Episode 08: Ship: Merlin/Arthur [Part 1]

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 biggest ship in fandom, Merlin/Arthur, aka Merthur.

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Find the stream or download options for this episode below the cut. We apologise for the occasionally spotty sound quality – we’re working to resolve that issue in future episodes!

This episode turned out to be SO LONG that we had to split it into two parts. We’re posting part 1 (a look at canon!Merthur) today, and part 2 (fanon!Merthur) next Sunday. Nevertheless, this episode runs at roughly 1h 45min. We apologise for that length but we really didn’t want to split it into three parts :/.

Download here [Right click, save as]


News:

Merlin Art Fest signups extended
Reel Merlin mandatory check in
Winter Knights masterlist
Merlin Forever’s Rewatch

Resources:

A.R.’s comment on Episode 04: Character Study: Merlin
Merlisten Episode 01 on our own personal fandom history
Rox’ post on why the magic reveal should’ve come at the end of S4

Mentioned Fanworks

The Crown of the Summer Court, written by astolat, podficced by FayJay
Truth is a Whisper, written by seperis
Privileges of Rank, also written by seperis
Only but a Dream, fanart by littleskrib
End of Series Graphic with quotes, by unknown creator [account has been deactivated]
Arthur returns, fanart by zeiruin
Stories, graphic by sirmerlin (prev. bradleymorgans)

6 thoughts on “Episode 08: Ship: Merlin/Arthur [Part 1]

  1. I’m finally all caught up and I loved this episode!

    Right now Merthur is my no.1 OTP but, even so, I as well as misssnowfox at first wasn’t even aware that slash pairings were a ‘thing’ and when I realized it, it was because of an anime I watched and when I got into contact with that fandom that I realized that it was something people did and enjoyed and created content about it. I wasn’t really all that ‘shocked’, to put it in some way, since even though my family is catholic, I’ve always had my issues with some things about religion. It doesn’t take away that I was skeptical about it, and while I didn’t think it ‘ruined’ the show, it wasn’t also something I looked for and because of that I used to stay in the more neutral part of it.
    Of course as with all things, I rapidly went down that rabbit hole and now here I am.
    I loved hearing both of your opinions on the canon aspects of the ship and it just got me thinking again of how at some point you were talking about ‘seeing’ or ‘understanding’ what the producers, etc want you to see and I was thinking again about how translations can influence that even more. In Latin America, sadly, homophobia is a still latent and ‘common’ thing still, it’s not as bad as it used to be but because of this a lot of the things when they’re translated are made to look/heard/seen as strictly hetero as possible. Of course the acting and whatever influences the watching experience but some quotes translated to Spanish are just so different from what they actually are in the original audio that it just baffles me.

    Now, I just really wanted to say that the scene which misssnowfox talked about, the one with Arthur watching Merlin with the knights around the campfire and then just like… Merlin looking up and once he notices Arthur watching him, he quickly looks away but then just as fast looks back and then Arthur just slightly smiles, like… oh my god, I love that scene so much, like… that’s like ‘romantic moment in almost every romantic movie ever ‘…. it’s just fantastic and Arthur just looks so in love and Merlin is so lovely and it’s just perfect! (sorry, I just get so excited remembering it).

    I also wanted to say that I tend to incline more towards AU in general, it doesn’t really matter to me if it’s modern or fantasy or whatever, but when I do read canon, I do like more when Arthur already knows and is just waiting for Merlin to feel safe enough to tell him. One really good one is ‘Trouble of the Magical Kind’ by Tossukka on AO3. It’s just full on shenanigans and Arthur just trying to avoid Merlin getting caught because he keeps doing magic left, right and center. And my all time favorite Merthur fic is ‘The Sidewalks of New York’ by emmbrancsxx0 on AO3, it’s just so good! I do have to admit that I’m biased because it takes place in my favorite period of time and place in history and Mafia Boss!Arthur is just the best thing ever, but the author’s writing style is also so good and I just love everything about it. Mind, it is a really long fic (100k+) but it is so worth reading.

    Again, this is too long and I feel self-conscious about it, but I do love listening to you two and I await the next episode eagerly! I hope you have a wonderful new year ^^

  2. I feel warm and fuzzy, each time I hear the opening theme of the podcast. That feeling is good and wholesome. I love it.

    Thoughts on this episode:

    Merthur is at the top of MY fictional couples list. 😉 But that is no surprise. I haven’t been able to get escape them since I started binge-watching the show, good grief. I don’t think I’ll ever move on from their love story, to be honest. I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t start shipping them at the beginning, but I was in love with their ship when Season Two started. I’m not sure when the switch was flipped. I think it all built up until suddenly, I was thinking, “Aw, fuck. I love this ship. I will go down with this ship.” And I haven’t stopped loving them since even though parts of their dynamic make me so angry, frustrated and tired. Lol.

    Plot with Porn is what I went for from the moment I started shipping them.

    I love a whole bunch of Arthur/Gwen videos – a number of them made their way into my favourites over the last year or so. Like, I LOVE Merthur, but I ship so many other things. I’m such a ship whore, omfg. Lmao.

    When Arthur had his will taken away, the person left behind showed just how much he valued Merlin as a person. Merlin was the be all and end all of what he should be doing; he was like this perfect being and Arthur looked up to him so much. Arthur trusted him so much. It was like being stabbed in the chest to see Merlin be so mean to him and taking advantage of his lack of will power. I understand how Merlin must have felt so used and abused for so long, but the Arthur he was dealing with didn’t deserve that treatment at all. It pisses me the fuck off.

