Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: Camelot "The Long Night"

Non Spoiler Review:
Stop me if you've heard this before—Morgan hatches a scheme to bring pretty much everyone to Pendragon Castle for a feast—and everyone obliges. An apparent attack by a rival warlord puts the castle under siege and a long night of waiting begins, as everyone plans for an attack that could be a no win situation.

The lack of direction was really apparent with this one. We've seen everything in here before and it's only episode seven. Usually Morgan's intrigues are the most entertaining part of the show, but this time they dragged on and on, and served only as an elaborate set up for her newest plan (which we've known long before it even occurred to her).

What we get is Sybil and Morgan eavesdropping outside doors and advising one another that "Everything is in place," or "All is going as planned." Merlin, Arthur, Igraine, Leontes and Guinevere remain hopelessly oblivious to these shenanigans. All the progress that seems to have been made in the last several episodes—Merlin's turning back to magic, Guinevere and Arthur acting like adults—is pretty much ignored. While it's obvious in the first few minutes how it will conclude, it's a big waste of an episode that serves only to set up next week's plot.

Spoilers Now!
Morgan enjoys a bath, but is spied on by one of her warriors, whom she catches in the act. His name is Harwel and he confesses he's completely in love with her, and swears he'll do absolutely anything she wants, which should come in handy. Morgan introduces him to Sybil and tells her to get him prepared.

Merlin, Arthur, the knights, Igraine and Guinevere all ride to Pendragon Castle to take Morgan up on her invitation to attend a feast in the king's honor. While everyone has their doubts...they go anyway. Though Arthur wants to believe his sister is sincere (and also wants a feast), Merlin decides the only way to find out what she's up to is to see her in person, and the knights just want to have some fun.

They arrive to an elaborate celebration and Morgan puts on a good show, complete with dancing girls/whores who later entertain the knights (no men of virtue here, though Gawain seems more paranoid about invasion than partaking). In one odd moment the dancing girls even grab all the men's swords and plunge them into the table in front of them, yet they all laugh it off.

Igraine and Merlin both have their doubts, but they continue their mutual flirtation. Morgan uses the opportunity to tease Guinevere and Leontes, who remain devout and not into the scene at all. But she comments that her brother will now need a queen and hopes he finds someone suitable. Later on, Merlin observes her reputation has grown and she seems to have become a queen of hearts. She admits to learning her lesson that ambition for its own sake is worthless. He notes that Camelot already has a queen of hearts—Igraine. Morgan's also trying to smooth things with her, but Igraine feels pensive being back in her castle and whether she can forgive her step-daughter remains to be seen.

The knights' mini-orgy is interrupted when flaming arrows are fired over the wall, prompting a dangerous rescue by Arthur as everyone rushes to put out the fire. As they recoup afterwards, they conclude that the attack could have come from Old Wolf, a warlord who was always provoking Uther. If he succeeds in taking Pendragon Castle, he could control all the supply routes for Camelot. The pass in question is weakly defended, so they send off some of Morgan's men (including Harwel) to check in on that while they make the place siege ready. Morgan is more than happy to offer Arthur her castle at his disposal.

Igraine, Bridget and Guinevere bemoan all their men going off to fight and being so excited about it. Igraine assures them they need to support them and ensure they never doubt themselves. Sybil and Morgan watch, commenting on the influence that Igraine wields over everyone. Sybil lets her know their people are in position.

Gawain gets the men on the walls prepared for close combat, but he's not happy having Leontes in charge of everything, and the two share some terse words, interrupted by Guinevere who figures the women shouldn't be sitting around doing nothing. So he sends her off to ready bandages and medicine for the wounded.

That gives Morgan and Guinevere a chance to chat as they gather supplies. Guinevere asks if she wants to take a husband, but Morgan isn't too keen on that, and counters that Arthur won't be without a queen for long and he'll make a lucky woman happy.

Merlin runs into Sybil asking what her true purpose is at Pendragon Castle. Morgan returned from the nunnery with some interesting talents, he notes, and now here she is. Merlin wonders what Morgan gets in return. Sybil explains she needed sanctuary, and leaves.

