Camelot (the other Arthurian show)

3 Apr

Let’s talk about Camelot, the new US TV show, so that I may not be the only one who suffers from knowledge of its existence.

Straight up: this show is a disgrace. It is a disgrace to its creators and everyone who approved it from the Network. I lay no blame on the actors because I assume the sums of money they were paid were astronomical (for Starz to land someone like Eva Green they’d have to be) and they do do an amazing job with the material they’re given (the veteran actors, that is, the newbies are the newbies).

But, truly, this show is a disgrace. The fact that it exists is a disgrace, and I hope everyone who was responsible for it will fail in all their endeavors to the end of time. It is, absolutely, without question, the worst adaptation of Arthurian anything I’ve ever seen.

Right, now that that’s out of the way.

Let me sum the plot up for you real quick. (Please consider this your SPOILER WARNING.)

So, Morgana (whose name is Morgan in this adaptation but the creators can bite me) returns home to Uther and Igraine’s castle (not Camelot). She is Uther’s only child by his first wife (YES), who Uther killed when Morgana was little and then fell in love with Igraine (and raped her and married her). 15 years ago Uther banished Morgana (who was then about 15 years old) to a convent “for her education” (I’m not commenting on the stupidity of this statement because if I start commenting on the stupidity we’ll be here for eternity), his only child and sole heir, and she has now, unexpectedly returned.

Uther: What are you doing here?
Morgana (wearing a giant cross on her chest): I’ve come to give you my forgiveness, for my mother’s death.
Uther: *hits Morgana so hard across the face she falls down and practically chokes on her own blood*

Igraine lookes D: at this but does nothing, Morgana refers to her by saying something like “oh, I see you’ve still got your whore with you” to Uther has her taken away. Later Morgana uses magic to transform herself to… a girl who looks a version of her 15 year old self (not commenting on the stupidity, remember!) and covertly poisons Uther while he has one of his nightly drunken orgies (and I do mean that literally) in the main hall/throne room by slipping something into his soup (that is why you don’t eat soup at an orgy!).

As this happens we get shots of Merlin running across the English countryside. Running, running, running (it doesn’t occur to Merlin to procure a horse). He arrives as Uther’s on his deathbed, and as the king is dying (and Igraine is sobbing annoyingly) Merlin pulls out a piece of paper with some writing on it and has the Uther “sign” it, in fact signing it for him, and then takes Uther’s ring (certifying his kinghood?) and storms out. In fact this is a document falsifying the legitimacy of of Arthur’s birth, a son conceived by Igraine and Uther before they were married, when Uther was besotted with the wife of his enemy and Merlin changed him into Igraine’s husband and they had a mad night of passion (with Igraine not knowing it was Uther). Shortly after that Igraine’s husband is killed and Uther “claims her, as the wife of the loser”. Throughout all of this, btw, it’s heavily implied that Uther’s actions constitute rape (that word is actually used!) since Igraine didn’t consent to have sex with him, and Uther is overall a disgusting, violent “barbarian” who you know, has orgies and beats up his daughter.

Once Uther is dead Morgana moves in. She’s the heir and therefore the queen! She reorganizes stuff and banishes Igraine.
Igraine (dismayed, as usual): “What did I ever do to you?”
Morgana: “Nothing. That’s the point. You stood by and did nothing.”
Igraine (looks away): “A wife does not question her husband.”
Morgana: *looks away, disgusted*
Igraine was Morgana’s step mom for at least 5 years (Morgana, like the rest of the kingdom, is unaware of Arthur’s existence and Igraine’s pregnancy).

At this point, if you’re thinking “OK, that sounds like a really interesting show full of interesting characters!” you’re sort of right (I mean, I forgive you because you didn’t actually hear the dialogue or see what anyone was wearing). Let’s move on though.

To help her rule, since Morgana has no army or troops, she summons her dad’s oldest enemy, King Lot. Lot is an even bigger barbarian than Uther (there must have been yearly contests) but Morgana doesn’t really mind and happily jumps into bed and political alliance with him (no marriage though! Shh, stupidity).

Meanwhile, Merlin makes his way to Smallville. Er, I mean, random farm with 5 sheep and 4 people. A family lives here! Whose names we’ll never know. We meet Arthur, 20, blond farm boy, having sex in the woods with someone who looks like she just stepped out of playboy (blond, perfectly clean, perfectly straight and combed hair, no body hair, a nice California tan). She comments on his Latin lessons (shh!). He is retrieved by his brother Kay (which I still hold out hope is short for Katherine) who chastises him for always thinking about girls when there’s a creepy visitor waiting for him at home.

