“We solve crimes, I blog about it, and he forgets his pants.”

Season Two

A Scandal in Belgravia picks up right where The Great Game left off, in the pool, with Sherlock pointing a gun at a collection of bombs. Then Staying Alive echoes through the room from Moriarty’s phone. He asks to take the call and starts congenial, then becomes angry at what the mysterious caller is telling him; “and know that if you are lying, I will skin you,” he drags out. Turns out for Sherlock and John, “Sorry, wrong day to die,” but warns them he will be in touch. On his way out, still on the phone, he tells his friend, if they’re right, they will be rich, and if they’re wrong, they will become shoes. We see a woman end the call, then ask another mysterious person, “Have you been wicked, your highness?”

John’s blogs bring in clients, advancing the duo, particularly Sherlock, to the status of Internet phenomenon. The press start showing up at crime scenes and Sherlock has to don the infamous deerstalker hat to hide his face. Sherlock attempts to solve a case from home, wrapped in a sheet, while John does the legwork on location. Then they’re both taken to Buckingham Palace. And…Sherlock still can’t bother to put on pants. Mycroft comes in to tell Sherlock he has a new case, but the client must remain anonymous. Sherlock refuses at first, even threatening to walk away while Mycroft holds the sheet (there’s a hilarious blooper of Benedict falling over in one take). He does take the case; the royal family is being threatened with scandal due to a dominatrix, Irene Adler holding compromising photos on her phone. This is the woman from the start of the episode. Irene receives photos of Sherlock and prepares for his arrival while Sherlock prepares to meet her. He has John punch him in the face (which John always hears when Sherlock is speaking, “but it’s usually subtext”) so he’ll appear suitably distraught to gain entrance to Irene’s residence.

Irene shocks Sherlock by entering the room stark naked. He stumbles a bit and can’t read her like he normally does. She further turns the table and asks Sherlock about his latest case; “brainy is the new sexy” (I totally agree). She eventually dons Sherlock’s coat to make John more comfortable, but they’re ploy to find the phone is interrupted by American CIA agents. They threaten John to make Sherlock open the case (the combination is Irene’s measurements) and with a hint from Irene, Sherlock warns his sidekick “Vatican cameos!” so they all duck as a gun takes out their opponents. Sherlock almost gets away with the phone, but Irene drugs him and escapes. She does return the coat while Sherlock sleeps (and reveals the solution to the case, where a backfiring car covers up a boomerang accidentally killing its owner), and also has now programmed his phone to moan sensually whenever she texts. Which hilariously interrupts Sherlock telling Mycroft off for yelling at Mrs. Hudson to shut up.

This transitions into a Christmas party at Baker Street. Sherlock actually apologizes when he embarrasses Molly Hooper, then his mood turns when he discovers that Irene Adler has left her phone, her insurance policy, for him. He warns Mycroft that they will find the woman dead that evening. He and Mycroft identify the body later that evening. Mycroft even offers Sherlock a cigarette which signals that Sherlock is suffering emotional pain. Sherlock tries to unlock Irene’s phone, but only has four attempts and discovers that if the case is forced, measures are in place to destroy the information. John is picked up while he’s out; he assumes it’s Mycroft again, but really it’s Irene. She’s not dead and she needs her phone back. And…Sherlock is listening. he’s in a bit of a daze as he makes his way back to Baker Street, but then he’s frighteningly focused when he discovers that Mrs. Hudson is in danger. The CIA agents are back. The leader is taken away in an ambulance, after falling out the window, several times. Sherlock declares England would fall is Mrs. Hudson ever left Baker Street.

sherlock and irene

Then he discovers Irene in his bedroom. She has a case for Sherlock. She has an important e-mail she got a hold of that needs decoding. Sherlock manages to crack it in less than a minute. Irene is impressed: “I would have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy, twice.” Sadly, if we recall, she’s in the league with Moriarty and sends damaging information out. Moriarty contacts Mycroft and Sherlock has just set back a joint operation that could lead to a dangerous group, just to impress a woman. Irene attempts to blackmail Mycroft into her demands, but Sherlock has finally figured out her code to unlock her phone: I AM SHERLOCKED.

This puts Irene in danger. Mycroft visits John later so the man can inform his flatmate that the woman is in witness protection when really she’s dead. However…when we see her send her final text, a phone moans nearby. Sherlock is on hand to save her.

Hounds of Baskerville brings a familiar BBC face to play, Russell Tovey has appeared in Doctor Who and plays George the werewolf in Being Human (I only watched that show because Aidan Turner [Poldark, Kili from the Hobbit, and ironically Luke the werewolf from The Mortal Instruments movie] played Mitchell the vampire). One of the bar owners was Little John in BBC’s Robin Hood series as well. In this episode Russell is the client Henry Knight who witnessed his father murdered as a boy on the moors outside the Baskerville Army installation. He believes he saw a gigantic hound with red eyes tear his father apart. Sherlock is desperate for a case (so desperate, he begs for drugs) and almost doesn’t take it, until Henry specifically says, “it was a gigantic hound.” Hound is a more archaic term, why does he use it?

