khaireddin: (waaah)
Spoilers all over these comments, so don't click the link below if you want to avoid them...

What did I get from this episode???

Merlin/Arthur banter, albeit drapped around a number of Arwen scenes (just to remind everyone, lest we forget, that Gwen is back on the good side and everything is hunky dory in Arwen-land, no Gwen guilt in sight).

Merlin knows that magic (big magic) has been practiced simply by looking at the tree. Yeah, suddenly competent!Merlin has arrived. Or possibly just a short term aberration for the storyline – that's more like it.

Helva? First time we've heard of it. Last time we'll hear of it.

Finna's camp – she's a powerful sorcerer (from what we see later) but she's left all the incriminating evidence in her camp when she fled.

In all Merlin's training, he's still not competent to read Catha??? And even Gaius apparently has a hard time deciphering it.

A forced disagreement between Merlin & Gaius, all based on Gaius' guilt and the need to have the plot put Merlin in faux-jeopardy, when the Knights are sent out to find Finna.  And allowing a fairly limp reconciliation between Merlin & Gaius later in the story. And some fairly HUGE leaps to conclusion (yeah, not even a jump) by everyone, starting with Gaius. And Merlin is waaay too forgiving of Gaius' actions.

Since when is Merlin's disagreeing with Gaius deemed to be him hurting Gaius or his feelings? Crap writing, merely there to add to the tension in the faux-Merlin/Gaius break-up.

A fairly nice sleight-of-hand over whether Finna is working for Morgana (sic. her command to the Raven-Express).

Gaius being sneaky??? Ok, he's done it to some extent in previous eps, but this is downright underhand. And since when has he ever employed this tactic in the past to protect Merlin? Answer – never!

Knights pratting around in the Camelot armoury – ok, I get it, nice to see the brothers-in-arms are still a bunch of...brothers-in-arms. But I would value this scene more if one of our esteemed (named) Knights was then the victim of Morgana's machinations at the end (more later).

Finna – Sorcha Cusack, what's not to like.

Mordred can't tell that he's chasing the great Emrys??? Seriously, where are his druid powers now? Like a bad broadband connection - intermittent, I suppose.

Alator is an idiot. I mean seriously – you get a secret Raven-Express delivery in your jail cell, but you don't bother to dispose of the evidence???? Duh!

Morgana proves she can actually kill someone properly with her magic, rather than pissing around with slow-acting poisons that faaaiiiillll. It's only taken her 4 series to work it out.

Merlin actually takes a sword with him for protection. The guy who can barely use a sword to save his life, has taken a sword with him, rather than just relying on his magic. So we all know that the sword is going to be used for 'something' (more later).

Incredulous Knights finding Merlin in the forest and being capable...good for them for not letting Merlin waltz off. But fairly light use of them, otherwise. And Mordred....sigh....just not going to comment on him at the moment.  And this is where the Knights should have split up, to allow one of them to be captured later by Morgana for her 'message.'

The tree markings – seriously, if Finna was a High Priestess I would expect her to be able to hide the markings so only Emrys could see them. Honestly :-(. Nice to see Merlin using his magic without worrying about who's watching, but Finna fails at protecting her Lord? Also nice to see someone recognising Merlin as the important person he's supposed to be, and his embarrassed reaction.

Oh, that's what the sword is for – a walking stick!

Merlin / Finna : “It won't always be like this. Things will be better.” “That is why I was sent, to help you make it so.” So some of the magic community still believe in Emrys' destiny. Good to know. But I have a feeling they're all Brown Coats (Firefly / Bushwhacked: 'May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one'.)

Finna to Merlin : “For hundreds of years the Catha have guarded their ancient knowledge...and now the time has come to pass it on. To you, Emrys, because only you can carry their hopes into the great battle that itself.....Here. Guard it carefully, it will help you in the dark days to come.” I expected this to be something momentous and helpful, but... see later comment.

Finna : “Do not make the same mistake as Arthur. Do not trust the druid boy.” Like we needed any further reinforcement of this! And Merlin doesn't trust him already...so why do we need this reiterated again? Oh, I get it, cos Mordred's 'turning' next week, and those with short memories need to be reminded, so it doesn't shock them too much.

