Frankly, almost all of the most powerful and impressive magic we see comes from the people Merlin is fighting. Mary Collins can fucking teleport!! Why didn’t Merlin ever look into that? It’d be pretty damn useful!
We’re told that Merlin is “the most powerful sorcerer ever to walk the earth,” but we don’t see it.
The thing is, I think magic should seem easy, but it shouldn’t BE easy. (This is a problem I have with Harry Potter magic.) There need to be limitations and rules to it, consistency, logic, effort, otherwise it isn’t as impressive as it is confusing, redundant, and out-of-place. If magic is so strong, how the hell did Uther’s Purge succeed?
Based on the general structure they gave us, it would make much more sense if, like, 80-90% of sorcerers could enchant objects, light fires, or move (mostly small) things. They could work spells into objects to do things like keep knives sharp, help food last longer, keep boots from getting soaked all the way through. Sigils around their homes to ward away thieves. Small things that make their lives a bit easier, their businesses more successful.
And, of course, the street-vendor kind of shoddy magic, like love spells and lucky charms that are kind of vague and not likely to work as advertised, because the seller just made it sparkle a bit to make it look impressive enough to catch a passerby’s attention.
There would be specialists in healing, cooking, woodworking, combat, and everything else, with apprenticeships, and techniques better suited to one purpose or another. “Family spells” passed down through generations like a secret recipe. And particular kinds of magic, like a seer’s power or the kinship between Dragonlords and dragons.
But, any of that would take a heavy toll on their energy. They’d rely heavily on magical objects, potions, spells, crystals, and other physical conduits. They wouldn’t be able to magically multi-task, or would only be able to do a couple small spells at a time. It would take much more concentration and practice to get it right, too. They’d need a lot of training to be considered more than a hedgewitch, and their “power” would be their depth of knowledge and their skill in practice, their wisdom, not their “natural talents.”
Only people with a lot of natural access to magic and a good deal of practice / training would be able to do things like teleport, raise the dead, shapeshift, create shields, conjure fireballs, control minds, summon objects / creatures / people, and so on—and any objects that could allow someone less powerful to do so would be extremely expensive and valuable. There’d be a range of quality, too, like higher-quality spells would last longer and work better, whereas weak ones would be short-lived and only partially or irregularly effective.
The stronger you are, the less you have to worry about those limitations, because you have easier access to more magic. But it still takes work, and self-discipline, because even people who could access their magic without initial training (like Morgana) can’t control it without patience and practice. Untrained people with powerful magic would be unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous, until they found someone to help them, or managed to figure it out on their own.
That’s what (or one thing that) makes Merlin such an anomaly; not only could he instinctively access magic since he was a baby, he has precise control over what he can do. When he first encountered Gaius and saved him from falling, Merlin slowed timeand positioned a bed to catch him without even really thinking about it. All without any training whatsoever.
(Which is why it’s so damn frustrating that something he did in the first episode seems to be one of his most unique, impressive, and powerful displays of magic throughout the entire rest of the series, even though he’s supposed to be getting much stronger and gaining even more control over his abilities.)
Tamora Pierce, one of my favorite authors, portrays magic as natural energy that is unique to and a part of each individual. Such an intrinsic part of you that it’s actually dangerous for magic users to overextend themselves. People who attempt spells beyond their power or abilities of control, who don’t have the necessary self-discipline, wouldn’t just fail to complete the spell or make it work. When their magical energy is depleted, the spell begins using their life energy. If they can’t cut themselves off from the spell, they’ll die, and even if they do manage to survive, they’ll be physically ill until their magic naturally replenishes.
I love that. It doesn’t really fit with Merlin canon events, but I think it would make sense within the framework, especially as an even sharper contradiction to Uther’s declaration of magic as unnatural evil. And a significant portion of Camelot’s population could have magic that they just don’t know about, because it isn’t quite powerful enough to manifest on its own—but there would be some who can’t control it, and would have no way to hide it.
