Friday, May 30, 2014

Merlin Club: The Witchfinder or The One Where Merlin Carelessly Performs Magic and Endangers Someone Else He Loves

So this episode opens with Merlin being carelessly stupid (sorry, Jess) and despite living in a kingdom where people are routinely put to death for even being suspected of using magic, he decides to use magic to create a galloping horse from the smoke from a fire. Now, granted, he’s in the woods, but so are other people – like the peasant who labor to harvest all the fucking fruit that the royal family of Camelot apparently needs to have on their tables (ALL THE TABLES) at all time. So one of the peasants flips shit and goes to report the magic smoke horse to Uther naming Merlin as a witness. 

Uther calls in the Witchfinder aka Aredian aka Tywin Lannister, and he shows up in the dead of night dressed all in black and a serious jewelry collection that looks like he raided my Aunt Malita’s jewelry box from the 70s and pulling a jailer’s card behind his horse. 

So Aredian sniffs out magic use all over Camelot and brings in three witnesses who testify to Uther that they’ve seen terrible, magical things in a very Crucible-esque scene. Aredian accuses Merlin and Merlin is thrown into the dungeon. Gaius and Merlin’s chambers are searched and by searched, I mean every fucking thing in the place is destroyed, upended, trashed and otherwise ruined. Finally, a bracelet with a magical glowing stone is found, and Gaius takes the blame for it to protect Merlin, thinking it’s his. 

Merlin is released and Gaius is thrown in a cell where he’s tortured, starved, mentally abused and otherwise treated horribly. Even worse, Aredian tells him that he’s marked Merlin and Morgana as sorcerers, too. He tells Gaius that if he confesses, he’ll spare Merlin and Morgana, so Gaius agrees to confess. 

Gaius, in front of all the important people of Camelot, confesses to being a sorcerer and Uther orders him put to death. Merlin flips shit and goes to attack Aredian calling him a liar and Arthur is up out of his chair before the guards can respond and drags Merlin from the room. He breaks the law and brings him down to the dungeon to say goodbye to Gaius. 

Merlin and Gaius figure out that Gaius was framed so Merlin and Gwen pull out some Sherlock and Watson action and figure out that Aredian was using belladonna eye drops to create hallucinations in the witnesses. Gwen uses a heavy dose of guilt to get Arthur to stop the Gaius’ execution just in time and Merlin lays out his accusation and there’s that whole upstart peasant thing going on, but Arthur steps in for Merlin and says that they should at least investigate. 

When they do, they find a crap-ton of the same kind of bracelets that Aredian used to frame Gaius and then Aredian vomits up a toad then takes Morgana hostage but Merlin uses some discreet magic to heat the hilt of Aredian’s blade to burn his hand and he loses his balance and falls through the tower’s window to splat on the courtyard below. 

Later, while Gaius is cleaning up the nightmare his workspace was left in, Uther comes in and gives the most half-assed of all half-assed apologies. Happily for the viewers, Gaius is having none of it. He’s very dismissive of Uther. Which Uther deserves.

And now, the questions!

1.       If I’d written this episode...I'd have a better reason for the Witchfinder to called in. Merlin making stupid choices and causing serious trouble for other people is getting a little old.
 2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved: Seeing seeing Charles Dance channeling my Aunt Malita.  Hated: That Uther couldn't be arsed to stand up for his longest most loyal (even though he doesn't deserve it) friend.
3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. How no one questions Aredian's hilt heating up and burning his hand. Doesn't *anyone* in Camelot pay attention to anything?
4.    Favorite Costume. Aredian dressing like my Aunt Malita FTW.

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Again, the only this I have is that Uther is a fucking idiot. But I'm pretty sure that's show canon rather than mine. 
6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? Definitely when Arthur jumped up out of his seat to manhandle Merlin out of the room in order to save him. 

7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way?  Her sense of wonder and awe that Uther hasn't completely run Camelot into the ground through the sheer force of his stupidity.