Arthur comes home to meet Merlin! Who tells him that he’s the next king of all Britain and the son of the recently deceased king Uther. Martha and Jon His step parents verify the story. Arthur takes a few minutes to take all of this in and then there are scenes so poorly acted I had to block them out where they all ~deal joyfully with this news~ and then Arthur says that he’ll come with Merlin but only if his parents let him take Kay with him. Considering he’s depriving them of their only other child, the parents are THRILLED (clearly Kay is a total loser and they hate his guts) and everyone hugs and dances like Arthur just won the lottery (and not, say, had a target painted on his forehead).

They set out! The penis brigade! Arthur, Merlin and Kay! Along the way there are many stupid scenes I’d rather forget including a point where Arthur’s peeing and a dude jumpes on him from the bushes yelling his name and Arthur kills him (farmboy = amazing swordsman), this later turns out to be Lot’s eldest son. I just. I’m not even gonna comment.

So they get to Camelot, that is COMPLETELY overgrown with weeds and full of dust and dirt (we never find out which castle Morgana’s actually at, but from other scenes it seems it’s basically right next door). Camelot btw is balanced on the edge of a clif. Later Arthur has a party and plays chicken with Gweneviere where they both stand on the ledge of the balcony overlooking the water (J and I prayed loudly that they fall down).

This is a castle built by Romans! There is Latin writing inside (which Arthur can read because he knows Latin!) This serves no purpose other than to show us how cool and “right” Arthur is, since all things Roman are super cool, ancient, everlasting and morally correct (we’ll get to more of this later).

So, Arthur and company set up house in Camelot, which is full of people dying to pledge their loyalty to Arthur upon his arrival (no we never find out why people would wanna do that, and I am SAYING NOTHING OKAY?) and more people (knights? They’re not called knights) arrive every day. They’ve heard Arthur is going to be a very different kind of king and they’re here for that. Merlin tells him at some point that they’re all going to build “a kingdom of hope and honor. A beacon of light to which people from all over the world will flock!” Because I guess Britain is desperate for immigrants? And also Merlin apparently knows lots about honor, being the dude who helped a guy have sex with some woman without her consent and then stole her baby.

Oh yeah, turns out in payment for this favor of disguising Uther Merlin asked for the child. The scene we get of this is Igraine sitting fully dressed in her room (supposedly at least a week or whatever after the birth) being held by 4 dudes while Merlin grabs the infant out of her hands and she sobs.

Later, Igraine apologizes for this, for being not good enough as a mother (I JUST DON’T EVEN KNOW, BUT I HOPE YOU CAN HEAR BY BLOOD BOILING FROM WAY OVER THERE) to Arthur and tries to gently befriend Merlin, from her position of being ~unworthy~.

If, at this point, you’re thinking, “OK, I’d like to see a show about Morgana kicking the shit out of these douchebags, Merlin especially, and deal with Igraine and how she’s been fucked over and oppressed and Arthur who’s kind of clueless and incompetent in all this.” So would I, dear reader! So would I.

Unfortunately this is the story of how Arthur and all his good men vanquish Morgana (not that there’s much to vanquish, really, as by the end of episode two Lot is dead and Morgana loses her castle and has no supporters) and how Igraine learns to make amends for not being “good enough” and remains her “kind, gentle” self and serves as a mother to Arthur and the “emotional center” of Camelot (she’s the only woman there, so).

THERE IS SO MUCH DUDE DRAMA ON THIS SHOW. SO MUCH. Oh and also rape, rape, rape. Torture and sexual assault of women. Morgana is wrong and evil and must be cast out for the true light to come! What true light? Why is she evil? There is never an explanation for this. All we get is what I’ve told you. Morgana is a girl who’s been abused and banished, who comes back despite all the odds, who claws her way to what’s legally hers (since Arthur is both younger and illegitimate and she’s been the undisputed heir forever!) and we are meant to hate her and root against her. For reasons I… just don’t know.

That’s she evil because she’s a woman and she dresses in black and has ambition and isn’t very nice to everyone? Because she’s beautiful and powerful? I… I don’t know. I just. Look, there is always lots of patriarchy in my media, but I just. This level of sexism is unheard of. UNHEARD OF and a COMPLETE AND UTTER DISGRACE as far as I’m concerned. I sincerely hope the creators never work on anything again. Ever. I hope their hands never touch ink or a camera. BANISHED, I SAY.

(We are never going to find out what Morgana’s mom’s name was, I would put money on this.)

Let’s talk about how Arthur gets the sword out of the stone. There is no Lady of the Lake, I mean, I hope you’ve already guessed as much? There’s a girl quota on this show and it’s been filled. So, the sword is stuck at the head of a really high waterfall. “They say it used to belong to Mars,” says Merlin. I will give you a few minutes to ponder that statement.

