Friday, August 29, 2014

Merlin Club: The Crystal Cave or The One Where the Writers Failed the Show Completely

So, this week’s episode is one that’s pretty universally loathed, but more on that as I go. 

It opens with Merlin and Arthur running away from a giant hoard of marauders/bad guys/ what-have –you with no explanation to why. Obviously, it’s a plot device to for Arthur to be shot with an arrow and conveniently knocked unconscious so Merlin can learn nifty new mystical things and further the plot of the show. 

Merlin has a tender moment with Arthur, calling him dollophead and clotpole while trying to wake him. He even uses the forbidden magic to try to heal Arthur, but it doesn’t work. A mysterious, robed man shows up and heals Arthur then insists that Merlin go with him to the Crystal Cave. He wants Merlin to look into the crystals and see the future. Merlin wants nothing to do with it, after his last experience of seeing the future in a crystal. But Taliesin insists. 
Merlin sees horrible images of Morgana sitting on the throne of Camelot, fighting with her horse, holding an ornate dagger and killing Uther. He flips shit and goes back to Arthur. Taliesin disappears. Arthur and Merlin head back to Camelot and Merlin lies to him about what went down.  Happily, they’re home in time for Morgana’s birthday celebration the next day.

Merlin is super freaked and paranoid about Morgana and tells Gaius about it. In typical Gaius fashion, he dismisses literally everything that comes out of Merlin’s mouth. I’m not sure if it was to reassure Merlin or if he really wasn’t buying it. Also, he tells Merlin that Taliesin has been dead for centuries, so how cool that Merlin saw him. So really? Dead dude shows up to reveal mystical shit, and you’re not believing it? Whatever, Gaius. 
Events that Merlin saw in the Crystal Cave are coming to pass and he freaks some more. When he tells Gaius about them, Gaius again blows him off and dismisses Merlin’s fears. Merlin’s paranoia ramps up an extra notch when Arthur tells him that he got Morgana a dagger for her birthday present. But Merlin is relieved when he sees it’s not the dagger he saw in the visions. Then he tells Arthur that he would have thought Arthur would have picked something else since “girls like pretty things.”

Later, at the feast, Morgana is opening her presents and when she opens Arthur’s, it’s a dagger. But not the same one he showed Merlin. It’s the ornate one from the vision. Arthur thanks Merlin for his advice about pretty things, and Merlin freaks once again. 
After the party, Gwen brings more presents sent to Morgana from other kingdoms. One of them is a mirror that has a message from Morgause about meeting her in the darkling woods. Morgana sneaks out and Merlin follows her, magically slamming a door in her face. Startled, Morgana falls down the stairs and suffers a massive head injury. 

She’s brought to Gaius’ room. He stitches up her wound, but she’s still unconscious and now dying. Everyone is upset, but no one is more fraught with grief than Uther. He begs Gaius to make her well again, even not-so-subtly hinting that magic is just fine by him. Well, you know, Uther…as long as you stand to gain from it, it’s cool. 
Uther also confesses that he had an affair with Morgana’s mother, and Morgana is his daughter. (This, my loves, is where everything goes to hell in a huge way.) He begs Gaius again to do whatever must be done to save his child. Never mind that he wasn’t willing to do the same for Arthur when he was dying. But whatever. I digress. 
Merlin calls the dragon for advice. The dragon is super happy that Morgana is on death’s door and is pretty vocal about it. Merlin commands the dragon to give him a spell to heal Morgana. The dragon is pissed, but is compelled to obey because of that whole Dragon Lord issue. 

Merlin casts the spell and heals Morgana. Everyone is overjoyed. Morgana tries to get Uther to admit to her that he’s her father and public claim her as his child, but Uther sidesteps it all. Morgana is furious and hurt.
Morgause sneaks into the castle and kills a wine bearer (like you do) and meets with Morgana wanting to know why Morgana didn’t meet her the other night. Morgana tells Morgause that she now knows that Uther is her father. Morgause is thrilled at the news and counsels her not to do anything rash. 

But we all know that rash is what Morgana lives for. So when Merlin sees the dead wine guy, he knows something is up with Morgana (dead wine guy was also in the Crystal Cave vision) he goes to find her. She magically knocks him out and knocks over a candelabra, setting the room on fire then heads out to murder Uther in his bed. 

