watch her countrymen killed. If the king will not grant Emilie an audience, she will try to talk sense into the woman herself. Constance accompanies Anne to the camp. The peasants are not pleased to see the Spanish woman. Emilie’s mother goes so far as to suggest killing the queen, so Louis can marry a proper French woman. Aramis defends the queen, calling his loyalty to Emilie into question (he had come to the camp claiming he had defected from the musketeers in order to seek enlightenment, and get close to Emilie to determine what sort of threat she poses. He too insists that he is French, despite his Spanish look).
Turns out, Emilie’s mother had been drugging her food for years and was trying to ride the wave of popularity they were experiencing. When Emilie was young, she had suffered fits and had been stoned by villagers. Aramis is clued in to the true nature of Emilie’s vision when Constance had some of Emilie’s soup and suffers similar horrifying dreams. Athos helps Emilie through the withdrawal (Aramis states the man has experience). They are right, it was drugs, not God. The peasants turn on her and when her mother tries to rally them again, she is killed by a stone. It’s not a fun episode, the musketeers don’t really win and in the end, Louis relieves Treville of command, for helping Emilie instead of killing her. (Milady even tried to stand up for Treville; and gets told to leave that sort of thing to men).
Athos is returned to Pinon against his will The Return. His tenants are facing harassment from a neighboring baron and entreat Athos to help them. He has no desire to be in Pinon again and does not wish to be the Comte de la Fere any longer. Baron Renard cannot believe the notion of nobility no longer wishing to be noble. But he and his son Edmond will treat Athos like dirt in order to get his land. Athos’s musketeer brothers, and Treville come to find him and stay to train the villagers to defend their home. Also in Pinon is Catherine; a childhood friend of Athos’s and Thomas’s fiancée before his death. Her main desire is to be restored to her “rightful” place. It’s plain to see she had hoped to marry Athos before he married Milady and even hopes now to marry and gain a new title. But Athos gives the land to all the people. During his final duel with Edmond, Catherine holds a pistol to Athos and asks Edmond if he will offer her better terms and seems intent on killing Athos (she’s also mad that Milady is still alive). When Edmond moves with a knife in his hand, the gun goes off, killing him. Athos thanks his friends for helping him see his duty to his people. He still has no desire to return to Pinon and with it no longer being his land, he has no need.
Through the Glass Darkly is a dark episode. An astronomer, Marmion has invited the king and his court to view the eclipse. Athos chooses to remain at the garrison instead of accompanying the court and watching Milady flirt with Louis. As the eclipse strikes, Marmion begins his real plan; taking everyone hostage. Aramis argues compassion for the women and the dauphin. Marmion pushes the musketeer out a window. Porthos, Rochefort, and the other men try to make a stand; Marmion has Porthos and Rochefort taken to the dungeon. Now, they must work together in order to escape. Louis must play Marmion’s game, calling a coin toss to decide fate; Marmion arguing that it’s simple chance. Louis will not call at first, but Milady is willing to make a gamble with her life. She calls correctly and is free to go. She rides back to the garrison and retrieves Athos, Treville, and the rest of the musketeers.
An awning luckily caught Aramis, so though he’s a bit battered, he climbs the wall of the building and makes his way back in. Marmion has sent Anne and Marguerite, the dauphin’s governess (and Aramis’s current lover…so he can be close to his son) along with the babe to one room; the rest of the courtiers are sent to another. Constance and D’Artagnan are tied together to witness Marmion with Louis. Marmion forces Louis to choose blindly which room a killer will be sent into. Louis ends up calling for the courtiers’ death; Aramis rescues Anne, Marguerite, and the baby. He meets up with the rest of the musketeers. They hear a loud moan, as Athos puts it, “that was either a wounded boar or Porthos.” Porthos had Rochefort dislocate his shoulder so they could escape, and pop it back in.
Back in the main room, Marmion tosses the coin for Constance’s fate. Louis calls wrong. D’Artagnan begs for himself to be killed instead. Marmion’s brother steps in front of the shot (they were the only two survivors of a plague town that starved to death during quarantine). Now Marmion’s sights turn to the king. Heads the king dies, tails they all go free. The coin lands head’s up; D’Artagnan is to execute the king. He and Constance instead work together with the rope tied between them to knock down the guards and the rest of the musketeers flood in to the rescue. Rochefort hunts down Marmion and kills him. Louis calls him a hero; he’s furious at D’Artagnan for the gamble and dismisses Milady for deserting him. Anne is pleased to see Constance, sorry that she had put her friend in so much danger. Constance will gladly bear it for the queen. She does run back down the hill to hug and kiss D’Artagnan. “I don’t care what people think; I don’t care what they say. This is my life and I want to spend the rest of it with you.” Their friends smile.
In A Marriage of Inconvenience the king begins to withdraw from his court and council, even the queen. He fears everyone is out to kill him, but Rochefort. To Louis, Rochefort is the one loyal friend he has and thus makes him First Minister. Rochefort blackmails Marguerite for information on Aramis, especially once he sees the jeweled cross the musketeer wears. Louis’s cousin is due to marry for a Swedish alliance, the musketeers escorting her, but assassination attempts plague her. Rochefort berates the musketeers at every turn and grants Treville the “honor” of retrieving the princess’s wedding present from the king, a portrait. Milady witnesses who shoots Treville. Aramis and Lemay, who has asked Constance along, work together to save the captain’s life (they all refer to him as captain even though he was technically demoted). Athos and Porthos investigate the gift and discover that the sketches don’t match the princess they are guarding.
