Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

I'm always touched by your presence, deer

It's Merlin time again, and after this week, there's only the two-part season finale to go. Wibble.

Here are some thoughts about The Hunter's Heart:

  • Somewhere in a village that looks suspiciously like Every Other Village In Merlin, Ever, we discover Gwen! And you can tell she's fallen on hard times because she's wearing a dress from season 1 and is shovelling pigshit. Never mind, Gwen; perhaps some bandits will kidnap you and carry you off to this week's storyline? Fortunately, this is a family show, so no need to worry about any fate worse than falling in a muddy puddle.

  • Stop your uncharacteristic babbling, Merlin: Arthur's got a big announcement to make. The kingdoms of Nemeth and Camelot have decided that a royal wedding would do wonders for the tourist industry, so Arthur's getting hitched! While everyone else is cheering and planning to make money from commemorative goblets and dishcloths, Merlin gets stuck in a bout of jealous WTF so all-encompassing that his basic motor skills fail and Gaius has to tell him what to do with his face. Poor lad.

  • Of course, Merlin soon demands to know why his boyfriend Arthur never mentioned any of this. Surely it's a bit soon? And isn't his princess likely to be a total Mary Sue? And doesn't he actually love Merlin Gwen? And this would be a rather silly scene, if it weren't for Merlin's ability to be both teary-eyed and firm-jawed at the same time. I do love a bit of thespian multitasking.

  • Down in the Camelot basement, Owen the apprentice mapmaker is locking up the scrolls for the night when he gets cornered by a wild and unscrupulous Agravaine. However, Owen is a good employee and doesn't want to betray his boss's trust. No problem, says Agravaine, you win a prize consisting of STABBY STABBY DEATH. I'm not sure which management handbook that idea came from, but I hope it was one that included tips on getting bloodstains out of suede.

  • Before you can say "smirk", Aggie charges off to Morgana's hut where she appears to be spending the evening rearranging her spice rack. Sadly he hasn't brought the map she wanted, so she peevishly suggests that he gets up off his arse and actually DOES something for once. At this point, I almost expected him to launch into a speech about how he's been giving 110 percent, regularly thinks outside the box, and sees himself adding value in a less customer-facing role, but somehow he refrained.

  • "These are difficult times. I need new recruits and the youth of today are not always enthusiastic." - Hmm, Helios sounds rather like a local Conservative Party candidate, defending a new kind of experimental job creation scheme. Still, at least Gwen's doing okay: she's been given a personal hairdresser and a sparkly belly-dancer outfit, and on a metaphorical level, Helios is less interested in raiding her village than in wandering politely around it, admiring the architecture.

  • Princess Mithian turns up with a crowd of knights, who have a slightly Holy Grail look about them, although they're not so much the Knights Who Say Nemeth as the Knights Who Don't Say Anything Because They've Got No Lines. Judging by Mithian's fake fur coat, the kingdom of Gedref is home to a lot of teddy bears and they don't get to live happily ever after. (Personally, I'm just glad that my parents didn't name me Mithian, mainly because my surname is Phythian, and being named Mithian Phythian would be extremely unfortunate.)

  • The Lovely Knights check out Mithian and like what they see. Enjoy the eye candy, boys; first, because it's only fair after all the weeks I've spent ogling you, and second, because it's pretty much the only screentime you're going to get this week.

  • Gwen's impromptu date with Helios takes a turn for the worse when Morgana turns up to play gooseberry. While Gwen plays the "ooh, I must get an early night" card, Morgana seems slightly tempted by the prospect of a bit of Helios hanky-panky. Well, it can't be less sexy than another evening of Agravaine's limp excuses, can it.

  • Meanwhile, Agravaine has been playing Hide The Dead Body in his usual unconvincing style. To support his flimsily concocted cover story, he calls on Gaius, star detective of CSI: Camelot, who comments on the strangle marks on the corpse's neck but totally fails to notice the MASSIVE STAB WOUND in the belly. The score at the end of that round: Half-Arsed Villainous Excuses: 1, Properly Paying Attention: 0. Whoops.

  • So there's a court mapmaker, is there? How the heck does he spend his days? Drawing the same bit of forest and writing a different name on it every week?

  • Goodness me, Morgana's learned a new spell: photocopying! Perhaps when she gets bored with trying to take over the kingdom, she can learn spells for laminating and business cards and open up her own print shop.

  • In the banqueting hall, the green-eyed (or should that be glowy-orange-eyed?) monster is in full effect. Like an overinvested fangirl, Merlin stares daggers at Mithian and makes Arthur spill soup down himself. Little does he know that chain mail is great for hiding stains. Aim for the hair next time, Merlin! It worked last week, after all.