Merlin wakes up in time to avoid burning to death and races to Uther’s room where Morgana is holding her birthday dagger over Uther preparing to stab him. Merlin sneaks in just in time, and unable to stop her by confronting her (because she’ll frame him for it and Uther will believe her- this is my interpretation, btw) he magically blows out the window and the blast knocks her backward into a wall and wakes up Uther. Morgana lies and says that she was there for comfort because her room caught on fire while discreetly kicking the dagger under the bed. 
Later, Gaius and Merlin are talking and Merlin explains that he thought he could alter the future, but he ended up causing it. I don’t think this is necessarily true. However Gaius must because he doesn’t disabuse him of this notion at all. His attitude is very, yeah, you really did, but done is done and now we have more important things to worry about like Morgana knowing that the Uther is her father which means she has a legitimate claim on the throne and Arthur is in danger. for the questions. 

1.       If I’d written this episode...Ugh. So many things. Most importantly, I wouldn't have Uther confessing that Morgana was his daughter. Not after the previous couple seasons where they acted more like lovers than anything else. I'm still furious about this. The writers had so many other options they could have taken and they blew it. Completely blew it. I would have had Gaius take Merlin seriously instead of blowing him off and then basically blaming him for what happened.
  2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved Merlin trying to wake Arthur up after he'd been shot. So sweet.  Hated Uther's obvious preference of one child over the other.

 3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.That Morgana gave Gwen one of her birthday presents to basically distract her and get rid of her.
4.    Favorite Costume. When in doubt, Morgana's jammies.

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. None for this episode.
6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? I think it was when Merlin was tenderly calling Arthur dollophead and clotpole while trying to wake him. And his fear and sadness when he couldn't.

7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? Hands down the Uther/Morgana father/daughter storyline which makes the last couple seasons seem super incesty. 

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When I Knew I Wanted to Be a Writer - or When I Realized that Words Have Power

This week, we're talking about when we realized we wanted to be writers. I wrote this a while ago, for another blog, but my answer hasn't changed, so I'm reposting it here. 

When I was 8, my parents got divorced (hang with me, people - I promise this isn't going to be a tale of writing my first romance story in a misguided effort to get my parents back together) and my mom went back to school and moved us to a trailer park near the college campus.

Our brand new, 1976 Champion trailer backed up to a heavily wooded ravine where my brother and I spent most of our time playing. The trailer park was filled with a lot of hippies, college students and hippie college students. For the most part, everybody was pretty friendly, particularly the stoners, and it wasn't a bad place to live. Our super-awesome babysitter, Suzanne, lived right next door and my mom's friend Pragati would come over and cook Indian food for us while my mom helped her study.

One night, Pragati brought over her boyfriend. He was a psych student who was interested in the effects of divorce on children and this dude (can't remember his name, but there was a major Tom Selleck mustache going on) wanted to know if I'd be interested in writing about my feelings. Well, I wasn't interested in writing about my feelings, but even at the tender age of 8, I had trouble saying "no" to people. I'm sure no one here is shocked. The next day, Tom-Selleck-Mustache-Guy brought me my very first blue book - you know, the kind you use for essay tests in high school and college - and told me to write about my feelings and encouraged me to draw pictures if I wanted to. He went on ad nauseum about how it was okay to express my sadness and anger and how important it was to do that.

I sat outside under our picnic table (yes, I avoided the sun even then) carefully wrote my name on the cover, then I drew pictures of all the animals, trees and flowers in the ravine where I would have rather have been playing. After I filled in every available space on the cover, I opened the booklet to the lined pages and tried to write about my feelings. After about five minutes, I realized I didn't want to write about my feelings. My feelings were fine. We were all happier after the split and it seemed stupid to pretend otherwise. I'm not saying that I didn't miss my dad, but even as a kid, I could see that the whole divorce thing was a good idea. But this guy expected me to be crushed, in fact, it seemed like he not only expected me to be crushed but wanted me to feel that way. Jerk. Who knows - maybe he was writing a thesis paper and I was his subject.

So, I took my pencil and wrote. I wrote a story about a beautiful witch who lived in the deep forest in a small, stone cottage. She had a lot of pets - cats, dogs, cows, horses, mice, unicorns, deer, foxes and bears. She held lovely magical tea parties for the local children (who apparently lived in the forest...) and grew flowers and pumpkins in her garden. Unfortunately, a man with a mustache came to the witch's little house in the woods and asked about her feelings. Her pet bears ate him.

