When I started this recap journey it was out of a sense of duty to report on the truly terrible shows so that you, gentle viewer/reader, didn't have to. So now here's the deal; Merlin isn't terrible anymore. It's mediocre. And mediocre ain't as much fun to watch and take the mickey out of. Series two has been an improvement on the first series but it's still a long way from the kind of show I'd watch and enjoy. Writing recaps for Merlin has been more of a chore this year so I guess this means Merlin has managed to promote itself out of recap worthiness.
I thought I'd better finish off the series for you and just pretend that I recapped the other episodes. I'm sure that in the last few eipsodes some important guest stars visited and were killed/sent back to magical guest star land, and I'm sure the dragon resolved the crisis of the week by giving Merlin a new spell or a piece of information. I'm sure nothing has changed the status quo...
He freed the dragon? Really? And now it's levelling the castle with its CGI fire breath? Morgana has gone off somewhere after being poisoned? So now there's actually a reason not to write anything for her? Well, this could be interesting...
So apparently Merlin finally got around to releasing John Hurt Dragon from beneath Camelot and now the dragon's going on a kill crazy rampage. You would too if you'd spent two series stuck underneath a castle with only Merlin for occasional company. Even then, Merlin's not really visiting you out of friendship but out of necessity, "Oooh, help me Great Dragon, a nasty sorcerer is casting mean spells and I can't be bothered to get off my arse and learn how to defeat him. Do you have any spells lying around I could use so I don't have to think so hard?" Damn kid treating you like Patrick Moore in Gamesmaster. He even gets stroppy when you ask him to help you escape your confinement. And does he ever bring you any food? No, you have to live off fungus and mold that grows in the damp cavern you call home. Burning is too good for the likes of him.
Arthur runs around using his best shouty HERO VOICE. The red cloaked Camelot mooks follow him around and prepare to shoot the dragon down with flaming crossbow bolts. But the plan fails because it would be a short episode otherwise, and also because you can't kill a high level creature with a few level one NPCs armed with crossbows.
The CGI dragon is actually pretty well done in this episode but it's a shame they didn't get the eyes right. The eyes are glassy and lifeless giving the dragon a puppet-like visage which makes me think of these guys:
If you know what that is, you are a nerd and I love you. Bless you.
Merlin tries one of his spells but John Hurt is all, "Damn punk! I taught you everything you know, your petty magic cannot defeat me! You will have to find a deus ex machina solution WITHOUT my help this time!"
Everyone gathers in court while the dragon takes a breather. Then Gaius brings up the Dragonlords, "Hey Uther, remember those guys you hunted down and killed for being slightly magic? The dudes who can kill dragons? It sure would be nice to have one of those guys around. It's a pity you had them all killed isn't it? Looks like we're all going to die then. Oh no, wait a minute, I saved one of them. Yeah, me Gaius, the guy you always ignore the advice of. I don't know where he is but I'm pretty sure he's still alive after 18 years or so. He was last seen, 18 years ago, in the nation of HateUtherBekistan. I'm almost certain he's still there and hasn't moved on at all." Arthur volunteers to visit the nation that will kill him on sight to recover a guy who has probably changed address. This is probably because the odds of survival are better than staying in Camelot to be roasted alive by John Hurt. Gaius also mentions that Balinor the Dragonlord is Merlin's father. Merlin moans a lot. Sheesh kid, it's not like your dad's Darth Vader, he's a Dragonlord and that sounds pretty METAL to me.
Arthur and Merlin travel to HateUtherBekistan where, after a trip to the Prancing Pony, they find Balinor living in a cave. Balinor is Steve Carell wearing a wig and a beard.
Balinor does not trust Merlin and Arthur because Uther tricked and then tried to kill him years ago. Uther had Balinor use his magic Dragonlord powers to summon John Hurt Dragon and then Uther imprisoned the dragon for a laugh. This is against the Dragonlord code or something so Balinor is still upset. Also, Uther tried to kill him.
Merlin spends ages deciding whether to tell Balinor that he is his offspring. There are lots of close ups of Merlin's anguished face and teary eyes. Finally he puts us out of our misery and tells Balinor that he's his son. Probably. Balinor seems okay with this but can't show any feelings as Arthur is around and Merlin doesn't want him to know because God forbid that Arthur and Merlin should genuinely bond and share some secrets after two series (of course there is probably plenty of slash fic out there with Arthur and Merlin 'sharing'.)
Meanwhile some peasants in Camelot run around in slow motion whilst putting out fires - there is a lot of slow motion in this episode, either it under ran or slow motion and dreary music is shorthand for SAD :(. Gwen and Gaius mention Morgana in case you were wondering where she is. Gwen loves Arthur again now, despite dropping him as soon as she saw Lancelot showing off as a cage fighter, the fickle girl.
Now that Balinor knows Merlin's secret he's marked for death. Death comes in the form of some troops from HateUtherBekistan who engage in a slow motion swordfight. Yes, someone's been watching Fellowship of the Ring again as they try to recreate Sean Bean's death in that movie. Balinor is run through by a mook but manages to tell Merlin that he has inherited his magical Dragonlord power. Yes Merlin, the power was within you all along! Merlin cries a bit when he should be figuring out how his awesome new Dragonlord powers work.
Arthur gathers up the troops in Camelot for one last attack against John Hurt. Merlin comes along too despite not having spent any time trying to figure out his Dragonlord powers. I guess he's hoping that a deus ex machina ending will spring unbound from his lips. The dragon arrives and kills the Camelot red cloaks quickly with a blast of flame. So much for them. Arthur is taken out pretty quickly by a swipe from the dragon's claw, which leaves Merlin alone against the dragon.
Luckily for Merlin he suddenly discovers that he can command dragons by chanting nonsense. Brilliant, convenient and not an expensive special effect!
John Hurt bows before Merlin but pleads for his life, so Merlin allows him to live. The dragon then basically states, "Ahhhh, you passed the test! By not killing me you have passed the Not Killing The Awesome Dragon Who Always Used To Help You Test! That means you will become a mighty wizard and not a dragon killing jerk. I'm sure our paths will cross again when I need some easy money for some quick voiceover work."
Back at Camelot, everyone gets teary eyed and Gaius and Merlin walk off in slow motion.
OR IS IT?
Well, no it isn't as a third series has been commissioned. I won't be covering it though unless Merlin goes back to its series one level of quality. For now it's a show that's not good enough to be praised and not poor enough to be mocked.
Now with that out of the way I can continue my other series such as My Favourite Episodes and Stupid Films That I Love. But don't worry about recaps, wherever there are bad shows I'll be there waiting, sharpening my... uh, keyboard in anticipation.