Despite the fact that last week Merlin and Company were able to walk in through the front gates of Camelot, Morgana and ‘Sister’ Mosgause must’ve stepped up security, because it was much harder this week. Oh, that’s right, it’s the series finale and people are going to be valiantly attempting to Take Back Camelot!
Yes, it’s the Merlin finale. I’ve been patchy with my Merlin reviews lately, because the show was so awfully inconsistent, I wasn’t motivated to write about it. You can only say so many damning things about a series, so I saved them all up for one bumper finale post! Lucky you, Internet peeps!
So here goes – in Camelot’s darkest hour, Gwen does a bit of smelting to help Sir Leon escape, but pays him back by turning him into a Medieval transvestite. A ghost of someone from a past series (Freya) talks to Merlin through a puddle. The Great Dragon is indignant with Merlin for using him as a taxi service (I am not a f*cking horse, big ears). And in the depth of their despair, Prince Arthur goes shopping for a new dining table and finds a fantastic circular stone affair. Hopefully Medieval Argos can arrange deliveries.
To be fair, the top and tail of this difficult third series were fantastic. Darker themes and some great sequences ruled, and the actors finally had some decent material to work with.
Many of the complaints about the constantly resetting of the plot were addressed in The Coming Pf Arthur, Part 2. Morgana has now been outed, and there’s no going back. Morgause is uncertainly disposed of – is she alive or is she dead? Dunno, gov. But as a general rule, if we don’t have a corpse, it’s a fair bet she’ll resurface in Series 4. Emilia Fox (not to be confused with Megan) has been gleefully evil throughout, even if her dialogue has left a lot to be desired at times.
In fact, we now have a wonderfully uncertain setting for Series 4. Uther seems to be gibbering in his chamber, ridden with guilt and upset that his daughter stole the kingdom from him. Arthur’s gone and made himself some new knights, is openly snogging a serving girl in the courtyard and may have to assume the throne to rally the people and all that good regal stuff. Merlin, of course, is still hiding his magic despite being arguably the person who saved Camelot with his mighty sword. Isn’t it about time he stood up for himself and revealed his true part in saving Camelot? His allegiance to Arthur is beyond doubt at this stage.
The scene in the abandoned castle drew a few giggles from me. Arthur – who’s behaved like a total dick for about 80% of this series – suddenly started spouting about honour, nobility, justice, equality like a hopped-up French revolutionary. Worse yet, all the people who have no real reason to like Arthur suddenly start spewing out heartfelt tributes to his valour. Give those knights a round table and they turn it into a circle-jerk.
Still, high on liberal values, the newly formed Knights Of The Round Table storm Camelot with a simple plan – distract the immortal killing machines while Merlin and Lancelot find the Cup Of Life and break the enchantment on the rival soldiers. Which would – handily enough – kill them all instantly. Hoorah! This bit was packed with drama and action and swordfighting and was just wonderful. Camelot’s last stand, indeed.
Except for the bit where Merlin would prick his adversaries with Excalibur. They just…burst. Like balloons. Or like that really shitty effect in Star Wars where the Death Star blew up. You know, the original 70’s style one? A puff of smoke and some sparks. This is the kind of effects BBC One gives us, in 2010? Merlin didn’t so much kill them as puncture them. Moreover, in the throne room, he insisted on hacking his way through the immortal soldiers instead of using magic to topple the Cup Of Life and end the confrontation instantly. Idiot.
All snarkiness aside, The Coming Of Arthur was a fitting series finale. There was romance, idealism, swordfighting and Morgana screaming like a banshee over her sister’s ‘body’. Sure, Camelot was recaptured with typical ease, but the story managed to line up enough elements to make Series 4 an interesting prospect – a round table, Morgana as an open adversary, Arthur potentially in a stronger position than before.
If we can overlook the heinous comedy episodes from this series, we’ve finally ended in a better place. Next year, the writers need to step off alternating between dark episodes and kiddie-centric ‘funny’ episodes. What we need is to strike a balance between drama, action and humour in every episode. Kids’ movies have been achieving this mix for years – why can’t Merlin? Better luck next year, Merlin. Maybe some competition from Primeval step things up!