We get some gorgeous shots of Dartmoor. The consulting detective and his blogger sneak onto the base using Mycroft’s keycard and find a connection to an e-mail a child sent; her mother works for Baskerville, which explains the glowing bunny that shortly afterwards disappeared. So there is something strange going on at Baskerville. Sherlock convinces Henry to take them to Dewer’s Hollow (where the devil supposedly pops up). It’s foggy, they hear rustling. Then Sherlock sees a hound. He denies it to Henry, but John finds him later freaking out. “Once you rule out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be true.” John in turns call Sherlock “Spock” (There is Star Trek trivia that in the fourth movie [not the new ones], Spock quotes that line, claiming one of his ancestors said it, thus connecting Sherlock Holmes and Spock. NuSpock also quotes this line). Sherlock insults John, who goes for a walk.

Come morning, Sherlock apologizes in the way that he does. And another familiar face for him, Lestrade has come, on orders from Mycroft. John muses that it helps with Sherlock’s Asperger’s (I have no way of knowing one way or another if that is a true statement). Sherlock sends John to search the labs and freaks his friend out. Then discovers that the sugar he thought contained the drug does not. He must consult his Mind Palace. Henry had started to remember two words associated with the night his father was killed, “Liberty, In.” Sherlock also realizes that “hound” may actually be an acronym. It is. There was a CIA project years ago codenamed “H.O.U.N.D.” that took place in Liberty, Indiana. It was supposed to be part of chemical warfare and drive the enemy to terror and fear. But it adversely affected the subject and the project was scrapped. But a doctor from that time has started it up again.

Henry, with a gun because he’s starting to see the hound at his place, heads to the Hollow. Sherlock, Lestrade, and John race after him and run into his old family friend, Doctor Franklin, who has worked on the American project. Turns out, what young Henry had seen was Doctor Franklin wearing a gas mask and killing his father. The drug is aerosol form and is hidden in the fog of the hollow. Oh, and there is an actual dog; the pub owners had one that they hoped to capitalize on the tourist craze, but it grew too wild. They claimed to have had it put down; no, they just let it loose in the hollow to terrorize people. Franklin runs to escape prison…into a minefield.

At the very end, Mycroft lets Jim Moriarty leave interrogation, after having written “Sherlock” around his cell.

This leads right into The Reichenbach Fall. Sherlock’s popularity is on the rise, not that he really cares. He’s started solving high profile cases, even receiving the insufferable deerstalker hat as a gag gift from Scotland Yard. Then Moriarty simultaneously breaks into the three most secure places in London, including the Crown Jewels. He goes on trial and Sherlock is called in as a witness. In the loo beforehand, he’s cornered by a “fan,” actually a journalist who wants “the real story” on Sherlock Holmes. He dismisses her. Sherlock deduces afterwards, that Moriarty wanted caught. And he manages to be found not guilty. Jim visits Sherlock at Baker Street and informs his nemesis that the final problem is approaching. Every fairytale needs its villain. Sherlock needs Jim. Mycroft warns John briefly of an upcoming exposé on Sherlock, but more concerning is four assassins moving in nearby.

There is a kidnapping case. Sherlock solves it. But when he goes to visit the girl, she screams at the sight of him. Donovan, alongside Anderson, who have never liked Sherlock, start to believe that he staged the whole thing, just so he could solve it. John knows Sherlock is not a fraud, but Lestrade gets in trouble from his superior and has to come arrest Sherlock. John is offended by the superior and punches him, Sherlock uses it as an opportunity for the two of them to escape. Sherlock tracks down the journalist, who startlingly has a clear history of Sherlock’s childhood and a mysterious source, Jim Moriarty, who claims to be an actor named Richard Brook that Sherlock hired to play his nemesis. I hate this part; I dislike this woman. She got turned down by Sherlock but is so desperate to prove her career that she eagerly laps up a story to explain that he’s an ordinary man. As Sherlock tells John, it’s a lie wrapped up in a truth, so people will believe it.

Sherlock retreats to St. Bart’s and quietly enlists Molly Hooper’s help. She is a kind hearted person and has offered to Sherlock, even after he’s mean to her, that if he ever needs help, she’s there. He trusts her and tells her, she has always counted. “I think I’m going to die,” he tells her. “What do you need?” she simply asks. “You.”

