Contributor: Gregg Wright
“Camelot” continues to be an entertaining show, but I’ve been a bit disappointed by the quality of the writing since “The Lady of the Lake”. Actual flaws in the writing are hard to point out. I think the biggest problem is a general lack of subtlety and nuance to the writing. Strangely, this hasn’t always been the case in the show. But in the past few episodes the trend seems to be to have characters deliver overly simplistic dialog to present information. Perhaps the “show, don’t tell” rule isn’t really a rule, but it’s almost always a good guideline to follow, and I wish “Camelot” would follow it more often. Too much of the character development and story is being delivered to us through characters verbally explaining it.
Still, I think the overall direction of the plot, including this episode, has been fairly strong. It’s the presentation of the story that I find a bit lacking at times. Morgan’s story thread still feels awkward. And that’s a shame, because Eva Green is really getting into the role. And I certainly admire and appreciate her willingness to do as many nude scenes as the show requires of her.
I think that Morgan’s usage of her sexuality to instill loyalty in the Harwell was one of the more successful elements of the episode. One gets an even better sense of how much Green is investing in the role when you hear that she’s been researching sorcery, and now claims to actually believe in magic, to a certain degree. I laughed when I heard this, but I really can’t complain, as this can only add to her ability to play the role.
Morgan’s plans have been evolving primarily separate from Arthur and Camelot ever since she last invited Arthur and Merlin over for dinner. So it was good to see her finally coming into contact with the members of the royal court again. I do like Eva Green in the role, but her performance works better when she’s being openly evil. Green is fantastic at playing Morgan as we see her when she’s among allies, as the tormented, gleefully sadistic sorceress.
But her believability suffers whenever Morgan is supposed to be putting on this great act that’s somehow so effective at lulling everyone (except Merlin) into a false sense of trust. Morgan is supposed to be becoming this talented manipulator, but I think the character evolution wasn’t properly facilitated. I can accept that Arthur believes her, as it fits with the character’s desire to see the best in people. But there should be more doubt from everyone else. Even Merlin, who knows exactly what Morgan is, what she’s done, and what she wants, doesn’t seem to take the threat she poses seriously enough.
The writing made it pretty clear how Morgan’s faked battle scenario would play out, but I couldn’t help but get a little excited about the prospect of an actual battle taking place. And I felt disappointed that one didn’t occur, especially given how much the episode seemed to be trying to build up to one, even when all the evidence pointed to the contrary. The result is an ending that feels anti-climactic.
But I don’t know whether to criticize the episode for this or not. Ultimately, it seems as though the whole reason for the faked battle scenario was to give Morgan a chance to not only begin building good faith with Camelot, but also to get in some recon to prepare for her mission to take Igraine’s place and begin destroying Camelot from the inside. Now she knows that Guinevere is a major weakness for both Arthur and Leontes.
I’m having trouble figuring out how Sybil’s orders to Harwell to draw Arthur into battle and get him killed fit with Morgan’s current plans. Obviously, Morgan does want Arthur out of the way in order to take the throne herself. And Morgan did take major steps to secure a major base of loyal subjects who would support her move against Arthur from among the people last week. But this move seems premature. Clearly, Morgan still plans to use Guinevere to destroy Arthur’s honor and turn everyone against him. It’s too early to plan an outright attack on Arthur, which leads me to believe that Sybil’s actions can’t possibly be sanctioned by Morgan.
Despite my issues with the writing, the plot progression and characters development has been largely satisfying. All of the elements in play could easily be woven into a great endgame for the season, and a proper set-up for a follow-up season. “Camelot” has been, at times, an excellent show. It just needs to iron out some of the kinks in order to live up to its potential.