10.10.2012

Black Girls' Night Out: Queen Guinevere

Arthur's Bane, Part 1

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

9 comments:

  1. A thousand welcomes to our new "Merlin" correspondent Strange Sista. The pictures are awesome!!!

    I have to go watch the ep; I didn't think it was out yet!

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    1. Okay, watched it, LOVED it.

      This is an excellent season opening. I like that it flashes forward three years and Guinevere has grown to be a capable, impressive Queen. This was some good writing here. She's fleshed out, and looking fabulous in literally every scene. *applause*

      However - and this has nothing to do with Guinevere - is anyone tired of the "we've been betrayed" meme? It's been done to death on the show. We get it already; Camelot is full back-stabbing traitors. Um...okay.

      You're telling me this is the best the writers can do with Arthurian legend, considering all the amazing folklore and mythology on that island? Really?

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    2. I swear they have so many traitors among their group. You think they would have learned from the past four-five years. But yeah, this story has been done to death. I just rolled my eyes when Sifa left the castle.

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    3. Why isn't Merlin dosing the water supply with some sort of truth serum? Why isn't the castle enchanted against folks who intend to do harm?

      Why doesn't Arthur practice some serious vetting? *blink* WTF?

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    4. 1) Yeah I'm over the servant double agent storyline.

      2) I didn't realize they had jumped ahead 3 years so that probably explains why we didn't see much of their marriage because this is business as usual.

      3) Can I just say: THE QUEEN IS FLAWLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      4) Fuck Sifa. I don't see her getting got but if she does, GOOD!!!!! Gwen is compassionate as all get out but the fact remains, Sifa's treacherous ass not only went against her kingdom but she damn near got her brother and her husband (her only remaining family) killed. The Queen is putting mofos on notice. She is not here for your foolishness. Fuck with her man, and she's gonna fuck you up.

      And anybody shedding tears over Sifa, I just got one question. Where the fuck were you all at when Gwen's father was executed.

      5) Also, I want to stress something most important. DAYUM! THE QUEEN IS FLAWLESS.

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    5. Having seen part 2 I gotta say the queen is amazing. Her thinking was superb and quite honestly I didn't think Sifa's father would let her rot in prison. And I know Gwen is not cruel--she is fair given the existing system. And I haven't forgotten about her father. Man didn't do a thing wrong but was he given a fair trial? Hell no. Gwen herself has almost been led to the guillotine and she was hardly allowed to defend herself.

      I just don't like how many of the female villains are just weak, esp compared to male villains. Even Mordred seems to regard Morgana as crazy/fallen off the right path. She just has this unending desire for revenge, but for what really? I can understand that she didn't have quite the support system that Merlin does. So if circumstances had been diff it would be Morgana who is "good" and Merlin who is "bad." But the way she is currently portrayed lacks complexity for me. There doesn't seem to be much rateable about her that you couldn't already ascribe to Merlin. She's just very sad. She didn't need to be a villain. And there were times she resisted the impulse. But it seems that in order for Merlin to be as great as her foretold but others in the magic community he must have someone who is necessarily evil, even if in a misguided manner. But maybe that person is supposed to be Mordred rather than Morgana. (I assumed the two of them would work together.) Mordred's role is still to be seen.

      I thought finally she could be put to rest but I suppose she is still a necessary element of the narrative. But even the good/stupid people, i.e. Arthur, show a similar unwillingness to evolve in their given tactics and philosophy. Arthur is just so stupid and I feel in some ways Merlin's role within the narrative cripples his ability to be more resourceful and just make smarter/balanced decisions.

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  2. Ther are a lot of things that I enjoy about about Merlin but their creative and imaginative storytelling isn't one of 'em. Hopefully we'll see something else for the rest of the season but yeah... According to the promos this year though there isn't going to another big invasion, thank goodness.

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    1. Thank goodness, indeed.

      And to hell with all those commenters saying it was unlike her to sentence a woman to death - WTF??? What a crock of shit!

      Put me in charge of a city and let me find out somebody got a bunch of my people (possibly) killed, including my husband. Good, sweet nature be damned - best believe someone's going to fry for that ish.

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