Tuesday, 11 November 2008

TV Snark – Merlin: The Beginning Of The End OR Merlin Drops The ‘M’ Bomb!

I don’t have a snappy intro this week (do I ever?) as I want to take a moment to dedicate this post to long time reader Crys O'Regan who sadly passed away last week. Although I never met him, he was one of the first people outside of my immediate circle of friends to give me positive feedback and encouragement on my recaps and he will be sadly missed. My condolences go out to his partner Viv.

Okay, without further ado let’s take a look at the antics of the jug-eared wizard in training and the guest star of the week.

The show opens with this small tyke walking around Camelot market with a gobsmacked expression. He's also accompanied by some baritone chanting, "Ommmm. Ummmm." etcetera. I guess that means he's important - he's got his own theme tune.

The tyke and his guardian(?) approach a market stall to collect some important supplies but as per TV cliche #1723, the stall keeper has sold them out to the guards. There's a chase with some slo-mo thrown in to make knocking over some utensils exciting. One of the guards leaps out and stabs the tyke (boo, hiss) so his guardian busts out some telekinetic magic. The wounded tyke flees into the castle keep whilst his guardian magically closes the door and faces off against the half dozen pursuing guards.

After the opening titles the tyke reaches out to Merlin telepathically. Another cheap power to manifest, nice cost cutting BBC! Merlin can see the boy is sat in the courtyard whilst the guards are advancing on his position. Merlin's brilliant plan to rescue the kid is to tell him to run across the courtyard in broad daylight and hope he's faster than the pursuing pack of guards. I'm sure he could've created a distraction with magic so the kid could get across in relatively safety, rather than just telling the poor wounded tyke to leg it.

Merlin's 'plan' works in that the kid survives, but it does draw the wrath of the guards as they see him flee. Merlin quickly takes the boy into the castle and dives into Morgana's room where Morgana and Gwen seem to be... partying? It looks like they're drinking pretty early in the day.

I'm guessing that Morgana and Gwen didn't expect to do anything in this episode and were passing the time with a few drinks. I can't blame them really. Morgana forgives Merlin's intrusion into her private party and hides him and the boy from the guards. Oh yeah, we also learn from the guards that the boy is a druid. That explains the chanting theme music and ummm... green hood?

Meanwhile Uther is hellbent on druid genocide. It seems that being a druid is a capital crime punishable by death - even druid tourists are not exempt. Uther will never expand his tourist trade with that attitude. Uther sentences the elder druid to death, despite Arthur's protests, and has him publicly executed. Harsh. The kid lets out a telepathic scream when his guardian is killed and smashes the nearby mirrors, like Daryl Hannah did in the movie Splash when she tried to say her crazy mermaid name.

Merlin talks to Gaius about druids which raises Gaius Meldrew's suspiscion. It seems that Gaius has got used to the formulaic nature of the show and predict what Merlin is going to do. Merlin mentions the telepathy and Gaius explains about young druids and blah, blah, blah.

Merlin and Morgana try to tend to the poorly child and they have a conversation about magic and how it 'chooses' you rather than you choosing it. Before they can have an in depth discussion about destiny and predetermmination, the scene changes to dinner where Uther is still obsessed with catching and murdering the child. Anthony Head might as well dress as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Child Catcher for this episode. If it helps you can boo and hiss whenever he's on screen. Arthur tries to be the voice of reason again but is told to continue his search until he finds the boy.

Arthur visits Morgana's room and tries to search but she manages to frustrate him into leaving by insulting and embarrassing him. Arthur does reply with "Why don't you just go back to brushing your hair or whatever it is you do all day?" He doesn't know what Morgana does either, he must read my recaps! There's also some comedy magic with some animated, tip-toeing boots but the line from Arthur really makes the scene for me.

Merlin tries to get some healing supplies to attempt to cure the child's infected wound but he's detained by an impromptu Gaius Meldrew anatomy lesson. He doesn't examine Gaius's anatomy though, that would be horrible.

Merlin visits the expensive CGI dragon again. The dragon doesn't approve of the druid boy and essentially calls him an evil double. The dragon tells Merlin not to protect the boy. Merlin doesn't understand, as usual.

The boy communicates with Morgana briefly via telepathy - she has the gift! Not that we don't already know that. But at least Morgana's getting involved in the magic side of things and may eventually get to do more than sit about talking in her funny accent.

