So Merlin is now officially a "young man" according to the pre-title narration. Took them long enough.
Why didn't everyone run like hell when they saw it was Morgana? And why aren't they wearing shielding pendants or something? And why does Morgause look so bad? Unless that's because Morgana brought the room crashing down on her. Well done, dear.
Merlin, stop rushing around or you'll crash into someone. On the other hand, we finally get to see places in Camelot other than the great hall and bedrooms! Seems like Merlin has made an enemy of the cook. Would have been nice to see how that happened.
Oh look, Merlin crashed into someone.
Love how Lancelot is all "Ooh, red wine on a shirt, if only you could use MAGIC to get it out!" But I'm pretty sure he didn't mean RIGHT THERE IN THE CORRIDOR. *headdesk*
MMMMM, looking all MANLY there, Arthur. And he's done pretty well dressing himself, I have to say.
So there seems to have been a small advancement in that Merlin and Arthur can now tease each other and they know it's teasing. Good.
What a crappy CGI Isle of the Blessed. Where's St Michael's Mount/Mont St Michel?
Actually it's been MORE than a year since Morgana betrayed him *cough* since she'd been betraying him ever since she came back.
Gwen's very forgiving when you think that Uther had her father killed. Even if she's doing it for Arthur.
Hello, Agravaine. Nice of you to turn up. Are we going to get any info as to where you've been and why you've only just appeared? Apparently not. If you made a promise to his mother, where the hell were you these past twenty-something years? (But on a purely shallow level, I'll watch Nathaniel Parker in anything.)
Also good to see a general feast and Arthur addressing everyone (even if Merlin wrote the words).
This is very atmospheric but I can't help being distracted by the thought that when Morgause was introduced, she was a strong woman who could even beat Arthur in a fight and now she's sacrificing herself on an altar (but a lot of that was probably forced by Emilia Fox's pregnancy).
Beautifully filmed scene with Colin Morgan reacting to the Underworld opening. Oh my Goddess, it's the Crone. Hello, Phyllida Law!
Gaius, you are a lying liar who lies. I bet you know what 'Emrys' means.
Aww, look at Arthur being all kind and understanding, what a good ruler you will be. <3
Why the hell are you letting Arthur go when he's the only heir to the throne who isn't batshit crazy?
No shit, it's too quiet, so why are you going in there?
You left him ALONE in the creepy village? *headdesk*
Oh no, they're like Merlin's Dementors. :( Good thing it was Lancelot saving you and not one of the other knights. Yes, get out of there, you shouldn't even be there in the first place!
Gwen's badass with nothing but a torch!
Awww, Arthur being all comforting to Merlin in that insult-you-but-love-you way.
Love how Percival is the only knight without sleeves. Because guns like that just can't be tamed.
Percival will sacrifice himself for children. As if we didn't love him enough already. And Elyan finally gets a nice character moment.
OMG Arthur, you are such a good king! <3 Look at Merlin's face: "Oh my God, I love you so much right now, Arthur."
And you're supporting Morgana because... you're both evil? I thought you were Igraine's brother, shouldn't you be supporting Arthur's claim? Also, Morgana, you should totally be worried about Arthur's noble sacrifice.
Arthur, your dad didn't really teach you much except how to fight (good) and how to be a bigot (bad). But I'm still sad for you because you obviously want him to get better and you know he never will. UGH such good acting from Bradley James and Antony Stewart Head in this scene.
UGH GOD all the World War II classic romance parallels with Arthur and Gwen, can't handle it.
Not what Lancelot wanted to hear from Gwen. I SMELL FORESHADOWING.
OMG Morgana's having prophetic dreams again. Continuity, I missed you so.
Gosh, this is pretty creepy stuff. No wonder Merlin's on later.
LOL "No, I will collect firewood because I am the more noble!"
"We've only got one torch between us" = Let's all risk our lives!
Aww, Merlin, you're such a brave
If anyone doubted how much Arthur cared about Merlin, he's willing to ABANDON A QUEST just to make sure he survives.
Hello, Lord of the Rings reference!
"That's what happens after three days of listening to Gwaine." NICE XD
Nice mystical interlude here. I'm loving the CGI for the water spirits and a great little nod to Lancelot's watery origins.
Gwaine, I know you're itching to get a feel of those guns, but you can shag Percival later when you're not being chased by the spirits of the dead.
WILDREN? MORE CONTINUITY IN MERLIN? I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN HANDLE THIS.
Maybe you could have mentioned the pack thing before, Arthur?
Agravaine, you're a slick wanker. You don't give a damn about the people.
Gwen, you're awesome. Can't wait to see more of this side to you.
Ah, knightly bromance, can we have more of this please?
Agravaine's a wanker and Morgana is a psycho. Ho hum.
And just in case it wasn't hard enough to see that happen to Gwen, we get her brother being all cute and supportive with Arthur.
Love how Gaius is just like "Shoo, you nasty ghost, I have a patient here!"
Ugh, Lancelot, you're so noble, WHY DOES IT HAVE TO GO ALL WRONG?
