December 11, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Merlin “A Herald Of The New Age”

Series Four, Episode Ten.

You know, Elyan is a Knight of Camelot and Gwen’s brother.  How’s he taking her whole banishment?

Actually, I have no idea how he’s taking her banishment.  That doesn’t really come up from him.  Other people mention it, and it is very nice seeing Merlin develop some long-term storytelling and continuity.  Essentially, Elyan does something he shouldn’t, behaves in ways he shouldn’t, and people chalk it up to the whole Gwen thing.  Considering aside from Lancelot and Gwaine, most of the Knights haven’t really developed personalities, how could we tell?  There’s a reason I make a mental note if Percival actually speaks.  He does so little of that.

Yes, he does speak in this episode.

What I liked here for this episode was something else.  Multiple something elses to be honest, but there was something different here.  For one, the actual direction of the episode seemed more ambitious.  There’s a dinner scene between Gaius and Merlin that has the camera set up off to the side to start.  Usually, the camera just jumps to close-ups of the two as they eat.  Maybe there’s an over the shoulder shot for the one listening.  It depends.

The episode also deals with some heavier topics.  I’ve seen past episodes where the show tried to deal with Uther’s violent approach to magic.  The problem with Uther was he never sought forgiveness for what he did.  Ideally, a character can show remorse.  Even when Morgana hit him with some curse to see his own victims, he never really sought penance.  That’s why I always made sure to mention Uther was a child-killer, but I will not give that label to Arthur here.  Arthur is, well, a better man.

Considering Arthur started this show as a bully-frat boy type, seeing the king mature into a thoughtful young man is a very nice touch for this show.  Yes, Arthur still punishes Merlin during combat training for Merlin’s general teasing of the king, but Arthur does other things here.  I’m glad the show realized Arthur has to be a good man as well as a good king.  Arthur takes what happens in this episode very seriously.  Likewise, he makes efforts to improve people’s lives in ways Uther couldn’t or wouldn’t.

So, what did happen?  Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights were out patrolling or something when Gwaine drank all of Elyan’s water.  The guys spot what looks like someone’s laundry hanging out to dry, but it gives Merlin the willies.  He says it’s a druid spot, something Gaius told him about, and the place is probably cursed.  Merlin advises not touching anything.  But there’s a small well there, Elyan is thirsty, and then the kid shows up.

By the by, the kid’s appearances are rather well done for this show as a horror element.

Who is the kid?  He’s a boy who is constantly dripping with water.  Because Elyan drank the water, he’s possessed by this spirit.  What does the spirit want?  He wants to rest.  That means killing Arthur.

Meanwhile, for some reason, Arthur is also haunted by something.  What is it?  It comes out late in the episode.  Merlin and Gaius more or less figure out what happened with Elyan.  But they both assume the spirit wants revenge against Uther.  Uther is dead.  It’s a little late for that.  And even though Elyan’s/the spirit’s attempts to kill Arthur never succeed, Arthur seems to understand Elyan is possessed.  As such, he won’t follow Agravaine’s advice to have Elyan executed.

Is that all Agravaine can advise these days?  Execute people?  Seriously, why has no one aside from Merlin and Gaius realized this guy is up to no good yet?

But then comes the surprise reveal.  Uther isn’t responsible.  Arthur is.  Arthur led an assault on a druid camp.  That would be the very spot where the cursed land is.  Sure, Arthur ordered his soldiers to leave the women and children alone, but someone disobeyed.  Women and children died anyway.  He feels guilty.  He was young and overzealous.  Things got out of hand.  Heck, he offers to let the spirit kill him at the site of massacre while promising the druids can live in peace from then on.

That gets Arthur forgiveness.  Merlin ended up not doing much.  I’m fine with that.  Arthur did a bad thing, but he tried to make up for it.  I can’t see Uther doing something like that.

Besides, it looks like Gwen is back next episode.  That sure was a long banishment.