Spoiler alert: Don't read on if you haven't already seen episode 10 of Camelot on Channel 4. And if you've seen further episodes, you have made them up in your own head because this is … the end.
Julia Raeside's episode nine blog
This is it, loyal subjects of pap television, the show's over. Go back to your humdrum lives but think fondly of the magical folk of Camelot as they drift off into the annals of TV history, many of them never to be seen again. The only way in which this Camelot can be said to be legendary is in its awe-inspiring failure to make witches, evil plots, buff wizards and thrusting knights even slightly sexy.
Tonight, the uninspiring "hero" at the centre of all this makes his final stand as he defends Bardon Pass (next services 23 miles on the A429) from Harwell's mumbling army.
Harwell's men vaguely mutter about launching their final attack on Arthur who, for no good reason, is now alone in defending the tiny village. One of them sneaks up on Arthur in the dead of night but he's ready for them. Stab, squelch, clomph. One down, several to go. Like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, he spends the rest of the night booby-trapping his fortress. When the rest of the interlopers arrive, he unleashes his A-Team-style trickery on them, sending paintpots and feathers and such like raining down on their heads.
All trussed up and nowhere to go
Back at Camelot, Morgan's in charge and has Merlin tied up in the great hall while she convinces the courtiers to accept her as their new queen. "It burns, doesn't it? That sense of impotence," she taunts the helpless magician. Is she implying he was a bit of a disappointment in the four-poster? Sadly, we'll never know now.
Arthur has the last of his attackers tethered to a plank and is now torturing him with his turnip breath and a sharp dagger. The wretch finally confesses it was Morgan who ordered the attack, adding drolly, "You're a fucked-up family all right". He speaks as he finds. Arthur twonks him upside his face at this, sending rivers of raspberry coulis shooting from his nose.
No matter how many times they've tried to portray Arthur as a hard man, he still ends up looking like a weedy Kate Thornton, trying to open a jar.
Still no sign of that bloody wolf
Morgan goes for a nosy around Camelot and eyes up the crown in Arthur's bedchamber just as a messenger from Harwell arrives with Excalibur.
Meanwhile, Arthur is still, quite unbelievably, alive and the remaining sackcloth-clad peasants gather for the final onslaught. Why he hasn't done a runner at this point is unclear. It's dark and they struggle to find him amid a couple of washing lines so it's unlikely they'd spot him.
Just as Arthur's about to get turned into a human kebab (hold the chili sauce, lots of wet lettuce) an heroic Leontes jumps into the breach to defend his former best friend because he is dead noble and honourable. And stupid. Sure enough, just as it looks like the suddenly returned knights have won the day, Harwell's last arrow hits Leontes right in the kidney.
"Promise me a warrior's funeral," he splutters as Arthur makes some half-arsed attempt at an apology for shagging his wife. Luckily Guinevere has been elsewhere all this time so we haven't had to put up with her sobbing and whining over his corpse. Yet.
How about this weather we've been having?
Morgan comes into court dragging Arthur's sword behind in a way that really sets your teeth on edge and the crazy nun pretends to have the brilliant idea of electing Morgan as Camelot's new queen. "Is it truly your will?" asks Morgan as she pretends she totally hadn't even THOUGHT of becoming queen. What really? Little old me? Oh go on then.
Before the coronation can begin, Morgan lends Igraine one of her dresses and then fatally wounds her for no apparent reason. And of course Igraine comes out with the crucial information about her saving Morgan from execution which would really have helped in, say, episode ONE and would probably have dispensed with Morgan's rejection issues altogether, leading her to a life of well-adjusted contentment. Oh well.
Leontes is brought back to camp so Guinevere can snot all over his lifeless body while Morgan is sewn into her dress ready for her coronation. She has kept Merlin tied up and gagged in the great hall all this time so he can see her moment of triumph. Such hubris rarely results in a happy outcome for the gloaty-mcboasty one but these dramatic villains never learn, do they?
The Jane Eyre moment
Arthur storms the great hall at the crucial moment and Morgan pretty much says, "Oh phew. I thought you were dead but genuinely hooray that you're not." He is unconvinced by this and goes on to expose her dastardly crimes to the assembled room like a less well-dressed Poirot.