Now, I'm not saying this is the moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer, but it was the moment I realized that written words made a difference. Tom-Selleck-Mustache-Guy went away and left me and my feelings alone. I knew then that there was power - a kind of magic - in stories, and I knew that I wanted to experience that kind of magic whether I was reading or writing it.

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Click the names below to see the other WR bloggers' stories. 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Merlin Club: Gwaine: or The One Where I Unapologetically Post a Ridiculous Amount of Photos of Eion Macken

This episode opens with Arthur and Merlin returning from a hunt. Arthur decides what they really need is a tankard of cold mead, so they stop in at a tavern presumably on the outskirts of Camelot. Arthur gets pissy that the barmaid finds Merlin more attractive than him and later he gets his protective hackles up when a thug tries to shake down the barmaid for protection money. 

He attacks the thug and a giant bar brawl ensues. An extremely hot young man joins the fight and in the process saves Arthur’s life. After putting the thug in the stocks and encouraging the villagers to pelt him with fruit and vegetables (so wasteful, the people of Camelot…) Arthur and Merlin take the injured man back to Gaius so he doesn’t die of his wounds.

Gaius saves the man’s life and he and Merlin quickly become BBFs. Gwaine, our wounded hero, thinks Merlin’s great and that Arthur is okay – until he finds out Arthur is nobility. He’s got a grudge against them because his father was a knight and was killed in battle leaving him and his mother penniless and alone. While Merlin is taking care of Arthur, we discover that there will be a melee tournament with all the knights of the land. 

Cut to the thug and his thug accomplice buying forbidden magic from an old dude. They’re buying blunt edged swords that are secretly, magically sharp and two crystals that when touched with someone’s blood, will cause the wearer to take on the appearance of whoever belongs to the blood. The thug and his accomplice, of course, kill the old man. 

Back at the castle, Gwaine decides he’s had enough of nobility and leaves town, but not without flirting madly with Gwen and tucking a flower in her hair. Gwen is flattered, but she’s not falling for Gwaine’s lines. Disappointed, he leaves Camelot. 

Meanwhile, the thug and his buddy come upon two knights in the woods who are on their way to Camelot for the tournament. The thugs kill them and steal their identity with their magic crystals of identity stealing.
Arthur and Merlin meet them in the courtyard, and Arthur volunteers Merlin’s service to them. They take advantage of Merlin and make him do all kinds of unnecessary heavy lifting. Later Merlin bitches to Gaius about the knights and Gaius says that’s not how he remembers them. 

Gwen comes to the door with an urgent message for Merlin. Gwaine got himself in trouble at a pub by buying drinks for everyone there and then not having the money to pay for it. Merlin goes to rescue Gwaine and bring his drunk ass back to the castle, telling the barkeep that the tab is on Arthur. 

The next morning, Arthur is all pissy because of this. Merlin points out that he’d offered Gwaine a reward that he’d turned down, so why not call it even. Instead, Arthur makes Merlin and Gwaine scrub all the knights’ boots. Gwaine is not pleased. 

Later Merlin finds the blunted swords while cleaning the fake knights’ room and cuts himself on them. He suspects magic and sneaks back into the room after the knights are asleep and notices the crystal. The knight wakes and attacks him. Gwaine comes to Merlin’s rescue and the knight presses charges against Gwaine. 

They all end up in Uther’s judging room, and Uther, predictably wants Gwaine’s head. Arthur tries to talk him down explaining that Gwaine saved his life, so Uther decides on banishment, instead. Because he’s so benevolent, you know. Gwaine is released and runs into Gwen as he’s leaving, she defends Arthur and Gwaine realizes that she’s in love with Arthur. 

While Merlin is cleaning Arthur’s room, Uther comes in and gives Arthur the blunted sword that he won the melee with many years earlier and Merlin knows that Arthur can’t beat the fake knights if they’re using magic weapons. 

The melee begins, and there’s a lot of fighting on horseback. Merlin discreetly uses magic to help even the odds and knock the fake knights out of the tournament. It helps, but not entirely. Eventually, it’s just Arthur fighting the fake knights, and things aren’t looking good for our hero. But another knight rides in and joins the battle, protecting Arthur. 

