Camelot Episode 2: “The Sword and the Crown” Recap

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Philip the Dazed is back with a recap of Episode 2 “The Sword and the Crown” from the Starz Original Series Camelot.

Synopsis of Camelot:

In the wake of King Uther’s sudden death, chaos threatens to engulf Britain. When the sorcerer Merlin has visions of a dark future, he installs the young and impetuous Arthur, Uther’s unknown son and heir, who has been raised from birth as a commoner. But Arthur’s cold and ambitious half sister Morgan will fight him to the bitter end, summoning unnatural forces to claim the crown in this epic battle for control. These are dark times indeed for the new king, with Guinevere being the only shining light in Arthur’s harsh world. Faced with profound moral decisions, and the challenge of uniting a kingdom broken by war and steeped in deception, Arthur will be tested beyond imagination. Forget everything you think you know…this is the story of Camelot that has never been told before.

Enjoy and thanks to Philip the Dazed for his episode recap.

WARNING:

The recap may contain spoilers so if you haven’t watched Episode 2 “The Sword and the Crown” you may want to skip the recap.

~The Archivist

Camelot Episode 2: “The Sword and the Crown”

Click to continue reading the Episode Recap –>

As of this recap, I’ll attempt a review of each episode. It occurs to me that the same viewers of Camelot have also been rabid fans of the series Merlin, which just this past week ended its season 3 airing on SyFy (having already aired in the U.K. in 2010). With this in mind, it seems that comparisons in the mythologies of each production are inescapable. At least, they are to me. I will not attempt a review of Merlin in these writings, but I will point out divergences and similarities in the respective mythologies without divulging any salient plot points in Merlin.

In Merlin’s mythology, Uther’s kingdom is known as Camelot. The other critical difference in the storytelling is how Arthur and Merlin meet, and the circumstances leading up to it. In Merlin, Merlin comes to Camelot seeking employment opportunities. Arthur (the privileged prince of the realm and – seemingly – only heir to the throne) and Merlin (who before arriving in Camelot, is completely unaware of his facility with magic) are both youths. Merlin is forced to conceal his growing skills with magic, under penalty of death from Uther, who has ordered all practitioners of magic to be put immediately to death upon their discovery. In Merlin, Uther hires Merlin to be Arthur’s manservant, with all the ignominious duties that position entails (mucking the stalls, serving his meals, polishing Arthur’s armor, preparing and serving Arthur’s meals). Over time, Arthur develops a grudging respect for Merlin, while also establishing a camaraderie that, nonetheless, does not ever betray their differences in station.

In Camelot, Merlin enters Arthur’s life as a man weary of the compromises the use of magic has wrought for him earlier; in fact, he now avoids the use of magic whenever he can. It isn’t clear yet what happened to make Camelot’s Merlin so unwilling to dwell in what are, presumably, the dark arts. Other notable differences in the mythologies are Morgan, known as Morgana in Merlin; Guinevere, who in Merlin, is Morgana’s handmaiden, whereas she is of noble station in Camelot; the tutelage of Merlin by Gaius (a former practitioner of magic in his own right), who is the kingdom’s physician (as well as Uther’s personal physician and most trusted advisor) in Merlin; the loss of Igraine in Merlin, who met an untimely end somehow due to magic prior to the start of the series, which explains Uther’s disdain for the use of magic in his kingdom. In Merlin, Morgana eventually learns of her heritage as a Druid, and meets her long-lost sister, Morgause, whose father is a Druid, as was her and Morgana;s mother. Morgause fuels Morgana’s hatred for her father, Uther, for denying her birthright to the throne, having raised her in his court as his ward, and not as his daughter, which she is.

