Camelot: A Slow Death

Previously on Camelot: Morgan started secretly organizing raids throughout the kingdom to scare the people and make Arthur look weak, which totally worked, of course, because she’s the only one on this show who can really seem to plan properly and see her plans come to fruition. Less lucky in that area are Igraine and Merlin, who try to execute the stupidest idea ever—and that’s saying something on this show—and just get themselves captured and dragged back to Camelot by Morgan. But Arthur’s not there to deal with the issue, because he and the boys are up at Barden Pass, and when we left them, Arthur was defending the place all on his own.

At Barden, Morgan’s Lackey and his men sit around, getting riled up for the fight ahead. Meanwhile, the remainder of the Camelot Crew, plus Guen and Joe’s family, show up at the appointed meeting place, where of course they do not find Arthur waiting for them. He’s still inside the village at the Pass, waiting to surprise Lackey’s advance guard, which is just one guy, whom Arthur manages to overcome after a brief battle. So, Lackey sent a single guy to find out how many people were in this village? Really? That seems pretty stupid to me. Send at least a couple, in case they run into trouble, like this one did.

Arthur then gets to work setting some pretty elaborate looking traps. Really? How much time does he have? Is Lackey just sitting around for hours waiting for his scout to come back? I’d think that after maybe 30 minutes you’d send more scouts to find out what’s going on. This guy is the poorest military leader in history.

At the meeting place, Leo’s attending to Kay’s wound, while Gawain looks out for Arthur and realizes he’s not coming anytime soon, because he’s out to prove himself worthy of Leo’s friendship.

Finally, Scotty realizes the scout’s been gone too long, so Lackey sends Scotty and a few guys in to see what’s up. You really should have started there, Lackey. The men get caught in Arthur’s traps and Arthur starts picking them off one by one with a bow and arrows. He meets a few of them in hand-to-hand combat and one manages to knock him off his feet. Scotty disarms Arthur, sends the sword back to Lackey, and then, in a moment of unconscionable stupidity, sends all the guys back so he can kill Arthur off himself. Soooo stupid. Of course, Arthur manages to escape and wounds Scotty, taking him prisoner.

Lackey receives the sword and immediately sends it off to Morgan with his compliments, then decides to go burn Arthur’s body.

Morgan and her entourage arrive at Camelot, where they’re greeted only by Guen’s cousin, who informs them Arthur’s not at home. Sybil announces that the realm is under attack and all the people straggling in after them are in need of protection. She adds that Merlin ransacked Magical Manse and threatened Morgan’s life and should be restrained.

Guen and Leo attend to Joe’s mother’s wound and Guen gets a look on her face like she’s just noticing what a worthy man her husband is. Too little, too late you cheating jerk.

At Camelot, Morgan starts firing off orders, sending the people off for food and shelter, dispatching Igraine to her room, and seeing Merlin tied up in stocks. Once they’re alone, Morgan taunts him a bit about the night they spent together, when he thought she was Igraine. He tells her to leave Igraine alone, but I don’t think he’s in the position to make demands just now.

Arthur wakes Scotty to interrogate him, and I think someone really needs to teach Jamie Campbell-Bower how to act “intensely,” because it does not mean shout and open your mouth to comically wide proportions. Instead of seeming in any way menacing, he was just hysterical to look at. I laughed so hard my husband came running out of the bedroom to see what was up. Anyway, Arthur starts torturing Scotty, at one point drawing a knife slowly across his face and smiling in a really, really creepy way as he does it. So, King Arthur’s a psychopath now? Man, when they decided to take a new look at the legend, they really did a thorough job, didn’t they? I barely even recognize this as the Arthurian legend anymore. Scotty finally confesses that he works for Morgan, which Arthur doesn’t want to believe at first, but deep down, he knows it’s true. Scotty, awesomely, observes that Arthur comes from a seriously screwed up family.

Lackey finally realizes something’s gone wrong, but instead of taking a whole slew of men and attacking under the cover of darkness while Arthur’s tired, he decides to cool his heels for a while, wait for reinforcements, and give Arthur plenty of time to prepare for a daylight attack. Why do I feel like I’d be a better military leader than this idiot?

Camelot. Morgan attends to the refugees, who are all camped out in the throne room. One of the refugees asks where Arthur is, because rumor has it he’s run off with Guen. Morgan sternly tells him to stop that sort of talk and goes off to find Guen, to prove the dreadful rumor couldn’t be true.

Guen’s cousin, meanwhile, brings Merlin food and news that nobody can see Igraine. She urges him to break free from the stocks, but he says if he does so now, he’ll just freak everyone out. What they need now is Arthur.

