Useless retrospective Merlin meta because I am still grieving. And part of my grieving process is to do my damnedest to make sense of it all, to find the connective threads I missed the first time in hopes that it will feel like a justified end.
See, I’m a big believer in granting the author his/her idea. I try to accept a story for what it is (at first)—this goes for any story, from fic I’m betaing to Hollywood movies. I try to look at all it’s parts and examine the logic of their arrangement, how they connect, what’s working and what could have worked better, but always still trying to preserve the events and the chosen ending. Only if I can’t reconcile all it’s parts do I really bitch about advocate some major revision of events.
So, take Merlin. I don’t like that Arthur died. I can think of a hundred ways that story could’ve been told without Arthur dying. I can think of a hundred reasons why it could’ve been better had Arthur not died. But that’s not the story the writers chose to tell, and not the way they chose to tell it. So I want to look again, examine the story they did tell and all its parts to see if they add up, see if the writers earned that ending and I just didn’t notice.
Not that this is any sort of systematic project. But the SyFy Channel here in the United States is just beginning to air season 5 (Friday nights at 10pm EST) and I happened to catch the first ep this weekend. Combine that with frantic tumblring of old eps and, voila. We’ve triggered a little bit of meta.
Remember the opening episodes of this series? Morgana was mining for this thing called the Diamair—the key to all knowledge—that would reveal to her Arthur’s “bane”? And then remember how the Diamair instead told Merlin that Arthur’s bane is Arthur Pendragon. Yeeeah. That proved to be SO. PAINFULLY. TRUE. In fact, it’s so true that I can see the beauty in it. Mordred wielded the sword, but Arthur sealed his own fate. Doubly so, actually. It was Arthur’s love and affection for Mordred in addition to his arrogant belief in the rightness of his cause and adherence to Camelot’s law that did him in—both the best and the worst of his character.
Also in the “Arthur’s Bane” episode, Arthur tells Merlin that to betray their beliefs would be to bring about their downfall, the downfall of Camelot. And, in fact, in episode 5.5, “The Disir,” Merlin does just that—he betrays his beliefs by telling Arthur that magic has no place in Camelot. (And how much did that scene KILL ME. COLIN MORGAN OH MY GOD WITH THE SLOW-BUILD TEARS UGH.) But, in a sick and clever twist, had Merlin adhered to his beliefs and chosen to support magic, he would have reversed the course of fate, ensuring that Mordred would not have lived, and Arthur would have. Fucking . . . ow. BBC I hate you, but in this moment it’s because that does actually make dramatic sense.
Additionally, I just was reminded that the first episode in which Mordred appears is titled “The Beginning of the End,” and that was all the way back in season 1. That early on in a show it’s almost impossible to comprehend the end, but the title does suggest that Arthur’s death was always endgame. :(
(Again, not at all saying I agree with this decision. Just saying that if that was the plan all along, well, I was obviously ignoring all such hints.)
Hey, but, back to that Diamair thing for a second? Considering how things did go, know what else the fucking key to all knowledge would be able to help a dude out with?
TELLING MERLIN WHEN ARTHUR WILL BE BACK.
I don’t know. I don’t even know why this is so important to me. Maybe because it just really was a rough year for me and Merlin was my refuge, my fandom happy place. I’d only just discovered the show in December 2011. I lived and breathed its boyish charm and impish smiles, ridiculous plot holes and constant refrain of IT’S SORCERY all year long in 2012. I watched all available seasons at least three times. I’d even almost sort of maybe possible begun to talk myself into writing for the fandom. And then *bam* less than a year after I first watched it, I find out it’s been cancelled. I guess I’m still in shock? I’ll shut up about all this eventually, maybe. Just bear with me.