Turns out, the princess is actually a professional assassin, alongside her lover, Francesco. They were hired by Rochefort to eliminate council members who stood against him. Milady is the one to wrangle to information out of Sophie. But Sophie has given D’Artagnan a gift; she killed Bonacieux when he walked in on her. She had noticed that Bonacieux struck Constance when Constance told the man she wished to be with D’Artagnan. Bonacieux dies from his wounds before D’Artagnan’s eyes, cursing the young man that he will never be happy. D’Artagnan has the unpleasant task of informing Constance of her husband’s death.
Porthos’s search for his father comes to fruition in The Prodigal Father. Treville, after gaining some strength back from his nasty wound, finally reveals to Porthos that his father was an old friend of his and Defrois, the Marquis de Belgard (Liam Cunningham plays the older man, a veteran of other BBC shows and Game of Thrones, among other credits). Belgard claims that Treville’s treachery ruined his life. He was the former captain of the royal bodyguard for Louis’s father. When Henry IV was assassinated, Belgard was the scapegoat. He retired from public life. Belgard also tells Porthos that his mother, Marie Cesette was the love of his life. She was a servant originally, but they fell in love and married in secret. His father disapproved and Treville was in league with him, kidnapping Marie and Porthos and abandoning them to the Court of Miracles. Treville told Belgard they were dead and Belgard puts the seed of doubt in Porthos’s mind regarding Treville’s making him a musketeer. Belgard remarried and has a daughter, Eleanor, with a horrible husband. They fight with Porthos.
In the background, they sell young girls into prostitution. Aramis, who had accompanied Porthos to Belgard’s estate, had seen two of them. One is dead now and the second is terrified. Aramis follows the girl to a house in Paris and informs Athos and Treville. Athos, D’Artagnan, and Aramis later investigate Eleanor’s famous entertainments, a tableau of innocence. They rescue the girls and head to Belgard’s. Porthos has confronted Treville on the truth of the matter with his father. Treville admits that he had taken Porthos and his mother to the Court. Porthos walks out.
Everything comes to a head when Athos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan arrive; Belgard pleads ignorance of Eleanor’s machinations, asking Porthos to defend him. But Porthos has questions for Belgard. He knows the portrait Belgard showed him of his “mother” is a fake; even though he was young, he remembers his mother’s face. Belgard must have just bought a portrait of any black woman. Belgard, Porthos, and Treville end up in a three-way stand-off. Treville reveals that Belgard was the one behind leaving Porthos in the Court; he had not wanted to be disinherited by his father and had threatened to kill the child and his mother. Treville had gone back to look for Porthos, but they were gone. And Treville is a man of honor; he would never commission anyone into the musketeers who did not deserve it. When Belgard pulls a gun on Treville again, Porthos shoots it out of his hand. The prostitution ring is broken up, Porthos rejoins his brothers and can now look at Treville with respect again.
Meanwhile, Constance has refused to move on from her husband, telling D’Artagnan they have no right to take advantage of the circumstances. She needs time. D’Artagnan warns her that he may not be there anymore when she finally makes up her mind. At the palace, Lemay approaches her, offering her marriage. He finds her a unique woman and believes they could make each other happy (he obviously is not aware of her affection of D’Artagnan). Anne talks some sense into Constance; Anne was born into a life of duty and privilege; she has never been free. But Constance is free. The young woman changes out of her black dress and rushes to the garrison. She admits her love to D’Artagnan, who asks her to shut up during her rambling and kiss him. (Fans cheer!) When she returns to the palace she discovers Rochefort attacking the queen. Rochefort confronted Anne about the jeweled cross Aramis wears. It had originally been a gift from Rochefort to Anne when he was her tutor. If Anne admits she loves Rochefort, he will forgive her. Anne slaps him, declaring him a monster. When Rochefort tries to force her, she scratches his eye with a hairpin (enter Constance). Rochefort is furious and declares that the king will hear of Anne’s adultery, shouting down the hall of treason.
Now we’re building for the finale. The Accused picks up right where the last episode ended. Constance fetches the musketeers to escort the queen to see the king, she quietly informs Aramis that Rochefort knows of the affair. The Red Guards and Rochefort stop Anne from seeing Louis; he is trying to turn Louis against Anne. Rochefort has Marguerite remove the dauphin from Anne and places Anne under arrest in her rooms. Athos forces Aramis to admit to their friends and Treville of what transpired at the convent. Well, Athos is the one to voice that Aramis slept with the queen. Aramis does say that the dauphin is his son. Treville is furious. They must come up with a plan. Milady approaches them; she has discovered that Rochefort is a Spanish agent. The stakes are now higher. Athos and Milady sneak in to find documents proving Rochefort’s guilt (after being waylaid by Catherine seeking revenge; Athos still cannot kill Milady). The couple shares a rather passionate kiss as they are hiding. They’re broken apart by Marguerite’s scream; the king has been poisoned.
