OK, so, this episode…was it supposed to come off the way it did?
See, something about the way this episode is written struck me a certain way, and I don’t think it was intentional. So, let’s get the basic plot out of the way: Arthur and Gwen are mutually smitten, Morgana sets them up to get caught while they are out on a date, Uther can’t believe Arthur is smitten with a servant, Morgana makes it look like Arthur was enchanted, Gwen is set to be executed, and Merlin makes himself much older to pretend he was the enchanter and Gwen was innocent. That more or less works, Gwen goes free, but she knows even more now that Morgana is evil.
Why does Morgana want Gwen dead now? Her beef is still with Uther Child-Killer.
I told you I am not letting that go.
Anyway, here’s what jumped out at me. Now, Merlin has had a number of cast members who are people of color, mostly as background or minor characters, but the one big exception there is Gwen. Actress Angel Coulby is black. So, whenever it came up that Uther didn’t approve of Arthur being smitten with Gwen, yes for political purposes so Arthur can marry some princess somewhere, I kept hearing Uther say he didn’t see how Arthur could love Gwen, and under questioning Gwen more or less says to Uther’s face that he can’t understand love, and even ancient Merlin suggests Arthur marrying Gwen would be a disgrace to Camelot. Now, that’s Merlin playing off Uther’s own issues, but even though the subtext was Uther was seeing Gwen as a servant, and we have seen black actors playing knights and other nobles on the show, I kept thinking there was a racial angle involved. I know the history of black people in Britain is much different than it is for black people in America, but it did seem as if the series was somehow suggesting Uther was racist against more than magic-users.
Of course, Uther is prejudiced against magic users. That was made plain in the very first episode of the series. I was wondering during this one whether or not the series was intentionally saying he was racist on top of everything else.
Then again, I did get to see Merlin-in-disguise tell Uther off a bit, and that must have been satisfying. I know Morgana is basically evil now, but Uther, well, he’s not a good man, and I can’t bring myself to worry over his fate at all.
As it is, I think we’ll be seeing Arthur crowned king fairly soon.