By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
In this late commentary, I thought last week’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow episode “Camelot/3000” was disappointing. After three more viewings, there were tiny moments to enjoy, but the overall revisionist concept just did not jive well with the established Arthurian lore I adored when I studied it multiple times in my scholastic life. There are many alternatives, ranging from T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlin to BBC One’s Merlin. Most of them stay faithful to what’s established, and some even have feminists take. All of which I liked, but there were times this Legends version forgot what it should focus on. Only one character knew.
I read the graphic novel to which I thought the story might take inspiration from. The 12-issue comic book series saw Arthur awakening far too soon. Although he saw to rebuilding Camelot, soon both he and his knights get called to action when his country needs him to fight against an invading alien threat. Ray explained the heart of the episode best, “Camelot is not about history, or a dusty old book that got a lonely kid through childhood (to which I can relate, as The Legends of King Arthur and his Knights compiled and arranged by Sir James Knowles K.C.V.O. was given to me in Elementary school to enjoy). It’s about one noble idea.”
One alteration that I did not mind is in who would assume the key roles. The idea is taken from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon series. It’s the women who hold power. Guinevere is a strong character in this version, a far cry from her literary roots, and this is good. However, I did not like how Sara becomes Lance-elot, This idea was too forced, as it suggests historians who found this truth altered the story to make what’s written later a trist between a man and a women.
I did not mind the fact Stargirl is Merlin, but I wondered if she interfered with history and tell the true Merlin to go hide-out? or has he not surfaced yet? This fixed aspect of the Arthurian legend only works if readers/viewers accept the fact that many Merlins existed (an idea borrowed from Bradley’s work). Stargirl will one day die/leave, and in her place will be the wild man of the woods to take on the true role of trusted advisor. I’m amused by the thought she used her piece of the Staff of Destiny to create Excalibur. Although the blade will smite down all enemies, I wondered where the original scabbard went? Has it been stolen already by Morgane le Faye? Where was she and Mordred in this story?
To link certain ancient artefacts together can make for a fascinating lead-up to this season’s finale. Two pieces of the four have been recovered, and to speculate what’s left suggest the Ark of the Convent and Philosopher’s Stone might be next. Both will grant the wielder immense powers — one to sway an army and the other grant further alchemical abilities — that can prove dangerous if the Legion of Doom possesses all the parts, and it jives with how it can alter destinies.
When considering this world might get revisited, I believe Etrigan the Demon will become part of the Arrowverse. The timing is right. The Legends team arrived in 507 AD, the sixth century. In the comics, this antihero was created during the time, perhaps after the team has left and some semblance of order was restored after The Legion of Doom’s interference in this timeline.
Plus, to include this character would add to why Arthur’s world should get revisited. After all, the mortal half, Jason Blood, is to become a knight of the round table. Just exactly when was never stated in the books.
I have said this before: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow have to introduce some aspect from the Books of Magic to this universe. The Spear of Destiny was shattered (not dismantled) and to put it back together requires some mighty forge and spellcasting (or prayer) to bring it back together. With a future episode titled “Fellowship of the Spear,” it might have to be rebuilt much like how the Rings of Power from Lord of the Rings were forged.