  • "I hear that your jig used to be something to behold." / "Used is the word, sire." - No, Agravaine, surely Grease is the word, is the word, is the word? Your jig to that one really WOULD be something to behold. Still, it's good to know that some things can still strike fear into the heart of Uncle Aggie. Next time, let's tell him there's karaoke and his name's down for "Copacabana".

  • Arthur takes Mithian on a romantic outing to see the best CGI landscape that Camelot has to offer. The view is only slightly obscured by a sulking Merlin, who's even more cheesed off when it transpires that Mithian is Actually Nice (TM), helping with the bags, gamely taking part in Arthur's unexpected belch-a-thon and unwittingly making Merlin feel extra bad for loathing her. Don't you hate it when that happens?

  • Oh no, Gwen falls prey to Wobbly Polystyrene Rock syndrome and is forced to make a run for it, with Morgana in hot pursuit! Unfortunately, "galloping horse + running Gwen + vague camera work" does not add up to a terribly convincing chase, but we'll let it slide on the grounds that any all-girl action sequence is better than none. At least it's better than Morgana's crap attempts at villainous banter, which Gwen finds about as interesting as I do, forcing Morgana to use that traditional spell, Makus Peepul Fallova. But there's more: it turns out that Morgana's been watching Manimal on DVD and has started to pick up some rather outré ideas on transfiguration...

  • You know, I think the turning-Gwen-into-a-deer spell was quite possibly one of the silliest plot devices in Merlin history. This was partly because of the bit where Merlin had to stare at the deer and magically work out what was going on with the aid of nothing but a really cheap special effect, and partly due to the lingering shots of the deer's face, in which we were presumably supposed to read fear and confusion and unresolved romantic anguish, but couldn't, mainly because DEER CAN'T ACT. If I were in the mood for an appalling pun, I might say that the script department were having something of a fallow week.

  • Arthur finds Gwen's ring and suddenly switches to Brood Mode. Merlin goes all teary-eyed again. Mithian wonders what the hell happened to her date. Poor princess, you can't argue with the laws of bromance.

  • For a brief moment, I thought Merlin might have to tell Gwen that he's Magic (TM), but I'd forgotten about the power of the BCE (Bout of Convenient Unconsciousness), which enables him to magically heal Gwen's wound without her noticing. Fortunately, she HAS noticed that Agravaine is Evil (TM), the worst-kept secret in the kingdom, but elects not to return to Camelot and resolve the plot due to a BIM (Bout of Inconvenient Martyrdom). I assume they want to save the happy reunion stuff for the finale, but Gwen deserves more than this, even if she doesn't believe so herself.

  • Sadly, Merlin's umpteenth attempt to catch Aggie in the smirking act of evil is once again a failure. Quelle surprise. That evil photocopying spell is more cunning than I ever suspected.

  • Arthur and Merlin's heartfelt chat about love and stuff felt a bit off to me. Maybe it was the overly formal dialogue. Or maybe it was because part of my brain was sniggering childishly at Arthur on his bed, fingering his own ring. (Sorry.)

  • Leaving already, Princess Mithian? I know Arthur's not interested but there are plenty of decent knights you could take your pick from. Well, if only one of them could tear himself away from the joys of bromance for long enough to evince an interest in girls, that is. Still, decent female parts are rare in Merlinland so your gumption and good sense were much appreciated by me, even if your dress sense teetered on the edge of impractical.

  • Tripping over a chamber pot? Is that the best punchline you can come up with? Yep, we'll look back on Season 4 as The Year of the Pee Jokes.

  • A thought: remember that scene where Gaius is perusing the fake letter from Odin's court and notices something is wrong with it? Did they just forget to follow that up, or is it foreshadowing for next week?

  • In conclusion: in the words of Helios, there was still some pleasure to be had here -- but not all THAT much. The writer of this episode hasn't written for Merlin before and I think it showed: the dialogue tended towards portentous pseudo-medieval clunkiness rather than naturalistic banter, even when the underlying sentiments made sense. There were some pluses: Gwen was plucky, Mithian was charming, there was a helping of Merlin/Arthur bonding, and Helios seems to be this year's late entry in the Camelot's Next Cenred contest: a passably hot guy in leather who can't tell when a woman's only after his armies, and is therefore likely to get stabbed at an awkward moment. And it did lay the emotional groundwork for an Arthur/Gwen reunion relatively well. And yet somehow, it didn't really add up to much. Shame, really.

  • Next week: get the slow-motion cameras out and call up the ominous Latin choir! The game is ON, apparently. Hurrah!
Tags: merlin
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