So Uther could teach that magic is a choice, that it must be learned—and it would be true for most people, but not all. And if, leading up to the Purge, magic was so unregulated that black magic and magic-related violence was common and widespread, it’d be easy to convince people that it was evil, too.
People like Morgana, Morgause, Nimueh, and Mordred would be leagues ahead of the other foes Merlin faces throughout the series—including people like Mary Collins or Edwin Muirden, who would need to use small magic in a smart way.
And Merlin would be leagues ahead of all of them, with a huge range of very specific spells at his disposal along with his instinctive magic, which he’d be able to use more comfortably, easily, and precisely than he ever could before, because he intuitively learns how spells and objects serve as focus points to concentrate and direct magic. From there, he’d be able to improvise with his magic outside of spells, relying on both his instincts and the new methods and techniques he learned.
But it still wouldn’t be easy. He has moral and other limitations that his enemies don’t. He has weaknesses and flaws. Magic has its weaknesses and limitations. And, of course: “The heroes have to win every time. The villain only has to win once.”
With this structure, I think it’d be less formulaic, more dramatic, and clearer to see the differences in power, knowledge, and skill between various kinds of magic users and differences in magic itself. The years of hard physical training a knight has to endure wouldn’t be devalued by magic, because magic requires years of hard mental (and sometimes physical as well) training, with its own challenges and dangers.
The series-arc villains would be more of a threat, but episodic antagonists would each pose a different kind of challenge that forces Merlin to adapt to new situations and learn new things about magic and how it works and how to use it. Skills that he can build on and apply in later situations, not just specific one-time counter-spells or constantly recycled solutions (cough dragoon cough).
I could go on and on about possible power variations and other differences between magical creatures, cultures, public / religious figures, spells, styles, natures, techniques….
Seriously, if you wanna start a conversation, all you have to do is talk magic to me.
I kind of really wish I’d stop seeing the phrase “feminist movie” or “feminist book” applied to any piece of media that does a better than usual job of handling it’s female characters.
Feminism is not the absence of sexism, it’s a word for the movement dedicated to raising awareness of and eradicating institutionalized sexism. A feminist movie would be a movie ABOUT the feminist movement, or a movie that directly identifies and addresses issues of structural inquality between genders.
Just having a female character you don’t sexualize in a piece of media doesn’t make it a grand stand against the patriarchy. It literally just makes it a little less sexist than most everything else. It doesn’t make you a feminist film director for making it, it just makes you not a fucking asshole with his head so far up his ass he can’t see the way the world is actually built.
Is SW:TFA a feminist movie? No, not even close, not even a little tiny bit at all. The movie’s not ABOUT gender or related struggles, ideas and philosophies.
But is it a movie that respects its female characters, gives them usually-limited-to-men levels of agency and power over the plot, makes sure there are women in the background of shots, and doesn’t sexualize them? Yes, abso-fucking-lutely yes.
SW:TFA is a movie feminists will like (at least parts of it), it is a movie that demonstrates some of the basic, basic things Feminism wants from media, but it’s not a feminist movie.
In most of the fanfics and stuff I read/see have Shepard stopping Garrus’ shot. Some people cite it as stopping Garrus from going down a destructive path others say that Shepard knew best because of her experience…I just feel strange because I let Garrus take that shot.
In a perfect world bad things wouldn’t happen and there wouldn’t be criminals and forgiveness is the norm. But you can be sure that if someone did me wrong - to the point where my entire life is different because of it - I would want there to be justice.
Maybe my moral compass isn’t calibrated the same as a lot of people who play the game (heh get it).
But I feel that killing Sidonis is similar to a criminal receiving the death penalty…sure it’s a vigilant action BUT it serves two purposes: 1) Prevents Sidonis from ever being put in a situation where his weak will hurts people 2) Serves as an example to other criminals that if you do bad things there will be justice without mercy
I regularly wonder about this and people’s reasoning behind doing what they did.
Both options are completely valid I feel, I just wish that I wouldn’t be made out as some ruthless murderer on the way to self-destruction if I supported Sidonis’ death.