Earlier, when the king was complaining of a headache, Doctor Lemay prescribed a drug to added to his wine; Rochefort switched the bottles. While Athos is following Milady, the other musketeers get Anne out of the palace, Constance staying behind to buy them some time. So, when Lemay is brought before the king, Rochefort brings Constance as well, claiming her a traitor. The king wearily orders them executed. Anne is safe at a convent (not sure if it’s the same as last time, different Mother Superior), but insists on returning to Paris once she hears of the king. Athos was unable to find documents incriminating Rochefort, but he has the idea to forge one. Porthos will make contact with the Spanish spy master Vargas and bring him to Paris to claim Rochefort as his. The rest of the musketeers return to Paris with the queen. They are caught upon arrival, Anne returned to her rooms under arrest and Aramis arrested for treason. Lemay is executed and Constance is forced to watch; she faces the same the next dawn. D’Artagnan rushes to see her, and is beaten for his troubles while Constance calls out “D’Artagnan, I love you!”
Trial and Punishment opens with the musketeers rescuing Constance from the gallows. She joins the men to help Porthos bring in Vargas. Treville bluntly tells the Spaniard that King Phillip would not want to see his sister die, which will happen if they do not stop Rochefort. Louis still wants to pardon Anne, but he sits and listens to Aramis’s testimony. Aramis tries to turn the trial on Rochefort, but Marguerite is brought out to speak against him and the queen. She plainly states “the dauphin is Aramis’s son.” She is appalled by what she has done; she drinks poison later, leaving the little baby wailing. Milady is the only one available to get Aramis out of prison, so he’s able to meet up with his brothers. Rochefort bullies the king into sighing Anne’s execution order and stalks off to complete the deed. He empties the palace aside from his guards and enters the queen’s chambers with a garrote. Aramis and Constance go for the queen, Porthos and Treville take Vargas to the king, while Athos and D’Artagnan provide cover fire. Anne takes her sentence with dignity, but just as Rochefort lays the chain across her neck, Aramis enters and shoots the villain. Sadly, he’s not dead, and starts a sword fight with the musketeer. Constance gets a lucky hit with a pistol, but Aramis keeps her back. He stabs the double agent in the shoulder with a sword (it’s kind of grim, especially when Rochefort pulls it out). Vargas and the other musketeers face Rochefort. It’s over. But Rochefort still fights. D’Artagnan steps forward to ferociously take out Rochefort for trying to kill Constance. He suffers a slow death and admits that none of his actions were for Spain.
The day is wrapped up outside in the sun; Louis reunites with his wife and son. He apologizes to the musketeers, particularly Aramis; Rochefort had his head so turned around. Louis once again asks Treville to join his council, as War Minister. Spain has crossed the line. Treville accepts the post. He later makes Athos the new musketeer captain. Athos is now torn once again between love and duty; Milady has asked him to accompany her to England, where they can make a new start. He ultimately chooses duty, but I’m not sure if he per say chooses it, or that’s what he’s left with; he tries to see Milady at their meeting spot, but she is gone by the time he gets there. Aramis leaves his brothers; he made a promise to God that if he and Anne were spared, he would devote his life to God. Treville gifts Porthos with his sword to see him through the war. D’Artagnan gets a happy ending; he finally marries Constance, Athos is the one to give her away, but they have a short honeymoon due to impending war with Spain. The three ride out to find Aramis, knowing he would want to be beside his brothers.
Rochefort is more of a straight villain than Richelieu. I spent the entire season hating him (which might have been the point). He hired a prostitute to dress like Anne so he could play out his fantasies…that’s just, wrong. So wrong. I applaud Anne for keeping her wits about her when Rochefort came to her. I was glad that the Musketeers dispatched Rochefort; they all got their hits at him. I’m frustrated the entire time the Musketeers try to get ahead and Rochefort is there to turn its on its head, and paint them subpar to the king. I want to yell at Louis that the Musketeers are loyal, not Rochefort. Still don’t have a high opinion of Louis.
The stakes are higher this season. Just when things seem about to work out for our characters, something gets thrown in the way. Porthos discovers his father…and he’s a jerk. Porthos is angry at Treville…but Treville had his best interests at heart (this is a good thing). So much gets thrown in front of D’Artagnan and Constance being together; they eek out being happy; Constance chooses D’Artagnan, then her husband slaps her and orders her home. He dies. But she feels guilty. The young couple gets married! And war breaks out. Athos and Milady go back and forth; and honestly, I don’t think those two are good for each other. I think it’s great that Milady is a strong character, a woman who gets things done. But she’s like a spider with Athos in her web. The Catherine subplot really wasn’t needed. Yes, it makes sense that there were other people affected by Thomas’s death; but there was absolutely no reason for Catherine to appear in The Accused. I like Athos for the tortured good character that he is, but I also want to wrap him up in a hug. I adore Queen Anne; a compassionate ruler. She goes to keep peace, even when the group hates the country of her birth. And I think she deserves to be loved and Aramis is devoted to her. But it’s dangerous being attracted to the queen. On the one hand, Aramis should not have slept with her, considering her position. On the other hand, hey, at least the country now has an heir.
I want to say that brotherhood holds out at the end, but Aramis leaves them and war is on its way. Well, we’ll just have to see what season three brings.
Next Time: The exciting conclusion to The Musketeers story.
We have finally arrived to the show I’ve been looking forward to re-watching for weeks, biding my time! It’s more historically accurate than some other shows *coughRobinHoodcough* but there are times they take some liberties. It’s the entertainment business, gotta let it slide. I adore the characterization in this production; gives the fanwriters lots of brotherly love moments to play with. The action is superb, the costumes are grand (properly worn in leather, which may not be completely period accurate, but it looks cool).
