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01 October 2011 @ 06:56 pm
Merlin Series 4: The Darkest Hour  
Welcome back, Merlin!


Ah, we return to Camelot once again where all isn't exactly well. But that's the status quo now with this show's opening season episodes.

I first have to flail at the inclusion of Nathaniel Parker to the list of reoccurring guest stars. I loved him as Inspector Lynley and have been wanting him back on TV. I'd once held hopes that he would end up being a guest on Sherlock. I wanted him to play Lestrade's superintendent who'd always bitch to Lestrade about bringing in Sherlock but in the end grudgingly admit the detective was necessary. And then it would turn out that he was actually the Sebastian Moran of the show and he and Moriarty would unleash their plan which- oh, wait. I'm supposed to be talking about Merlin.

Anyway, yes, Parker is Agravaine, Arthur's maternal uncle who is also the inside traitor of this season it seems. It's interesting to me how Agravaine has literally zero love for Arthur, despite their familial connections. It could mean he's just your average villain then but I'd like there to be some sort of back story as to why Agravaine has no qualms about ridding the last remaining connection to his sister, Arthur's mother, on his quest for power.

We're getting some noticeable character-growth for Arthur who speaks to everyone with a bit more maturity. I even include Merlin in this. Sure, he still teases him because that's never going to change even if Merlin finally does reveal his magic and stop being considered the court idiot. But Arthur's much less inclined to posture and him admitting things like fear and even crying in front of his father seemed like pretty large steps in him becoming the sort of king who could lead Albion.

Merlin is still Merlin and based on what Colin Morgan has said about this series, I feel there's a purpose to why it really felt like other major characters in this particular episode were going through major shifts in their character growth while Merlin felt more or less the same. I had to laugh when he did simple magic in a crowded hallway. He even looked around as if to make sure no one was watching in this extremely crowded hallway before he did it. Oh, Merlin. So smart and yet so stupid. But luckily this is Camelot so only Lancelot who even with his back turned noticed it.

Speaking of Lancelot, I kind of loved him in this episode. Maybe it's because he's literally the only other person other than Gaius who knows about Merlin so he treats Merlin accordingly. But I adored his presence and felt a bit of heartbreak for him over the fact that he's still clearly in love with Gwen who sort of unwittingly stomped all over it. I feel like there's some untapped Odd Couple-routine between him and Gwaine. What with Lancelot being so knightly and dignified and Gwaine being so so not. Make it happen, Series 4.

Onto more plotty things, I enjoyed the continuation of Morgana having prophetic dreams. Is that supposed to be the Battle of Camlann? If so, did the writers forgo the whole crystal cave thing? Or is this supposed to be something else within this season's time line even? Curious. Very curious.

I also got mini-shivers when the Gatekeeper (hi, Gemma Jones!) ominously told Morgana of her fate being entwined with Emrys'. Now I finally see the point of giving Merlin two names. It's for the convenience of having this Who the Hell is Emrys? confusion for the enemies.

The whole thing with the dead spirits didn't do much for me but I liked the concept of there being a tear in the world that now needs to be repaired. It's a classic fantasy scenario and I never get tired of it. Hopefully Merlin will work his magical needle and thread next week.

There are many questions to be asked. But perhaps the most important one is this: what was Arthur's shirt doing in the kitchens? Doesn't Camelot have a laundry area?
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marisol: guinevere [mer]lovelornis on October 2nd, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
Lol! Odd Couple Lancelot & Gwaine HAS to happen! Especially since, in legend, they're supposed to be so BFFL that Gwaine even stood up for Lancelot when the whole adultery scandal went down.
misslola89misslola89 on October 2nd, 2011 11:19 am (UTC)
Was going to make the same point. I wonder if they'll follow this route? If they do, I can also see them continuing it with Lancelot killing Gwaine. Because the BBC and angst are also BFFL.
formerly lifeinsomniac: Merlin Waitingjoonscribble on October 2nd, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
I would love this show Xtra Lots if they really did make Lancelot and Gwaine the new BFFs at the round table.
k is obviously for hurricanekatarzi on October 2nd, 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
Oh god I spent half of this episode so excited I actually needed a paper bag. I think I'm probably horribly pathetic.

I am loving Morgana's little cave-cottage. I like to imagine that for the first few weeks she spent a lot of time not knowing how to do basic domestic things. (But reelly, I've been waiting for Morgana, Crazy Lady of the Woods for pretty much ever.)

I agree that Arthur really seems to have grown up, finally. I think a lot of Merlin's behaviour is just that, yeah, he's kind of an idiot. It's part of his charm :P
formerly lifeinsomniac: Merlin Waitingjoonscribble on October 2nd, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
I've warmed up a lot to Morgana now that she's plain evil. It also helps that Katie McGrath's acting has finally settled in.

I think a lot of Merlin's behaviour is just that, yeah, he's kind of an idiot. It's part of his charm :P

I actually sort of don't want Merlin to ever change since I do love his adorable idiocy. But I can't help but point to it all the damn time.
WldCatSprStr14wldcatsprstr_14 on October 2nd, 2011 05:45 am (UTC)
But perhaps the most important one is this: what was Arthur's shirt doing in the kitchens? Doesn't Camelot have a laundry area?

I like to think that Merlin forgot to wash Arthur's tunic the night before like he should and had to quickly dry it. What better place?
formerly lifeinsomniac: Merlin Waitingjoonscribble on October 2nd, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
But...isn't the kitchen like the best place for clothing to get dirty accidentally?

Also, why am I overthinking this? :P
bluebeeangelbluebeeangel on October 2nd, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
Agree totally about the character growth for Arthur, and I'm really loving it. He still teases and still can't dress himself, but he appears more open emotionally.

Merlin's character hasn't progressed so dramatically, but then I think he doesn't need to in the same way as other characters. he's always been caring and sweet and brave and will always be clumsy. I think the way in which Merlin's going to change though is through having more belief in himself and in his powers.

I definitely want to see more Lancelot and Gwaine screen time together! Lancelot's like this fairytale Prince Charming and Gwaine is a drunken, mischevious being. Would like Gwaine's rolls of the eyes when Lancelot starts speaking in epic romanticised prose.
formerly lifeinsomniac: Merlin Waitingjoonscribble on October 2nd, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC)
I have images of Gwaine punching men in taverns and taking time outs to kiss tavern maids while Lancelot is in the back going, "This is NOT how knights behave!!"

Merlin, as a character, has always comparatively been on a slow burn in terms of development. That's not to say he hasn't developed but compared to the fast forwards others got, he seems more static. But he is also the show's star so it makes sense that as the ballast for the entire thing, he has to be a bit more consistent and same.