Only one wounded rider returns—Harwel, explaining they encountered Old Wolf's men preparing to attack. Morgan abruptly gives an order for some men to ride out and head them off, which infuriates Gawain and Leontes for screwing up their plans. She apologizes to Arthur, who isn't impressed, and start forming a different strategy.

Morgan suggests her forces create a diversion to allow Arthur to make it safely back to Camelot, but her brother won't agree to that. Guinevere pipes up suggesting the women can fight, too, and not just stand around. Arthur agrees, so gets the men to train them in archery. Harwel gets bandaged up and a kiss of thanks from Morgan.

Gawain doesn't like the idea of waiting for the attack so prepares to leave to go out and kill Old Wolf himself, until he's stopped by Leontes who tells him to obey the king. Gawain doesn't want to hear orders from him, so the two get into the customary battle until Arthur has to break them up. They all fight as one, he says, and orders them all back to the battlements.

Igraine chats with Merlin as he mixes some concoctions together, asking if he believes Morgan's change of heart. He's yet to determine what's really up with her. He tells her knowledge is pain, not power, and does she really want to know everything that's going on? Yes, she says, share his burden with her. So he drops the bomb that Morgan killed Uther. Igraine is horrified, but Merlin says she can't tell Arthur. If Morgan wanted to kill him she would have already, so no good will come of his knowing.

During the long night, everyone is left to make peace with matters. Leontes prays alone until Sybil comes along. He admits he fears Guinevere will be taken from him as retribution for his sins. She tells him his faith in man is what he should worry about. Igraine gives a pep talk to her son, telling him he should let his champions fight. She doesn't want to lose him, but he assures her he knows and returns her love. Gawain admits he wanted to kill Leontes, but says he fought well. Leontes explains he turned to God when he once killed a young boy who attacked him in battle. Arthur goes to talk with Guinevere to tell her he doesn't know if they'll win their battle the next day, and he doesn't want to die without having said that he loves her. Morgan's listening in, of course, but Guinevere tells him to leave.

Sybil, Morgan and Vivian have a ritual around a pool of water, and Igraine's face appears. Everyone at Camelot confides in her, and Arthur's love for Guinevere will drive a wedge between his champions. Morgan realizes now is her time to use the gift she's been given and...impersonate Igraine (Finally!).

Come morning, there are no sign of soldiers until Morgan's men return. Only three arrive, and declare they killed everyone in the camp, and they alone are the survivors. Old Wolf is either dead or has fled. Morgan and Arthur are both pleased, but she says she has brave men to bury, and her place is at her castle.

Arthur and his men prepare to return to Camelot, though Merlin would like to see the dead bodies. Igraine encounters Morgan as she prepares to leave. Then we next see Igraine emerge to join the group as they ride out.

Sybil instructs Harwel to take some men and attack the outpost at the pass. That will draw out the king, and they will give him no quarter. She then takes some food to Igraine in the dungeon, who assures her no one will notice she's missing.

The Verdict:
This was certainly a groaner. While the whole notion of examining all these characters through a tense, long night of siege is a nice idea, it plays out rather predictably and tediously with scene after scene of conversations.

But Guinevere and Bridget did learn archery overnight, so I guess that's something. Though Pendragon Castle is apparently vulnerable to a few dozen men. Not so strange considering they have a useless wall that is highly flammable.

I don't even want to start on Merlin just letting things happen and ignoring the lies and schemes going on right in front of him. He'd like to see the bodies? Sure, why not? How about actually going to see them? Magic? I guess we're back on the wagon this week.

There were some other odd bits that just came off as head scratchers—what was the point of the dancers taking the swords? Really. When everyone at Camelot is already suspicious of Morgan and her ambition. And Ulfius sleeping during the orgy was a bit weird—I thought they were leading to something that he might have been drugged, but nothing came of it.

I was really hoping the series would start to come out of its funk, but now I'm not so sure things can improve before the end of the season, unless there are some serious goodies waiting to be brought out. There needs to be a solid focus and direction, with a sense of building to something, rather than all this meandering around the last few episodes. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...