Morgan goes up to Arthur’s room, where she finds her father’s big fur cloak and rubs it gently against her cheek and smells it, clearly having some memories. She sets it down, goes over to the bed, and then catches sight of the crown, just sitting on a nearby table. Because when those things get heavy, you just toss them anywhere, right? She goes to put it on, but she’s interrupted by Sybil, who comes in with Lackey’s man and the sword. Morgan pretends to be all sad Arthur’s dead, which confuses the man, who reminds her this was what she ordered. Sybil hustles him out, and Morgan admires the sword, cradles it against her cheek, and then hefts it proudly. Her time has come.

Up at Barden, it’s a beautiful, sunny morning. Perfect for a frontal attack, right? Lackey’s reinforcements arrive as Arthur watches. The attack begins, and Arthur watches them approach before slipping out the back, where there are a bunch of awnings and curtains set up. Lackey and his men arrive and start cautiously moving between the awnings. Arthur surprises one and chokes him to death, and kills a few more before he’s cornered behind a table. But just when it seems all is lost, who should come swinging in to save him but Leo! Of course. Talk about serious devotion to your job. They fight off the attackers, who are nice enough to attack one by one, making it easy for our boys. Arthur and Leo start fighting fiercely, and then Gawain and Kay arrive (wow, Kay sure got over that arrow he took to the gut last episode fast, didn’t he?) and together they all manage to fight off the attackers. As they retreat, we at least get a slight nod to continuity as Kay looks a little woozy. The boys all laugh like the frat boys they are, not even bothering to make sure the area’s secure, which it isn’t, because Lackey’s still there, aiming an arrow at Arthur. Leo spots it and throws himself in front of Arthur, taking the shot right through the chest but saving the pipsqueak. Gawain leaps on Lackey, executing him brutally. That’s what you get for busting a bromance.

Leo dies slowly enough to ask Arthur to take care of Guen, like he needed any encouragement. Should we start taking bets on how long it’ll take the two of them to fall into bed together again? Later, the boys tear up a circular wooden bench underneath a tree to make a sled to bring Leo home on.

Sybil fetches Merlin so he doesn’t miss the show in the throne room. They chain him up in there, gagged, as Morgan walks in, dramatically dragging the sword, looking incredibly lovely, for all her red eyes and runny mascara. She announces Arthur’s death to the crowd, which reacts in shock. One man asks what’ll happen next, now they have no king, and Morgan says she can’t decide such things, so Sybil takes her cue and tells Morgan she should step in. The crowd’s cool with that, and after some slight protest, Morgan accepts, in her brother’s memory, of course.

Afterward, she goes to Igraine’s room, where Igraine’s wearing a lovely white dress Morgan picked out for her. Igraine tells her she’ll never rule, basically because she’s a girl. Morgan chuckles, so Igraine changes tactics and tries to tap into Morgan’s messed-up psyche, asking what made her this way. Maybe being rejected and physically and psychologically abused by her father, Igraine. What do you think? Oh, and having that same father kill her mother so her place could be taken by you. Morgan blames this whole mess and her struggle for the crown on Igraine and her damn kid. Igraine asks Morgan what she wants from her, and Morgan whispers “a slow death” before stabbing her in the belly. Well, damn. I figured Leo was a goner this episode (though it pained me to think it, because I liked him), but I didn’t see that one coming. Morgan tells Igraine the wound’s fatal, but it’ll take her a while to bleed out. Yeah, that’s some serious bitterness right there. But Igraine has one last trick up her sleeve: She tells Morgan her father didn’t banish her, he was going to have her killed, but Igraine sent her away to save her life. Morgan’s horrified, and naturally refuses out loud to believe it, but she clearly does. She retreats from the bedroom and indulges in some cutting by rubbing her wrist bloody on the edge of a stone wall. Hello, Issues.

The Camelot Crew bring Leo’s body back to the meeting place, where Guen sees what’s happened and collapses, sobbing, over her husband’s body. Whatever. I feel no pity for her at all. I miss Leo, though. He deserved so much better.

Vivien and Sybil help Morgan get ready for her coronation. Merlin’s still tied up in the throne room, forced to watch the show. Morgan takes her seat on the throne and Sybil—who, I notice, is wearing a glove now to cover her burned hand—stands over her, holding the crown, and reciting a coronation oath. Meanwhile, upstairs, Igraine is slowly, painfully dragging herself out of her room. Sybil starts to lower the crown onto Morgan’s head, but just before it reaches her head, Arthur interrupts the ceremony with a slow clap. Really? What is this, a Freddie Prinze Jr. teen comedy? Morgan recovers from her shock and pretends to be overjoyed that Arthur’s alive, but he whispers that he knows all about her plans. He then turns to the crowd and berates them for choosing a new leader after thinking he was dead. What were they supposed to do, wait for the kingdom to descend into complete anarchy? Power vacuums don’t usually work so well for people. And I don’t blame them anyway—it’s not like your leadership has done much for them. Your defense of the kingdom was useless—a few mercenaries were able to wreak havoc. No matter who they came from, they were able to do it, which means your protection was just as useless as Morgan said.

