What I thought was proper for battle, I see now is proper for love
Time for Merlin again, and given this show's record with historical and scientific accuracy, it's no shock that down Camelot way, the Darkest Hour not only comes before the dawn but somehow lasts for a total of 90 minutes. So here are some thoughts about The Darkest Hour (Part II):
So where are we? Ah yes. Howling sound effects are everywhere, a blood sacrifice is needed, Arthur's determined to become one, and Merlin's an icicle. Or perhaps he's more like a Solero in reverse: icy on the outside, but still fruity on the inside.
"You're quiet." / "That's what happens after three days listening to Gwaine." - hee hee, it seems that it IS possible to have too much of a good thing. And Gwaine, you might want to be more careful when you're hunting for honey, honey, even if it does make you seem even more Tigger-like than you already are.
Lancelot offers to give Merlin a lift home, using a cunning shortcut through the Valley of the Fallen Kings (as featured last season), where conveniently magical things have a tendency to happen. Sure enough, the first big pond they find happens to be full of Vilia (sp?), a strange set of sparkly bubble ladies who just can't wait to tickle Merlin with their glittery lights and make him well again. "We will stay with you and protect you through the night", they tell Lancelot. "Also, if you want to strip off and have a leisurely nude scene wash or anything, we'd be totally okay with watching protecting you while you do it. We're considerate that way."
"These tunnels are crawling with Wilddeoren!" says Gwaine. Oh, that's fine, says Arthur. As long as it's something we've already fought in a previous series, the BBC won't charge us any extra for it.
Much hilarity as the glorious Gwaine pulls twice in one evening (or three times if you count the bees from earlier). Firstly and most shamelessly with Percival ("Never knew you cared" - well, we ALL know now, lads), and secondly and rather less delightfully with a giant naked mole rat. Ouch, that's got to be a frontrunner for this year's Least Appealing Snog of the Season contest. And it's likely to go unchallenged unless Uther marries another troll…
Never mind, Gwaine. Even if you regret it in the morning, a score is still a score.
Meanwhile back at Camelot, the locals are getting restless and it's all the fault of that big meanie Agravaine, who's taking this opportunity to instigate a worryingly Conservative policy towards the sharing of limited resources in difficult times: i.e. people in big castles should have them, the working classes outside shouldn't. Never let it be said that this show isn't packed with topical political comment! Fortunately, Gwen is around to make a plucky speech and even wins the support of Sir Geoffrey of Bulletbaxter (i.e. the only other person present with a speaking part), so Agravaine is forced to grin unconvincingly and get his gates open for those pesky peasants.
Oh look, Lancelot's joined the Camelot Homoerotic Breakfast Club. There's only one membership requirement: wake up muttering Merlin's name. Fortunately Merlin is feeling much perkier now and his big phallic stick is primed for action. If you don't object to the taste of fish in the morning, Lancelot, today could be your lucky day…
In a seething rage, Agravaine heads for Morgana's holiday cabin in the woods for a spot of whining about Gwen. Huddled in her designer knitwear and cheesed off that she can't find anywhere to plug in her curling tongs, Morgana is only to happy to join in. "We must make sure that she never sees another dawn!" she threatens. Nice idea, Morgana. Why don't you come up with a half-arsed plan to make Gwen fall over in some mud, and hope baselessly that this will be enough to kill her, while unwittingly ensuring that she remains entirely safe for the rest of the season? Just an idea, you don't have to do it… ooops, you've done it anyway.
So, while Agravaine plies Gwen with cocktails and desultory chat about social justice, Morgana scuttles into Camelot via the backdoor and braces herself to use her favourite spell: Makus Peepol Fallova! More deadly curses may well be available, but Morgana never bothers to learn any of them. She's lucky that the Camelot redcloaks are so literally soft in the skull.
Since Gwaine has pulled the "flirt with Percival" card for this week, Elyan finds himself entrusted with the "give Arthur an uplifting speech" task. And he does it very nicely too, despite the distraction of Gwaine and Percival tossing swords in the background, having totally forgotten that it is in fact possible to sit in a wood and do NON-suggestive things.
