Saturday, 15 December 2012

Review: Merlin 5.11: The Drawing of the Dark

Kara forms the catalyst for the episode's atrocities.
It's a weird experience, to be honest. Never before in this series have I so hated its primary protagonists. But this episode, and many others, show us that at least by today's standards, Merlin, Arthur and Gwen are all horrible, horrible people. In fact, most of the characters in this week's episode, bar Mordred, made incredibly dodgy and/or stupid decisions. It's taken longer this series for me to start rooting for the villain (it took three episodes in Series Three, if you remember), but I'm afraid to say that the time has finally come.
     A druid girl called Kara has offed some traders in the woods, and when the knights search for her Mordred lets her go, as she's his childhood sweetheart. Merlin, who's being an ass this week, is unnecessarily confrontational about the whole thing and later pretty much leads Arthur to her out of spite. It turns out that she, quite rightfully, is a bit pissed off at Camelot's long history of murdering magicians. Pointing out that he wouldn't have done anything had she not just committed murder, Arthur sentences her to death. Mordred, having picked up on Merlin's douchebaggery, is distraught and tries to convince Arthur to let her go. When he refuses, he goes to set her free and run away with her. Not content to just fuck up once, Merlin tells Arthur of Mordred's plan and both end up incarcerated. When Arthur offers Kara the chance to repent, she spits it in his face and everyone gathers round for a good old-fashioned decapitation. Sick and tired of the wtfery, Mordred breaks out and heads off to Morgana, revealing to her that Merlin has been Emrys all this damn time.
     At one time in Merlin's history, I could have been forgiven for thinking that Arthur and Gwen were fundamentally good people bound by an unfortunate dogma and that Merlin was hanging around them to try and change that dogma. But this past series has showed, if anything, that Merlin has simply become one of them; he has made little-to-no efforts this series to try and change the fate of magic users and has, on several occasions including in this episode, simply affirmed Arthur's views. Instead of the steady move towards change that should have happened, the writers have for some reason chosen to make it as unrealistic as possible for there to be a powerful magic reveal in these last two episodes.
I'm on Mordred's side now, you understand.
      And that fucking pisses me off, man. I want to like this show, I really really do. I've tried. When it's good, it's brilliant, but here we have one of the best episodes in a while and Mordred is so well written, but at the same time the protagonists we're supposed to be rooting for are cosily sitting down to watch an execution. I understand that it's the 12th Century and values are different, but no matter how verbally (and, when given the chance, actively) hostile Kara was, nothing good could ever have come from killing her. Now, as anyone could have predicted, you've not only got yet another magical casualty to add to Camelot's list, but an incredibly pissed off druid on the enemy's side.
      I stopped being objective with Merlin a long time ago, I know that. I don't think I'd have as much fun with Merlin as I do have if I wasn't raging at it every once and a while. But Series Five, after starting off in such a promising way, has been doing its best to frustrate me more and more each week. I don't know what's going to happen in the finale starting next week, but I know that whatever happens, Merlin isn't going to end in a way that will ever really satisfy its fanbase. And that's a sad, sad thing.


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