Merlin: Lancelot

“The First Code is a sacred bond of trust. It is what binds the knights together. How can you trust a man who's lied to you?”

'Lancelot' is the classic tale of a poor peasant catalogue model, who dreams of being a knight of Camelot, gets picked on by the mean nobles because he's poor, but ultimately proves his worth by slaying the mighty CGI beast that is terrorizing the kingdom.

I think I would've enjoyed this episode more if there had been an interesting character at the centre of the story. Lancelot is one of the most famous characters in Arthurian myth. He's also one of the most boring. I really don't like using that term Mary Sue. It's used far too often by people who don't really understand what it really means to attack any female character they don't like. But that said, I can't help but see Lancelot as something of a Mary Sue character.

Lancelot is the bestest, most handsomest, noblest, bravest knight in all the land. Santiago Cabrera tries his best, but Lancelot is a bore. A strikingly handsome bore, but a bore nonetheless. The show completely fails to do anything fresh or original with the character. About the only thing that was ever interesting about the character was his forbidden love affair with Guinevere. But since Gwen and Arthur are no where near being a couple yet, this episode doesn't even have that to fall back on.

The best thing about the whole Lancelot situation is that it brings Arthur and Uther into conflict again. I love it when Arthur stands up to his father. You see, Camelot is really no different from 21st century Britain. The nobility is at the top living a life of luxury, and the plebs are at the bottom, struggling to make ends meet. To be a knight of Camelot, it's not about how good you are with a sword, but how many titles your daddy holds. Arthur doesn't see it that way. Since he's the one who does all the fighting, he values skill above prestige. But Uther is a stickler for the old ways. Nobles come first. The plebs can just bugger off. Doesn't matter that Lancelot is a better fighter than most of nobility. He's a devoted conservative. Unwilling to upset the established order of things, even if it would be beneficial to his kingdom. Even after Lancelot kills the beast and saves the kingdom he can't look past the fact he broke the code.

Familiar Faces

Santiago Cabrera is still probably best known for playing the guy who painted the future (I'm almost certain that was his character's name) on Heroes.

Merthur Moments

Very little. Merlin and Arthur are both too busy crushing on Lancelot to stare longingly at each other.

Notes and Quotes

--To celebrate Lancelot becoming a knight, Camelot held yet another feast. The place is quickly giving Mystic Falls a run for its money.

--The court genealogist is named Geoffrey of Monmouth. The real Geoffrey of Monmouth was a 12th century cleric most famous for writing Historia Regum Britanniae (“The History of the Kings of Britain”), the text which first introduced many to the legend of King Arthur.

--Not surprisingly, Lancelot and Gwen are clearly attracted to each other. For once she's not nervously checking out Merlin.

--The young Arthur battled with a griffin in T.H. White's The Once And Future King.

--Uther, why don't you listen to Gaius? Haven't you realised yet that he is never wrong? That's why 95% of his dialogue is exposition.

--Lancelot first appeared in writer Chr├ętien de Troyes' Erec and Enide. He becomes the protagonist in Chr├ętien's Le Chevalier de la Charrette, which also introduced his adulterous relationship with Guinevere.

--In most versions of the legend, Lancelot was a noblemen. He was the son of King Ban of Benwick and his wife, Elaine. While he was an infant, Lancelot was carried off and raised by the Lady of the Lake, earning the surname, du lac (of the lake).

Uther: "I see you feel strongly about this, Arthur. Under the circumstances, a pardon perhaps..."
Arthur: "No. Not good enough, father. You must restore Lancelot to his rightful place as a knight of Camelot."
Uther: "Never. The law is the law. The Code bends for no man!"
Arthur: "Then the Code is wrong!"

Arthur: "I should have known. How could I have been so stupid? You don't sound like a knight. You don't even look like a knight!"
Lancelot: "I'm sorry."
Arthur: "I'm sorry too. Because, Lancelot, you fight like a knight."

Gwen: "Lancelot, I don't believe I've ever met your like before."
Lancelot: "Guinevere, if I should not return..."
Gwen: "Don't go, Lancelot. Please."
Lancelot: "But go I must."
--I'm surprised they were both able to say all that with straight faces.

Gaius: "You bent the rules. Using magic?"
Merlin: "It was nothing, honestly. More of a trick than actual magic."

Merlin: "Well, I think I might be able to help."
Arthur: "You? You haven't the faintest idea what it takes to be a knight. Courage. Fortitude. Discipline."
Merlin: "No. No, of course I don't. But I do know someone who does."
Arthur: "Yeah?"
Merlin: "He saved my life."
Arthur: "That's blown it for starters."

Two and half out of four strikingly handsome bores.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

4 comments:

Nox said...

I'll be honest, this my least favorite out of the entire series and, in my opinion, its weakest. I usually skip it simply because I can't stomach the painfully cliche dialogue and plotline. I enjoy watching Arthur get powned and Merlin finally having someone discover his magic, but other than that, the entire episode is just too painful.

Nevertheless, wonderful review. I look forward to reading them. :)

Sooze said...

Mark, I love these reviews. Very funny.

"Lancelot is the bestest, most handsomest, noblest, bravest knight in all the land." I expected you to end that sentence with "...so there", and stick out your tongue.

"Very little. Merlin and Arthur are both too busy crushing on Lancelot to stare longingly at each other." HA! Love your Merthur moments.


"Uther, why don't you listen to Gaius? Haven't you realized yet that he is never wrong? That's why 95% of his dialogue is exposition."

So true.

Mark Greig said...

So happy to hear that you're enjoying the Merlin reviews, guys.

Palesa Floret said...

That's because Lancelot is. All of a sudden you have the very best knight to replace Arthur who pre Lancelot was a capable warrior. He went from a probably middle aged warrior king into an old one that Gwen married. Though in the earlier tales they were around the same age and she was known for her faithfulness to Arthur. That and he ups Gwain who was one of the best knights.