Sunday, 5 October 2008

TV Snark - Merlin: Mark Of Nimueh OR Hey, You've Got Some Pokemon In My Water

Merlin's third episode is here. The show kicks things off by having the Bionic Woman, Michelle Ryan appear and drop a Pokemon ball into some water.

The ball travels through many watery tunnels until it finally stops in a remarkably well lit stone chamber. Who needs the burning torches down there? It's a mystery that will never be resolved. Meanwhile, in Camelot some poor peasant schmoe takes a drink from the local water pump and dies during the title sequence.

Gaius Meldrew and Merlin find the body in the street and decide to take it away for forensic examination. The corpse is pale and white with milky contact lenses, this indicates that something evil is afoot. We see Guinevere, or Gwen as everyone now calls her, make sandwiches for her dad. Instead of asking Gwen what a sandwich is, her dad merely asks what the filling is. He should retire from blacksmithing and sell his daughter's new sandwich invention. Although the future Earl of Sandwich is going to be a little upset.

Gaius is summoned to see Uther as another body has turned up. Gaius panics Uther by voicing the hypothesis that sorcery (I love how Richard Wilson says 'sorcery' and 'sorcerers', it's hilarious) is responsible for the killer plague. Uther goes mental and orders Arthur to conduct door to door searches throughout Camelot.

Of course, one of the first searches is in Gaius and Merlin's quarters. Arthur searches Merlin's room and almost finds Merlin's spell book. Luckily Merlin's magic is now back to the convenient version with glowing eyes and no magic words, rather than last week's magic words and no glowing eyes, so he uses his telekinesis to put a blanket over the book. Make your mind up show, how does his magic work? Does it need words or not? Fortunately Arthur can't be bothered doing a proper search so Merlin's secret is safe.

Gaius finds the body of a courtier and deduces that water is causing the illness. Gwen discovers that her dad has caught the plague. She begs Gaius to help but his SCIENCE can't do anything. Merlin decides that this is a job for magic. Merlin makes a magic poultice and decides to break Uther's curfew to deliver the cure to Gwen. Along the way he decides to use his powers for dickishness by ramming a door in an unfortunate guard's face. The door to face violence is capped off by the sound effect of a ruler being twanged "twwaaaaaaaannnggg". It's the same stock sound effect that TV has been using for years and it really breaks the already limited atmosphere of the show. Was this supposed to be funny? Is the comedy sound effect there to remind us to laugh? Also, Merlin uses magic words AND has glowing eyes for this use of magic. Argh.

Merlin looks quite evil after this abuse of power.

Reminds me of The Omen.

So Merlin sneaks into Gwen's house while she and her dad are sleeping. Creepy. Merlin then places the magic poultice under Dad's pillow and sneaks off. In the morning the magic has removed the evil sickness from Gwen's dad. Hurrah! Gwen tells everyone her dad is fine and winds up being arrested for witchcraft. Oops.

Uther is convinced Gwen is a witch and orders her to be put to death. Morgana and Arthur try to reason with him but only succeed in giving Uther the idea of burning Gwen to death. Arthur might want to brush up on his diplomacy skills before he becomes king then.

Merlin goes emo again as he learns that he can't use magic to solve everything. Gaius imparts some wisdom and Merlin vows to save Gwen from a burning. He visits Gwen in jail and she tells him, "Don't you forget about me." This prompts Merlin to dash off to the king's court and proclaim that he is a sorcerer. Arthur saves Merlin by telling Uther that Merlin is an idiot and that he is in love with Gwen. Merlin IS an idiot though as he isn't grateful to Arthur for saving him and instead has a jealous pout to Gaius about him.

Gaius and Merlin then decide to venture down to the water supply. Why they haven't suggested that the king or Arthur send some men down there already, I don't know. I mean, Gaius has already told the king that the poison is in the water. Logic be damned however. Gaius and Merlin grab a sample of the water supply (which they could've got from a pump) and encounter the cheap monster! Yay!

The monster looms out of the water and promptly does... nothing. Gaius and Merlin go back to their crime lab and decide that the creature is an Avanc. Merlin runs off to see the dragon who gives him cryptic advice which isn't that cryptic. He basically tells Merlin to get Arthur and a flamethrower and kill the Avanc.

For some reason Merlin has to get Morgana to convince Arthur to head down to the water supply with Merlin. Not that Merlin could've just told Arthur that there was a monster poisoning the water anyway. I mean, it's not like it was Arthur's job to find the source of the plague or anything. What this is, is an excuse to have Morgana go along to the final fight so that she has something to do. At the moment it seems that this show doesn't know what to do with her. Much like Robin Hood, it seems that the writers have decided that writing a noble woman is too difficult so they have to make her a bit of a tomboy so she can get involved in some of the action. If Morgana starts wearing a mask and calling herself the Night Watchman, I'm quitting.

The intrepid trio of Merlin, Arthur and Morgana head into the caves and fight the obviously cheap and nasty monster. It's a man in a suit with arms that don't flex or move and some bad monster jaws. The director tries to make the best of it and decides to shoot the monster like Alien and keep it mostly hidden in shadow with fleeting glimpses. It's a pity we already got a full shot of it earlier and it's also apparent that the guy in the costume can't move around in it very well. This is just like classic Doctor Who.

After some bumbling action scenes, Merlin finally remembers to use his magic to turn Arthur's flaming torch into a flamethrower and kill the Avanc. Hurrah.

Gwen is released from imprisonment and cleared of all charges of witchery. Uther begins to freak out when he hears from Gaius that Nimueh is involved (she is the only one powerful enough to summon an Avanc apparently). I guess Nimueh touched Uther inappropriately at some point in the past.

Michelle Ryan (Nimueh) claims VENGEANCE on Merlin and splashes some water.

Finally, there's a tease that Morgana overheard Merlin use his secret magic words when summoning the wind to create the flamethrower. She claims to know Merlin's secret but it turns out that the secret she knows is Merlin 4 Gwen 4eva!

Next week - Arthur goes on a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon crawl and fights giant monsters. Plus Merlin dies! I guess the show will be called Arthur from then on.


Doc Hall said...

I was hoping for a bit of alonger wait before they dragged in the cheap monster. I just feel like there's nothing left to look forward to in Camelot 90210 anymore.

Also what are the chances that the reason Arthur goes on this fetch quest to save Merlin is, at best, wafer thin?

Contact Lenses said...
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