Merlin's amateur treatment of the boy's wound hasn't worked so he ropes in Gaius for help. Gaius Meldrew isn't happy with this as he doesn't want to risk his neck for the druid. He should be used to this by now though, he gets dragged into Merlin's plots against the king EVERY WEEK.

Gaius cures the boy of his infection in the space of a few minutes and he's suddenly well enough to travel. Gaius has invented super penicillin!

Morgana decides that she will be the one to escort the kid to safety. She just needs to get hold of a key from Arthur to sneak out via a secret passage. Merlin uses comedy magic to levitate the keys from Arthur's belt and tease him around the room. For some reason Merlin taunts Arthur with the jangling sound of the magically floating keys and then dumps them in some soup. Arthur then leaves the room for no reason other to provide Merlin with an easy way of retrieving the keys from the soup. What? That scene started off fun and then didn't make any sense in the end.

Morgana tries to escort the kid out of Camelot. She makes a mistake by having the child wear the same green cloak that the guards saw him in previously. It's pretty distinctive and easy to spot and along with Morgana's MASSIVE RED CAPE, it would only fool the guards in Robin Hood. Morgana's escape attempt is short lived and she and the boy are captured by Arthur and his guards.

Uther gives the order to execute the boy at dawn. He rants at Morgana for betraying and comes over all bigotted about druids. Morgana wants to know what his beef is with the druids but he's not saying. Uther wants the boy executed as a lesson to Morgana. That's his lesson to everyone, kill a close friend. Remember when he wanted Merlin to die as a lesson to Arthur? Uther is such an unreasonable bastard. In fact, his character is a little too complicated for this show. His shifting morality and role in the show must surely confuse casual viewers and younger kids. If this was a more mature programme, Uther could be a multi-layered bastard on par with Al Swearengen from Deadwood.

Morgana and Arthur decide to break the child out of prison and save him from execution. Merlin doesn't like this plan as the dragon's words have sunk in. Unfortunately Merlin becomes an important part of the escape plan despite his protestations. Merlin tries to get a second opinion from the dragon who almost straight forwardly explains that the boy will kill Arthur. Merlin doesn't accept the notion of predestination (again we're denied a philosophical debate) but the dragon's words do have an impact. Merlin discusses predestination with Gaius instead and decides to do nothing. He's out of the escape attempt!

Morgana distracts Uther by apologising and having dinner with him. Meanwhile Arthur uses a special knock out gas bomb to get rid of the dungeon guards. He must have whipped that up with his chemistry skills. You know, the ones he's never displayed before.

Arthur frees the child and runs down a corridor to a grille but he can't escape as Merlin isn't there to remove the grille from the outside. Arthur draws his sword and prepares to fight off the guards that are searching for the boy. Why he can't just order them to go and look somewhere else, I don't know. You'd think being prince and commander of the garrison would give him that kind of privilidge. The boy uses magic telepathy to guilt trip Merlin into helping him escape by using a scared, whiny, kid voice. Merlin manages to find a grapple hook and rope and saddle Arthur's horse and reomve the grille, all before the guards can walk down a small corridor. Now that's fast.

Uther learns that the boy has escaped. He orders more death with a side order of pain for the escapees and then threatens Morgana again. She's no longer immune from Uther's moods.

Arthur drops the boy off with the druids. How he knew where to find them, I don't know. The boy finally reveals his name to Arthur - Mordred! Dun, dun, dunnnnnn! Of course this makes no sense at all.

So Mordred is going to become an evil version of Merlin? Rather than Arthur's illegitmate son and disgruntled knight? Hmmm, this could be interesting if I had any confidence that the show would do anything with it. I mean, is he going to appear again when he's older to challenge Merlin and Arthur? Or have the writers just thrown in another Arthurian reference to please/bate fans? Either way, I think it's a waste of Mordred as I much prefer him as an arrogant douche of a knight.

Next episode - The Bionic Woman returns! Undead knight! Excalibur?


arbitrary said...

You know you'd rather watch Camelot by those who brought us The Tudors:


Aaron said...

Arrrrrggggghhhhhh! Contemporary Camelot? Excalibur as a mobile phone anyone? Merlin as a hacker? It could be the next Spooks Code 9.

I'd much prefer a Camelot made with the same quality and attention to detail as Rome.