Here be spoilers....
Do you remember the days when Merlin was just good natured fun? Light, sweet, entertaining. In fact, in our “We Recommend”, I even described it as a “light-hearted entertainment show”. Well, we’ve not had much of that this series.
Three episodes in, and three major characters have died. I also think that this marks the first episode ever in Merlin that Merlin hasn’t won against the bad guys. I’m not complaining — well, not really — it’s just a very dramatic change from what we’ve had before.
In our house we’re so preconditioned to things not ever being that bad that during the scene where Uther gets stabbed and Arthur cradles him, my boyfriend was confidently saying “He’s dreaming. He’s just dreaming”. How can Uther die? That’s impossible.
And right up to the very end, right until the previews for next week started, I expected something to happen, Merlin to find some spell that would reverse Morgana’s effects and bring him back to life. I didn’t expect Arthur to be crowned king at the end. I just...didn’t expect it. Because it’s all so very, very different.
But I suppose they need to change things, and they are changing things very well. There are still enough of the silly, bromancey Merlin-and-Arthur bits to keep me happy and enough of the heartfelt and emotional bits to keep me sad. Morgana is still being delightfully witchy and so evil she might as well twirl a moustache, Gwen is still being so sweet and lovely violins should swell every time she smiles. Although it’s changing and getting far darker in tone, I’m still really enjoying this series.
If I hadn’t have seen the first three series, if I had jumped straight in at series four, I probably would have really enjoyed these episodes. They’ve been good, really good, this one in particular. I suppose I just need to man up and stop being so nostalgic for the days when a troll snogging the king was considered a big serious problem.
One thing I want to point out is how good the performances have been. Bradley James and Colin Morgan have been amazing so far this series, and the more Arthur is forced to mature the more interesting James’s performance gets. Morgan has always been excellent, but I still find him so totally believable and likeable in any and all situations. He can switch from funny to tragic in the blink of an eye, and that’s excellent. And I love him as Old Merlin.
I was very sad that Phil Davis, aka the knife thrower, aka The Man Who Is In Everything (as he’s known in our house) was only in the show so briefly. Gemma Jones, the scary hood lady from last week, and Phil Davis are two utterly excellent actors and I was very much looking forward to seeing them stretch their acting muscles. And it just didn’t happen — their parts may as well have been cameos. Boo.
Still, I thought it was jolly enjoyable. I’ll be on the sofa next week, anyway. Even with all the changes, Merlin is still one of the most enjoyable things on TV.
Here be spoilers....