TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 4, Episode 2 – The Darkest Hour (Pt 2)

This week’s episode opens with a quick recap of last week’s thrilling premiere and chilling ending – Merlin seemingly sacrificing himself to save Arthur’s life once more and the prince struggles to say goodbye.

But that’s not the only problem Arthur and his Knights have – the veil between the worlds is still wide open allowing the Dorocha to continue wreaking havoc all across the land. The only way to close it? Someone’s has to die – but who will it be? Read behind the cut (spoilers!) for more!

In a nice show of support for his friend, Arthur wants to abandon the quest to save Merlin. He’s purely running on emotion here not logic and the ever practical Leon protests for the greater good. Lancelot echoes his agreement and volunteers to take the near-dead warlock (he’s not dead yet!) back to Camelot so Arthur can continue on.  Sir Percival’s the only one strong enough to carry Merlin and drapes him on a horse. They should’ve at least tied him to it so he doesn’t flop off! A reluctant and worried Arthur makes sure Merlin is secure for the journey. And of course, even in his half-dead state, Merlin argues with Arthur to let him go to the Isle with him. Arthur of course, refuses and looks on as Merlin & Lancelot leave. Compared to last series, Arthur seems to have matured: he hasn’t thrown things, the banter is less biting insult and more fun teasing and he acknowledges Merlin’s bravery. Let’s hope that continues on.

Going through the forest, Lancelot & Merlin make camp in the Valley of the Fallen Kings and viewers will recall that this is where the Round Table is located. Night falls and Lancelot carries Merlin to the edge of a river. Unconsciously, Merlin lets his hand touches the water and Lancelot meets some new magical creatures, the Villia. They are the spirits of the brooks & streams and help heal Merlin. At first, when we just hear the voice, I thought this was going to be Freya but not so. They go on to tell Lancelot exactly what is going on and offer to protect the duo through the night. It’s a nice moment to see Lancelot exposed to even more of the magical realm.

Meanwhile, Gwaine has apparently become the laughing stock of the group; he sticks his hand into a buzzing beehive for no good reason, we’re told he’s quite the chatty Kathy more than once and we also discover that Gwaine is afraid of wilderen when Arthur decides to take a shortcut through wilderen-infested tunnels.  When the knights thinks they’ve successfully avoided getting mauled by wilderen  – all four end up staring at Gwaine for one of the wilderen is sniffing his face, leaving goop all over it. If you recall, this happened to Merlin the last time. There’s another moment later on where Gwaine is once again the comic relief as he removes his smelly socks and then sets them on fire. I’m quite perplexed by this version of Gwaine; last series, he seemed to be a fearless, skilled warrior. From what we’ve seen of him up to this point, he’s far from that.

The subplot of the episode occurs back in Camelot, where Agravaine has closed the city gates cutting off aid to the citizens outside. Not willing to see people suffer, we see a glimpse of the future Queen as Gwen stands up to Lord Smarmypants and sways the council to make him change his mind. You can see how she would be a good Queen – she feels for the people and knows how they think. This is really the only moment where Gwen seems to use her brain – the rest of the episode, not so much.

Every time something happens, Agravaine runs to Morgana. She looks a bit ill, whether she’s already starting to go mad via her visions isn’t clear yet. He informs her that Gwen is becoming a problem — and Morgana vehemently states the serving girl who would be Queen is dangerous. She would rather drown in her own blood than see her on the throne. That’s a bit harsh! Together they plan her death by luring her to Agravaine’s chambers for a late night chat about how to “help” the people. It’s all a ruse to get her alone on the way home – Morgana blasts Gwen and her guards knocking them unconscious so they’ll be consumed by the Dorocha. You’d think if Morgana and Professor Snape’s younger brother wanted to off someone, that they’d do a better job of ensuring it actually happens instead of leaving it to chance. Sloppy work evildoers of evil!

There’s a lot of filler scenes where Merlin keeps saying he’s not “that useless” or that he’s so easily expendable. Would like to see Merlin with more confidence, it’s about time he grows his powers to more than blasting people or making fires. Elyan finally gets some lines – seems to be the one most in touch with his feelings, just like his sister.  At one point, Merlin starts yelling in Dragon-speak. We know what’s going to happen now right? Enter the Dragon! (Ha – always wanted to say that!)

Lancelot’s eyes are as big as saucer’s as he meets Killgarrah for the first time — lots of magical firsts happening for him…makes you think it’s a bit too much all at once. There’s  a touching exchange between the young dragonlord & his kin and is probably the nicest thing the Dragon has ever said to Merlin. Eventually, the duo find the others and Arthur asks Merlin to look after Gwen (when he’s gone). Merlin clearly intends to sacrifice himself so he’ll keep the promise regardless.

Leon, Percy & Elyan are left behind to fight wyverns while the others continue on. Madam Pomfrey looks really creepy and the Calliach knocks out Gwaine when he tries to attack her. While Arthur bargains with the gatekeeper, Merlin knocks Arthur out (concussion #21) to serve himself up but Calliach will not let him. While he’s distracted, Lancelot has walked up to the crack and walks into the light while Merlin screams out. It’s too late – the noblest of knights finally knew who he was fighting for. Gwen.

Arthur pays tribute to Lancelot – a pyre is built and his cape & sword are put upon it, as there’s no body. Gwen is heartbroken – and guilty. She tells Arthur that Lancelot didn’t do it for Camelot (while they’re holding hands..HARSH!), he did it for her. He leaves her be – she’s the only one left in the courtyard to mourn the fallen knight. Back in his room, Merlin overhears Agravaine ask Gaius about a sorcerer named Emrys. Obviously the old physician plays dumb – but his dishonorable intentions have been revealed as only Morgana would be the only other person around who would know the name. Forget those druid folks – they don’t know anything!

Overall, the end of this two-parter was disappointing; went out with less of a bang and more of a whimper. However, next week is Arthur’s birthday! But he doesn’t seem too happy about it. We shall see won’t we?

GS Reporter:

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One comment

  1. Anita /

    “At first, when we just hear the voice, I thought this was going to be Freya but not so.”
    Exactly the same i thought aswell!

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