Normally I don’t review weekly programming but when the Biblical symbolism is so blatant, one can hardly blame me for picking up on it. Last night I sat through the third episode of Camelot and in-between my fascination with Morgana and hoping Merlin will pull a few magic tricks out of the hat at some point, I was struck how much the storyline seems to be borrowing from the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba.
In this episode, Guinevere is set to marry Leontes but due to pillaging of her family home, she and her household are forced to take refuge in the battered castle of Camelot. Merlin and Igraine encourage them to marry believing it will lift the spirits of all within the household, but Arthur is not too keen on that idea — he has been having erotic dreams about Guinevere and is becoming convinced she is meant to be his wife, not Leontes’. Becoming increasingly stubborn and dismissive of Merlin’s advice, he encourages Guinevere to meet him on the beach, which leads to an inevitable twist in which she must now deceive Leontes on their wedding night into believing she maintains her virtue. However, as the marital bonds are read, Merlin picks up on Arthur’s jealousy and resentment…
In the meantime, Morgan plays nice with her brother and invites him to her castle, as well as employing a new maidservant. She gains the upper hand over Merlin, who warns her repeatedly that meddling with dark supernatural forces will cost her dearly, but much in the same vein of her brother’s stubbornness, Morgan dismisses his advice.
Arthur is an interesting character — in most adaptations of the classic story, he is made out to be the hero and rightfully so, thus a somewhat bratty interpretation of him always strikes me the wrong way. BBC’s Merlin went that route, of making him a petty, arrogant brat always in need of Merlin’s interference in making certain he does not get killed. This Arthur is even less likable — the first couple of episodes found him pretty humble if certainly conniving and immoral (he stole his brother’s girl behind his back!), but at least he was willing to listen to Merlin. It seems that pulling the sword from the stone — an incredible feat at the best of times — gave him an attitude adjustment. Well, power and fame will do that to you. He seems to have forgotten that without Merlin’s advice, the sword would still be in the stone. The only reason he is king at all is because Merlin put him there. Now that everyone is bowing and scraping to him, and treating him like a god, Arthur is starting to act like one — never mind that Leontes was the first of the knights to swear to serve him, never mind that Guinevere is betrothed to another, never mind that Leontes risks his life every day for the preservation of Camelot. Arthur sees the beautiful Guinevere and wants her — so he convinces her to give herself to him, and now they all must deal with the consequences — the mess.
Sound familiar? It should. The original story is found in scripture in which King David sees a woman bathing on a nearby rooftop and invites her to the palace, where he sleeps with her. Never mind that her husband is serving in his military forces and owns nothing else of worth apart from his wife. Never mind her husband has sworn to protect and defend the kingdom. Never mind that David has no right to lay claim to another’s wife. He does it anyway, as does Arthur. Then comes the deception — his attempt to cover up the resulting pregnancy. Guinevere meanwhile has to cover up her lack of virginity. What will the consequences be? For David, it was a sound telling-off by a Prophet… I see in previews for next week that Merlin is assuming the role of the Prophet and is going to continue to berate Arthur for his behavior… and dark consequences. I don’t think Arthur will murder Leontes but I suspect at some point Guinevere’s innocent husband will either perish or learn the truth. And then Arthur will have bigger problems to deal with than his sister.
On that note, Arthur is an idiot to trust Morgan. I know he craves family and to know more about his ancestry, but cuddling up to your diabolical sorceress sister is not the smartest thing he has ever done. Even so, I was a bit stunned that Merlin would be so taken in by it, for a person who entered that castle under a cloud of suspicion, he certainly overdosed on the wine-laced-with-knockout-drugs. Particularly considering Morgan was sitting there smiling at him the entire time. Whenever a woman who has formerly threatened your torture and death is being nice to you, it is best to stay on your guard and have her drink everything she offers you first. But ah well, unfortunately characters in television shows never have the foresight the audience does.