And another guest-star redshirt (Finna) bites the dust.

Merlin whump – yeah, I'm a sucker.  And I'm looking forward to the oodles of fanfic off the back of this.

Nice to see the dragon in action again, even if it is a rehash of the serket scene. And Merlin is miraculously saved, without Arthur knowing. Again.

Merlin / Dragon : “What will I do without you?” “You will remember me...” Given the dragon hasn't been much in evidence this season, and Merlin has been handling everything on his own, does it really matter if the dragon bites the dust, after he's done his last fire-breathing duty in the final episode???

And suddenly Gaius is fluent in Catha – having stated earlier that it was difficult for him to translate Finna's writings, he suddenly translates the whole of the prophesy without recourse to any books or dictionaries. Yeah, right. And the supposedly important info that Finna needed to pass on to Merlin to help him in the dark days to come? What????? WTF?? How can the prophesy of Camlann be the 'help in the dark days to come'???  Camlann is Arthur's end – and this is what this entire episode is about – getting this message to Merlin. Merlin being told that Camlann is IT. I'm sorry, perhaps I've missed something here, but how is this supposed to help him, rather than just reinforcing all that Merlin is dreading will happen.

And the final scene – a Camelot Knights' demise – by Raghaid(?). Would have been much more powerful if it had been one of the Knights of the Round Table, rather than a nameless Red Cloak.

What did I take away from this episode?  It was simply to get across the following :
  • Morgana has declared war on Camelot (seriously, was there any doubt already???)
  • Camlann is the big smack-down for Arthur.
  • The dragon is dying – but does this really matter to the greater story??

If I view this with the RTG's* firmly in place, this was a benign episode which gave Merlin a critical piece of information that he no doubt needs, but does little else.  It has a nice whumped!Merlin quotient for those that need it.  But it was still spinning the wheels.  And with only 3 episodes left, I expected the plot to move further along.  Given the next ep is going to be Mordred-based, that leaves us with 2 episodes for the reveal, Camlann and the 'heart-wrenching ending that will leave us all satisfied'.  I'm not hopeful, folks.   I'm off to read some fanfic :-/


Next week – Mordred 'turns' in just one episode, notwithstanding any long game he's been playing.  Seriously, you're asking us to believe that it takes only 1 eppie for Mordred to turn Dark Side and that Merlin is almost entirely responsible???

(* Rose Tinted Glasses - guaranteed to alleviate any and all plot discrepancies, lazy writing and character-diminution)
khaireddin: (waaah)
So I'm guessing that people will have seen the 2 separate teaser/hint posts at DigitalSpy and Cultfix for Merlin 510 'Kindness of Strangers'.  I haven't found a Merlin-related LJ to comment on these yet, so I'm setting this up here, to put my guesses (FWIW), and for anyone else who wants to take a pot shot before the show airs on Saturday. I don't see these as spoilers per se (though some of the CultFix ones are close), but just in case, they're below the cut.


From DIgital Spy

1.  "The great battle nears - the fate of Camelot rests in the balance..."
Kilgarrah to Merlin?  Merlin to Gaius?  Enough with the teasing please, we know it's going to happen sometime in the next 180 minutes.

2.  Two male characters share an emotional embrace.
Merlin & Gaius?  Merlin & Arthur?  

3.  "Merlin... what do you think you're doing in the royal chambers?!"
Arthur to Merlin.

4.  Sins of the past come back to haunt Gaius (Richard Wilson).
In the shape of Finna (Sorcha Cusack)...??

5.  "He is your destiny, Morgana, and he is your doom."
Finna or Alator to Morgana.

6.  A disagreement between friends could lead to tragedy and death.
Given what CultFix says below, I think this has to be Gaius & Merlin.

7.  "It's not your body I'm interested in."
Morgana to....Alator?  

8.  We get our strongest hints yet that not everyone will emerge from the coming battle unscathed...
But I thought the Rose-Tinted Glasses were guaranteed to work?!  I want my money back!  Seriously, did anyone really think there were going to be NO casualties by the end of Camlann??