"It wasn't her. It was me," butts in the nutty nun in an act of suicidal loyalty to her sulky charge. Morgan figures she might as well let her take the wrap and strolls off whistling, meaning it's curtains for wimple-features.
Merlin finds Igraine bleeding to death and tries to cure her with his so-called magic which he's so far used to freeze a pond and set fire to a leaf. When he starts crying blood she tells him to give it a rest so she can get on with her death scene, which is mercifully short.
Meanwhile. Gawain takes the nutty nun to a ditch and knocks her block off as Merlin looks on and declares, "There is no god." Well if there is, Sybil wasn't his best PR gal. But her selflessness in the service of evil acted as an allegory for motherhood. You get yourself beaten up, thrust your hand into a fire and have your head cut off in the name of loyalty and what does it get you? Naff all. I can totally relate.
Who thinks of furniture at a time like this?
Anyway, the knights build the famous round table, Merlin does a bunk and Morgan goes to Sybil's burial mound to give it a cuddle. And that's where she has her most dastardly idea yet thanks to what is supposed to be Sybil's whisper from beyond the grave, which actually sounds like Sybil just off camera with her hands cupped around her mouth.
And before you can say abracadabra, Guinny turns up at Arthur's door looking horny and saying she doesn't want to be alone, which to be fair isn't really out of character for her.
In the blink of an eye, they've both got their pants off and are engaging in grief-stricken coitus. But what's this? Guinevere awakes the next morning with a nose bleed? I genuinely didn't see that coming, so to speak. And although I think it's right and proper that no second series has been commissioned, it does beg the question – what would the bastard child of a half-brother and sister, one of whom is invested with evil powers and the other who looks like Kate Moss after she's fallen in a puddle, have turned out like? Bet they'd already cast one of the kids from Outnumbered.
- Show Spoilers
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- Wide Load
This series contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: The first scene Uther appears in has him hitting Morgan. He was also responsible for banishing Morgan to a nunnery, killing her mother, and overall treated her like garbage when she returned.
- Accidental Murder: Merlin's trip to get a specially forged sword for Arthur results in the deaths of the smith and his daughterIn his guilt, Merlin then provokes two random guys into beating him up.
- Accomplice by Inaction: Morgan views Igraine as this to Uther's abuse, and their second scene together is the page quote.
- Aerith and Bob: In this series, Excalibur is a girl's name.
- Almost Kiss: Merlin and Igraine. And then came impostor Igraine...
- Arranged Marriage: Guinevere and Leontes.
- Badass Bookworm: Kay. Also, Merlin.
- Badass Longcoat: Merlin.
- Bald of Awesome: Merlin again.
- Bed Trick: How Arthur was conceived.
- And then there is the episode "Igraine" featuring an impostor Igraine and Merlin.
- And now we have impostor Guinevere having sex with the king
- Berserk Button: Mentioning Merlin's family in the middle of a fistfight gets you burned to death.
- Betty and Veronica: Leontes and Arthur for Guinevere. We all know who gets her in the end.
- Big Bad: Morgan.
- Big Damn Heroes: Arthur's knights who return to Bardon Pass to help him fight against Morgan's men
- The Big Guy: Gawain, who agrees to work for Arthur if Kay will teach him to read.
- Black Dude Dies First: One of Arthur's companion knights, Ulfius, is played by a black actor, and he's the first and only one to die before Leontes.
- Black Vikings: Vivian, Morgan's servant, is black. However, Vivian tells Morgan her ancestors were brought over as slaves from Africa by the Romans, which is actually possible, as some British archaeological findings show that people of African descent (both free and slaves) really did come from Roman Africa to Roman Britain. This could also explain Sir Ulfius, Arthur's black knight. So it's remotely plausible, although the writers probably didn't know that. There was even a black knight in earlier versions from the 1300s, Sir Morien.
- Blood Brothers: Arthur and Kay.
- BrotherSister Incest: Arthur and Morgan in the form of Guinevere, so that she can conceive Mordred.
- Cain and Abel: Morgan and Arthur respectively. Adoptive brothers Arthur and Kay avert the trope.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Morgan calls Uther out on sending her to a nunnery for fifteen years following her mother's death and remarrying. Uther responds by disowning her.