Jess' take on the episode is here, and Jen's is here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

STRESS!!!! And what I do to combat it.

Everyone gets stressed out.

If they don't, I want to know who they are so I can stalk them and learn their secrets.

I really do try not to sweat the small stuff. I used to flip out about every little thing. All the time. It was exhausting. I eventually got to the point where I realized the shit that was stressing me out wasn't worth my time. So I consciously tried to let shit go by reminding myself that it really didn't matter.

Now mostly of my stress is over larger things, or, you know...hormonally induced. And the stress tends to exhibit itself in escalating levels: wanting to "eat the house," agitation, wanting to crawl out of my own skin, clenching my teeth and finally crying.

If it's possible (and it's not always) I try to recognize whatever threat level I'm at and try to settle my ass down with the following things. If one doesn't work, I move on to something else.

1. Deep breathing.

2. Removing myself from the computer/person/situation.

3. Going for a walk.

4. Going outside and just sitting in nature. Sometimes just sitting in the hammock swing or laying on the grass (you know, when the ground isn't freezing cold and wet) is enough to get me out of my head.

5. Crafting of some sort - something that's easy enough to do without too much thought and something that I have to focus on enough that pushes other thoughts aside. Knitting, sewing and cross stitching work great for this kinda thing.

6. Listening to the recordings I've made of the Lake Superior waves.

7. Aromatherapy. Yeah, I know, I'm just living up to my crunchy granola roots. But, I find some scents really soothing, so I'll usually put a little essential oil on my wrists and the smell often helps me relax a little.

8. Guided mediation recordings. (It's okay. You can laugh.)

9. Petting a cat...or three.

10. Venting to my friends. And swearing a lot. Like a whooooooooooooole lot.

11. Listening to music which usually results in me singing at the top of my lungs.

12. If all else fails...a glass of wine. Preferably blackberry. Because I'm nothing if not classy. Also, if I'm busting out the wine, I'm doing it in this glass.

So...what about you? What do you do to alleviate stress?  I'm always open to new ideas.

Check out the rest of the WR bloggers for their relaxation methods by clicking on their names below.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Merlin Club: Beauty and the Beast (parts one and two) or The Ones Where No One in Camelot Will Ever Take Uther Seriously Again Because he Screwed a Troll

So this recap is actually two episodes long and the first two parter of the series. The first episode begins in a mountainside cave where a toady-looking little dude is muttering and stirring something in a cauldron – always a winning combo. 

He scoops out some of the disgusting looking goop, puts it into a bottle and gives it to an equally disgusting looking troll who’s rocking back and forth in the corner of the cave. (Not that caves actually have corners, mind you.) The troll mutters something about all of Camelot’s riches being hers, downs the potion, hollers, and passes out from pain. 

The next morning, we see the toady-looking little dude riding with a hooded woman toward Camelot. The woman pulls down her hood to reveal that she’s the gorgeous Sarah Parish – the troll has been transformed. 

Meanwhile, back in the lower town Merlin is bitch-bitch-bitching to Gaius about how much work he has to do and how put upon he is when the toady little dude grabs his arm, hands him a royal seal and asks where to find Uther. Gaius recognizes the seal as belonging to the House of Tragor. So of course, Lady Catrina and her toady little servant are shown to Uther’s hall where he receives guests. There’s a lovely little reunion because Uther used to be buds with Catrina’s father and she tells him that she and her servant are the only survivors while Gaius looks on skeptically. 

Merlin shows Catrina and Jonas (for that is the toady dude’s name) to a chamber and charm him by being so kind to him, a lowly servant. As so as he leaves, Catrina starts bitching that the place is too clean and proceeds to breathe her troll breath on one of Camelot’s endless trays of fruit to rot it so she can eat it – maggots and all. 

