Merlin, S4 Ep1 – The Darkest Hour, Part I

Before we get into our super serious discussion of the fourth series, you can refresh yourself on the previous three seasons here.  We ended the third series on a positive note, with Uther a gibbering mess, Morgana’s evil out in the open, the knights happily perving over Arthur and Guinevere kissing, and Merlin sticking the sword in the stone.


We open on someone dragging a covered cart through…Hoth?  Where are we?  Four knights mosey along and instantly recognize by the black cloak, scraggly hair, and dramatic music that this is an Evil person.  It’s Leon (not dead!), Elyan, and two knights we’ve never met before who are certainly destined to have long and full lives now that they have come to Camelot to fulfill their dreams.  Evil person turns.  Who! Can! It! Be!

Oh sorry dudes, it’s Morgana.  I’m pretty sure even the new guys, who will definitely become old men with many great-grandchildren, knew it was Morgana.  She knocks out all the knights and uncovers her cart thingy to reveal Morgause and…how the hell does getting thrown into a column do that to your face?

Remind us to put slip guards in our bathtub, damn.

New credits, yeah!  Our long national nightmare is over!  The destiny of a great kingdom now rests on the shoulders of a young man and we don’t have to feel weird about wanting to make out with someone described as a boy!

Merlin’s racing through the town, ladies are airing out blankets, flowers everywhere, whimsical music:  sounds like somebody’s going to burst into song any moment.  We would be all about a musical episode, Merlin writers.  Just saying.  Merlin winds through the kitchen and the maids scold him and the knights are stealing chickens…wtf happened to our show?  This is like the beginning of a Shakespeare comedy.  Somebody spills wine all over Arthur’s shirt.  Lancelot comes along all “Oh, I’m sure it will be fine” but as he turns away you can tell he’s wondering which priceless artifact Arthur’s going to break over Merlin’s head this week.

Merlin, remember how you have magic and stuff? Jeezie creezie t's a good thing I'm here to do other things besides bone Guinevere.

Morgause and Morgana arrive at the Isle of the Blessed.  Wow.  Seriously.  We are buying cleats next time we go shoe-shopping just to make sure we never slip and hit our faces on anything.  This Isle of the Blessed looks different from the other one.  And there’s a ferryman.  Are they on the wrong side of the island or something?  You can’t take the I-90 exit, dude, you have to use 490 or you’ll pay like $50 in tolls.

Meanwhile, back in Camelot, Uther’s looking rough.  He needs to get his hair did.  Possibly by Gwen’s hairdresser because her extensions look fabulous.  We find out it’s been a year since Morgana’s been gone, and all this time Gwen’s been taking care of Uther, not for his sake but for Arthur’s.  We are pretty sure if our boyfriend’s dad tried to execute us twice and had our father killed, we’d be wheeling him up to the window and dumping him out, but that Gwen, she is a much better person than we are.

When the knights come back to tell Arthur about Morgana, everybody is sadface because the two new knights are dead.  Boy were we off-base.  Some dude in black with slicked-back hair steps out from the shadows to gravel-voice that he’s there to help Arthur.  Of course you are, gravelly-voiced black-clad man.  That is why you took styling lessons from Snape.  This is Agravaine, Arthur’s uncle, and Arthur is like, “I don’t know how I would have got through all this hardship without you, dude whose other brother hated us so much his zombified corpse tried to kill us a few years ago.”

It is so hard to trust family members these days. Here, have the keys to the kingdom and a knife that Morgana left behind.

Apparently it’s Samhain in Camelot, because they’re…no, we’re not even going to get started on religion.  We’ve seen what happens when a bunch of Arthurian scholars innocently start discussing it— three months later, they’re still in the conference room throwing darts at each other made from the silverware, all Lord of the Flies in tweed.  Nobody wants that.  So let’s move on— Morgana and Morgause are about to do something that will be very important and stuff, but we can’t stop wondering who does Katie McGrath’s eyebrows.  Oh, wait, Morgana’s going to kill Morgause.  That IS important.  She brings the knife down and kills Morgause right at midnight, then flies through the air from the power of the whatever whatever (we were distracted by Morgana’s boots).

An old lady appears in the middle of the Samhain feast and starts saying “Emrys, Emrys.”  We generally think this is not a good sign.  Yeah nope, Merlin passes the fuck out and so does Morgana.  When she gets up, she’s suddenly become Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.  The old lady who appeared at the feast is there with her and introduces herself as the Cailleach, the gatekeeper of the spirit world.  Does this mean Merlin is going to end up hovering over his bed saying “There is no Merlin, only Zuul” and then have sex with Rick Moranis?  We could get behind that.  Oh, wait, no Zuul, it’s just the D0rocha, the voices of the dead.  Sad.  We wanted some Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  The old lady tells Morgana that Emrys is going to be her DOOOOOOM.