And now, on to the recap/review…

The episode opens with Kay and Arthur burying their mother, and Sir Ector vowing to avenge the murder of Lady Ector at the hand of King Lot. Meanwhile, Morgan resolves to use magic to do away with both Arthur and Lot. The level of acting is impressive on all parts, except for Jamie Campbell Bower as Arthur, although he may grow into more kingly behavior as the role requires later in the series. The most intense roles, by design, it appears, are those of Joseph Fiennes as Merlin, and Eva Green as Morgan. Green positively smolders as the wronged princess, even as she radiates intelligence AND sexuality (she is, after all, a beautiful woman) in her righteous pursuit of the crown. It’s hard not to root for her over Arthur, even when we know that her quest for power is doomed (so far, anyway). Fiennes, on the other hand, acts more with the intensity of his eyes, and this does work for him as he seeks to downplay the reality that he is, in fact, a sorcerer. He is, however, possessed of the ability to see into the future, a talent that he thus far seems to take for granted as it applies to visions of Arthur in the throes of passion with Guinevere, whom Arthur has yet to meet. This worries Merlin, as he is aware that Guinevere is already spoken for. Arthur himself shares these visions with Merlin, and is looking forward to what he imagines is his inevitable destiny with Guinevere.

But first, he must prove that he is the true King of Camelot by acquiring the Sword in the Stone. Merlin has assured Arthur that it is his-and only his-destiny to accomplish this feat, All attempts at this thus far by others have ended in death. Not only is the sword buried to its hilt in the stone, but the stone itself resides at the top of a cliff with a waterfall rushing past that virtually guarantees death by drowning, at the very least, following a fall to the base of the cliff side. There is no perceivable way to mount a climb to the rock from the cliff side, the only way to access the sword. That is, until Kay comes up with a pulley system, anchored by a tree stump protruding out of the side of the mountain, to raise Arthur up until he can reach over to the sword and attempt to release it from the stone. With Kay’s help, Arthur reaches the sword, but he has difficulty pulling the sword out of the stone. Remembering what Merlin told him to “stop pulling at me, and start pushing yourself”, Arthur applies the concept to removing the sword by pushing down INTO the stone, and then pulling it out. This works! Arthur then realizes that it was Merlin himself who put the sword in the stone in the first place.

At this point, it should be noted (for what it’s worth) that in the last episode of the season in Merlin, Merlin acquires the sword from the Lady in the Lake to defeat an enchanted army led by Morgause, but promises to keep the sword from falling into the wrong hands in the future. Merlin enchants the sword and buries it in the stone so that it can never be removed by anyone but Arthur when he is ready to ascend to the throne as king of Camelot. In fact, this is the last scene of this season of Merlin.

Clearly, the sequence of these events is meant to differ in Camelot. Anyway, sensing he cannot trust Morgan, Lot humiliates her in her court at Uther’s castle, and furthers the humiliation by leaving her bound and defenseless overnight tied to a pole, whereupon she is approached by a spirit wolf (Morgause?), with whom Morgan has a connection of some kind, though it is not revealed here.

Having witnessed Arthur’s removal of the sword from the stone, people from the neighboring kingdoms come to pay homage to the new king, and a coronation is mounted at the pronouncement of Merlin. At the coronation, Arthur swears to his new kingdom that he will rule with a firm, but fair, hand, and without cruelty, or the threat of waging war on other lands. Sir Ector asked King Arthur to make him a commander in his army so he could properly pursue vengeance upon King Lot. During the coronation festivities, King Arthur formally meets Lady Guinevere, but just as he is about to woo her, he is crushed to find out that she is betrothed to his lead knight Leontes.

King Lot mounts a surprise attack on Arthur during the coronation, and he slays Sir Ector. Ector in turn moves inward on the spear held by Lot, and while inching forward, grabs Lot and then stabs him in the back of his neck.

Arthur, as a loving brother, meets with Morgan to propose a peace between their kingdoms, but is rounded rejected by Morgan. He tells her that she should stay away from whatever she encountered while bound that night to that post, but she seems to want to embrace it, no matter what. Morgan, sensing the presence of the spirit wolf, approaches it, and removing her frock (in all her beautiful glory!), and says to the wolf. “Tell me what I’m to do”!

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