- Canon Foreigner: Leontes, Guinevere's first husband.
- Sister Sybil, a nun and Morgan's mentor in sorcery. While some versions of the legends have Morgan learning magic at a nunnery, the show gives a face to those nuns.
- Morgan's henchman Harwel who is in love with her. Though he could be loosely based on Sir Accolon.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Morgan discovers Harwel spying on her in the bath and asks "What were you doing with that hand before you used it to sully my dress?".
- Chained to a Bed: Merlin finds himself in this state after being drugged by Morgan.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Leontes and Guinevere are childhood sweethearts and have been betrothed for the last five years.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Arthur.
- Composite Character: Morgan is paired with King Lot, traditionally the husband of Morgause, another sister of Arthur.
- Morgan is also the daughter of Uther and his first wife, whereas traditionally her parents are the Duke of Cornwall and Igraine. In older versions of the legend (as in Geoffrey of Monmouth) Uther does have a daughter named Anna, though her mother is Igraine and thus she is Arthur's full sister. Anna is often combined with Morgause.
- The Chosen One: Arthur.
- Deadpan Snarker: Arthur and Merlin.
- Deal with the Devil: It is implied that Morgan made one at the end of the second episode.
- Demythtification: While the show has overt magical elements, some parts of the legend are given mundane equivalents.
- The Sword in the Stone is rigged by Merlin to release when pushed down instead of pulled.
- Excalibur is just an exceptionally well-crafted sword.
- There is no magical Lady of the Lake handing over Excalibur. Merlin makes the whole thing up to cover up Accidental Murder at his hands.
- Camelot is a former Roman fort. In Post-Roman Britain, an Advanced Ancient Acropolis.
- Disaster Dominoes: A chain of events in the fourth episode introducing the sword Excalibur leads to two Accidental Murders. While Arthur's new sword is being forged, Merlin dreams of Arthur getting stabbed. The swordsmith wants to present the sword to the king himself, but Merlin rebuffs him since he thinks the smith, an ex-warrior with admitted violent yearnings, might do the deed. The smith takes this as an insult and refuses to hand the sword over. This leads to brawling, and Merlin ends up burning the smith to death when he mentions Merlin's family. The smith's aggrieved daughter snatches the sword away. Merlin chases her to a nearby lake where she plans to discard it. To get to her, Merlin freezes the surface, but then the girl falls in and drowns despite Merlin's efforts to save her.
- Dreaming of Things to Come:
- Arthur foresees a relationship with Guinevere.
- Merlin foresees Arthur's death.
- Dual Wielding: Gawain.
- Eldritch Abomination: Implied. The source of Merlin, Morgan, and Sybil's power seems to be some sort of superhuman intelligence. This is show-cased by Morgan having 'interactions' with an invisible entity. Or their powers may have simply rendered them bat-shit crazy.
- Enemy Mine: As mutual enemies of Uther, Morgan convinces King Lot to create an alliance with her so they can rule Camelot together.
- Later, after Morgan figures she'd be better off ruling alone, she betrays Lot's plans to attack Camelot to Arthur. In return Arthur places her under his protection. He even proposes that they rule jointly, but she rejects this.
- Equivalent Exchange: Merlin warns Morgan that magic has a physical and/or spiritual price. She's endured painful transformations, psychic nosebleeds, tears of blood and blood from the mouth.Vivian: There's blood... everywhere!
- Everyone Can See It: Merlin and Igraine are painfully aware of the forbidden relationship between Arthur and Guinevere and set out to put a stop to it. As a result of using magic to find out what lies in Arthur's heart, Morgan knows too.
- Evil Counterpart: Morgan is a bit of one to Merlin. Or Merlin is one to Morgan, after Episode 4. Upon her introduction, Sybil is one to Merlin.
- Expy: Leontes is an inverted Lancelot. Like the legendary knight, he is the king's champion and involved in a Love Triangle with Arthur and Guinevere. Unlike the legendary knight, he is actually Guinevere's husband instead of her lover, and it is with Arthur that she commits adultery.
