Episode 02: Review 1×01 The Dragon’s Call

cover art in which Merlin wears a headset with microphone and holds up a finger to his lips as if to tell you to be quiet

In today’s episode, MissSnowfox and Momo talk about the pilot episode of BBC’s Merlin, “The Dragon’s Call”.

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  • First aired 20 Sept 2008
  • 5 female characters (with lines)
    • 2 main cast (Gwen, Morgana)
    • 3 supporting cast (Mary Collins, Lady Helen, Serving girl)
    • 1 more if you count Hunith in the flashback with the voice over
  • 4 male characters (with lines)
    • 4 main cast (Arthur, Merlin, Gaius, Uther)
  • Enemy/Monster of the Week: Mary Collins, shapeshifting
  • Merlin kills 1 person (Mary Collins)

3 thoughts on “Episode 02: Review 1×01 The Dragon’s Call

  1. I started a Merlin re-watch before I listened to this episode of Merlisten and I noticed that the elder Collins practices a lot of what would be considered dark magic (draining the life force from a victim completely; committing murder through the use of dolls; etc) in that episode. And she was quite comfortable with it. The dark magic came to her naturally, and that surprised me more when I watched the episode the second time around than it did when I watched it for the first time. I didn’t notice it as much the first time. It surprised me because she also claimed that Uther was the one evil in the realm and while I’m not disagreeing on the matter of his oppressive nature and tyranny, it does make me speculate about her prior magical practices a lot more.

    Was she practicing dark magic before her son was ever executed?

    It makes me wonder whether her son had practiced dark magic as well. It makes me wonder what sort of magic he’d been practicing when he’d been caught and sentenced to death before the episode began. Lawfully, it wouldn’t matter, but morally? That is a different question.

    We have Morgana claiming Collins wasn’t using magic harmfully, but we didn’t see whether that was true and I doubt he’d performed magic in front of her to enable her to make that judgement for sure. Making specifications about the kind of magic used wouldn’t have mattered to Uther, so it leaves me wondering whether the kind of magic Collins had practiced was discussed openly, or whether it was just labeled as “magic” in general and nothing more? I have lots of questions about what led to that sequence of events now!

    MissSnowFox: I agree wholeheartedly; Merlin became a manservant too fast. The pacing for earning his position in the household was all wrong, and it didn’t leave him time to determine that Arthur wasn’t 100% an ass and did deserve his position as a Prince – not because he was born into nobility, but because he was honest and courageous. Because he did put the people he served before himself when it counted most. The people of Camelot don’t just serve the nobility; Arthur and his father serve them as well in their own way, though Uther wouldn’t see it quite like that.

    The development of the relationship between Merlin and Arthur would have been more natural had their mutual antagonism been given time to simmer, stew, and steep with the flavours of their good traits and bad – not to mention their experiences – until their beautiful and profound relationship unfolded at last.

    I also agree on how shippable all the ships were in Season One – but I’ll admit I didn’t start shipping Merthur until Season Two. Season One gave me far too blatant shipper signs for Arthur and Morgana – which frustrated the heck out of me because I knew Arthur and Morgana would end up being siblings, because of the legend. So I had sharp pangs of guilt and shame throughout Season One for shipping the heck out of Arthur and Morgana and all of that distracted me from the growing shipper signs of Merthur.

    And Kilgharrah! Don’t get me started on Kilgharrah! I hate him. Like, part of me wants so much to believe in their shared destiny, but another part is suspicious as all heck. That Dragon was held captive for two decades and he had a LONG time to plan his revenge against the Pendragon clan. What could be a better revenge than worming magic back into the household and using his influence to ensure the line would never continue? What could be a better revenge than casting one sibling against the other and wiping them both from the earth in the same sweep? Part of me is afraid that Kilgharrah used Merlin for his own nefarious purposes deliberately, and Merlin was too naive and trusting and never the wiser.

    What I did love about the episode is that one brief instant where Merlin had Arthur in his arms and succeeded in saving Arthur, which was revisited in the last episode of Season Five when Merlin had Arthur in his arms and failed to do the same. It was a beautiful and heartbreaking parallel.

    Lastly, I’m looking forward to catching up on these podcasts. I love Merlisten so far!

  2. Well, I have to disagree with you on the rapidity of the storyline in this episode. I thought it was just right because Merlin’s coming to a new place with all these new people that he has to deal with and the introduction of characters from his POV would be quick. I love love love that he’s made a manservant at the end of the first episode, throwing him into the deep end of the pool before he can really settle in and know what he’s doing. It feels like it’s meant that the audience would feel that things were going too fast because, for Merlin, they were.
    Loved Merlin’s cheek with Arthur. Coming from a small village, I would think he wouldn’t know how to deal with royalty and the fact that he doesn’t back down give the audience a hint of just how naive he is (and how much trouble he’ll get into because of it).
    Other things I loved about the episode was the way they played with Arthurian legend and the little hints of what was to come with Gwen and Morgana’s characters.
    Also I loved that the first thing we see is Merlin going down the dusty road and it’s filmed on the Ridgeway which is a trail used for over 5000 years. It’s England’s oldest road! Their choices for locations have always made me smile and often there is just that extra piece of history in it.
    I fell in love with this show with the very first episode and it remains one of my favorites.

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