So, Arthur retrieves the sword in a sequence made of pure stupidity and a coronation follows. Arthur is crowned by a priest (who wears a completely WTF outfit), because occasionally we remember all these people are actually Christians, apparently, not that that plays any role whatsoever re: witchcraft, btw. The priest bestows upon Arthur “the sword of the Gods” to “go forth and protect the Gospels”.

I’m going to give you a few minutes to truly ponder that statement. OK, are we done? Good.

Before this happens, we have the first meeting between Morgana and Arthur. A dude comes to Morgana’s castle and says that Arthur, legit son of Uther has arrived at Camelot and everyone should go see him there. Morgana inexplicably takes Lot and rushes right over (is she gonna jump for every moron who makes these claims?). She looks Arthur over and decides he’s not Uther’s son. Out comes (the banished) Igraine and goes “nope! I recognize him! He’s my son!” Because a woman will recognize her child who she hasn’t seen since infancy 20 years later. In an instant. That’s just how motherhood womanhood works.

Later Arthur accuses Igraine of being a bad mom for “giving him up” and she says that Uther forbade her from ever speaking of him, nevermind going out and searching for him, but she’s thought of him every single day. She apologizes, he tries to be understanding. At no point is any blame put on Uther, in any way, nor does Igraine feel like she’s done wrong by Morgana as well.

Arthur and Gweneveire is a really sad, stupid tale. He has dreams of a naked blond chick on a beach and then he’s on a beach and lo, a semi-clothed chick! He finds her at a party later and hits on her and just as they’re about to get it on her husband walks in, an OC who’s been the Mary Sue du jour and helping Arthur with everything and being his best knight and loyal servant. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatever.

Lot and Morgana fight a bit and Lot strips Morgana in public and bends her over something and only stops himself from raping her because she starts yelling “go on, do it! assert your manhood! I’m ready, do it!” Instead her ties her up in a field, arms over her head, tied to a pole, and leaves her there for 24 hours. When he comes back I thought he’d rape her right there, but instead he just orders her on a horse. After this she betrays his plans to Arthur (why? Why not wait for him to kill Arthur and then kill Lot herself? She sleep with him and his sword is right there, there’s a scene in the beginning where she holds it to his throat as he sleeps) and Lot is killed in battle at Camelot. So are Arthur’s step parents (who are there for no particular reason), his mother dies a victim, his father a hero, of course.

Every time Arthur and Morgana meet Arthur is the picture of kindness and Morgana is evil and mean. “We don’t have to fight!” Arthur says. “Don’t fight me! Don’t cause more death!” Morgana says, “I have no choice but to fight you. For you this is nothing, for me it’s everything.”

Somehow, after that dialogue, we’re meant to be rooting for the boy.

Eva Green is easily the best Morgana I’ve ever seen, Joseph Fiennes’ Merlin is fucked up and weird and interesting in terms of physical portrayal (he is seriously the creepiest thing on that show). Wasted, wasted, wasted. My favorite ironic scene, I think, is how Arthur keeps going on about he’s going to be a different kind of king. “This will not be my kingdom,” he says to the crowd, “but our kingdom!” And then in the same breath appoints his step dad, step brother, and BFF to be the highest placed and most powerful men of his government. A DIFFERENT KIND OF KING INDEED, EH?

Anyway, that’s all details. The main thing is the utter disgrace.

And now, a WTF picspam of clothing.

Lot likes to wear Morgana’s clothes as his lounging-at-home outfit.

Clows to the right of me and jokers to the left…

Igraine was banished and so decided to take the earliest wagon out of the castle. No, really.

Arthur made a pretty flower for his cloak in art class.

IDEK what the fuck Merlin is wearing, but his cape is made of leather. He is wearing a leather cape.

Morgana’s earrings and the rest of everyone’s jewelry on this show. IDK if I love it or hate it. It’s pretty! But sort of stylistically WTF?

Morgana’s random headgear, I just don’t even know.

Camelot. No, really.

Arthur wears a tshirt to his (step) mom’s funeral and then strolls along the beach.

Gwen was just randomly strolling on the beach too. Alone. As you will.

Episode two Merlin. Scarf, different bizarre cape lacing. Leather cape.

Arthur’s step dad likes rhinestones on his shirt.

How Morgana typically looks strolling around her own throne room.

More tshirts!

Lot apparently wears Morgana’s robe outside as well, with some fur thrown over to keep himself warm.

Tshirts for everyone! Also I don’t even know what to say about that shoulder sash thing.

More rhinestones for Merlin.

The priest crowning Arthur. Wearing… a math inspired outfit.

Arthur’s throne, in the middle of the yard, looking like a chair from your dentist’s waiting room.

Gwen at the party. Scrunchy for her braid, headband, and the strap on her dress that seems to be made of a metal spring.

OK I’m sorry I just really love this necklace.


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