Later that evening, Catrina is having supper with Uther, Arthur and Morgana where she doesn’t touch her food. There’s some hardcore flirting going on between Uther and Catrina and the look on Arthur’s face is just priceless. Arthur and Morgana feign exhaustion and beg off the rest of dinner to give Uther and Catrina some privacy. 

Back at Gaius’, Merlin is waxing poetic about the Lady Catrina while Gaius is mixing up a potion for Catrina that he wants Merlin to deliver. Catrina is eating yet another tray of rotten fruit and sends Merlin back to Gaius with the medicine. Gaius admits that he’d treated Catrina before for an incurable disease and the tonic was a test of sorts and he wonders if she’s who she says she is. 

The next morning, Uther has invited Catrina out for a ride before breakfast – followed by a servant bearing a fuckton supplies. Who needs supplies for a pre-breakfast ride? Merlins sees them ride out and goes to Catrina’s chamber where he begins gagging on the stench. He snoops around but Jonas catches him and he’s forced to forego the search. However, he does notice that Jonas has a tail. 

Alongside the river, Uther and Catrina are lounging on a mountain of pillows and eating breakfast. Catrina tosses hers in the water when Uther isn’t looking. There’s more meaningful flirting and when they return Merlin attempts to point out to Arthur that it’s odd how close Uther and Catrina have become in such a short time. 

Gaius goes to talk to Uther about Catrina’s incurable bone disease. Uther knows that Gaius is passively aggressively trying to point out something about Catrina and he’s not having it. Later that evening, while lying on another mountain of pillows, this time in front of a roaring fire, Uther questions her about her illness and she’s all ‘cured now’ and goes in for a kiss and Uther turns away. I’m not sure if it’s performance anxiety or if he’s still in love with Ygraine. But either way, Catrina ends up disappointed. 

Merlin sneaks into Arthur’s room while he’s sleeping and magically lowers a mirror down to Catrina’s window and sees that she’s a troll. Unfortunately, Arthur wakes up and catches him and accuses him of a being a perv. Merlin creeps around and follows Catrina to some filthy unused room in the basement of Camelot and discovers that she is, indeed, a disgusting troll. 

Unfortunately Jonas knows that Merlin knows but Merlin doesn’t know that Jonas knows that he knows. This will prove to be even more problematic than the previous sentence. Merlin reports back to Gaius who tries to confront Uther with the truth, and as we all know, Uther doesn’t listen to shit that Gaius says (I’m not even sure why he keeps him on the staff) and it ends up like everyone expects. Uther dismisses Gaius and threatens him. 

That night, Catrina enchants an amulet with her blood. The next day, at breakfast, Catrina is all lovey dovey and Uther is trying to pull the medieval equivalent of “let’s take a break” so she gifts him with the enchanted medallion and suddenly he’s quite literally under her spell. They announce their engagement with the wedding to be held the following day and pretty much all of Camelot is all “whoa…slow down there, Uther” but being under troll magic, he’s basically reverted to a teenager with the “none of you understand how deep and true our luuuuuurve is” attitude. I found it exhausting. 

During the announcement of the impending wedding, Merlin uses his magic and tries to get her to change back into her troll self. But it’s not working. She runs off to her room and ingests more of the potion. Meanwhile, Jonas pretends to be crying when Merlin happens upon him. He tells Merlin that he’s a prisoner of the troll and tells him about the potion and if he gets it, he can expose her true nature. Merlin goes down to that weird filthy part of the basement and digs through Catrina’s smelly belongings. Catrina traps him down there with some kind of magical doorway crumbling rockslide spell that doesn’t affect the rest of the castle’s structure. Good thing it wasn’t a load bearing wall, I guess. Merlin tries and tries all night long to bust through the rubble, but doesn’t manage it until juuuuuuuuust after Uther and Catrina say their vows. 