The show ran for three seasons, only ten episodes each season, since it ran in the summer, between the main programs. Aramis’s Santiago Cabrera was previously in BBC’s Merlin series as Lancelot (we’ll be getting to that series shortly), and Alexandra Dowling, who plays Queen Anne, was also in one episode of Merlin. Ryan Gage plays King Louis, though he’ll show up later as Alfrid in the Hobbit trilogy. The first season features Peter Capaldi as Cardinal Richelieu; Capaldi would go on to be the Twelfth Doctor in Doctor Who.
The series is set in Paris, 1630. We’re first introduced in Friends and Enemies to Alexandre D’Artagnan and his son, Charles when they stop at an inn on their way to Paris. Masked riders stop as well and end up killing Alexandre while Charles was taking care of the horses. Charles gets the name “Athos” from his dying father and sets out on revenge. Meanwhile, in Paris, each Musketeer starts their day. One man (Athos) has bottles strewn across his floor and uses a bucket of water, covered in ice, to dunk his head into in order to properly wake up. Another (Porthos) is playing cards against a Red Guard. They get into a duel and Porthos mockingly defends himself with a fork. And another man (Aramis) is in bed with a beautiful woman. Turns out, she’s the mistress of Cardinal Richelieu (this Cardinal doesn’t really claim to be pious). Richelieu returns early and so Aramis must jump out the window to escape. Adelle kicks his pistol under her bed for the time being. Aramis lands in front of his friends and they report to Captain Treville at the musketeers’ garrison. He has a new mission for them, another regiment of musketeers have gone missing. However, it’s much more than that when the Cardinal and the king get involved. King Louis had sent letters with the musketeers of sensitive nature to the Spanish. And now, the Spanish envoy is missing.
Catching up with D’Artagnan, he has stopped at a lodging house where he meets a beautiful dark-haired woman, and her pompous male accompaniment. The woman joins D’Artagnan in bed, where he discovers scars on her neck. The cocky young man offers to kill the man who caused them. Come morning, the lady is gone, though there is a bloody knife left in the pillow. When D’Artagnan investigates a scream, the man from the previous night is found dead. Bloody knife in his hand, everyone blames D’Artagnan and he has to jump out a window in order to escape (must be a trend amongst musketeers). He runs through a market and comes across a young woman, whom he asks to kiss him as a diversion. She takes offense afterwards and sends him on his way. He passes out at her feet. Next, he wakes with her over him. She had taken him back to her home. D’Artagnan thanks her for her assistance, but he must find Athos. She is familiar with the musketeer and introduces herself as Madame Bonacieux – Constance.
The three musketeers are at the garrison when D’Artagnan strides in, loudly challenging Athos to a duel. He doesn’t listen when Athos insists he did not murder the boy’s father. Young D’Artagnan holds his own well against Athos. The duel pauses, but he starts again against all three, until Constance calls a halt. Treville next arrives with guards for Athos’s arrest. Even at the trial, Athos insists he is innocent; he did not murder anyone at an inn, nor did he attack a carriage. But the witnesses have his name. Louis, at Richelieu’s urging, makes an example of Athos and orders his execution. Aramis and Porthos pick up D’Artagnan to help clear Athos’s name, and to find proper justice for Alexandre D’Artagnan.
For brevity’s sake – they do solve the case. We find out that Milady, the woman from the inn, was the one who killed the man, apparently the Spanish envoy. She has Louis’s letters and reports to Richelieu. Louis demonstrates how desperate he is for the Cardinal’s advice, agreeing to disband the Musketeers if it will make the older man happy (that does not happen…yet). The true culprit? A band of Richelieu’s guards who went a bit too far. The musketeers, including D’Artagnan attack and D’Artagnan faces the man. At Aramis’s call, he does stop from killing the man, but when a knife is pulled, he acts defensively and stabs the man. All three arrive at the prison in order to stop Athos’s execution. Richelieu takes Adelle to the country; Milady had discovered that the pistol in her room belonged to Aramis, so he has her shot with the pistol, while she screams “I love Aramis” until the end.
D’Artagnan’s next adventure, Sleight of Hand has him going undercover to prison in order to discover a suspected terrorist’s plan. By this point, Athos has started to take an interest in D’Artagnan; he argues against sending the boy in, not because he doubts his skills, but because he doesn’t want the young man to die. Constance Bonacieux has also become fond of the young Gascon. When she visits the garrison with her husband, she confronts the three older musketeers and slaps Aramis for betraying their friend. Aramis is fine with the young woman slapping him. They get a chance to see their friend when they accompany to queen to pardon a few prisoners. Vadim, the terrorist, uses the queen’s visit in order to escape, taking her hostage for a moment. D’Artagnan accompanies him and does talk the other man out of killing the queen. During the ensuing firefight, Aramis covers the queen from bullet fire. Queen Anne is deeply impressed with the musketeer’s bravery and rewards him later by gifting a jeweled cross of hers to Aramis.
Vadim, however knows that D’Artagnan is in league with the musketeers. He ties the boy to kegs of gunpowder in tunnels beneath the palace. Our hero has fifteen minutes to get free. He just scrapes by, but when he goes to leave the room, the door ignites other lines. He gets a bit of distance between him and the blast, but is still thrown off his feet, as are the other musketeers. (After Aramis recklessly jumps on a grenade in order to save the queen; he’s lucky it was a dud). D’Artagnan confronts Vadim and mortally wounds him. We also start seeing a connection between Milady and blue forget-me-nots.
