MERLIN “The Darkest Hour, Part 2” Review

MERLIN “The Darkest Hour, Part 2” Season 4 Episode 2 – After last week’s stellar premiere, this episode was a solid, if unspectacular, instalment which say Merlin and Lancelot separated from the rest of the knights for a time after Merlin intercepted one of those screaming icy ghost things, saving Arthur’s life in quite dramatic fashion. Meanwhile, back in Camelot, Morgana’s right hand man Agravaine realizes what a nuisance Gwen is and, at Morgana’s behest, lures her into a trap to kill her.

Now, I’m delighted the show has Gwen at the centre of a major plot, but the outcome was so sadly unintelligent that I fear it was quite wasted. One of my favorite television shows of all times is, like Merlin, targeted at children. Avatar: The Last Airbender was never condescending and in many ways it was even cornier than Merlin. But when it came to moral conflict and bad guys, they knew how to really go for the gut: at one point in the series, the heroine Katara becomes a bloodbender and controls people by their blood. And that’s a freaking cartoon! Merlin on the other hand has Morgana in a hooded cloak waving her hand and swatting a few guards and Gwen a few feet in the air. As the conversation with Gwen and Gaius goes: “I fear someone wanted to do you harm.” “Surely if they did they’d have done a better job.” Indeed. It’s not at all clever and it doesn’t bode well for either character: Morgana is not nearly as clever and evil as she should/could be and Gwen is never given a chance to get herself out of a sticky, nigh on impossible situation. It would have been far more interesting to see Gwen outsmart Morgana and show hints of the beloved, legendary queen she is destined to be.

Much of the rest of the episode was fine and entertaining – I was never bored watching the show. I just wish that the character development we’ve gotten in past episodes had been on hand here. Lancelot sacrifices himself…but why? It seems he sacrifices himself just so both Arthur and Merlin can have a chance to show that they were totally about to dive on their swords because they’re both brave and heroic and amazing. Which, of course, they are, but that’s not quite enough and it’s not interesting and it’s actually a bit patronizing. Which I kinda resent.

Hopefully next week’s episode will be a return to the complex, interesting, engaging Merlin I fell in love with.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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