Merlin: Father to son

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!

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5 thoughts on “Merlin: Father to son

  1. I certainly hope season 3 gets to us. After all, they set us up with some high expectations with that “Merlin…Will Return” at the end of the episode. Must be a British thing.

    I must say, the shots of Uther really characterized him. Always slightly hidden, always through a window. It was clearly showing his cowardice and the fact that it was always the knights that were doing the dirty work (hell, even Gwen) not him.

    I wonder if Balinor knew his own fate. After all, he very clearly told Merlin, “When you face your first dragon,” implying that it would be the Great Dragon. I mean, I know it was a last-minute kill, but I just wonder if he had some inclination, what with his being the last Dragonlord and the Great Dragon being the last dragon.

    I did appreciate the dragon’s weakness when he asked not to kill his kind because of his bad behavior. But then again, can he really start this race over again? It’s not like Merlin finding any woman to pass down his power to a son. A dragon kinda needs another dragon to make another dragon. Ultimately, the Great Dragon will be ending his race and his misdeeds will be the ones that are remembered.

    But you have a good point about Arthur. But then again, how did he really survive? Clearly, the dragon didn’t want to kill him or that final blow would have been Arthur’s final blow. I wonder how Arthur survived all that fire with no shield, really. I mean, it went right on top of him.

    Finally (in this really long comment), does anyone wonder how Merlin keeps surviving? And why would they have kept him in the circle of knights in the final battle? Wouldn’t they have said, ok, Merlin, go hide in the bushes. We’ll take care of this. You know?

  2. Oh, and I must say, the smiling walk-off in slow-mo at the end was a bit cheesy. But you know, I love Gaius and Merlin, so I’ll give them that freebie.

  3. Yeah, I think the “Will Return” tag is a British thing. Doctor Who seasons often end with something similar.

    I love your point about the way Uther was shot through the window. Definitely agree. Also, those windows make for some really artistic looking shots. Love ’em.

    I thought that line of Balinor’s was weird too. Although given that Merlin didn’t kill the dragon, maybe Balinor wouldn’t have either, thus leaving the possibility that Merlin might face it later on, I guess.

    Yes, the Great Dragon will ultimately end its species (barring other dragons in hiding or procreation through magic), but I suppose now it has a chance to redeem itself or something. That’s the best spin I can put on that one…

    However, Arthur clearly survived because his status as a main character gives him an extra 50% fire resistance compared to his knights. 😉

    You’re right, though, a lot more people really should start being suspicious of Merlin.

    The final slow-mo was definitely pretty cheesy — and a weird way to end the season, I thought. But I agree, not a big deal.

  4. Oooh, you know what? Bet you anything that because the dragon was spared we’re going to get a…. shall we say, deus ex draconia ending in a future episode.

  5. Pingback: Merlin: New knight, old plot « Raked

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