9.  "When you've spent a lifetime running, you know all the places to hide."
Alator.  Or Finna.  Or Morgana's hench-man of the week?

10. Make sure you watch right 'til the end - 'Kindness' wraps with a stonking cliffhanger!
Can I tempt fate by saying......Magic Reveal???



From CultFix

1.  It's a Merlin-centric episode, a dark one at that.
But apparently still with a heavy dose of Arwen over-compensation, we're led to believe. I have my fingers crossed for some serious Merlin-angst that's in keeping with moving the story along with as little dumbing down / avoidance mechanisms as possible - can they possibly waste any more of the remaining 180 minutes on things that don't move us swiftly onwards?  Don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question :-(

2.  "Why would she attack her own? It makes no sense."
Merlin talking about Morgana attacking Alator...perhaps.

3.  Gaius and Merlin are placed at odds with each other.
See DigitalSpy item 6 above.

4.  "I thought Morgana was the only High Priestess left?"
Merlin (to Gaius?) about Finna.

5.  There's a literal falling on the sword.
Uh oh!  Not M or A, I feel (though given item 11 below...it could possibly be Merlin, at a stretch).  Perhaps more likely one of the Knights?  Or Alator, to protect Merlin('s identity).

6.  "Do not fear, ******.  I have ***** *****.  Our ****** ******* continues."
Count those little asterisks, folks. They're not all the same number.  I'm trusting CultFix to have done this for a reason.  6 stars in the first.  Possibly a name.  Could be Merlin or Arthur. (Or Gwaine...or Alator, but I'm sticking with one of the first two).  5 stars each for the next two words.  Bit more tricky.  Then 6 and 7 stars respectively for the last two words.  I dunno.  Will have to sleep on this overnight and see what inspiration attacks.

7.  Merlin is given something of major importance.
A satisfying magic reveal???  Sorry, one track mind.  

8.  "I acted like a foolish old man."
Gaius to ...Merlin? ...Finna? ...Arthur?

9.  Morgana is more ruthless than ever.
Is this actually possible?  Forget I said that, of course it's possible.  We know she's going to torture Alator, and that's no more ruthless than what she already had him do to Gaius.  So something else...something worse.  If she finds out that Merlin is Emrys in this episode, what's an easy way to get him to come to her, so she can have her nefarious way with him?  Grab his totally unprotected Mum....aaaannnddd see item 14 below.

10. "What will I do without you...?"
Merlin to Gaius? 
Merlin to Hunith? (see 14).

11. Merlin ends up in a very bad way.
Double uh-oh!  Given DigitalSpy item 10 above (stonking cliffhanger)....I'm a wobbly mess thinking about what this could mean.

12. A Camelot Knight loses his identity in the worst possible way.
Mordred hasn't been playing the long game at all - Morgana sucks his brain and turns him (back) to the Dark Side.  Because we've all grown to love Mordred so much in the limited time he's been with us this season, and the wonderful guys at Shine know that we can't possibly want a truly evil!Mordred stabbing Arthur, it has to be some outside influence....like a charmed bracelet...or a room full of mandrake.

13. "No matter what you do, you cannot break me."
See above - Mordred to Morgana, before he goes all Darth Vader.
Or...Alator to Morgana.  Or pretty much anyone Morgana gets her hands on this week...including Merlin?

14. The Great Dragon has some sad news for Merlin.
I think the use of the word 'sad' is interesting.  'Bad' might imply something that's screwed up Merlin's plans.  'Devestating' might imply some gut-wrenching level of impact for Merlin - like a dead Arthur.  So I'm going to interpret 'sad' as meaning something that will hit Merlin emotionally, but not significantly change his actions.  So Gaius dies?  Or....Hunith dies.  I know, I've not seen her in the guest list for the episode, but I wouldn't put it past Shine to keep that under wraps, to add to the surprise.

15. "Guard it carefully, it will help you in the dark days to come."
Finna / Kilgarrah / Alator (in descending order of likelihood)....to Merlin.



I'll probably edit this with more thoughts tomorrow, but given that it's past midnight here, my brain is crying out for sleep.  Please feel free to agree / disagree on any of what I've speculated - drop your ideas below.

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