When I watched 5.01 I wasn't near the screen, like I usually am, I wasn't liveblogging, like I usually am, and I knew I only had a few more hours of blissful freedom before school, so it's possible I wasn't in the right frame of mind. But I really, really didn't like this episode.
So, the truth about my relationship with this show is that I've got to the point where I really only care about the Merlin/Arthur interaction. I care about the others too, but only to a small degree. I'm really only invested in the epic love between a sorcerer and his king.
On this front, for me, this episode was so fucking annoying, because alongside some admittedly sweet stuff, we had Arthur treating Merlin like dirt again, stating he believes he's essentially useless, and basically being a total dick. When he wasn't being a dick he was coddling Merlin, as if he's a child. And it wasn't cute, for me, anymore. I didn't go 'n'aww, he's pulling his pigtails'/'he's being a mentor'. I just kept thinking 'IT'S BEEN SOMETHING LIKE NINE YEARS, ARTHUR. NINE FUCKING YEARS. YOU KNOW HE'S MORE THAN THAT TO YOU. YOU KNOW YOU CARE. YOU SEE HIM AS CLOSE TO AN EQUAL AS YOU EVER CAN. YOU'VE SAID SO, SAID THE WORDS, WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO DIMINISH AND RIDICULE HIM?' And the net scene? Perhaps it was because I saw it in the trailer, but it kind of just made me go "great, now they're giving Arthur yet another reason to think Merlin's a buffoon."
Looking at the gifs on tumblr, I feel like maybe my distance from the screen was actually hindering some of my enjoyment, as a few of long, loving looks both Merlin and Arthur seem to be exchanging didn't register (well, apart from the one where they discussed the 'how can they laugh and be merry?' question that I feel like they've answered at least twice before. That one was too blatant even from the other side of the room. It went on for about 45 seconds.)
I shouldn't be surprised that they've button reset the dynamic yet again. I shouldn't be annoyed at a show that makes the same mistakes over and over again, because fool me once and all that. But for some reason I still am.