Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

Well, well, well

Goodness me, we're up to episode 10 of Merlin already. Only three more to go, which means that the final one of those is on Christmas Eve. How dramatically festive will that be?

But enough of the future: let's concentrate on today's episode for now. Here are some thoughts about A Herald of the New Age:

  • Oh look, Arthur, Merlin and the Lovely Knights are on one of their patented day-trips in search of a plot. This week, the story kicks off when Elyan runs out of Evian, and a burping Gwaine is inadequately apologetic. So really, the whole thing's Gwaine's fault. Remember this later, especially the next time he's standing around making unhelpful comments.

  • Arthur spots something in the woods that looks like laundry on a washing line. But no, it's not where druids washed their pants by night. In fact, Merlin's Merly-sense is tingling, because this is a shrine to appease restless spirits and it's cursed! Thank goodness: for a moment there, I feared it was the final resting place of Gwaine's stinkiest socks.

  • Ahh, a question is answered that I've always wondered about: namely, where do the knights sleep? I'd always assumed that they had some sort of barracks/dormitory arrangement, but no: it turns out they get their own spacious rooms with double beds. It's like being given a licence to slash, isn't it?

  • However, Elyan has no time for cosy bedtime shenanigans, due to an unexpected attack of Damp Orphan. (Did anyone else think of this TV commercial and wonder if the damp orphan was trying to keep Elyan updated about special offers on mobile phones? Nope, just me, then.)

  • Goodness, who's this sauntering down the corridors by night? It's Gwaine in civvies, loose of shirt and fresh with the scent of tavern. We haven't seen that necklace and collarbones combo for ages, and I for one have missed it mightily. Welcome back, darling.

    Nobody's looking at any druid ghost children, not while Gwaine is flaunting himself front and centre.

    There may be important plot points occurring in the background of this scene, but I'm darned if I can tell you what they are.

  • Sadly, Elyan is too busy dealing with the Damp Orphan to appreciate Gwaine's flirting. "I missed you at the tavern earlier," says Gwaine "Percival broke someone's wrist. How we LOL'd!" Bloody hell, those boys play even rougher than I thought.

  • Oh dear, Arthur's brooding over his supper turned into sleeping in his supper. Fortunately, he is swiftly awakened by a terrific banging from Merlin. Sadly, it's not THAT sort of banging.

    There's Something About Merly. Is that soup in your hair, or are you just pleased to see me?

  • "What were you reading?" - I was particularly amused by the hunted look in Arthur's eye as he pondered this question. I reckon that before he played the "I'm the bloody king" card, he'd been about to say he planned to eat his supper and fall asleep with his book, but got them the wrong way around.

  • "Why've you got stew in your hair?" / "Because he was reading." - I suspect the knights write off this kind of incomprehensible banter as a boyfriends in-joke and let it slide. Arthur, however, can't let it go and gives Merlin a terrific banging of his own. Not as big as the banging he gets from Elyan, however, although that one is more terrifying than terrific.

  • Damp Orphan takes things up a gear and begins interrupting the man-flirting in the armoury. No, no, no! Gwaine takes this rather badly and punches Elyan in the face! For this massive overreaction to a bit of confused shoving, he gets a "WTF" look from Percival, which is a bit rich given that Perce broke a guy's wrist for the lulz last night. Frankly, I think it proves that ALL the knights have got serious stress management issues and need to find an effective tension-release treatment as soon as possible. A MASSIVE NAKED ORGY ought to do the trick. Ahem.

  • "When I want your medical opinion, Gwaine, I'll ask for it." - Frankly, I'm just surprised to hear that Gwaine has any medical opinions that don't involve an apple a day.

  • While Elyan engages in a hardcore staring competition with the wall, Gaius takes the opportunity to finger Elyan's salty ring. Ooookay. Frankly, Gaius looks a little disappointed: when he licks up white powder in other people's bedrooms, the results are usually a lot more stimulating...

  • I note that, in the absence of women this week, the men have decided to embrace the most prominent feature of the Camelot ladies and display as much cleavage as possible. First Elyan, then Gwaine, and now Arthur's the king of them all. Mind you, I'm NOT complaining. Those lace-up linen shirts are so much sexier than chainmail. I've often suspected that hugging a man in chainmail would be like hugging a giant Brillo pad, although I have no evidence for this assertion and would be willing to do practical research into the topic in order to give currency to my argument. Hem hem.

  • Based on the salt under Elyan's bed, Gaius and Merlin work out that Elyan's possessed by an evil spirit from the woods. Shame these red-hot deductive skills were not in evidence last week when Gwen's unlikely behaviour really needed explaining, eh boys?

