Merlin: The Kindness of Strangers

“Let loose the hounds of war. Let the dread fire of the last priestess reign down from angry skies. For brother will slaughter brother. For friend will murder friend. As the great horn sounds, a cold dawn at Camlann. The prophets do not lie. There Arthur will meet his end, upon that mighty plain.”

I swore to myself that if Morgana didn't find out the truth about Merlin by the end of this episode I was going to scream. Well, it is a few days later and my throat is still sore.

I honestly don't think the writers have done a good job plotting out this season. Going in they knew that this would be the show's final season. Rather than carefully building toward the grand climax at Camlann, they've mostly mucked around like it is business as normal. Too much of the season was wasted on the Evil Gwen saga, which has already been forgotten about by everyone and will more likely have no bearing at all on the finale. That time would've been better spent developing Mordred's character, his ties to Arthur and Camelot, and planting the seeds of his eventual betrayal. Instead it looks like they are going to rush through all of that next week.

In the meantime, we had to endure the colossal waste of time that was this episode. Yes, it was rich on atmosphere and a sense of foreboding, but like most episodes this season, it promised more than it delivered. We got some cryptic warnings about the battle ahead, but we've been getting them since the start of the season so nothing new there. Oh, and Morgana declared war on Arthur. Again, nothing new there because she's pretty much been at war with him since the end of season 3. Morgana has been stuck in a rut since then. When she's not coming up with dastardly plots to bring down Arthur and Camelot, she's coming up with dastardly plots to find out who Emrys really is. As yet, none have proven to be successful. But High Priestesses of the Old Religion have never been ones to let failure get them down.

So here we are again, with Morgana on the hunt for the elusive Emrys. Having once again acquired an army and fortress from seemingly out of nowhere, she chases down Alator from "The Secret Sharer" and tortured him to find out who Emrys is. But he keeps his gob shut so she kills him. She then goes after Finna hoping she will tell her who Emrys is. No such luck, she kills herself before Morgana can put her in the comfy chair. So in the end Morgana is right back where she started, with no clue who Emrys really is.

If you think about it, it is absolutely absurd at this point that Morgana still doesn't know that Merlin is Emrys. In the five years this show has been on, Merlin has yet to encounter a single wizard, witch, warlock, sorcerer, sorceress, druid, pixie, fairy, or any other assortment of magical creatures that didn't know he was Emrys. Morgana seems to be the only one with magic in all of Albion who hasn't been let in on this big secret that isn't really that big of a secret. It is like they have all conspired to keep this from her.

Druid: "Psst, Emrys is the king's servant, pass it on."
Witch: "Really?"
Druid: "Aye, but don't tell Morgana, it's a secret."
Witch: "But why?"
Druid: "It just is, okay!"

Merthur Moments

Arthur is still taking Merlin with him on quiet romantic getaways with his wife. Makes me wonder what his honeymoon was like.

Familiar Faces

Sorcha Cusack is an Irish actress who has appeared in in the likes of Casualty, The Bill, Coronation Street and most recently Mrs Brown's Boys. Her sisters Sinéad, Niamh and Catherine are also actresses (they're like an acting version of the Nolans).

Notes and Quotes

--Silly Finna, did no one tell you that you never just pull out an arrow like that. Were you trying to kill Merlin? Who taught you First Aid?

--Gwen seems to be over her possession. No lasting trauma at all. She and Arthur are going on like nothing has happened.

--The Great Dragon showed up again to do that thing where he swoops in at the last minute and saves Merlin's life. Turns out the old fella is dying. You'd think now would be a good time for him and Merlin to actually have a chat about Aithusa being with Morgana, but no.

--How stupid was Alator? He went through all the trouble of resisting Morgana's torture and then just left Finna's letter lying around in his cell where anyone could find it.

Merlin: “You were grateful enough for them when Gaius cured your palsy.”

Merlin: “What will I do without you?”
Dragon: “You will remember me”

Merlin: “What are you doing?”
Arthur: “I’m going to surprise her. Breakfast in bed.”
Merlin: “Oh, what a lovely thought.”
Arthur: “Where are you going?”
Merlin: “You don’t need me, do you?”
Arthur: “I can’t very well go and get the breakfast, can I? What if she wakes up and… panics?”
Merlin: “Panics?”

Another disappointing episode from what has quickly become a rather disappointing season. Two out of four secrets everyone is keeping from Morgana.
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Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

3 comments:

Nox said...

And this is exactly why (non-creepy) fanfiction was created. Because the writers refuse to think about the grand scheme of things, so we as the fandom are forced to console ourselves with our own version of things.
I would put hard money down that they aren't going to deal with the reveal until the very last second. Heck, I wouldn't put it past them to not have a reveal at all. I hope not, but would I be terribly surprised? Nope. I love Merlin, but to still have Merlin's magic a secret to...just about everyone is absolutely enraging. Even more so since the writers *knew* this was going to be the last season. *sigh*

Stephen A said...

Well done episode in terms of acting and cinematography, though I am on the same page as the previous commentators - the storyline did not move forward one iota while the entire production's end is uncomfortably imminent. I think this and the other plot-holes and foibles can be attributed to having multiple screenwriters who don't seem to bother to collaborate. One piece that didn’t add up is why Merlin was able to help himself after being shot by an arrow. Is there an unwritten law we haven’t been told about that forbids one to use magic to heal him/herself? I recognize that Merlin's wound was used as a plot point to necessitate calling the Dragon, but isn't it a little odd that despite all of the healing acts Merlin has performed by virtue of magic (not to mention that he is trained in the art of a physician) that he could not heal himself? Merlin has summoned lightning from the sky, initiated powerful whirlwinds, made the earth to violently quake, healed Morgana (which he most certainly regrets), healed Uther (were it not for the spell-reversing necklace, Uther would have lived), healed Arthur against deadly poison which was coursing through his veins, and performed countless other feats of magic, yet he could do nothing for himself? If neither he nor Finna could have healed his would, perhaps some sort of explanation would have been in order. Still, after all is said and done, hindsight is indeed 20/20 and we can't go back now, so let us forge ahead and see what they come up with next...

Stephen A said...

...One piece that didn’t add up is why Merlin WASN'T able to help himself after being shot by an arrow...