The Darkest Hour
Merlin! Ah, how I love Merlin. There’s nothing else quite like it on TV. Little else could balance cheesy jokes, an excellent cast and fine guest stars, sometimes slightly dubious special effects, a bromance to rival that of J.D and Turk on Scrubs and still manage to be so excellent.
Last night’s episode, the first of series four, set up for the rest of the series very nicely. We’ve got Uther acting like a zombie, Merlin acting all chummy with the Knights of the Round Table, Gwen caring for Uther whilst pining for Arthur, Arthur realising that he will soon have to take over the kingdom because of his useless father, Morgana sacrificing her sister in order to gain power to take over Camelot, roughly about as many Knights as there are members of the entire French army, Arthur’s uncle acting as a spy for Morgana...really, there are so many things they could do with this set up that it would be a monumental failure of the writers if it’s anything but brilliant.
There’s a danger with first episodes that they can be a bit “This is the story and this is what happened since last time and for new viewers, these are the characters and they act like this” Not so with The Darkest Hour. Although it did manage to answer all those questions it also had a strong plot of its own, a feeling of “things” happening and lots of drama.
It managed to tie in enough with last series, with similar plots and themes, that it wasn’t like they’d entirely started again but also have enough changes that we know this isn’t going to just be a repeat of last series and it is worth watching. Although a couple of these changes did amuse me.
Morgana, for instance. She’s always been very gothic looking, even when she was an innocent good girl who trembled and cried every time she had a bad dream. As she began her descent into eviiiilll she started wearing scary cloaks and scowling/smirking a lot, like someone had seriously annoyed the Scottish Widow. And now she’s a fully paid-up member of the Bad Guys club? It’s all big hair, huge amounts of eyeliner, cheekbones, black lace, corsets and cleavage. She has, essentially, turned into Bellatrix Lestrange.
And Gwen. I was despairing a few series ago that Gwen always seemed to wear the same purple and yellow dress. Every single episode, a purple and yellow dress. Now she’s got a new dress. It’s still purple, but it’s also low cut and seemingly has a push-up bra built into it. I wasn’t aware that Wonderbras originated in Camelot. Sorry. It just made me chuckle.
Anyway, it was a good episode. It had everything I expect from Merlin — Arthur being shown to be a git and a nice guy, a love scene between Arthur and Gwen, Gaius’s eyebrows going haywire, Lancelot being charming and lovely but ignored by Gwen, Merlin banging on about destiny, scenes between Arthur and Merlin that would be considered love scenes if Merlin were female — without being repetitive, everything I know I like about the show with a few added extras. Love it. Already looking forward to next week.