Commodities brings Athos’s past to light. It starts with the musketeers having to escort a trader, Emile Bonaire to the king; Spain claims he is violating their trade agreement with France. Emile is the first to call attention to Porthos being black (this is an homage to Alexandre Dumas’s father being a half-black Frenchman). Porthos admits that his mother was a slave who died when he was five. The musketeers are ambushed and Porthos suffers a deep wound from an axe. At first, Athos wants to ride on, but Aramis (the medic of the group) angrily states that Porthos will not survive that long; he needs stitching which cannot be done in their present position. Athos eventually admits he knows a place. They ride to an estate, Athos begins opening doors and shutters. When D’Artagnan inquires how Athos knew of the place, the older man confesses that he owns it. He was once the Comte de la Fere, nobility.
Porthos, after being expertly stitched by Aramis’s fine needlework, discovers that Emile is more than a simple trader. He is a slaver. The cheap labor he brags about in the colonies are slaves. Emile tries to argue that it’s simply business. Athos regrettably has to point out that while slaving is disgusting, it is not a crime.
Poor Athos (this is why he is a favorite character, a wooby that we want to hug and put to rights) is haunted by memories of the house and his former life. He had a younger brother, Thomas, who died, and was apparently the family favorite. He cries at his old bed, wine spreading on the cover. He later throws a wine bottle at his portrait. He remembers his wife pressing forget-me-nots into a locket. Yes, his wife is Milady (whom we know is still alive). He sends the rest of his companions on to Paris. Athos falls asleep, then wakes to smoke, discovering a fire set in his old bedroom. He turns and Milady is standing there with a torch. She’s surprised to see him there and he’s looking at a ghost. She hits him with the torch; she’s there to erase the past, destroy it completely. She’s more than willing to kill Athos. Athos brings up that she murdered his brother. Her retort is that she did it to save her love with Athos; Thomas was a fool and a hypocrite; he deserved to die. Athos begs for Milady to kill him. But she finds that he still wears the locket she gave him. D’Artagnan (having disobeyed orders) has returned and calls for Athos. Milady flees and D’Artagnan races in to save his friend. Athos brokenly divulges that he had had his wife taken from the house and hanged. But she’s not really dead.
“It was my duty! It was my duty to uphold the law, my duty to condemn the woman I love to death. I clung to the belief that I had no choice. Five years learning to live in a world without her.”
The episode ends with Bonaire and the Cardinal becoming business partners, but the musketeers get the last laugh. They set Bonaire up to be trapped by the Spanish.
The Good Solider exposes a secret of Aramis’s past. As assassin breaks up a meeting between the king and the Duke of Savoy (who is married to Louis’s sister). Louis and Richelieu are trying to persuade Savoy to sign a peace treaty with France. Hints are dropped about a massacre in Savory five years prior, of which Aramis is a survivor. Aramis discovers the would-be assassin to be his old friend Marsac. Marsac was a musketeer alongside Aramis, until he deserted after the massacre at Savoy. Marsac claims he knows the truth and blames Captain Treville. Aramis’s friends don’t believe Marsac, but for Aramis’s sake, investigate the claims. In the meantime, they hide Marsac at Bonacieux’s. Constance is not pleased to discover that she was harboring a criminal, angrily telling D’Artagnan to leave. Later, D’Artagnan promises to never lie again. Constance doesn’t want protection, she wants to be treated like an equal. When Marsac goes after Constance, D’Artagnan punches him. He once again apologizes to Constance. In return, she wants something that her husband can never find out about: she wants D’Artagnan to teach her to shoot, and sword fight, complaining “why do men have all the fun?” (this is why we like Constance)
The four confront Treville, but he will not admit anything. He has several angry discussions with the Cardinal, one of which Aramis overhears. Treville does not out his man to Richelieu and wearily admits to Aramis that he did hand over the musketeers’ orders, but knew nothing about a massacre until afterwards. Aramis is furious, punching his commanding officer and threatening to go to the authorities. When Marsac finds out, he punches Aramis and leaves with the intention to kill Treville. Aramis catches up to him and tries to talk his old friend down, but when Marsac starts firing, Aramis has to fire back. He hits his friend. “Better to die a Musketeer than live like a god,” Marsac states with his last breath. Treville and Aramis bury their comrade at the end of the episode.
The Duke is trying to discover whether France has been hiding his old councilor for the past five years. He thinks he has evidence, but when he goes to visit the prison, the musketeers have arrived first and switched prisoners. Humiliated, the Duke is forced to sign the peace treaty. As Treville admitted to Aramis and Marsac, the massacre was ultimately on the king’s orders; protecting their most important spy in Savoy, his sister. The Duke’s councilor, a Spanish loyalist, began to suspect her, so the musketeers were used to make the Duke believe there was an assassination attempt while the councilor was abducted. Louis even hints to Anne that there may always be an accident that kills the older Duke, putting his son in charge (and more liable to be sympathetic to French influence).