The next episode starts with Catrina not wanting to get it on with Uther because she so upset that Merlin stole her family’s seal. Of course, he didn’t. But Uther has never been one to listen to reason even when he’s not enchanted and enchanted, he’s a million times worse. So all the soldiers are out looking for Merlin to throw him in the dungeon. Arthur finds him first and convinces him to run and hide, saving his life. 

Arthur tells Uther and Catrina that Merlin escaped and Uther and Catrina are quite assey to Arthur about it. Catrina later mentions to Jonas as she’s eating yet another platter of rotten fruit, that her plan to undermine Arthur is underway. And Jonas brings her a bucket full of steaming horseshit fresh from the stables – to celebrate. After rubbing it over her face, she eats it. 

The knights and soldiers are still searching for Merlin, but Gaius cleverly has him hidden in a barrel of grain. Which begs the question, why the hell does Gaius have a barrel of grain in his workshop? Merlin sneaks around the castle and follows Catrina to her room where she’s itching furiously. Her troll skin is starting to show through. He watches through a grate in the wall as she drinks the potion and her skin immediately looks human again. He reports immediately back to Gaius. 

Back in the throne room, Uther tells Arthur that they’ve decided to raise the taxes on the people of Camelot. Arthur protests and Uther basically tells him to shut up and do what he’s told. That night, Merlin sneaks into Jonas’ room and steals the potion from the hiding place and brings it to Gaius. He suggests that if Gaius makes her a replacement potion, she’ll turn into a troll, but that it has to be replaced before morning. 

Meanwhile, it’s clearly morning – sun’s up, Uther’s waiting creepily in a corner of Catrina’s bedroom looking to have sexy times with his wife. She rebuffs his advances and tells him that she’s not sure she can keep up the pretences any longer – that she’s not sure he’s the man she married because he’s coddling Arthur or some shit. Then he tries to get all romantic with her and she breathes her troll breath on him and knocks him out. 

Back in Gaius’ chambers, it’s very clearly later morning (sun is streaming through the windows) and Gaius is having Merlin taste test the two disgusting potions to make sure they taste the same. WHAT HAPPENED TO GETTING THE POTION BACK TO THE ROOM BEFORE MORNING!? Does before morning mean something different in Camelot? But anyway, Merlin sneaks back into the room, puts the fake potion in the hiding place, then quick jumps into the wardrobe to hide from Jonas who comes in. 

Meanwhile, Arhur’s out wandering around the lower town and sees some of his knights shaking down an old man for more tax money. Arthur tells the knights to let the man go and to give everyone’s money back. Gwen watched approvingly from her front step. 

Back in the throne room, Uther and Catrina are bitching out Arthur for not enforcing the tax collection. Uther again demands that Arthur go to the town and Arthur refuses. Uther tells him to get out of his sight and Catrina convinces Uther to make her the heir of Camelot. Afterward, she goes back to her chamber where Merlin is still in the wardrobe hiding.  

Later that day, there’s a ceremony where Arthur is stripped of his title as heir and it’s bestowed upon Catrina. Pretty much everyone in Camelot seems to think Uther’s lost the plot, but they all clap politely nonetheless. There’s a big costume change for Catrina and she gets crowned, but she runs out of the ceremony because she feels the potion wearing off.

She’s followed by Uther, Morgana and Arthur who watch in horrified fascination as she transforms back into her troll self. 

This does not sway Uther. He’s still madly in love with her despite the fact that everyone else is horrified. In fact, he’s soooooooooooooooooooo besotted with her, they finally consummate their wedding. Look at the picture. I’ll just quietly wait here while that sinks in. 

Gaius, Sir Leon and the rest of the council come to Uther to make sure he knows he’s married to a troll. He continues to be oblivious to this. At a loss for what else to do to fix this situation, Gaius sends Merlin to talk to the dragon and ask for help. The dragon, much like the rest of us, laughs his ass off at Uther’s predicament. But he does sober up and pass on some useful, non-cryptic (for once) info about how to defeat the troll. Uther must cry tears of remorse. 