Merlin, wrapped in a blankey, and Gaius talk about Samhain and how the veil between the living and the dead is thin at midnight and stuff.  The next morning, Merlin goes in to wake Arthur up and we get our fix of gratuitous naked Arthur for only a second before Leon (not dead!) comes in and tells Arthur he has to talk to a pretty crying peasant girl who sounds like Moaning Myrtle.  Her village was attacked by shrieking demon things and everyone’s dead.  Arthur pats her on the shoulder and leaves her crying with Gaius wrapped around her awkwardly.  She’s like, “Nooo, help, I’m being suffocated by old man muumuu!” but Arthur and the knights have a village to walk through in slo-mo.  When they’re not being terrified by random goats, Gwaine scares everybody by taking the loudest bite of an apple in the history of mankind.  Well, second-loudest.  We had a roommate once who takes first place for loud eating, but she didn’t go around eating apples in the middle of searching through a village for dead people, Gwaine.  Anyway, lots of dead people up in here. Suddenly it’s night-time and a rooster jumps out of the dark and makes Merlin practically pee himself, and then he can’t use his magic against the ghost things.  Not that it would matter anyway because how often does he remember he has magic?

Back in Camelot, Merlin’s lighting candles for a romantic evening of waving fire at killer shadows, which is interrupted when the curtains become very scary.  Colin Morgan’s having a really hard time sticking to that British accent this season, isn’t he.  He has to make his voice really scratchy and weird to hold onto it.

While the knights are wandering around the village rounding up scared people and putting them in huts, Percival finds an entire cache of small children who cling to him like magnets.  We at With an Accent can’t say that we wouldn’t jump right into his arms if something scary happened along, like perhaps a scary piece of paper or a scary brisk wind that ripped off all our clothes.  But what we would like to know is how people just forget their children when they’re running away from scary things.  That seems like something you’d remember, and yet when Percival brings the children to the huts, the parents are all “Oh lovely, I didn’t have time to bring both him and the external hard drive, thanks for going back to get him.”

Road trip to the Isle of the Blessed!  Arthur seems to have real issues understanding that he’s in charge and nobody will be around to rule stuff if he’s dead, but he still wants to sacrifice himself.  So pretty, our Arthur.

Oh, Agravaine is evil.  Boy, we are just getting things all wrong this episode.  That black cloak and slicked-back hair threw us off.

Uther’s looking even worse.  He’s totally unaffected by Arthur’s super sad single tear.  Gwen sympathetically watches Bradley James desperately try to squeeze out a teardrop and oh god, Angel Coulby’s poor boobs.  Why do they do that to her?  Surely there were boobs that didn’t touch the chin in medieval times.  Arthur makes her smile and chucks her chin and the two of them are actually very sweet this episode.  Arthur continues to show awesome judgment by leaving Agravaine the kingdom while he’s gone.  What can we say, Arthur is wicked smart.  There’s a nicely choreographed number where all the knights hop onto their horses one by one (musical!) except Lancelot at the end, who goes to talk to Gwen when she signals him.  He’s all smiles, and then she asks him to watch out for Arthur.  That’s cold, girl.  That’s ice cold.

On their way to the Isle of the Blessed, instead of protecting Arthur, Lancelot follows after Merlin, who as usual has no armor.  Morgana dreams about a battle with lots of dead people, and the Great Dragoon looking down at her while she asks him for help.  Yay!  We love the Great Dragoon.

And then she woke up and vowed to stop reading Gandalf fanfiction before bed.

Whew, more dead people up in here.  Arthur rides right by them like it ain’t no thang.  At the Isle of the Blessed, the Dorocha are screaming and the boy band is doing some crazy moves to ward them off, although someone was very clever (we’re going to go out on a limb and say it was Arthur) and only thought to bring two torches.  They also didn’t bring much firewood, so Arthur and Merlin go off to find some and then have to run away and hide when the Dorocha show up.  Arthur’s freezing and hints at needing some warmth, but Merlin’s just like oh la, I am so warm, sucks to be you.  Oh Merlin, this is how you end up being forever alone.  He’s throwing it down for you and you are not picking it up.

Then one of the Dorocha finds their hiding spot, and Merlin pushes Arthur out of the way, jumping straight at the it.  It kills him stone dead.  Luckily, before we can get really upset about it, the previews for next week relieve us of the suspense of wondering if he’s going to stay dead for longer than a few minutes.  Until next week, Merlin fans!