One of the men in the crowd reminds Arthur that they were attacked, and just where the hell was he? Arthur counters that by telling the crowd that Morgan will only bring fear to the country. She will? I kind of doubt that—the only reason she’s been acting out has been to get the crown. Once she gets it, the attacks will stop and things will probably be relatively stable.

Nonetheless, this is an incredibly fickle crowd, and they switch sides back to Arthur as easily as they switched to Team Morgan. Apparently they’ve let that whole “Arthur may have run off with Guen” thing go too, because it’s never mentioned again. The Camelot Crew gets to work freeing Merlin and taking back Excalibur and the crown. As a final coup de grace, Arthur brings forth Scotty, holds a sword to his throat, and tells him to confess. Scotty says that he attacked Barden under Morgan’s orders. She claims the man’s a liar, but Arthur doesn’t want to hear it and threatens to have her executed for treason. At this point, her fairy godmother, Sybil, steps forward and takes the blame for everything, claiming Morgan didn’t know anything. Arthur asks Morgan to confirm Sybil’s guilt, and Morgan turns to him, all wide eyed and innocent, and tells him she’d never plot against him. He sniffs that she has blood on her hands and stomps off.

Merlin finally finds Igraine upstairs and frantically tries to heal her, but his eyes start to bleed and she tells him to stop before he kills himself. She urges him to protect Arthur, because God knows he needs it, and dies. Merlin rocks her, sobbing.

Later, dressed in black, he washes the blood from her body, preparing her for burial. Arthur comes in and Merlin quietly apologizes to him. Arthur reassures him it’s not his fault, and Merlin steps away to give Arthur some time with his mother. Arthur quietly promises to be everything she ever hoped he’d be. Well, it’d be nice for him to start sometime soon.  I’ve been waiting a whole season for some glimpse of the King Arthur I’ve read about in legends and haven’t seen him yet.

Out in the countryside somewhere, a grave’s been dug for Sybil, and Gawain’s been appointed her executioner. He tells her to kneel, but she takes a minute to look around, sadly saying she’d hoped Morgan would come. Why would she? To see you get your head clipped off? Not the best way to say goodbye. She kneels at the grave’s edge, not even taking off her wimple and veil, which is absurd, because that would totally get in the way of the sword and just make the execution messier. Nonetheless, Gawain’s able to take her head off in a single blow, which is completely unlikely. Her body and head tumble into the grave, and the last thing she sees, off in the distance, is Merlin, murmuring that there is no God. Ok, then.

Morgan’s retreated to Magical Manse, where she sits in the hall, dressed in a nightgown, crying. Arthur stops by to rub some salt in her wounds and tell her that he knows she killed his mother. He ends his protection of her castle (like she ever needed it), tears down the Pendragon banner, and strips her of her name, which I don’t think he can really do. With steel in her voice, she informs him that the Pendragon name is her birthright, and he won’t be taking it for her. He sniffs that she has no rights in the kingdom anymore. Way to go, Arthur. Piss her off more. Because that’s worked so well for you in the past.

Igraine’s and Leo’s bodies are placed on funeral pyres side-by-side. That seems like an oddly pagan way to be disposing of Leo’s body. Why aren’t they burying them like they did everyone else? The pyres are lit and Guen and the Guys watch the bodies burn. Guen tearfully runs through all the usual lines (Never got to say goodbye, etc.) and Arthur tells her Leo’s last thought was of her. And we’ll see just how worthy she was of that shortly, I’m sure.

Back at Camelot, the boys use the circular bench pieces from Leo’s sled to start building a table in the throne room. Arthur leaves a chair empty for Leo, marking it with his blood and saying it will remain empty until a warrior appears who is worthy to sit there. So, that’ll be Lancelot next season, right? And I’m really, really looking forward to Arthur realizing that payback’s a bitch once Guen starts slutting around on him.

Merlin finds Arthur up on the parapet, being gloomy. Arthur comments that he never thanked Merlin for bringing him to Camelot, which doesn’t seem to have worked out all that wonderfully for him, when you think about it. Merlin bluntly announces he’s leaving, and Arthur protests, but Merlin’s mind is made up. He needs some quiet time. He tells Arthur he’s going to be great, before departing.