So Merlin pops out from under Arthur’s bed while Arthur is sleeping and says that he and Gaius have a plan to rid Camelot of the troll. But it requires Arthur’s help. Arthur must ingest a potion that will render him mostly dead unless he doesn’t get the antidote within half an hour. Then he’ll be all dead. Arthur, very reluctantly agrees to do. 

Merlin leaves the room and is attacked by Jonas and rendered unconscious. The antidote bottle breaks on the stairway.  Uther is brought to his mostly dead son and cries tears of true remorse while Catrina is trying to pull Uther away from Arthur. The spell is broken and Uther looks like he’s ready to vomit. Merlin wakes and finds the broken bottle. He sops up as much as he can with his neckerchief and wrings out a drop into Arthur’s mouth which is enough to revive him. Yay Team Mostly Dead!

There’s a fight and Arthur revives enough to kill the troll by running her through with his sword. Later at supper where there is an inordinate amount of fruit for two people, Uther embarrassed, thanks Arthur for his help. Arthur, meanwhile, can’t stop giggling over his father’s unfortunate bed mate. After supper, Arthur finds Merlin walking through the halls and (because hell has apparently frozen over) thanks him. Arthur moves to apparently clap him on the back in a manly type way and poor Merlin thought Arthur was going in for a hug. Things take a decidedly awkward turn. This scene makes me laugh whenever I see it. Particularly the expression on Arthur’s face. 

And now, the questions!

1.       If I’d written this episode...oh, so many things. But I would have changed the fixed that whole morning time line issue. I can't tell you how much that bugs me. I know it's little, but c'mon. Details, people. Details.
 2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved: Seeing awesome glimpse about what kind of king that Arthur is going to be in the way that he protected his people and stood up to his father. .  Hated: The lazy Gaius has a barrel of grain in his chambers hiding place. 
3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. What the hell with all the thrones. I swear to you there are *at least* three sets of thrones in Camelot.

Also. You guys! This is important! I know I've been on Fruit Watch 2014, but in these two episodes, there are no less that 16 huge bowls/platters/plates of fruit!!! It's possible that I missed a couple, but there are at least 16. WTF, Merlin prop masters!?
4.    Favorite Costume. This week, I'm going with Lady Catrina's elaborate 'do. Yes, I know it's a wig or hairpiece or whatever. But I'm pretending that it's real and that I have enough hair to do that. Sorry I couldn't find a better picture. 

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. The only this I have is that Uther is a fucking idiot. But I'm pretty sure that's show canon rather than mine. 

6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? I'm torn between Merlin under Arthur's bed and the hug-not hug at the end. 

7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? Uther sexing up a troll. 

Jess' take on the episode is here, and Jen's is here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sigh...My Dream Yard

Welcome to Wednesday Randomness. A few months ago, we blogged about our dream houses - you can see mine here. This week, we're blogging about our dream yards. So sit back and relax, because my imaginary yard is huuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggeeeeee. It's also full of cool things.

Like this awesome spiral-y walkway that will lead you around my sprawling yard.

Here's a handy sign post in case you need directions.

Wander under the arch to visit the gardens.

Veggies and flowers everywhere.

And here's my garden helper.
And there's this guy in my little water feature.

If you're tired from wandering the garden, you can sit here.

Or here.

Or here if you fancy a bit of outdoor reading.

If you're chilly, you can cwtch up with this quilt.

And if you're really tired, you can have a bit of a lie down here.

Or here.

Or in my awesome blanket fort.

Or the swing by the water.

And because we'll probably need some company. So these guys will be here, too. Now, play nice.

Tim can provide the music. I'm sure I must have a piano back there, somewhere.

And later,  we can all cwtch up by the fire.

But remember...

What (or who) is in your dream yard? What are some must have features?

Wanna see what the other WR bloggers have in their yard? Check it out be clicking on their names below.