Merlin: The Drawing of the Dark

“No matter what he preaches, he is no different from his father: a tyrant, a brute.”

Like so much of this season, 'The Drawing of the Dark' was well crafted, exceptionally acted, but disappointingly predictable. It played out exactly as I expected it would. I would love to say this was me being brilliantly intuitive, but we all know that would be a big fat lie. The preview trailer from last week pretty much gave it all away.

Kara, Mordred's one true love - who has never been mentioned or seen before, showed up from out of nowhere and forced him to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to Arthur. You don't have to be Carnac the Magnificent to know where this was going. In next to no time Kara was pushing up daisies and Mordred was at Morgana's feet telling her just who the hell that Emrys bloke she'd been looking for really was. Dun-Dun-DUUUNNN!!!

Mordred's turn to the dark side was inevitable. We've been heading for this moment pretty much since the first season. I just wish the show had handled it in a way that actually made me give a damn. The writers clearly want us to feel like this is some great tragedy, but considering how little we've actually seen of Mordred this season, it is very hard to feel that way. For such a crucial character it still bemuses me how underused Mordred has been this season. As a result he has never really had the chance come alive as a character in his own right.

Since it was introduced and raced through in a single episode, it was very difficult to become invested in the love story between Mordred and Kara. Throughout the episode we're told that they were madly in love, but I never really got a sense that Mordred and Kara were a pair of star-crossed lovers. This was no fault of the actors, who did their best with the material they were given. But that material wasn't very good. Maybe it would've been a better fit if Kara had been Mordred's sister instead of an ex-girlfriend who was clearly a little too fond of stabbing people.

Credit has to go to Alexander Vlahos. He hasn't really been given much of a chance to show us what he can do this season, but he acts his little socks off here, really selling us Mordred's internal struggle. I just hope now he's joined the bad guys he becomes a panto villain like Morgana. In their effort to turn Mordred to the dark side while still keeping him sympathetic, the writers have essentially turned him into a less wooden, more likeable Anakin Skywalker. There was a distinct whiff of 'Revenge of the Sith' about this entire set up. Think about it - Boy meets girl. Boy falls madly in love with girl. Love for girl causes boy to betray his friends. Girl dies. Boy takes it badly. Joins bad guys. Starts wearing black exclusively. Later kills best mate. Dies and gets replaced by a CGI Asa Butterfield in the Exclusive Remastered Special Edition Blu-Ray Re-Re-Release.

Merlin has realised too late how wrong he has been about Mordred. Instead of averting Arthur's fate he's all but ensured it. The frustrating thing is that Merlin should know better. He learned in 'The Crystal Cave' that if you try to change the future you sometimes ensure it comes to pass. He seems to have forgotten than lesson entirely this season. He's been so obsessed with getting rid of Mordred that he never once stopped to think that might be the wrong course of action.

While Merlin was mucking things up, Arthur once again proved that he is not the tyrant his enemies think he is. Following Merlin's advice, and because of his fondness for Mordred, he gave Kara a chance to repent, to save herself and Mordred. Uther would've never done that. Alas, she didn't take it. I never thought she would. Kara was a fanatic who refused to see Arthur as anything other than a monster. I did find it odd, however, that Mordred wasn't there when Arthur made his offer. The only reason he was willing to show Kara mercy was for Mordred, so why leave him in his cell during all this? Man, I hate if when writers make characters do dumb things because it serves the plot.

Merthur Moments

Gaius: "He's fond of the king. The feeling is mutual. They've become great friends."
Merlin: "That's my fear. Arthur's blind to him. I'm not. I won't make that same mistake."

Jeez, Merlin. Could you sound any more like a jealous boyfriend?

Familiar Faces

Alexandra Dowling (Kara) is a relative newcomer, but, like so many Merlin guest stars, she'll soon be seen on Game Of Thrones in the crucial role of Roslin Frey. Trust me, you won't forget that episode.

Notes and Quotes

--Sorry, Gwen, but magic is a greater weapon than love and respect. Love and respect can't blow a jail door open.

--Thank god Mordred's "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" moment was not as embarrassing as Vader's.

--Could Kara and Mordred be anymore obvious in front of that guard?

Merlin: “I’m like a swan. Seems like I’m not doing anything but there’s a lot of work going on underneath.”

Arthur: "I think it's been a good trip."
Mordred: "Yeah, we all caught something."
Gwaine: "Including Merlin."
Arthur: "What did he catch?"
Merlin: "A cold!"

Kara: "You're a druid. You don't belong in Camelot."
Mordred: "I believe in Arthur. You'll see. One day, it will change."
--That's what Merlin keeps saying and yet funnily enough nothing ever changes.

Two and a half out of four Exclusive Remastered Special Edition Blu-Ray Re-Re-Releases.
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Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Arrgh. So frustrated. This plot should've been at least 2 episodes. I kept wanting to see more of Mordred earlier this season, but instead we got that silly evil Gwen plot. And now only a few episodes left till the end and this Mordred betrayal feels extremely rushed. All I can say is I really hope Merlin's magic is revealed to Arthur in the next episode to at least give the show a little room to work with it.

Juliette said...

I thought this one was pretty good, but it falls foul of something that comes up over and over again in lots of different versions of Arthurian legend - dumb prophecies that people cause to happen in trying to prevent them. Makes it hard to surprise the audience...