  • Elyan gets woken up by the Damp Orphan Revenge Kid messenger service (D.O.R.K. for short). His mission, if he chooses to accept it, is to kill the king. His payment will be one somewhat clammy hug. Still, it's a price he's willing to pay, so he trots off, apparently still in his pyjama shirt, to hit Arthur with a big sword. But as is usual in these things, it's the set decor that suffers most. Won't someone think of the innocent furniture?

  • Agravaine rounds up everyone in the corridor for a spot of fascist cheerleading: "Let's just kill him now and ask questions later!" In a way, Agravaine is like an evil version of Santa Claus: his Nice list is very short, and once you've been moved to his Naughty list, it's summary execution. How unfestive.

  • So Gwaine's sister is an "evil old toad", is she? I'm guessing that there's an untold family tale behind that, and I'm betting that it involves boyfriend-stealing...

  • The knights catch Elyan and play the "let's all put our weapons down and be friends" game. And what do friends do? Yep, as we've already seen, punch each other in the face. Elyan thus ends up flung into Camelot's jail cell, which is notorious for the fact that nobody EVER escapes from it... well, not in less than five minutes, anyway. Fortunately for Merlin, barrels to Camelot guards are like balls of wool to kittens. Irresistibly chaseable.

  • "Ask Arthur, I'm always peeing." - Has this series now broken some sort of record for most references to peeing in a BBC drama? And more to the point, is this something that they should be proud of?

  • In order to get their heads around the plot, Gaius and Merlin take a day-trip to the shrine of lost socks, where Gaius works out that Uther's troops massacred some druids there and Merlin has his contractual sobbing fit of the week, directed down a well. If Colin M was less of a little star, this would be getting dull by now, but no. You get a tug on the heartstrings every single time.

  • Goodness me, Elyan's now soaking wet and doing his Damp Orphan ventriloquist act. Still, it doesn't beat Arthur's Serious-Face (TM) swordfighting. No wonder he's won Camelot's Got Talent for four years running. It also turns out that Arthur possesses another talent that we don't get to see so often: namely, the ability to ignore Agravaine's ranting and figure out the plot for himself. Crikey, this is a week of miracles and no mistake.

  • Question of the week: does Arthur deliberately make Merlin stay up late polishing armour so he'll be awake and will follow him out to the woods? After all, he's too proud to ASK for support, and his attempt to send Merlin home is utterly perfunctory... it really is all down to love friendship, isn't it?

  • "You sure you want to do this? Maybe we should wait until it's light? Or we could just do it now, whatever it is that we're doing, in the dark where it's incredibly scary and dangerous?" - as amusing as this speech is when taken out of context, there was something quite off-kilter about a lot of the comedy this week. The teasing was sort of grim, the slapstick was violent, and even Merlin's comic mutterings jarred with their serious delivery. It felt a lot like joking in the face of tragedy, but I guess that's appropriate since that's what it was.

  • I'd guessed that Arthur was going to be to blame for the druid massacre, but that didn't take away from the impact of the scene in the woods. Beautifully staged and wonderfully acted by Bradley James, who can do the teary-eyed emotional stuff just as well as Colin Morgan can, bless him. We can only hope that this new serious-minded, sensible and very kingly Arthur is truly heralding a new age (can you see what they did there?) of peace, love and man-hugs, and isn't just going to be forgotten the next time that the plot needs a gullible idiot.

  • "So there's no chance that we could have a hug?" - Hooray, some actual hilarity! You can make up your own story about why Merlin was squealing "Ahhh!" just out of shot. I know I'm going to.

  • A stray thought: this episode was about people looking like they were upset about Gwen, but it turned out that they weren't: Elyan was possessed and Arthur was actually thinking about genocide. So um... is nobody actually upset about Gwen, then?

  • In conclusion: decidedly sombre in mood, with some strangely cruel moments and a plot that demanded too much wandering back and forth, but also some genuine depth of feeling, especially at the end. Elyan did well when actually given Stuff to Do (here's an idea, writers: give the knights more to do, more of the time!) and I do hope Arthur's thoughtful new demeanour lasts a bit longer than five minutes, because Merlin was right: it really suits him. Although not as much as those loose-fronted linen shirts do. Mmm, yum.

  • Next week: all the women who weren't in it this week! Can Gwen stop Arthur from picnicking with a princessy person? And has Morgana learned any spells OTHER than flinging people through the air? I'm guessing the answer to the last one is no, but we live in hope...
Tags: merlin
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