KT is finally catching up with last weekend’s episodes.
MERLIN: 2.13 “The Last Dragonlord”
As we open the big season two finale, the Great Dragon is celebrating its freedom by wreaking havoc over Camelot. Maybe celebrating is the wrong word, but there’s fire and smoke and screaming. Merlin is feeling acutely guilty, since he was the one to finally free the dragon, though of course no one else knows about it.
I was more than a little bothered by the dragon’s fiery destruction. While it does make sense that he would be determined to take his revenge on Uther, his actual targets are Uther’s subjects, especially Arthur and his knights — and the dragon has spent two seasons telling Merlin to protect Arthur at all costs, for the sake of the future of Camelot… which the beast is currently lighting on fire. Granted, dragon fire is hard to aim at a king who won’t go out and fight the dragon, but since we know that this dragon has centuries of accumulated knowledge in his big reptilian skull, surely he could have come up with way of getting at Uther specifically.
The heart of the episode, though, is Merlin’s relationship with a man that he and Arthur go to seek out. And we all know, as soon as Gaius says, “Did your mother ever tell you about Balinor?” that this guy is Merlin’s never-before-mentioned father. (If I’d been on my trope-catching toes, I also would have foreseen his demise, but I wasn’t that insightful this time.)
Balinor — belonging as he does to the Uther Wants Me Dead Club — is understandably prickly, and Merlin is shy and cautious, but the relationship is a promising one. I wish they had let Balinor live and kept him around as a recurring character, especially since the Great Dragon isn’t likely to be a series regular anymore. (And possibly ditto Morgana, though who can say. Gaius’ remark to Gwen suggests that we should certainly expect to see her next season, though.)
While I’m chasing tangents: What really cracked me up about the middle part of the episode, though, is how much time Arthur spends either asleep or just out of earshot so that these two can have private conversations. Poor Arthur didn’t get to nap last week like everyone else.
But instead, Balinor is used merely as a stepping stone in Merlin’s ongoing story — and fortunately for everyone the dragonlord’s powers are transferred from father to son upon the death of the father. Merlin is able to join Arthur and a bunch of knights with “monsterbait” written on their foreheads, and once the dragon has knocked out all the others, Merlin brings the dragon under his will and talks some sense into it. The scene verges on the anticlimactic, but what I liked about it was the way Merlin single-handedly creates a legend. “You did it,” he tells Arthur as the prince comes around. And despite protesting it earlier, Arthur does think highly enough of himself to believe it.
Mind you, will they still believe it when no one ever finds the corpse of this mortally wounded dragon? I suppose we’ll have to wait for season three to find out!
I have no idea, by the way, when season three might get to us. To my knowledge, it hasn’t yet aired in the UK, though I do know it’s coming. So stay tuned!