We discover more of Porthos’s background in The Homecoming. In the aftermath of his birthday celebration, where he shoots a melon off Aramis’s head, while drunk, Porthos wakes in the street, next to a body, with no memory of what happened. Red Guards assume he is the culprit and arrest him. The judge shows no leniency, calling Porthos a mongrel and orders him executed. He’s rescued, but not by the musketeers. Masked men take him to the Court of Miracles (it was brought up in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame). Turns out, Porthos grew up in the Court. His old friend, Charon is king now. And his old friend, Flea is still there and now hooked up with Charon. (That doesn’t stop her from sleeping with Porthos; those two had been an item, but she won’t leave the Court).
The other musketeers investigate the young man’s death, connecting it with a plot to destroy the Court. The boy’s father was intent on regaining the wealth of the family, bought the land and with the denizens gone, would be able to collect rent once new houses had been built. And, Charon was his inside man, arranging powder kegs and allowing outsiders, disguised, to enter and blow the place up. (The man signs a confession, then shoots himself rather than be arrested.) Porthos eventually recalls the evening’s events and Charon’s part and confronts his friend. Flea takes a bullet to the shoulder for protecting Porthos, and Porthos and Charon fight. Aramis, Athos, and D’Artagnan have come to their friend’s rescue and Aramis ends up stabbing Charon when he tries to stab Porthos in the back. While Porthos misses Flea, he is happier as a Musketeer and has a new family.
In The Exiles, we once again hit upon the idea of King Louis having a secret twin. As Father Duval [who is played by the real life father of Tom Burke, who plays Athos] tells Cardinal Richelieu, Marie de Medici (yes, from the House of de Medici) had gone into labor before being able to return to Paris. A secret son was born before the rest of the council arrived; the boy was deformed and so whisked away when it was apparent a sibling was arriving. Philippe went on to live a quiet life, cared for by Father Duval. A young nurse was hired and she eventually fell in love with Philippe. They married and had a child. When they went walking about as a family, the villagers beat Philippe to death for his deformity. All the musketeers know is that Aramis and D’Artagnan were ordered to retrieve the mother and child and deliver them to Richelieu. But another group of men kidnap the baby.
Marie de Medici presents herself to her son, despite having been ordered to stay away after a coup she had set up to overthrow him (not quite what happened historically, but French history is not my strong suit). Louis can’t decide how to handle affairs. “Decapitating one’s mother is rarely popular with the people, sire, it always looks a touch ungrateful,” Richelieu informs Louis. She is sent away with a musketeer escort and then ambushed. This brings her to the palace (she has an unusual fashion style, for the period. I’ve noticed the heroes tend to be more accurate while the villains have a bit of a modern flair).
Aramis and D’Artagnan manage to locate the infant and D’Artagnan has the brilliant idea to send Constance in as a nurse maid, and get them information. They’re surprised when Marie de Medici shows up and Agnes, Philippe’s wife, informs them that she is Philippe’s mother. Constance keeps her cool until Marie leaves. The musketeers then sweep in, though Constance holds her own with a sword against one of the guards, to Aramis’s surprise. Treville still orders that Agnes and her baby, Henri must be taken to the Cardinal, though he states he will conveniently be busy with paperwork for a time. Aramis whisks Agnes and Henri away, intent on getting them to Spain. His friends follow him, Athos snarking about keeping the plan suicidal. They throw barrels of fine brandy into a fire to provide a distraction from Marie’s guards. Aramis takes a bundle across the bridge, but drops it in the water.
Richelieu informs Marie that her plans have failed. She will not be able to overthrow Louis and put Henri on the throne, thus ensuring another regency for her. She walks away with tears, though I’m not sure if she’s more upset about her plans falling apart or the loss of her grandson. The Cardinal kills Father Duvall and destroys the documents so there can be no further questions of Louis’s legitimacy.
Never fear, the episode ends happy; the bundle had not really been Henri. The musketeers and Constance meet Agnes and reunite mother and son. Aramis insists they leave France (funny enough, there is a sign to Avalon in the background of the shot), there are too many threats to the small family.
Early feminism gets a voice in The Rebellious Woman. The name Comtess Ninon de la Roque is brought up when a young woman is killed by the royal carriage, attempting to deliver a petition to the queen. Ninon educates women of all stations, teaching them scholarly pursuits, in the face of men saying it was a danger to fragile female minds. The Cardinal orders Milady to find evidence against Ninon, suggesting that Ninon’s interests in girls is not entirely wholesome. “How like a man,” Milady retorts (okay, I’ll cheer for her for that bit). The Cardinal wants her money to fund the country.
The musketeers visit Ninon and she’s attracted to Athos; there’s a battle of wits and he persuades her to allow a search of her rooms. The missing girl is not found, but Athos agrees to dinner with the woman. Neither of them are interested in marriage; Ninon will not be bound to a man, and Athos is opposed to the idea after the disastrous results of Milady. Their pleasant evening is interrupted when Aramis declares trouble at Ninon’s; the Red Guard are ransacking her library and have found several missing girls in a hidden room.
At the same time, Father Luca Sustini [the actor was also in BBC’s Merlin, there is a joke filtering about the various fandoms that BBC reuses actors and sets] has arrived to visit Richelieu from Rome. He gifts the Cardinal with a saint bone and informs his colleague that there is talk of who the next Pope may be; there are those who would support Richelieu’s bid for the position. When the subject of Ninon arises, Sustini declares her a witch for her progressive ideas and poisoning the minds of other girls. He urges Richelieu to be decisive; Rome will be watching with great interest.
