So, here are some thoughts on The Last Dragonlord:
- "Why are you doing this?" yells Merlin to the Slash Dragon, who is having an enormous hissy fit and demanding to be treated as a BNF (Big Nasty Firebreather). Well, aside from the fact that it's the end of the series and somebody's got to generate a bit of drama, I suppose he's providing an excuse for Merlin to pull angst-ridden guilty expressions, for Gaius to wear his all-new Action!Gaius outfit (with shorter skirts for faster scuttling), and for Arthur to go all throaty-voiced from yelling constantly and whip his shirt off at the drop of a hat. What more reason do you need?
- "The dead number 49 men, 27 women..." - But since there are only six people in Camelot with a speaking part and they are all very much alive, it's rather hard to care, innit?
- Anyway, it is decided that what Camelot needs is a Dragonlord. The last of the Dragonlords, in fact, since Uther
blew up their planethad them all killed. Hmm, I wonder whether the last one is an angsty type who strides around in a long coat, brooding on his own loneliness? What are the chances, viewers?
- "Why didn't my mother tell me any of this?" - She had your best interests at heart, Merlin. First law of drama: never give away any information that could later be used as a shock reveal, especially close to a major public holiday.
- "Greetings!" - Oh dear, I fear that Arthur's been reading one of those deliberately misleading guidebooks about how to behave in British pubs. But although his chosen drinking establishment isn't very welcoming to outsiders, it does have a slashtastic room-sharing policy AND a dress code that allows crop tops made of bloodstained bandages (you may mock, but all the hot princes will be wearing them next season).
Merlin tries not to laugh at Arthur's impression of the sweeping Camelot countryside with bulbous mountains to the left.
- "I know I'm a prince so we can't be friends, but if I wasn't a prince..." - If you weren't a prince, Arthur, maybe Merlin would insist that if you remove all intruders from the bedroom before you jump on his bed in the middle of the night and wave your royal prerogative about. But he's much too polite to mention it.
- Hello, hairy but apparently unsmelly man in a cave who is an eminent Irish character actor in disguise. You must be Merlin's daddy. We can tell this because despite living in a less-than-cosmopolitan neighbourhood with no obvious broadband connection, Balinor immediately knows that the key to any plotline is to get Arthur's shirt off and whisper some gobbledegook. Like father, like son, eh?
- So the dragon's real name is Kilgarra?? No wonder he doesn't use it in public. He's probably sick of telling people not to call him Garry for short.
- Merlin's dad thinks Merlin has his mother's kindness, but I note that his ears are still unaccounted for. If neither parent has them, did they come from an obscure cousin, or was he perhaps hung out on a washing line to dry as a child?
- It seems that everyone but Gaius has forgotten Morgana, at least until next season rolls around. Even Gwen isn't that bothered, now she's got groping rights to Arthur's chest and Gaius seemingly keen to become her new gal-pal confidante for all matters of the heart. I fully expect the next episode to begin with them doing each other's hair and giggling about BOYS.
- As a surprise to nobody who remembered Merlin foreseeing his own tearstained face, Merlin's daddy bites the big one. But never fear, because Merlin's big ARGH gives him a great opportunity to show off a new telekinetic knight-tossing trick that he apparently learned from Mordred (and I think Mordred may have got it from watching Heroes, actually).
- So we're one Dragonlord down, and the next one in line is busy fretting about his phallic Freudian failure to perform against the dragon earlier in the episode. In the absence of any better ideas, Arthur rounds up a dozen knights for a
quick orgybrave self-sacrificing stand-off, promising them eternal glory and a chance to do a stoic expression in close-up before they die horribly.
- If this episode proves anything, it's that when Merlin is distracted by plotlines of his own, Arthur always believes he's playing hard to get and is forced to ever greater extremes to display his affections. Throwing things, slapping him, poking him with long objects: check, check, check. But no crying, because apparently that's for girls.
Merlin is special. His eyes glow when he does magic, and his ears glow when he does Arthur.
- Cry heigh-ho alackday for Sir Leon Regular-Speaking-Part, whose Camelot career seems to have been brought to an untimely end by a nasty dragon-based barbecueing incident. We will mourn his passing, and remember the way he used to occasionally say something plot-enhancing when all around him stayed stoic, silent and resentful of his slightly higher salary.
- Oh great, another mystic language for Merlin to stretch his tongue around, and this one slightly different to the first. I'm not sure what he actually said to get the Slash Dragon's attention, but it started with "Dragon" and the last words sounded like "kiss ass", so I imagine the bit in the middle may have been a summary of a piece of raging hot slash fic he's working on. No wonder the dragon had to have a sit-down.
- When Merlin gazed into the magic iTouch crystal and had his little flashforward a couple of weeks ago, we were shown some dragon rampaging, some burnin' in Camelot, and Merlin having a big old sniffle. At the time, I thought "That's not giving much away, there must be a lot more to the finale than that." Morgause? Morgana? Magic? Revelations? But no it turns out that there wasn't much more to it than we were shown, unless you count a bit of hanging about in the woods and a smattering of soapy family angst. Still, this episode managed to hold my interest with some solid acting from Balinor, some thorough exploration of Merlin's wide range of heartbreaking facial expressions, and some shameless exploitation of Arthur's love of semi-nudity combined with his propensity to fall unconscious just when there's important plot exposition going on. There was a story here that needed to be covered at some point, but given that I was expecting a no-holds-barred all-arrows-blazing finale, it was stonkingly short on actual thrills.
- Are there any more taunting, teasing words in the English language than "WILL RETURN"? Suggestions on a postcard, please, and I hope to reveal the answers at some point before next autumn rolls around...