Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

Draw me, like one of your druid girls

Dear regular and not-so-regular viewers, I must apologize about the relative lateness of this Merlin review. My excuse is that I was in the pub last night instead of being in front of the telly as usual. It seems the demands of the festive season do not always coincide well with the demands of the oncoming end of the season, alas.

Anyhow, here are my thoughts about The Drawing of the Dark:

  • "We all caught something." / "Including Merlin." - Um, boys? What WERE you doing on your "hunting" trip? Did the reference to Percival's "palsy" last week make you all desperate to catch a social disease of your own? Anyway, this is all an excuse to include Invisible Saxons (the cheapest way to wage war on TV!) and let Mordred find an unexpected love interest stumbling around in the woods.

  • "He's beguiled you, he's beguiled you all..."- oh no, Merlin. Don't start to gloat. Gloating leads to turnabouts of fate and tragic attacks of dramatic irony, as well you should know! But wise as ever, Gaius knows what all this is REALLY about: "He's fond of the king. The feeling's mutual." Yeah, it's all jealousy over the position of Arthur's favourite closeted sorceror. Meanwhile, Mordred's sneaking into Gaius's medicine cupboard to score drugs for his ex. He's also able to send her messages via WiFi (Wicca Filter), a special package available only to the magical for a great-value monthly goat sacrifice.

    Everything you ever suspected about Camelot geography, but were afraid to ask.

  • Gwen's sole contribution this week is to tell Arthur that having something to fight for is the most powerful weapon of all. Spoken like someone who hasn't discovered the joy of anachronistic nuclear warheads, I think.

  • "It isn't deep..." - Is Kara talking about her wound or her relationship with Mordred? He seems to be putting his heart into the hugging and forehead-fondling, she not so much. Or maybe she's just not a very good actress. Whatever the reason, Mordred is beset by that age-old relationship dilemma: what to do when your druidfriend doesn't like your mates. Always a tricky one.

  • Ooh, it's Merlin vs Mordred, Round 1: Homoerotic Veiled Whispers and Stares Edition! Mordred begs and bats his eyelashes; Merlin promises his secret is safe. But I don't think this is the sort of promise that outlasts Bad Things Happening To Merlin's Boyfriend, do you?

  • "I'm like a swan..." - Why is that, Merlin? Do you copulate mainly on water? Are you fairly often gay? Or do you simply have a very bendy neck?

    Arthur makes Merlin kneel for important plot reasons

    Genuine subtitles from the BBC. When they can come up with stuff like this all by themselves, you hardly need me to tell you when to snigger...

  • Despite Merlin's staunch efforts to keep his word to Mordred, Arthur is so intent on showing off his knowledge of broken twigs that he finds Mordred's ex by accident. I shall refrain from commenting on the Freudian interpretations of creeping into a damp cave and almost getting stabbed by a chick with a phallic symbol: fortunately Merlin manages to whip the symbolism away before it becomes fatal.

  • It's Merlin vs Mordred, Round 2: This Time It's Physical! "You did this because you hate me!", yells Mordred, storming off to his bedroom to listen to Panic! At The Druid Grove or My Alchemical Romaunce or whatever the cod-medieval kids of today sing along to when they're feeling misunderstood.

  • Oh great, Kara's doing a dull "I'm a freedom fighter, not a terrorist, yadda di yadda" speech. Surprisingly, Arthur's not only quite relaxed about the magic (but less so about the stabbing) but launches into an audition for a forthcoming TV show about a quirky lawyer who resolves cases using only his acute observation skills and his massive horde of armour-clad minions. Despite this unusual display of paying attention, however, Arthur totally fails for notice the epic yet soulful Merlin/Mordred stare-off that's happening just over his shoulder. Some things never change.

  • It's down to the Camelot dungeon for Kara. "Never mind, darling," says Mordred, as the cheesy romantic music swells in the background. "I'll pay a visit to my BFF Arthur, he won't be able to resist me when I'm down on his bedroom floor with tears in my eyes." Like a cod-medieval Simon Cowell, Arthur is VERY impressed with Mordred's performance and thinks he's given 110%, but doesn't react well to begging so Kara's still going through to the afterlife. Merlin, meanwhile, glowers enviously in the background, peeved not only because he was just getting to the interesting part of undressing Arthur when they were interrupted, but because Mordred is so gosh-darn pretty when he cries.