Milady speaks out against Ninon at her trial, lying. Athos is furious; loudly declaring that she cannot be trusted. The court finds Ninon guilty and orders to be executed. The queen arrives with word from the king that Ninon will not be killed; unless she confesses by her own hand. Yet when Richelieu falls ill during the proceedings right after Ninon declares she’s looking at the Devil when she looks at him, Sustini loudly proclaims her a witch. Aramis rushes to save the Cardinal’s life. Milady continues with the plan, blackmailing Ninon that her friends will suffer the same fate unless Ninon confesses.
Preparations are made for a pyre while the musketeers search for the true culprit of the Cardinal’s poisoning. They trace it back to Sustini and arrive back at the monastery in time to save the Cardinal from being stabbed. Richelieu suspected it was Sustini, it’s an old papal trick to poison relics. He much rather keep his position and influence in France than become Pope. His vision is clearer now; no person, no nation, no god, will stand in his way. With his brush with death, he’s less liable to send someone else to theirs. Athos frees Ninon, but the woman must leave Paris. Her wealth will be taken by the crown, but she will receive a small stipend to live on. The Comtess de la Roque is officially dead. Ninon will still promote female education, but far from the Cardinal’s ear. Athos and Ninon share a tender moment, Ninon urging Athos to be careful of the dark-haired woman; she has the Cardinal’s protection. She could have loved a man like Athos, pity they’re neither the marrying kind. And the episode ends with a tender moment between D’Artagnan and Constance, admitting their love and kissing…and leading to other activities.
I enjoy the ending of The Challenge; it goes back to the simple dichotomy of Red Guards vs. Musketeers. After the musketeers escort a dangerous criminal back to Paris for the Red Guards to claim, LaBarge (played by Vinnie Jones, whose credits include King Gareth in Galavant, the bad guy in the first episode of rebooted MacGyver, and the Juggernaut in X-Men) kills the captain of the Red Guards. Richelieu and Treville start arguing over which is the better regiment in front of the king; Louis takes their wager and sets up a challenge; the winner will definitively prove which group is superior.
Treville announces to his musketeers there is a 30 livre entry fee, to create a winner’s purse (and cover the wagered amount). Aramis and Porthos must find patronesses. D’Artagnan hasn’t been receiving funds from his farm and turns out, it was one of the ones destroyed when LaBarge was working as a cruel tax collector in Gascony. Constance tries to help, but D’Artagnan eventually receives the needed money from Milady. She’s trying to play an angle with the Cardinal, claiming that D’Artagnan is a key in destroying the musketeers.
Richelieu begins stacking the deck in his favor. He has Bonacieux spy on D’Artagnan. Bonacieux catches the young Gascon in an affair with his wife and threatens Constance with D’Artagnan’s death if she doesn’t break it off with the boy. Constance does as she’s commanded and utterly breaks D’Artagnan’s heart; and her own. She silently sobs after D’Artagnan leaves, her husband watching in the next room. Richelieu also commissions LaBarge as the new captain of his guards, guaranteeing the musketeer champion will lose. Treville finds out what Richelieu is up to and declares himself the champion for the musketeers. Athos is furious on D’Artagnan’s behalf; the lad has it in him to become the greatest musketeer and Treville just took his best chance of being noticed by the king and winning a commission.
The day of the contest, when LaBarge steps out, the musketeers realize what Treville had done. The fight between LaBarge and Treville is intense; Treville lands a hit. LaBarge retaliates by stepping on Treville’s shoulder. Treville’s musketeers loyally come to his defense and a short fight breaks out between them and the guards. The king calls a halt. He will allow Treville to choose another champion since LaBarge broke the rules. Treville names D’Artagnan. Heeding Athos’s lessons of keeping a level head, D’Artagnan faces LaBarge. D’Artagnan fights with a ferocity and ultimately defeats the large man. Louis orders him to kneel and commissions him into his musketeers; his friends give him his own pauldron (it’s what they use as uniforms instead of blue tunics, though blue capes are a part of the uniform). D’Artagnan doesn’t get the purse; the king declares that the wagered money will go to the treasury since the rules were in fact broken.
D’Artagnan’s first mission as a full musketeer is to guard the queen as she bathes in a lake known to increase fertility in Knight Takes Queen. While Anne is away, Louis flirts with visiting Charlotte Melandorff. She comes with a large dowry (which would help the treasury) and her sisters have bore sons to their own husbands. Louis whines to Richelieu that he wishes Anne was dead, so he could marry Charlotte; it would be better for France. Anne must be barren since there have never been any children. Thus, the musketeers’ quiet mission becomes a lot more interesting. One of Anne’s maids is killed while borrowing her robe. She is spirited away by the musketeers, a whole troop of men on their tail. Porthos and D’Artagnan are ordered by Athos to return to Paris for reinforcements; Athos and Aramis will take the queen to the safety of a nearby convent.
Adding intrigue, one of the sisters knows Aramis. She was his intended from years pervious; he had gotten her pregnant and he was due to marry her. But the babe was lost and she left him, entering the convent. When she reveals herself to Aramis, she claims that she did it as a favor for Aramis; they would have never been a good match, she felt. By entering the convent, she allowed him a life of adventure and freedom. Sadly, the young woman is killed when two of the mercenaries (who, for some reason are Irish. Not sure I quite understand why they had to be Irish) enter the convent. Anne, already attracted to Aramis, comforts him in his grief, in her bed. Mother Superior is awesome really; ready to help defend her convent, loading pistols for Athos while he and Aramis keep the mercenaries at bay. Aramis’s parents at one time wanted him to become a priest; he found he was better at dispatching people to hell.
