A Herald Of The New Age

This week it's Elyan's turn to be the centre of attention. It was ten-to-one that it was going to be, what with his sister being unceremoniously dumped at the end of last week. But instead of Elyan brooding over said dumping and being cross at Arthur, he gets possessed by what appears to be the twin brother of that creepy chick from The Ring.

They’ve gone down the last-series-of-Doctor Who route here of playing on what are common worst fears to make scary episodes. Doctor Who went for dolls and big scary monsters and Merlin has gone for creepy kids.

The creepy kid/spirit/thing wasn’t quite creepy enough to keep the episode interesting, though. Kudos to the little boy playing him, but it just wasn’t that scary. The bit where Elyan attacked Arthur and started leaking water everywhere was way more unsettling. Yes, if I was being followed by a small, gently glowing child dripping with water that stared at me unwaveringly and that no-one else could see I’d be properly freaked, but as it didn’t actually do much to Elyan interest was quickly lost.

There’s only so much “Oh no, Agravaine is really bad and Arthur is listening to him!”, Merlin getting in amusing trouble for inexplicably lying over what he was actually doing and Knight banter you can take before it all starts to get a bit tedious. We’ve had a lot of that over the past few weeks, and the first chunk of A Herald Of The New Age was full of it.

In fact, I was pretty much ready to give up on this episode until the very last bit where Arthur snuck out of the castle having borrowed one of Morgana’s old robes (remember them? About as useful for sneaking around in as a giant foam Mario costume with bells on the shoes).

The scene where Arthur comes to the shrine and apologies to Elyan/the spirit for the destruction that he caused was brilliantly written and incredibly acted. Kudos to Bradley James, and kudos to the Merlin writers for the twist of Arthur being the one to blame rather than Uther. That I wasn’t expecting, and it lifted the episode in tone a lot.

So, next week we have the return of Gwen and Morgana, with Morgana being all angry at Gwen and blasting her back off her feet (obviously) and Gwen looking all “adult” in what appears to be the outfit that Jasmine wears in Aladdin when Jafar kidnaps her to be a sex slave. Which is not really an association I’d like to put with Gwen. I guess we just have to see where they go with it.

You can see this episode of Merlin on the iPlayer, or find more about the series on the Merlin section of the BBC website.

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