BBC1 - 25th October 2008 - 5.50pm
If this series gets any earlier in the schedules, we'll end up watching it at breakfast time. All this shifting about just shows that, actually, the BBC don't give a fig if it's successful or not. They'd rather use it as cannon fodder in their point scoring against ITV.
'Her body seems to have closed down', says Uther. That's cos she's never been given a decent part to play, dimwit. She's obviously given up. The audience certainly has.Anyway, it's Morgana's turn this week. Six episodes in and we know bugger all about her, what she's really like, why she's getting those nightmares (remember those? Back in the first episode?) and suddenly there's the hope that she's getting an episode to herself. Not so. Cue Julian Rhind-Tutt and some nasty bug popped in a bunch of flowers (and you really must get some Clearasil on that acne Jules) and, presto, she's knocked out for the first 15 minutes of the story. Way to go, script writers. 'Her body seems to have closed down', says Uther. That's cos she's never been given a decent part to play, dimwit. She's obviously given up. The audience certainly has.
'We cannot let her die,' shouts Arthur. Why the fuck not? She'd be better off doing that than spending the next six episodes doing absolutely nothing and contributing zilch to the story. Why should the audience actually invest any emotion into this scenario when Morgana is simply an empty cipher thanklessly foisted upon poor Katie McGrath by the producers. It is now very obvious that the creators of the series, and the writer of this episode, Julian Jones, don't know how to write the female roles.
Gaius pops into the library and talks about the Great Purge - the enema given to the series to reduce it to bland Disneyfication...Rhind-Tutt is camply entertaining as Edwin Muirden. 'I'll be at the inn...in case you change your mind', he suggests, er, rather suggestively to Arthur. The prickly tension between him and Gaius is nicely played too and the episode's highlight is Muirden's attempt to besmirch Gaius' reputation. Anyway, Morgana recovers, gets about two lines and a bit of clapping about 20 minutes later, and the story then veers off into a duel of wits between Gaius and Edwin. Gaius pops into the library and talks about the Great Purge - the enema given to the series to reduce it to bland Disneyfication - thinking he's recognised Edwin from a far more exciting past that'll never make it to the screen. Meanwhile, Edwin is chatting up Merlin and encouraging him to the Dark Side. Well, how to empty bottles is so earth-shatteringly, pant-wettingly fearsome an example of magic, isn't it? 'People like you and I, we must look after each other', says Edwin. Oh, if only they would.
At this point, it's bloody obvious what's going on. Edwin was somehow wronged and physically mutilated by Gaius in the Great Purge and he's back to redress the balance by getting Gaius kicked out for medical incompetence. 'You're here to take revenge' mutters Gaius. 'And I have waited a long time', replied Edwin. And so have we, lads, so have we. Waited, for a plot that doesn't revolve around witches and sorcerers trying to get their own back against Uther 'Ban the Magic' Pendragon. Hello...there are hundreds of other plots, y'know. When Edwin slags off Gaius, 'His methods are outdated. He has failed to keep up with latest developments' the script inadvertently undermines the very series itself.
Morgana gets three more lines.
Gaius stares wistfully at Merlin sleeping (Wilson wondering when this sack of shit will be over, no doubt) and then plods off to visit John Hurt. Probably after some advice on whether to renew his contract for the second series, if it gets commissioned. The dragon natters on about Arthur and Merlin uniting the land of Albion (that'll be series ten trillion, episode ninety billion then, going at this pace) and we actually get a bit of a moral dilemma for Gaius - whether to sacrifice Uther to allow Merlin and Arthur to get it together. More interminable scenes of Wilson fretting in his room before being brought to Uther for his P45 and a golden handshake. It all looks glum but I bet it all gets put back to square one in the last ten minutes. And Merlin will sort it out. Ten minutes and counting.
Thanks Gwen for your input, can you now please pop an email over to Uther and let him know he's been a bit of a blind bastard.
Destiny, destiny, destiny. That's all we bloody hear. Can we get on with it, then? Oh, look. Hurrah, a bit of chest exposure from Arthur as he plays with his swords. Gwen gets the role of emotional blackmailer as Gaius leaves Camelot. Thanks Gwen for your input, can you now please pop an email over to Uther and let him know he's been a bit of a blind bastard. Thanks, doll. Naturally, Edwin does what every witch and sorcerer does and drugs Uther, ties up Gaius and gets all Revenge Of The Jedi on Merlin. Yes, Rhind-Tutt is the Emperor...'Take your place by my side, Skywalker...er Merlin...er Luke'. And an axe then sort of flies at him and that's it. Is he dead? Can't we see the axe cleave him in two? Oh, yeah. It's a family show.
Fast forward to the end. Twittering birdsong over Camelot and it's like the episode never happened. Much wringing of hands from Uther about Edwin's parents and vast amounts of hypocrisy about how bad magic is. Gaius and Merlin do some further father/son bonding. Yawn. An episode best summed up by that wonderful Harry Hill joke about 'ear cataracts'.
Next week, lots of blue fairies and Arthur gets a snog.
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