Unfortunately, when Porthos and D’Artagnan arrive at the garrison, the rest of the musketeers are away on a hunt with the king and his guests. They are left with an injured Treville, the young stable boy, an old solider with one eye, and the cook. Richelieu is furious at Milady when he discovers that the man she hired to kill the queen did not succeed. He orders her to fix her mistake. She manages to pin the crime on Charlotte’s father, with sketchy evidence. Porthos, D’Artagnan, and Treville take their misfits and manage to mount a rescue attempt, arriving just when Athos and Aramis are out of bullets. When searching the mercenaries’ things afterwards, they discover the mark of a woman who is in lead with the Cardinal; Milady’s blue forget-me-nots. They begin to suspect that the Cardinal was truly behind the attempt on the queen’s life. Louis is quite pleased when his wife returns (he really is childlike; siding with whoever can hold his attention).
The first season ends with Musketeers Don’t Die Easily. All the plots are coming to a head. Athos drunkenly confronts his wife, threatening to kill her. His friends stop him, D’Artagnan coming forward when Milady pleads for the young man to save her, like he promised. Athos shoots D’Artagnan – in the side. Milady tries to persuade D’Artagnan to leave the musketeers and join the Cardinal. Richelieu has charged Milady with silencing Athos and his friends for good. Treville shows up to tell D’Artagnan that Athos will not serve with the boy; Treville has chosen his best swordsman, D’Artagnan must leave. D’Artagnan promises Milady he will does as she asks; he will kill Athos.
When D’Artagnan arrives at the garrison, he joins Athos, Porthos, and Aramis in Treville’s office. Turns out, this is all a ploy to catch Milady. They plan out their next step, to “kill” Athos. They make sure Milady is watching and do it in public. Aramis and Porthos shout insults at D’Artagnan after they spill blood on Athos. D’Artagnan goes to Richelieu, telling him that Treville is in possession of evidence against the Cardinal for the attempt on Queen Anne’s life. Aramis and Porthos will trade the letter for D’Artagnan. Richelieu arranges the exchange. Porthos confronts Cardinal about the attempted murder. Richelieu admits “I alone can make the decisions no one else can stomach.” One woman’s death is worth sacrificing to prevent civil war when the king dies without an heir. Richelieu snatches the letter. It is blank. Anne appears, alongside Treville; they heard everything. Richelieu begs mercy; everything he has done has been in the best interest of France. Only because she believes he is true in that sentiment, does Anne spare Richelieu (I believe him as well; the only reason he went after Anne was because his king wished it. It suited his own purposes as well, but Richelieu is ultimately loyal to France, putting its best interests first. This is what makes him a more complex villain that other adaptations give him credit for). Queen Anne’s influence now though with the king is higher than ever.
Richelieu gives up Milady to the musketeers; she is of no further use to the Cardinal. But Milady has her own insurance for her plans; she arranges for Constance to be abducted. When the musketeers confront her, she tells them where to be to retrieve the young woman. It is undoubtedly a trap. But they prepare. As the bonus feature states, it is their finest hour. Gun shots, explosions, and sword fights, the four of them take on dozens of bandits. D’Artagnan ferociously takes on the man holding Constance. Constance try to flee, but is caught by Milady. The four stride over to her, knowing she won’t kill Constance despite her threat. Athos steps towards his wife and Constance breaks free, flinging herself into D’Artagnan’s arms. Athos faces his wife. She begs for death; but he cannot. He orders her out of Paris. He departs, dropping the locket.
All seems right, but a servant comes running to Constance that Monsieur Bonacieux has tried to kill himself. Constance cannot leave her husband now, so D’Artagnan’s heart is broken again. The Cardinal is called before the king and queen and a small audience. Louis had “never expected this, after so long.” Anne is pregnant. Athos and Aramis exchange a look. The Cardinal later oversees a tender moment between Aramis and Anne; the musketeer promises to look over her son.
Fraternity, brotherhood; a huge theme of these Musketeers. Fans have deemed them the “Inseparables,” it’s always those four going on the most dangerous missions, those four appearing before Richelieu or the royal couple (yes, as some fans have pointed out, a bit like the Golden Trio in Harry Potter, “why is it always you three?”). And I am a huge fan of brotherly love, that friends can choose each other as family [I could go into a whole Supernatural spiel, but I shan’t at this moment. Maybe later in ‘Random Fandom.’] At the end of this season, while the Musketeers do not have glory, or money, or love; they do have honor.
My impressions of these characters after one season; Treville is honorable. Louis is whiny. I like Anne, even though she slept with Aramis; she is a kind woman. It is plain that her marriage with Louis is strained; I feel she only wanted a little bit of love for once in her life. Aramis could have stopped her, but was not in a place emotionally to be able to do that. Porthos is the most loyal friend someone could ask for. D’Artagnan is working on curbing his recklessness, but he’s young. Athos will make sure he doesn’t get himself killed. Athos is a tragic character who wants to see justice done. And I can respect Richelieu as a villain.