As I’ve mused in previous Merlin reviews, I liked Lancelot. I loved his honest nobility as much as some viewers enjoy his rough yet understanding good looks. (See above.) So when they killed him off in the early episodes of this series, I was a bit upset. Was it a cost cutting exercise? A way of avoiding the Arthur/Gwen/Lancelot love triangle?
It’s hard to tell, especially now that he’s back. Did the episode itself make things any clearer?
Lancelot: The Smouldering Dead
No, not really. On the one hand, they’ve nullified the future love triangle by having Lancelot return as a brainwashed zombie. On the other, they also use it to throw a major spanner into the works of the Arthur/Gwen relationship, just when it looked like everything was going to be smooth sailing.
All credit to them for not taking the easy way out in the end, though, which is what I expected as soon as magic bracelets started getting passed around. The bracelet may still get discovered in the future but for now, much like in the Uther-killing episode, Morgana is allowed to win.
This did make for a dreary final ten minutes, featuring Arthur getting scarily angry about the injustice of it all, as well as a resolution to the Lancelot loose end that was surprisingly mature for a family show. We’ve had a few suicides on Doctor Who, but I see that as skewing a shade older than Merlin.
A Fleeting Glimpse At The End
After the tragic ending, we got a baffling scene involving Lancelot… thanking Merlin for something? I tried to feel the emotions that the swelling music wanted, but mostly I sat there trying to work out what the hell had just happened.
Part of me feels that it would have been more interesting to have let Lancelot’s return be a mystery rather than introduce him as a soulless half-life, but that would’ve left less time for the end dramatics. The battle between Arthur and Lancelot was particularly enjoyable, it’s been a while since we had an intense physical fight scene on this show.
And that was the ninth of thirteen episodes, the end is now in sight, so perhaps this is the beginning of a run of drama and misery that’ll take us to the finale. Will that feature an Arthurian Royal Wedding? It’s still possible. Check the episode out on iPlayer and tell us where you think they’re going with this.