Merlin and Lancelot discover a hut where bad things happen to fluffy animals (boo), but even the presence of a dead peasant can't stop them from having a romantic night in. Lance claims he doesn't think about Gwen any more and that Arthur's the better man. Merlin: surely YOU know whether Lance or Arthur is the better man? After all, you've woken up with both of them plenty of times. But we never find out, because the Dorocha attack and Merlin is obliged to yell for the Slash Dragon, who's only too happy to burn a few ghostly skulls in return for some blatant foreshadowing about how super brave and noble Lancelot is, HINT HINT.
"From the moment I met you, I saw something that was invisible. Now it is there for all to see." - yes, the Dragon is of course talking about THE SLASH. Merlin's big Arthur love is just oozing out of him from all angles. By this point, it could probably be seen from space, if only there were an anachronistic rocket flying by to spot it.
"Why am I always the butt?" - Crikey, is Gwaine being paid by the innuendo this week? I'm not complaining, but it does render my commentary a little bit superfluous. Still, I was overjoyed to see that when Merlin turned up and there were manly embraces all round, Gwaine and Merlin got a special hug on their own. (I really want Gwaine to be Merlin's bestest mate again, now that Lancelot is… ooops, I mustn't get ahead of myself.)
Much, much love for Arthur and Merlin and their grim determination to sacrifice themselves to save each other. The only disappointment was that nobody suggested sacrificing one of Gwaine's socks instead. It probably counts as a separate lifeform, after all.
At long last, they arrive at the Isle of the Brian Blessed, and promptly get pounced on by a Wvyern! Merlin has to unsubtly mutter "GTFO!" in Dragonlordish because they don't have the time or money for another big CGI beast battle at this point. No, they've got to find a big vaginal hole in the world and gaze into it with varying degrees of surprise. Which they do, because these particular boys don't see that kind of thing very often. Strange, that.
Oh look, it's Madam Pomfrey again, just in time for the first BCUs (Bouts of Convenient Unconsciousness) of this season! First, Gwaine gets knocked out so he can't see the magic happen, and then Merlin knocks Arthur into his first plot coma of the year. Don't worry viewers, I'm sure it won't be his last.
"Will you give yourself to the spirits to save your prince?" says Madam Pomfrey, knowing full well that Merlin is the most romantic princess that ever swooned and the answer is a big glowing YES. "Well, nice try but you've got to hang around for the rest of the series!" she retorts. But before she has time to mention that there's a super brave and noble knight standing behind Merlin who just so happens to be too expensive to appear in the show every week, Lancelot goes walking into the big vagina, all by himself! And Merlin's reaction to this turn of events was almost as startling as the event itself.
Alas Lancelot, no more shall you gaze upon Merlin as he makes THIS face.
And now let us pause and remember the glory of Sir Lancelot. It's not just his deed that we will never forget. It's also his hair, and his soulful gaze, and how good he looked in a linen shirt, and how flattering the blue glowy lights were as he strode off manfully into the spirit world. Waaah, says Gwen. He sacrificed himself for me! Or was it for Arthur? Or was it for Merlin? Well, whatever it was, it was super brave and noble, cheers cheers cheers. It also answers the question I was wondering about: namely, whether they could afford to have Lancelot in it every week this season (answer: apparently not!). But will he be back? Well, those who have seen the full season 4 trailer already know the answer to this one, and so do I. So no tears now, viewers. Well, unless you were crying over the waste of a perfectly good cloak and sword, that is.
Oh no, Morgana's throwing a hissy fit in the woods and as always, it's the innocent fruit that suffer. Like many bad managers, she decides to ignore her own failures and throw all the blame on Emrys, whoever he is. Agravaine, meanwhile, is so incompetent that he manages to blow his own cover AND Morgana's to Gaius within the space of twenty seconds. Whoopsadaisy. Why don't you go and scowl unsubtly in a corner until next week, before you do yourself any more mischief?
In conclusion: AWWW. Look at Arthur and Merlin. Could they love each other any more? Look at the lovely knights. Aren't they all lovely? Why hasn't this show been renamed Merlin And Arthur And Their Big Married Knights Of Love (And By The Way, Gwen Fights People With Swords)? And why don't they ALL KISS EACH OTHER, goddammit? Because the world is an intrinisically unfair place, that is why. Hmph.
Next week: Arthur in bondage with a non-anachronistic fruit garnish! And Merlin risks exposing himself! Looks like my review will write itself…