- Extreme Doormat: Igraine starts off as this, which is one of the reasons Morgan detests her.
- False Flag Operation: Morgan has her castle attacked by her own soldiers, making it appear as though an enemy king was responsible and getting closer to Arthur as they fight together, along with impersonating Igraine.
- Foreshadowing: Arthur's dreams about Guinevere. They probably aren't about how they get together, because they already did that, but are probably warnings about how Morgan will take her form and conceive Mordred with him.
- Except Arthur started having dreams about Guinevere before they got together, so it was probably just a foreshadowing of his relationship of her, not necessarily about a liaison with Morgan.
- Girl of My Dreams: Arthur encounters Guinevere in a dream prior to meeting her.
- Go Seduce My Archnemesis: Morgan and Merlin.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Merlin has a big one after "Lady of the Lake".
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ector gladly gives his life in order to eliminate Lot.
- Sybil for Morgan and Leontes for Arthur in the season finale.
- Humiliation Conga: Morgan gets one in the second episode from King Lot. After insulting him in public he hits her in the face, rips her dress open, threatens to rape her in front of everyone and ultimately tethers her to a pole at the top of a mountain. Being Morgan, she gets revenge.
- I Have No Daughter: Uther towards Morgan.
- I Have No Sister: Arthur to Morgan in the season finale.
- In the Blood: Despite not having been raised by him and not even knowing they were related for most of his life, Arthur managed to inherit Uther's inability to keep it in his pants. Morgan is as ruthless as her father, but she was at least reared (read: abused) by him before she went to the nunnery.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Morgan in the fourth episode. She shifts into Igraine and doesn't like it at all.
- I Owe You My Life: Arthur towards Leontes.
- Large Ham: Joseph Alberic Iscariot Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes.
- Left Hanging: The show ends with Merlin leaving Camelot, the construction of the Round Table (with Arthur making a reference to what could have been Galahad and the Siege Perilous, stating that no one can sit in Leontes's seat save the one who is worthy of it) and Morgan visiting Arthur's bedchamber in Guinevere's form which presumably leads to Mordred's conception. Thanks to the show's cancellation, we'll never see how all of this pans out.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Igraine, while captured, managed to nearly kill Sybil, stab the guard who had raped her, and escaped.
- Light Is Not Good: Sybil is a nun. Yet she has done some nasty things in past and present.
- Long Lost Sibling: Arthur to Morgan.
- Love Triangle: Arthur, Guinevere, and her betrothed, later husband Leontes. It's a surprising fresh twist considering Lancelot seems to be absent from the series.
- Lust: Uther's primary weakness. In this retelling of Camelot, they also gave it to Arthur.
- Mathematician's Answer:Igraine: You haven't aged a single day. How is that possible?Merlin: It is not possible.
- The Mentor: Merlin to Arthur.
- Mood Whiplash
- Nipple and Dimed
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nice job sending Morgan away from Uther so he wouldn't kill her, Igraine. Didn't expect her to become obsessed with taking her rightful place, did you?
- Older Than They Look: Merlin. Igraine notices that he hasn't aged a day in the twenty years since he took Arthur as a child.
- Only the Chosen May Wield: Like most medieval versions, the Sword in the Stone (this is not the same as Excalibur). Here it's called "the Sword of Mars" and lies atop a waterfall.
- Painful Transformation: Shown from the first episode, where Morgan's use of magic (specifically shapeshifting) takes a toll on her body.
- Parental Favoritism: Kay believes that his parents favored his adoptive brother Arthur more than him.
- Perspective Flip: In this version, Arthur is the interloper in the love triangle since Guinevere is married to another.
- Pet the Dog: Morgan has shown that she feels a bit bad that Arthur didn't listen to her warning before his mother is killed, as it probably reminded her of her own mother's death.
- Playing Gertrude: Claire Forlani (Igraine) is only 16 years older than Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays Arthur, her son. The two look even closer in age while performing on the show. Of course, real noblewomen in some cases did have children that young.
- Playing with Fire\\An Ice Person: Merlin.
- The Plan: Morgan is particularly gifted with these.
- Precocious Crush: Morgan mentions to Merlin how she adored him, as she was a child when he cured her father of an illness, and even wanted to marry him.