    MissSnowFox, I get it. No one wants to view Merlin as being vindictive and petty, because he is often such a nice guy, but…we all have those darker qualities inside us. What makes us the people we are is how we choose to use them and Merlin chose to be awful to him when Arthur couldn’t defend himself at all. Worse, he chose to be awful even though he knows Arthur has been belittled his whole life by members of his family, and I don’t think I can forgive Merlin for that. Arthur was like a PUPPY in that episode and for all intents and purposes, Merlin kicked him.

    Momo, I agree: Merlin can be a hypocrite at times. It is a trait he shares with Uther, actually, which is interesting!

    One of the things that broke me the most about Merlin and Arthur’s relationship is the moment when Merlin was talking to Lancelot (I can’t remember what episode. I’m still working through a re-watch) and says, “I’m not totally useless” in that soft and broken little way, because all Arthur does is call him useless. And I just… sweet fuck…I’m crying, just thinking about that moment.

    MissSnowFox, I hate that it was a last-minute dramatic sequence. Merlin and Arthur deserved better than that and the fans did too. I think what I cried about most was that it was TOO FUCKING LATE.

    Momo, you’re correct. Arthur is a smart man despite what Merlin jokes about. Arthur should have noticed something; surely, he can’t be that obtuse when he is trained to be observant and contemplative.

    Truthfully, sometimes I think Merlin told Arthur about his magic because deep down…Merlin knew Arthur wasn’t going to survive and there wasn’t going to be time enough for a proper backlash.

    The writers for Merlin were rubbish and wasted a fuck-load of pure potential! Thank God for fucking Fanfiction.

    MissSnowFox, I thought the kiss was going to come when Merlin was cradling Arthur’s face, during the scene when Arthur says, “I don’t want you to change,” and their faces were so close together. I swear…my heart stopped in that instant. I thought Arthur would perk up a little after catching his breath and there would be a moment of soft staring, and then Arthur would curl his fingers into his jacket and tug him closer. I thought the two of them would kiss then.

    There were so many Merthur moments that I DID like that I don’t think I could pinpoint them all. I love all the ones you mentioned for sure.

    Merlin and Arthur are star-crossed lovers.

    The End.

    PS. Listening to this episode took forever. LOL. Because I kept having to pause to write thoughts or to wait for people to leave so I could keep listening.

  3. I absolutely loved your analysis!

    When I first watched Merlin I was already quite a bit older than the target audience and I knew nothing about shipping, fandom, queer representation etc. Still, I was totally hooked on the depiction of the close friendship between Merlin and Arthur and it’s fair to say I mainly watched the show for these two guys. The actors did such a fantastic job with this – I cannot think of another epic friendship like this shown on TV. I never in a million years thought it was anything more than that though. In my head I managed to hand-wave (occasionally with effort) some of the filming choices e.g. those campfire scenes in 4×05 and 5×01, and I honestly didn’t think anything of the no-pants scene in 4×12, or the glove scene in 5×03 beyond it being played for comedy. The king Arthur of legends is known to be very into his knights after all and close platonic male relationships were a thing back then. Merlin’s downward spiral and him throwing away most of his destiny in Season 5 I attributed to bad writing needed to bring about the disaster that I knew had to come at the end…

    Would you believe I watched 64 episodes thinking that? And then came that last episode. As oblivious as I was up to that point, the moment where Merlin tells Arthur that he was born to serve him etc., I suddenly went “oh my god, Merlin is in love with Arthur and has been the whole time”. Everything just clicked into place at that moment. And when Arthur lay dying, and wanted to say something he never said before, I was convinced he was going to say “I love you” because it was obvious it’s what he meant. I didn’t really expect a kiss on the mouth but I thought Merlin was going to kiss Arthur’s forehead quite a few times what with all those gentle touches. Merlin’s reaction to Arthur’s death brings it full circle.

    So there you go, Arthur died as I knew from the start he would (I didn’t cry) but afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking about that relationship and I still often do. It was always going to end in tragedy but viewing it in the context of having these two men realizing/communicating the depth of their feelings only so very late made it 100 times worse. And they can’t even be together in death. It’s the perfect tragedy and it’s one of the most cruel things I’ve ever seen. Can’t believe this was a kid’s/YA show and this was aired on Christmas Eve. Naturally I had to watch the show again and from then on out I shipped it hard. The second time I bawled my eyes out at the end. I got into fanfiction afterwards and that helped with the coping.

    I do firmly believe that Merthur was canon in the end simply because it’s all there in extremely strong subtext and through the actors’ performances. It’s certainly not accidental since the editors, directors and writers all had to contribute to this portrayal. I would never have expected any explicit statement or demonstration to clarify that relationship due to the time period of the show’s setting, and because of the way television was made at the time. Nowadays it’s quite common to see same sex couples state their feelings and kiss on TV but it wasn’t like it back then. It had to be a different setting for a different audience to set it up (Torchwood comes to mind). We certainly have come a long way in only 10 years.

    If there is one sour note in my love affair (hah!) with Merthur then it’s the DVD commentary for 5×13. I only listened to it for the first time earlier this year and I hate it with a passion. Bradley and especially Colin left their hearts on the screen in those final scenes and the show’s creator made a mockery of that whole relationship in his commentary. How disrespectful can one be when you owe your success to a set of absolutely fantastic actors who worked their butts off for years and put so much feeling into some very shoddy writing and often cheesy lines. I will never listen to it again. When you get around to the finale I will certainly be interested to hear your thoughts on that – if I am still alive by then that is ;).

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