Saturday, 17 November 2012

Review: Merlin 5.7: A Lesson In Vengeance

I'm Morgana now. So that's cool.
Series Three was a frustrating mess, for the simple reason that seeing Morgana manage to get away with her shit week-in-week-out without any suspicions from the main cast until half-way through the series felt like an insult to the viewer's intelligence. Because the status-quo of the traitor's malificence had to be kept up, that meant that very often the plot didn't go anywhere, and thus it nearly struck the series into submission before the wise decision to finally off Uther. This episode, and its refusal to have altered the status quo by the end, sees a return to that form of storytelling. And that really, really pissed me off.
     When simple-minded stable-master Tyr Seward is sentenced to death for the attempted assassination of the King, Merlin starts to become suspicious. Everyone knows that Seward is not guilty, and when Merlin questions him behind the King's back, he discovers that he is being threatened. Of course, Gwen is acting all suspicious and totally uncharacteristic due to her mind-fuck last week, and also as usual, nobody except Merlin seems to notice. Gwen kills Seward to stop him from saying any more. The knights catch Morgana and Gwen conspiring in the woods, but she gets away before she's seen. While Morgana gets some super-painful poison, Gwen belies Arthur's suspicions - even as Merlin and Gaius find a piece of her cloak in the woods. She poisons him and then places the blame squarely on Merlin, who of course, after all this fucking time, still gets immediately arrested. Gaius works out that she's the traitor from a single conversation, and gives him some magic old-man potion so he can get out. Merlin heals Arthur, Gwen is still brainwashed and nothing meaningful has happened.
     The main problem in A Lesson In Vengeance came with our suspension of disbelief; it was strange seeing Gwen suddenly jump to instantly hate Arthur last week and, unlike Morgana, we can't see exactly why she does so. It's become the case that the writers are simply unable to write the series without a traitor of some kind, like they got six episodes in and just had a relapse. It's really frustrating to see, and after I spent so much time ranting then and so much time praising recently... it's like a personal attack, see. That's what it feels like. I know it's not, and I'm sure the Merlin writers are lovely people who wish to cause noone any harm, but goddamn do they need to forget this entire format.
Stop it, writers. You're making me hate that smirk.
      Nothing more to say, really. If you want to get a glimpse of what happens in this episode, just go to any Series Three review and replace Morgana with Gwen, and then take away all shred of likability. I'm sure Angel Coulby had a lot of fun playing her evil side, but it doesn't make sense from any standpoint - in-universe, narratively, structurally - it's a format that needs to die, and quickly, and if the same thing happens next week I may just refuse to review it.


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