- Pretty Boy: Arthur.
- Pride: Lot's primary weakness. It is also why Morgan prefers to rule alone.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Both Merlin and Morgan suffer from it as a side effect of their magic.
- Psycho Lesbian: One way of looking at Sybil.
- Race Lift: Morgan's maidservant Vivian is of African descent. She is the namesake (at least) of the woman who ensnared Merlin and banished him from the earthly realm, who wasn't. In some versions she's Morgan's agent and in others her role (if not also name) is taken by the Lady of the Lake.
- Rape as Drama: A guard demands Igraine have sex with him in return for allowing her to escape. She uses his own dagger to stab him during the act, and escapes that way instead.
- Really 700 Years Old:
- Merlin again. Arthur guesses that Merlin was the one who placed the Sword of Mars in the stone... despite that event having taken place several hundred if not thousand years before the Romans arrived in Britain, since the sword was already there when they showed up.
- The legend tells that the sword was placed there hundreds of years ago... but did it really exist for so long? Merlin could have just planted it in peoples' minds using magic and/or his own wiles. However, Igraine and Morgan definitely state that he hasn't aged for a long time.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Played with. Merlin's magic does work, but he implies that there is something that must be given back as well.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Arthur and Merlin. Arthur and Morgan.
- Rightful King Returns
- Scenery Porn: The show is shot in Ireland. The producers make sure you know it.
- Seer/Oracular Urchin: Merlin.
- Self-Made Orphan: Morgan kills Uther in the first episode through shapeshifting and poisoning. King Lot claims to have killed his own parents as well.
- Sex Equals Love: For Arthur anyway. Even the fact that it was All Just a Dream doesn't stop him.
- Sibling Rivalry
- Slipping a Mickey: Morgan did this to Merlin in third episode.
- Smug Snake: Merlin is a rare heroic example.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Besides the usual spelling choices with Arthurian works, this show's version of Morgan le Fay is called "Morgan Pendragon", (and like BBC's Merlin which has "Morgana Pendragon") unlike the traditional legends where she's not Uther Pendragon's daughter.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: To show that Arthur's plight is Serious Business, Arthur's adoptive mother is murdered by King Lot.
- Succession Crisis: The core and the main conflict of the series. Morgan is Uther's legitimate child by his first queen, but she is a woman and is therefore not a suitableheir to the throne. Arthur is revealed to be Morgan's half-brother and a potential heir to the throne, directly opposing her.
- Suspiciously Small Armies.
- Sympathetic Magic: Morgan takes Arthur's blood and Merlin's toe nails, which is used to work magic against them.
- Taking The Arrow: Leontes for Arthur in season finale.
- Tampering with Food and Drink:
- Uther is killed by Morgan with poison in his soup.
- Played with in the third episode. Merlin suspiciously eyes the quail soup brought during dinner, which is received by both Arthur and their host Morgan. Morgan tastes Arthur's soup to prove there's no poison and even dramatically pretends to gag.
- Team Mom: Igraine, unlike in the medieval texts where she disappears after Arthur's birth.
- Token Minority: Ulfius on Arthur's side and Vivian on Margan's.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Merlin about Redwald's death. If only he knew he was talking with his murderer...
- Unholy Matrimony: Morgan and King Lot.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Merlin and Igraine.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Lady Morgan has an unshakable belief that Britain would be a better place with her as its ruler and she's willing to do anything to get the throne. Merlin's delusional faith in Camelot means that he is capable of anything when it comes to protecting and improving Arthur.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Morgan can take the form of her younger self at will. Later, however...
- Weapon Twirling: So, so much.
- We Can Rule Together: Arthur offers this option to Morgan. Morgan has other ideas.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: At several points during the series, Morgan is visited by or has visions of a wolf. In one episode, Leontes also has a brief encounter with it. Its purpose is never explained.
- Your Cheating Heart: The first time Arthur is shown he is sleeping with Kay's (then) girlfriend. The time after that, he sleeps with Guinevere, Leontes' betrothed. We only see him sleeping with women that have other attachments.
- Zen Survivor: Merlin appears to be this. There's something about his bloodstained past and apparent immortality.