The fake knights are eventually killed and Gwaine reveals himself. Never mind that Gwaine just saved his son’s life, Uther is furious that this dude he banished dared return to Camelot.  He has Gwaine seized. Uther goes to Gaius in hopes that he can save the two fake knights and Gaius reveals that they were magic using thugs all along. 

Uther allows Gwaine to live, but lets the banishment stand. Because he’s a douchecanoe. Arthur apologizes and explains that his father is wrong. Later Merlin wants to know why Gwaine won’t tell the king who he really is and get pardoned so he can stay in Camelot. Gwaine says that he could never serve under a man like Uther. Merlin reminds him about Arthur and Gwaine says that maybe someday he’ll fight at Arthur’s side again then leaves. 

Merlin and Arthur watch Gwaine leave the city from the parapets. They also see him flirt with Gwen on his way out, and Arthur gets super jealous. for the questions. 

1.       If I’d written this episode...I would have had more gratuitous shots of shirtless Gwaine. What? This blog is a place of truth and honesty. And I'm being honest. 

  2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved Gwaine. Can't help it. It's the truth. He's adorable. I also like how Merlin made a new friend. Seriously, this dude has limited chances to meet people who don't end up being all evil and shit. Hated the fact that if Uther had known that Gwaine's father had been a knight it would have changed everything for Uther. But it's Uther. Whatevs.
 3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. That untrained thugs would be able to hold their own against knights. 

4.    Favorite Costume.Gwaine's bed sheet. Yes...still being shallow over here.

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. None for this episode.
6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? There wasn't much Merthurness in this episode. Maybe when Arthur was demanding that Merlin pay off Gwaine's bar bill - simply because in Jess' head it would have ended far differently. 
7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? This is a tough one this week... maybe the fact that the old sorcerer man was stupid enough not to protect himself from thugs who wanted dangerous magic for nefarious purposes?
Jess' take on the episode is here, and Jen's is here

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's My Sign, Baby?

I’m a Gemini, and I’ve had quite a few people tell me that I’m a “classic Gemini”  -  whatever that means. One of them, was my Aunt Malita, and really she’s a Gemini, too, so…biased

But, supposedly, the positive traits of Gemini are as follows.

Easy-Going and Want to Enjoy Every Moment.  – This is pretty much true. I do get uptight about a few things, but fewer and fewer things faze me these days.  And I do prefer to enjoy things as opposed to not. But really, who doesn’t?

Versatile and Will Try Their Hands at Diverse Things.  – I don’t know about diverse things, but I’ll try some new stuff – sure.

Enthusiastic and Full of Life.  – I’m pretty enthusiastic about stuff that excites/interests me. That’s true.

Brilliant Communication Skills and Can Sell Anything to Anyone. – I don't know about brilliant, I’m pretty decent at explaining myself. Sometimes it just takes me longer to get to the point than others. 

Curious and Creative. – I think so on both counts. I’m *always* making something and I’m definitely curious.

Witty and Humorous. – I think I tell a decent anecdote and have a good one-liner here and there.

Intellectual and interested in learning. – I wouldn’t consider myself an intellectual, but I do like to learn.

And there are negative traits, too.

Lack of Consistency and Focus, Hates Boredom. – Yeah, I’ll own this. Sometimes it’s tough to stay focused without wanting to switch to something else. And I *loathe* being bored. It’s why I can’t watch TV without doing something with my hands and why I really hate going to sporting events. I have a hard time just sitting and not doing something.

Superficial and Trouble with Details. – I’d have to say no to superficial – well, maybe very occasionally. But trouble with details? Yep. Sometimes I skim…much to my detriment.

Lack Decision Making Ability. – I admit that I have trouble making decisions. More so in the past than now. But now, I make a choice and try to own it.

Lack of Direction and Focus. – When I was younger I’d get bored with things and wander away from them forever. Like, it once took me eight years to embroider a small tablecloth for my mom. Eight years. Now, I just make sure to finish stuff before I wander away from it.

Anxious and Bite Off More Than They Can Chew. – I frequently bite off more than I can chew and it leads to major anxiety. I’ve been getting better about this. Mostly, I think it comes from my difficulty with saying “no” – but that bad trait is rapidly improving.
So, I guess I do fit the classic description of a Gemini pretty well. 

What about you? Do you fit your sign? What about the other WR bloggers? Click their names to find out.