Merlin: A Herald of the New Age

“I had some earlier. If I have too much, I need to pee all the time. Ask Arthur. I'm always peeing.”

Hmmm, a references to Merlin urinating. I have a sneaky suspicion that this just might be a Howard Overman episode.

I feel sorry for this episode in a way. Coming right after one of the series' all time best, it was always going to look inferior. Even with someone as reliable as the creator of Misfits on scripting duties, 'A Herald of the New Age' was doomed to “its alright, but not as good as last week's” status.

First time I watched this episode, I thought it was rather good. Not brilliant fantastic but a decent enough episode. Second time around, however, I was less enthusiastic. This is your basic curse-of-the-week episode and nothing more. In keeping with the darker tone of this season, it was more rooted in horror than previous curse-of-the-week episodes. Unfortunately, all the episode's horror elements are right out of the Great Big Book of Horror Movie Clich├ęs. The biggest was that staple of Asian horror, the creepy drowned child that possessed Elyan (no doubt karma for not helping his sister when she was exiled).

Oh, Elyan. I know you were thirsty cause Gwaine drank all your water, but did you not think it was a bad idea to drink from the well in the shrine that Merlin just told you was cursed? Its not like you live in a world where magic and curses are make believe.

The surprise twist was probably too obvious. Going by his unnerved expression at the shire, along with the ghost's desire to see him dead, it wasn't too hard to put two and two together and get “Jesus Christ! Arthur took part in a massacre?!” I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more fallout from this revelation. By the end of the episode it was pretty much back to business as usually for Merlin and Arthur. I'm hopeful that Arthur's decision to end the persecution of Druids will have a lasting impact, though. With any luck, this will be the first step towards magic no longer being outlawed.

Merthur Moments

Merlin asked Arthur for a hug, followed by Arthur charging at him. Whatever happened next happened off screen, but judging by Merlin's moan, you don't have to be the Great Dragon to know what it was.

Notes and Quotes

--Poor Adetomiwa Edun. He finally gets do something and all he does is spend the entire episode either scared, possessed, soaking wet or getting punched.

--Breaking someone out of the castle's dungeons seems to get easier and easier every season.

--Even after watching Supernatural for nearly seven years, I still don't understand what it is spirits have against salt.

--This isn't the first time creepy drowned children have appeared on Merlin. Uther was haunted by them last season in 'The Tears of Uther Pendragon.'

--I've long believed that “polish my armour” was a euphonium. But no, he actually does have to polish Arthur's armour.

--Poor Leon. Both Gwaine and Percival got to knock out Eylan, why didn't he get a turn?

Leon: “I just can't understand, why would he attack Arthur.”
Percival: “What would you do if your sister had been banished from Camelot?”
Gwaine: “My sister is a evil old toad so I'd be eternally grateful.”

Arthur: “What the hell are you doing creeping around the woods?
Merlin: “Following you, what the hell are you doing creeping around the woods?”

Gwaine: (to Arthur) “What's that in your hair?”
Merlin: “It's stew.”
Leon: “Why do you have stew in your hair?”
Merlin: “Because he was reading.”

Arthur: “Merlin! Good of you to join me. Perhaps I should fill you in on all that's been happening while you've been... that's a good question. What the hell have you been doing?”

Arthur: “Well, after wandering around in the woods all night, knocking yourself out, you must be hungry?”
Merlin: “I'm starving.”
Arthur: “Pull up a chair. Tuck in.”
Merlin: “Oh, thanks very much, I am actually – you're joking.”

Arthur: “I know. I am responsible for what happened to you and for all the violence that happened here. When I led the attack on your camp I was young and inexperienced. I was desperate to prove myself, to my men, to my... father. I told the men to spare the women and children but I know that some of them ignored the order. There was so much happening. I wanted to stop it. I froze. I didn't know what to do. I... I... I can still hear their screams.”

Merlin: “I don't think I've ever seen you cry before, not like that. You had tears running down your cheeks. It's nice to see this new, sensitive, emotional side to you. It suits you.”
Arthur: “Shut up, Merlin.”

We might have got a big revelation about Arthur's past and Bradley James acting his socks off again, but this was nothing more than a bit filler between the big arc episodes. Two and a half out of four Asian horror movie cliches.
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Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

4 comments:

Paul Reed said...

Nice gratuitous Morgana photo. I approve. After an episode like last weeks', it's annoying that the follow up wasn't up to snuff. Merlin's actually capable of being a decent show; but it suffers too much from Doctor Who season two syndrome. You really have to pick through the turkeys to find the golden goose. That's just a made-up saying. There's no goose, and it's not golden. I'm wondering why I even said it now.

Mark Greig said...

In terms of quality, season four does seem to be stuck in some Star Trek films-style odd/even pattern. Only its the odd numbered episodes that are good and the even numbered episodes that are weak. Although I'm sure there are exception since this is not an exact science.

Heather said...

One of the weaker Merlin episodes, but still had some great Merther quotes. I think the main flaw was that we were supposed to worry about Elyan but his character really hasn't been fleshed out so it wasn't easy to care.

topher darling said...

I dropped this show after season 3 but I started watching it again due to browsing through your reviews and seeing that there is a Merther section. Thanks for renewing my interest. Your review was spot-on. Not a great episode but it was nice that Arthur was shown mourning for Gwen and that he did right by Eylan to atone for banishing her.