Holy crap, Merlin, did those water spirits inject you with extra badassery or something?
Big Damn Hero Dragon Coming Through Here
Slash Dragon is all "WHO IS THIS MESSING WITH MY OTP?" Then "Oh hai, Lancelot, you're cool, you'll be dead soon."
Oh God, when Slash Dragon starts being complimentary, you KNOW it's serious.
Arthur: I will not fall into Merlin's arms and weep with relief, I will not fall into Merlin's arms and weep with relief...
Awww, quiet reunion time while the rest of the knights sleep. <3
Merlin: "Excuse me, but I'm the Dragonlord and you will kindly piss off and leave us alone."
No, Morgana, the truth is that someone willingly sacrificed themselves in order for people to have better lives, something you can't understand. Oh, and no, that throne is not rightfully yours. For one thing, you're illegitimate, which means you don't automatically inherit unless it's in the will, and for another, you're BATSHIT CRAZY.
Don't think you needed to remind Merlin that Morgana will kill him if she finds out he's Emrys.
This two-parter combines the best and worst of Merlin. I'll get the bad out of the way first.
Merlin has a habit of introducing characters without any fanfare and Agravaine is no exception. It's bad enough he shows up out of nowhere after three series of never even being mentioned but he's supporting MORGANA? WHY? In the original myth, where Morgana and Arthur share a mother, it's understandable. Here, where they share a father and he's still Igraine's brother, it's mystifying! Anyone with a basic knowledge of history could tell you that uncles with dynastic ambitions ALWAYS support their nephews, unless they want to the throne themselves (see Richard III). Maybe that is Agravaine's plan, maybe he wants the throne for himself, but if so, he'd still be better off supporting Arthur, as he's the heir in case anything happens. Morgana would not make a good ruler, we saw that in the finale of the last series when she proved herself her father's daughter in spades. Mind you, Agravaine doesn't seem to care about the people any more than she did, but even he must see that she's a dangerous loose cannon who can barely keep herself together. I'm holding fire until I find out more about his motives but at the moment I'm a little frustrated with him.
We skipped another year AGAIN? How the hell did Morgause survive all that time? I'm sorry, I don't care how much Morgana's powers have grown, Morgause got thrown into a wall and had a room collapse on her. Twelve weeks' survival, maybe. Twelve months?! No. I really hope that this year is not going to become the excuse for lack of character development as it was with Morgana last time. She went from morally challenged to TOTALLY EVIL and there was no justification provided, so we had to assume that one year spent with Morgause had wiped out the previous twenty-something years of growing up with Arthur and Gwen. I still don't know why she wants the throne so much and I'm very frustrated that she hasn't twigged how Morgause manipulated her, or that Morgause was behind the events at the end of Series 2 when nearly everybody in the castle fell asleep and died. I don't think anything would make her turn good again now, she's leapt off the cliff of sanity, but I do want her at least QUESTIONING stuff and THINKING.
Morgana's characterisation as a whole annoys me, because Katie McGrath can do so much better and she's reduced to wandering around the woods looking haunted and skulking in the shadows. But at least I won't have to watch that Evil Smirk every. single. episode.
Gwaine seems to have inherited the Idiot Ball from Arthur. I wish they'd mentioned something about him being born a noble so he's not that good at looking after himself - not washing properly, getting his socks caught on fire - but even that wouldn't excuse him stabbing wyldren, he's supposed to have been looking after himself for a while now. I know he's reckless but that doesn't mean he's a moron.
Now for the good. OH MY GOD, ARTHUR ACTUALLY GOT SOME DECENT CHARACTERISATION. Yes, I have to put that in capitals, because the writers seemed determined to run him into the ground last series. It made me wonder how the knights were supposed to develop love and respect for him when most of them seemed to be Merlin's friends first and Arthur's knights second. Don't get me wrong, I love the bond between Merlin and Lancelot (see above) and Merlin and Gwaine, but they're ARTHUR'S knights! And even though we've skipped a year again, I'm so happy to see some love and respect for Arthur from the knights and some brotherly joshing that I don't really care. Not only was Arthur strong and understanding, he cared for the people, for Gwen, for the knights, he was noble and self-sacrificing. More of this please!
Merlin and Arthur's relationship did NOT slide backwards! They seemed like they were at the same point as they were in the finale (which is MAJOR as far as this pair are concerned) and while Arthur still insulted Merlin and Merlin still bitched back, both of them understood that there was affection underneath this and Arthur was willing to show that he cared about Merlin as more than just a servant.
Gwen and Arthur's relationship reminded me of WWII films, and as I'm a sucker for that kind of romance, I totally got it.
More old!Merlin. I can't wait!
In summary, this two-parter was of a high standard. It had great atmosphere (reminding me of the old programme Knightmare), with the ruins and darkness being used to good effect. As a teenager, it would have seriously creeped me out, and I appreciate the hard work they put into building the tension and the bonds between the characters. I'm slightly disappointed that Morgana is still underwritten and that Agravaine has just appeared out of nowhere, but overall, I think this is one of the strongest starts we've seen from the programme (better than last year's).