Merlin, S4 Ep9 – Lancelot du Lac

Merlin writers, let’s talk.  Here, sit on my couch.  I think you know what this is about.  That’s right, Johnny Capps, very good!  I’m here to talk about Lancelot.

Let me start off by saying I understand the quandary you’re in.  You painted yourself into a corner.  You weren’t sure during season 1 if you were going to be picked up for a second season, so you just threw in all the most popular legendary people you could.  Creepy Mordred child?  Why not?  It’s not as if you knew that bitch Martin Scorcese would steal Asa Butterfield out from under you.  And how could you have foreseen that if you wrote Arthur and Morgana flirting with each other, people would expect them to sex each other up?  When you wrote the first season you hadn’t even gotten all the way through Baby’s Book of King Arthur Stories!  You can’t be blamed!  So you thought it would be fun to have both Merlin and Guinevere start off as servants instead of important people.  That’s pretty original.  And Lancelot!  Lancelot’s important because Guinevere liked him or something, right?  Then, to your horror, you realized the whole Guinevere and Lancelot thing is kind of a big deal in an old misogynistic legendary unfaithful-wife-brings-down-great-kingdom way.  But Gwen is nice!  And so is Arthur!  And so is everyone!  You had to find a way to make it okay for everyone in the end, because you can’t go around showing nice girls cheating on their husbands with Santiago Cabrera, you just can’t.  What kind of a message would that send?

So you had a few options. 

1:  Don’t do anything with the Lancelot/Gwen romance at all.  Arthur and Guinevere get married and have matching Burger King crowns, and the viewer can decide whether they’re true love for life or whether somewhere down the line Lancelot’s going to visit the royal chambers and give Gwen and/or Arthur a little bit of his lance a lot.

2: Arthur and Guinevere have a political marriage.  Gwen appears to be the only woman in Camelot.  She’s a sensible girl who understands the peasants and doesn’t mind telling Arthur to shut the hell up once in a while.  They’re both in love with other people.  It’s the perfect setup for a marriage of convenience. 

3: Merlin accidentally turns himself into a woman for good, decides to call himself Guinevere, and marries Arthur, while Gwen opens up an armor shop in the village, marries Lancelot, has two children, and never thinks about Arthur and his daddy issues ever again.

4:  Guinevere is actually a horrible person who doesn’t care about anyone but herself.  She sleeps her way to the top, has affairs, and wears real fur.

5:  Guinevere is a normal woman who is in love with two dudes and makes a mistake, figures her shit out, and moves on.

Most of those options require some serious character development, and you already nominally have a female character with one of those.  You don’t want to do all that work again, do you?  No.  You want something that’s easy and goes well with violins.  Enter option 6: Arthur and Guinevere are really really for real in love with each other and the Lancelot thing was just a fluke and really Arthur and Gwen are like Romeo and Juliet except without the gross suicide part.  Perfect!  Then all you had to do was cross your fingers and hope no one would notice that Arthur & Guinevere’s love theme is the Lancelot & Guinevere love theme only louder, or that Bradley James and Angel Coulby turn into cardboard boxes when they have to pretend to be sexually attracted to each other, or that there was absolutely no point in introducing Lancelot if there isn’t a Holy Grail or adultery, so you just made him the awkward ex-boyfriend hanging around and not noticing all the other characters pointing and mouthing “Why is he still here?” behind his back.

But good for you for not falling prey to the old sexist ways, writers!  Since you’ve neutralized Lancelot and Guinevere as a couple, now we can avoid all the cheating whore stuff that usually comes with it, right?




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