fleete: A picture of Ko Eun-Chan from the Korean drama Coffee Prince.  She is holding a pillow against her chest, looking dreamy (Default)
[personal profile] fleete
Despite all the ranting I'm about to do, I didn't hate this episode.  I loved the angst, every bit of it, even if it wasn't exactly the sort of angst I wanted.  And I certainly enjoyed all the pretty.  

I just spend so much time in fandom, where there is amazing writing and character development and sensitive handling of issues like, oh, gender and consent and such things, and then.  And then I remember that canon is nothing like fandom.  

After this, I plan to go pull the warm blanket of fanfiction up around my ears and get cozy.  Or skip on over to one of those fandoms like Suits or White Collar where the bad-ass woman gets included in lots of sexy threesome fics.

So.  I was truly looking forward to Merlin tackling one of the world's most famous love triangles.  Arthur & Guinivere & Lancelot.  It was gonna be epic.  Except for how it...wasn't.  Here's what I think was going on in the writers' heads:  

Premise #1: This is a Family Show.  And so there are Good Characters and Evil Characters.  Black and White.  Because we wouldn't want to confuse the children.

ERGO: All of our heroes have to be good people and do the right thing.  And the evil characters do the wrong thing.

ERGO: Gwen would never cheat on Arthur.  And Lancelot would never want her to do so or induce it to happen.  They are good people.

ERGO: MAGICAL HAPPENINGS!!  Lancelot is under a scary necromancy spell!  (You can tell cuz he's wearing black!)  Gwen is wearing a creepy magical bracelet!  They didn't mean to.   THE MAGIC MADE THEM DO IT.

ERGO: It's all a tragic misunderstanding of Shakespearean proportions. (TwelfthNight!Shakespeare, not Hamlet!Shakespeare.  Because there are going to marriages, not deaths!!)

ERGO: We can make it all better eventually!  Happy Endings!!  Where the good people are rewarded and the bad people are punished!

Alternatively, this may have been an attempt at a feminist re-telling, where they tried not to make Gwen the archetypal whore (by blaming it all on the archetypal evil witch! yay!).  But they did it in such a way so as to preserve the Good/Evil distinction.  And I was so desperately looking forward to the answer to a much, much more interesting question: Under what circumstances would Gwen--a generally good person--cheat on Arthur?  Why do people who love their spouses cheat on them?  Because they do, all the time.  That is an interesting question, and one that gets asked over and over in RL, and Merlin could have told a story about that.  But that would require that we get past the idea that "Good People do not cheat, and people who do cheat are Bad People, and there are only good and bad people."

I was looking forward to moral dilemmas and Gwen feeling torn and Lancelot feeling torn and Arthur feeling torn, and there were going to be so many ~feelings, and it was gonna be grand.  But no.   They wanted to avoid a moral dilemma for the viewers.  They wanted it to be clear at all times who is good and who is bad.  

Above all things, guys, I was looking forward to a more fleshed-out characterization for Gwen.  Gwen's not famous for much besides the story of her infidelity, which is annoying and sexist, but it's still her story.  She's not just a good girl.  She's an angsty, frustrated, passionate, interesting woman, and I was looking forward to seeing her tackle all that.  She was going to have many warring motivations and obligations!  She was going to have to make decisions!  She was going to be a three-dimensional character!!  So my heart kind of broke when she said, "All I've ever wanted was to be your queen!"  Because I wanted her to be more complicated than that single, Arthur-centered desire.  I wanted her to have an existence that is not centered on Arthur.  (Or ideally, any man, but that seems like too much to hope for in a show that will probably never pass the Bechdel test again.)

Looking back, my expectations for this episode might have been a tad unrealistic.  

Also.  Can we talk about the fact that there was a legit non-con kiss on our show?  Seriously?  They wanted to avoid a moral dilemma, so they did it with NON-CON?  

It seems likely they're going to return to the triangle, since they've kept it open like this.  So maybe they'll do the true triangle at some point next season, but this episode makes me think that they're determined to erase all of the icky bits of the legend.  Which.  Okay.  But what will be left?


I'm aware that expressing a desire for Gwen to have a real romance with Lancelot, a real triangle, a real dilemma, is something that runs dangerously parallel to a desire to get her out of the way of the Special-White-Boy OTP.  Which, yeah.  I'm not righteous enough to say that that couldn't possibly be a factor in this rant.  I'm often battling to balance out my love of slashy OTPs with my love of interesting female characters.  And the women don't always win.  It's an ongoing problem.
 

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fleete: A picture of Ko Eun-Chan from the Korean drama Coffee Prince.  She is holding a pillow against her chest, looking dreamy (Default)
fleete

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