When knight patrols disappear in the icy north and King Arthur is missing it's up to Queen Guinevere to hold down the fort and save the day. Thus far she is doing a wonderful job and looks stunning while doing it.
The episode opens with Merlin running desperately through the palace searching for someone or something that cannot be found. Finally he reports to Arthur that he cannot find the queen anywhere. Arthur reminds him that she must be found because council cannot start without the queen and it only gets better from there.
Much of this first episode is spent showing us Queen Guinevere's importance to the ruling and running of Camelot. She sits on the council, participates and contributes secret strategy sessions, her contributions are valued, respected and acted upon. When King Arthur has to leave with a party of knights to investigate the disappearance of his men Queen Guinevere is in charge.
Sir Elyan along with his sister is also given more screen time. The siblings' relationship seems to be well established at this point and it is Elyan who reports Arthur's disappearance directly to the queen when the king's party is attacked.
Guinevere and the talents and abilities that are unique to her, are on full display in this episode and well utilized. We see her kindness, her sweetness and her skill of observation on full display. This is shown in her interactions with her personal handmaid Sifa. It is said often that when you want to spy on royals and nobles send a servant, nobody ever notices a servant. Not so for Queen Guinevere. Guinevere is very concerned with her handmaiden Sifa. She wants to be sure that the girl is settling in, comfortable, not overworked and perhaps to feel that Sifa can confide in her. When Sifa is shown pining after Merlin, Queen Guinevere notices, empathizes with the girl and offers encouragement. When Sifa appears to slip out of the palace the Queen again notices and thinks fondly of the days when she could not talk about her love. When the king's party is ambushed it is because of this kindness, empathy and observation that Guinevere is able to deduce that her handmaiden Sifa is the traitor.
Guinevere is swift and decisive in dealing with treachery. She brings the girl for trial and goads her into confessing. With the confession given and not before, Sifa is sentenced to death. It remains to be seen whether or not the girl will be executed. The episode drew many intentional parallels between handmaiden Guinevere and handmaiden Sifa. The parallels when coupled with the quick resolution of the plotline suggest there is more to the story.
There was very little of the royal marriage itself on display in this episode. In spite of some of the past mistakes in this romance, Angel Coubly's chemistry with Bradley James, the tenderness between the two in their romantic scenes and the slow gradual build of the relationship have made me a fan. I was a bit disappointed to not see that side of this relationship in full flower. However, I think it was more important to establish Guinevere as queen for the viewers first, married woman second.
The producers have made a lot of noise during the promotional period about multi-stranded storylines, giving the show a more mature and darker feel and they've even admitted that preferencing Arthur and Merlin's friendship over pretty much everything else was an error. Establishing Guinevere as Queen with a storyline separate and apart from the men that is also essential to Camelot's continued safety is a big step in the right direction. I find I am looking forward to more.
There has been much debate amongst Gwen's fans as to whether or not it was morally right to sentence Sifa to death for her treachery. There is a viable argument for whether or not the death penalty itself is morally right or morally reprehensible and the seeming continuation of King Uther's ruthless policies is certainly not something that I want to see with Queen Guinevere. However, that is not the case. Sifa is given a trial, she confesses to her crimes without torture I might add. The charges are not for sorcery, though motivations stem from persecution of magic users, but rather treachery and regicide. It is for treachery and attempted regicide that Sifa is sentenced to die and I find the punishment just.
Others that dissent are focused on Guinevere's kind, loving and sweet nature saying the act is out of character. I sense that many viewers find a Queen Guinevere who is willing to exercise her full authority and be dangerous, ruthless and sweet all at the same time a bit disconcerting. I love it and I am excited to see more.
While I think that Sifa may not be executed, I look forward to the portrayal of a Queen that is a whole person rather than a limited ideal of a woman and that is what I love about this part of the storyline. We are getting a woman who is not a paragon of goodness but wise, kind, merciful, thoughtful, ruthless, cunning, shrewd, persevering and willing to wield her power as she sees fit in defense of herself, her family, her friends, her subjects, her nation and her vision of the future. All hail Queen Guinevere.
And before we go I did say she looked stunning?
Second picture is sourced here.
Other pictures are promo pics taken from adoringangelcoulby.net