One of the ‘joys’ of moving is potentially losing one’s DVR forever and thus all the awesome hours of television contained within (though if DirecTV can mount a dish on the side of our complex, we probably won’t lose it… still, one can never be too careful when it comes to precious television – teacher, mother, secret lover). While packing this weekend I watched a slew of movies* along with a couple hours of mindless television and five episodes of Merlin.
Out of all this stimulation, I found myself surprised (though I shouldn’t be) that what affected and stuck with me most was Merlin, particularly one of the scenes toward the end of "The Changeling." Seeing Merlin finally starting to take the reigns as more than Arthur’s servant, beginning to become his adviser, really exposes some of the depth and complexity added to the series throughout season three. It only gets deeper from this episode forward, but even this singular moment in an otherwise ‘creature of the week silliness’ episode points toward better and more in-depth stories as the series continues to progress.
It’s also pretty damned adorable to hear Colin Morgan’s tone of voice shift when Merlin’s allowed to be adviserly.
From a personal standpoint, the destiny-laden, ceremonial sword stabbing doesn’t feel so far removed from situations I’ve experienced (and some I am currently experiencing), which makes the ancient ‘rules’ of chivalry, duty, and honor seem less removed from daily modern life than they typically feel. While we’re not all destined to rule kingdoms, or advise on how to do so, or charged with the protection of VIPs and/or entire nations, we all have aspects of our life for which we are (or feel) utterly culpable as individuals and sometimes it seems easier to throw ourselves on the ceremonial sword rather than face up to what we know is right, rather than give into something out of a sense of duty or tradition.
As a writer and English major I’ve often felt that one of the great benefits my degree has over my writing is that it taught me all the rules so I would know how and why I break them, when I do. Granted, I learned tons of nifty tidbits about life, society, history, industry, creativity, war, love, pain, beauty, theatre, poetry, music, politics and what makes the world worth living in for different folks at different points in our shared history. Still, much like Arthur following his instinct (and Merlin’s advice) to do what feels right and not just what is expected of him, I feel that with both writing and life we all need a reminder once in a while that traditions can and should be broken when there is reason compelling enough to alter them.
Love, in an unselfish and giving state, complicated as it can be, is a damn good reason to buck against tradition in favor of creating something better.
*Slew = Eight. Miranda, Pygmalion, Only Angels Have Wings, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, Bride & Prejudice, Pride & Prejudice, and Sneakers
Merlin: I've brought you your ceremonial sword.
Arthur: Is that for me to fall on?
Merlin: Hopefully not. What's wrong?
Arthur: You wouldn't understand, Merlin. You have no idea what it's like to have a destiny you can't escape.
Merlin: Destinies are troublesome things. You feel trapped. Like your whole life has been planned out for you and you've got no control over anything and sometimes you don't even know if what destiny has decided is really the best thing at all.
Arthur: How come you're so knowledgeable?
Merlin: I read a book.
Arthur: And what would this book tell you? Should I marry her?
Merlin: It's not really my place to say, sire.
Arthur: I'm asking you, it's your job to answer.
Merlin: If you really want to know what I think? I think you're mad. I think you're all mad. People should marry for love, not convenience. And if Uther thinks an unhappy king makes for a stronger kingdom, then he's wrong because you may be destined to rule Camelot but you have a choice... as to how you do it.