Saturday, 13 October 2012

Review: Merlin 5.2: Arthur's Bane - Part Two

Gwen's actions may seem harsh, but they're just a plot.
So I'm not all sunshine and roses like I was last week. I still enjoyed it, I don't need to feel any pressure not to say bad things about it. I already spent two series ragging on Merlin, I shouldn't do any more, there's no point, not when I enjoyed it so much. But why is it so tempting? The second half of Arthur's Bane was not as perfectly sculpted as its predecessor, and some of the way that it resolved (or appeared to resolve) those plot threads left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. It's probably just me, doing what I normally do and looking at all of the ways that the episode could have advanced the plot in a really interesting and powerful way and then getting disappointed when that didn't happen, but overall there just wasn't the same punch in the resolution as there was in last week's buildup.
     Picking up from last week, and Gwen revealed that sentencing Sefa to death was just a clever ploy to catch her druidic father Ruadan, who's been helping Morgana. Mogana herself has been having nightmares and she reaches out to her now teenaged dragon Aithusa. Ruadan, on cue, turns up at Camelot and is killed helping his daughter to escape. Meanwhile, Merlin and Arthur escape Mordred and the mercenaries, who tell Morgana the bad news as Arthur helps his knights to revolt in the mines. Soon all's gone to pot, and it looks like Morgana is gonna kill Arthur and Merlin... until Mordred shivs her in the back and they escape. Merlin is confused, Mordred is knighted and Morgana, healed by Aithusa, walks off into the snow.
     This series' basic need to to have magic be re-accepted into the world, and that falls squarely upon the central revelation that Merlin has magic and has been helping Arthur with it all this time. And that has to have some time after it, you can't just squish it into the finale and hope for the best. It has to be dealt with over a prolonged period of time and it has to be done well. What better opportunity have you got than the opening story to introduce this as a plot point in your new, more adult series? There were about three occasions where Arthur could have seen merlin use magic, and at every single one something got in the way. I'm probably biased and the writers of the program probably want me to think that Merlin being found out is the worst thing in the whole damn world, but all I want is story progression and if a big messy reveal is gonna do that then that's exactly what I want.
"Sir" Mordred.
     And like, what the hell happened with Ruadan and Sefa? They were really good characters, morally ambiguous villains whose loyalties could be swayed by the actions of our protagonists and the politics of the time, whose motivations weren't based on mad prophecies or deep-seated hatred but on the sheer need to survive. You wasted your Liam Cunningham, Merlin! You wasted him. Worst, it doesn't feel like it's an issue that gonna be raised any time soon; I mean, sure, Sefa will probably back to get revenge etc. but I just wish that they'd done something interesting with the storyline besides the absolutely obvious.
      It wasn't all bad though, pleasingly. Even though I disagreed with some of the things it did, I still really enjoyed Arthur's Bane as a whole. Merlin ended up being really badass, and his powers were used in a way that was both appropriate and intriguing. All of the actual characterisations were right on, everything that heppened made sense from a logical point of view, it was just that I didn't like the way that they did turn out. Overall though, I'm enjoying Merlin's final series thus far. Carry on like this, and I might even recommend it. :D


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