Morgan, still in her nightgown, goes out and finds Sybil’s grave. She lays down on it, embracing it, weeps, and wonders aloud what she should do now. The wind suddenly kicks up, and Sybil’s voice whispers that, to be a queen, Morgan must first give birth to a king.

That night, Guen surprises Arthur in his rooms for some sex. I’m not at all kidding, although I wish I was. She pulls out the old “I don’t want to be alone” bullshit, which is such nonsense. Call your cousin, then, if you want some company. Jesus, that very afternoon she was talking about what a great guy Leo was, and here you are, screwing the guy you cheated on him with in the first place before the man’s ashes are even cold. She disgusts me. Arthur disgusts me. These two suck and I can’t believe they got to live while Leo, whom I really liked and admired, has to die. It was at this point that my husband begged me not to recap season two of this horrible show.

So, whatever, they have sex, and later on Guen wakes up with a nosebleed. And guess who else is having a nosebleed? Morgan! So I guess we know whose face she’ll be borrowing next season.

So, there we have it. Camelot as envisioned by Michael Hirst. The Arthur he gave us was whiny, weak, undisciplined, and as incapable of controlling himself as your average congressman. As a king, he didn’t get much done. He presided over one trial, and then made promises of protection he couldn’t really follow through on, as Morgan proved. The only reason he got as far as he did, in my opinion, was because he had a solid team behind him. And we’ve lost one of them now. Glad we at least got to keep Kay and Gawain. I’ll miss Igraine, too, even though she veered into creepy territory with her tales of how marrying your rapist is ok, and her refusal to believe that a woman could be in charge of anything other than the laundry. Although that might have been period appropriate thinking, it was disturbing to hear it in a modern-day show, and it’s not like this show was attempting to be accurate in any other way possible.

You know who actually was a pretty good leader? Morgan. She was tough, clever, able to inspire loyalty, and she took action where action was needed. She also surrounded herself with able advisors and ruled with their advice while clearly remaining in charge, instead of hiding behind them. Except at the very end, there, and her back was sort of up against a wall. Sure, her methods were questionable, but she got the job done, and I can’t help but admire that. You just know that, if anyone else attacked this kingdom, it’d be complete chaos. Arthur can’t protect it. He couldn’t even protect it from internal attacks. If one of those big bad warlords on the borders learns what a pushover this king is, game over. So maybe it’s time to give the girl a chance, don’t you think? Sorry, show. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t your intention, but the only thing about the Arthurian legend this has made me rethink is whether or not Arthur deserved to be king at all, when his sister was smarter, tougher, and far more capable.

Jury’s still out on whether or not I cover this for another season (if there is another season). We’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, have a great summer!

 



5 thoughts on “Camelot: A Slow Death

  1. I foolishly tried to bet $10 that this show would have Arthur and Guenevere sleeping together within two episodes of the next season. I really didn’t think anyone would be so stupid as to go for the “My husband, who I’ve known since early childhood, was just tragically and horrifically murdered…Wanna have some sex?” angle. Man, I can’t even begin to express how dumb that really is.

  2. In Guinevere’s defense, you might want to recant the bit about how she disgusts you for the late-night tryst, since it wasn’t her.

  3. It wasn’t both Guinevere and Morgan having nosebleeds. “Guinevere” is Morgan in disguise. So the real Guinevere isn’t as bad as all that, although Arthur is. He clearly hasn’t learned a thing, and that’s what makes his character continue to be so detestable.

  4. This is clearly what happens when you recap late at night at the end of a long week–the readers are right, and I was wrong. Sorry, everybody! And sorry, Guen, for nailing you to the wall like that, although I continue to loathe Arthur. As Anonymous pointed out above, he clearly hasn’t learned a thing.

  5. I’m upset with myself that I even bothered to watch all the episodes. The whole season was just ridiculous. Arthur did not even have any soldiers…ever. He had his champions, and that was it. Some annoyances: His whole gang is putting up banners all at once, so no one to defend the king. So he runs off alone to accompany Guen. Really? Or that Igraine was able to get out of Castle Pendragon and into Castle Camelot without a single guard stopping her. In fact, she rode into Camelot to a desolate courtyard and castle, and the first person she saw was Morgan. At about 7am back then? Suure…and gates wide open. Very smart idea.

    And then at the end, the fact that Morgan kidnapped Igrain and assumed her form in Camelot did not even come up. You think Merlin would just leave that part out after losing that little boy and Igrain? Jesus this writing is horrible.

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