Thursday, 6 December 2012

Review: Merlin 5.9: With All My Heart

I'm getting tired of your faces.
Written 6/12/12. And yes, that is five days after this aired.

Hmmm. That was my lasting impression of this episode, a long hum that seemed to last for about ten minutes. I don't dislike the episode, for sure. There's a hell of a lot there to like - character development of some of our leads, finally getting away from this stupid brainwashed Gwen subplot, setting us up for Merlin's magic reveal. At the same time, there were a few things that made me just wonder whether the writers will ever accept that the show has to move on soon. Things that need to be addressed if we're ever to have a satisfying resolution.
      Gaius, being the clever exposition-delivery-machine that he is, worked out that Gwen had been brainwashed using an ancient ritual and can only be unbrainwashed if she somehow walks into some river by her own free will. Merlin finds his stuff out by visiting an old crone, whom he threatens with Excalibur to get information out of. As Merlin and Arthur head off with an unconscious Gwen to sort it all out the Dochraide sends word to Morgana, who attempts to ambush them but whom is stopped by a damn-awesome Mordred popping in at the last second. They do the ritual, everything fine and dandy and this stupid arc comes to an end once and for all.
    What the writers have essentially done is realised rather late that this arc was Series Three in brief, and so have fallen on their swords in order to tie it up as soon as possible. Arthur's discovery of Gwen's betrayal is left for between the episodes, robbing us of some potential for Drama. This wasn't the only oversight, however. The writers seemed to go down a LOST-y kind of route and just completely lost the plot in their desire to finish off the plotline, firing off random exposition and out of character moments in order to try and salvage something of use. Of particular annoyance was the way in which Arthur acted completely and utterly dismissive of Merlin, after these five years (implied to be many, many more if we go by the strange shit that happened to Mordred). It implies a kind of apathy by the writers; one that couldn't help but inspire similar apathy in me.
      But by far the worst of the writers' shit came with Merlin's ever-present costumes, which seem to be the writers' calling card - let's provide some comedy while having a useful plot device. The old Dragoon was thrown out for very little apparent reason in the first half of the episode, and was used in a way which felt unnecessarily brutalistic. Merlin takes great joy in stabbing the Dochraide, almost a little too much, and it's a pointlessly bloody scene. And then we follow that on by using the rather un-PC joke of "Let's make Merlin a tranvestite and laugh at him for it", wherin I got the feeling that Colin Morgan looked at his career thus far and wondered where he had gone wrong.
If I have to see Dragoon one more time, there will be consequences.
I mean, really none-threatening, wimpy consequences. But still.
      This review is late, I get it. And that's because I didn't have any inclination to write about Merlin or Misfits this week, simply because of how sick and tired I am of doing so. These past weeks have been disappointing for Merlin, but it's my real, desperate hope that things improve before the series takes its final bow just after Christmas. All it needs is to remember its damn characterisations, work in enough drama and make something that's entertaining for reasons other than cheap jokes about age and gender.


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