  • "Never mind, darling," says Mordred, as Kara gets banged up in a cell once again. "These dungeons won Easiest To Escape From AND Most Oblivious Guards for five years running at the Jailbreaker Monthly Awards." Nonetheless, there's a dauntingly big erection going up in the Camelot courtyard and it's definitely not an anachronistic Christmas tree...

  • "Tell me you wouldn't do the same for the woman you love." / "Don't be foolish." - For heaven's sake, Mordred, are you the only one who hasn't realized that Merlin's not a ladies' man?

  • Taking on the Counsellor Troi role of pointing out the bleeding obvious, Gaius complains that Merlin's always busting people out of jail, so why is it such a problem when Mordred does it? But Merlin, of course, is wrestling with love and destiny as well as personal ethics. When it comes to the crunch, "save my boyfriend" must always win out over "save other random people". Aww. With this in mind, Merlin turns informer to Arthur, but Mordred's already made a break for it. It probably serves Arthur right for employing the elitest knights in all of Albion but outsourcing his dungeon security to the cod-medieval equivalent of G4S.

  • For a moment, I thought Mordred might be rethinking his relationship with Kara when she got gleefully stabby with that guard. Next she starts yelling at Mordred over the druid WiFi to use his bloody magic, but just as he's about to out himself for once and for all, he's saved by a bop on the head from Sir Percival, Camelot's own answer to Little Bunny Foo Foo.

  • Oh look, we're back in the bloody dungeon again. This time, Mordred and Kara get his-n-hers cells so they can spend all night holding hands and hoping that the Celticky background music doesn't suddenly erupt into a Celine Dion ballad. Now THAT would be a tragedy.

  • "There are some paths woven so deep into the fabric of the world, Merlin, that nothing can be done to change them." - Gaius is dead right; despite everyone's best efforts, there is no way that this one is going to work out well. Merlin desperately hunts for a destiny escape clause, Arthur even tries being relatively nice, Kara won't give in, Merlin and Arthur exchange heartfelt "Do something!" / "I'm really trying here!" looks (I loved this bit), Kara takes a long jump off a short rope and Mordred cries so prettily that he rattles his cage and blows the bloody doors off. Fate wants its big finale and it's utterly determined to get it. Ouch.

  • "I've made a terrible mistake, haven't I?" - Oh, Arthur. Oh, Merlin. Oh, everybody.

  • So Mordred goes skipping off vengefully to Morgana's house, where she's sitting sullenly on her uncomfy throne, apparently waiting for someone to invent plasma-screen TV or cordless hair-straighteners. "I know who Emrys is," he announces. "It's Merlin!" DUH-DUH DAAAAH! Weirdly, Morgana's reaction is a sharp intake of breath and a slight eyebrow raise, which is quite subtle for her. She doesn't say "What???" or "Why did none of us notice?" or "YOU MEAN I ONCE HAD HIM TIED UP KINKILY IN MY HOVEL AND I LET HIM GO? BLOODY HELL, I'M AN IDIOT." I'm hoping that Arthur's reaction, when he finds out, will be a lot more expressive...

  • In conclusion: When I saw the trailer last week, I thought "So Mordred's going to turn suddenly evil over a girl, is he? Meh." but the results were better than I'd feared. Because it was someone he'd known previously, the relationship served adequately as a symbol of Mordred's druid past, even if it didn't work as a romance. Kara was underwritten and underacted, but Mordred rose admirably to the challenge of Weeping With Intent To Damage My Heart, a sport in which Colin Morgan has been the uncontested title holder for a very long time. And there was a great sense of everyone tugging hopelessly against the exorable bonds of destiny. More shallowly, any reason to dwell on Arthur sighing in his Linen Shirt of Angst (now with Ultimate Man Cleavage!) is much appreciated. I must confess, despite all the plot ground that must be covered in the final two-parter, the thing that worries me most is that everyone might be too busy to get shirtless. Scary thought, huh? Come on, show. I know you can do it. And I've been such a good girl this year, I deserve presents...

  • Next week: Merlin gets grimy! Things get explodey! People charge towards each other shouting "ARGGHHH"! And the Slow-Mo Camera of Dramatic Swordplay comes out of its box once again! I can hardly wait, viewers. Can you?

Tags: merlin
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