John races off to Baker Street, thinking Mrs. Hudson is in trouble. But she’s fine (aside from an assassin is standing next to her). John then races back to St. Bart’s figuring that Sherlock is planning to face Moriarty alone. The opposing players meet on the roof. Staying Alive plays again and the final problem is that Moriarty has grown bored of Sherlock. Claims he’s ordinary; he’s beaten him. Sherlock retorts to the criminal, “Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them” [and he sounds so much like Kahn at that moment.] There was no magic key. He paid off guards, just like he blackmailed the jury. And now, to end his story, Sherlock must die. Sherlock must commit suicide; if he doesn’t, three gunmen are set up to kill John Watson, Greg Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock thinks for a minute he would be able to get the information out of Moriarty, he figured out that in German, Richard Brook translates to Reichenbach, Sherlock’s fame-making case and he can prove that Jim created a falsesherlock call identity, but the insane man shoots himself in the head. Now Sherlock has no choice. John has arrived on scene; Sherlock makes him stay back. John calls his phone. Sherlock claims he has lied to John the whole time; John does not believe him. Sherlock jumps. John rushes to him, but is first hit by a bicyclist, and then the people won’t let him near Sherlock.

I still tear up at the end when John begs Sherlock for one more miracle, “just, don’t be dead.” John tells Sherlock’s tombstone that he was the best man, the most human person he had ever known and he will never believe that Sherlock was lying. He owes Sherlock so much. The camera follows John as he leaves the cemetery and pans to Sherlock watching.

I enjoy this season more than the first. I like the hour and a half long episodes because it allows the writers time to fully develop a story and delve into nuances.  There’s humor and action mixed in with the mystery and drama.  Sherlock still shows us that he is human and experiences human emotions, as much as he may deny them.  He trusts Molly more than John at the end to help him pull off his suicide.  He recognizes on his own that he hurt John’s feelings at Baskerville.  I wish we had a more satisfying end to Moriarty, and more public, after what he put Sherlock through.  And as Season Two ends, I desperately want to start watching Season Three.

Next Time: Season Three

“Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day, if we’re very, very lucky, he may even be a good one.”

Sherlock – Season One

One of BBC’s incredibly popular shows, despite the fact that there are only three episodes per season and we’ve only had four seasons and one movie in seven years. Made Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman household names (they would team up again as the dragon Smaug, and titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, and as already stated, both appear in the MCU. We’ve seen Benedict briefly in The Other Boleyn Girl and Amazing Grace.) We have become “The Fandom that Waited.” Oh, there’s lots to discuss about the fandom and theories…we’ll cover that in the last post. Created by Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft and has appeared in Doctor Who and written a few episodes) and Steven Moffat (an integral writer to Doctor Who since 2005), both of whom are professed Sherlock Holmes fanboys. It’s BBC, so many actors pop up in the show who have been on others.

In A Study in Pink, we’re first introduced to John Watson, a war veteran attending a session with his psychologist, who suggests he keep a blog describing his day. John (they go by first names in this rendition since it’s modern times, compared to Victorian when it was more common to be referred to by surnames) comments, “nothing happens to me.” Going on at the same time, Scotland Yard is investigating a string of suicides that are connected, but they’re unsure how, since they’re suicides. Detective Inspector Lestrade heads the case and gets texts during a press conference, the last one saying “you know where to find me. SH.” John runs into an old friend, who remarks who knows someone else in need of a flatmate. Then we’re introduced to Molly Hooper, who plainly has a crush on Sherlock and does favors for him in the mortuary, like, letting him whip a corpse for a science experiment. Stamford brings about John to meet Sherlock, Sherlock easily deduces John’s purpose, and finally introduces himself on camera: “the name is Sherlock Holms and the address is 221B Backer Street.”

sherlock intro

John follows Sherlock on his case, telling his potential flatmate that yes, he would like to see more trouble. “The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!” Sherlock pronounces as they sweep out of the flat. We discover that most of the police force dislike Sherlock, some even calling him a freak to his face. One officer, Donovan, warns John that Sherlock is a psychopath and one day, the body they discover will have been put there by Sherlock. Sherlock has already raced off for more clues and John starts to make his way back to the center of town, though pay phones keep ringing as he goes by. He eventually answers and is picked up by a car and meets a mysterious man, well dressed in a suit and carrying an umbrella. The man claims to be Sherlock’s arch enemy, the closest thing a man like Sherlock has to friends. He worries about him and offers to pay John to pass along information. The man deduces that John is not traumatized by the war, like his psychologist suggests; he misses it. His hand does not shake when in stressful situations. John receives a text from Sherlock: “come at once if convenient, if inconvenient, come all the same. Could be dangerous.” John turns down the offer and gets dropped off at 221B.

Sherlock has found the missing pink suitcase so he can carry on with the case; there is also an absolutely hilarious conversation between the two men on dating. John asserts he is not gay and the subject doesn’t seem to interest Sherlock (oh boy, fans play around with this a lot). They do grab some dinner (well, not really. Sherlock doesn’t eat and they’re off chasing a cab before John can eat. He does leave his cane) and ultimately arrive back at Baker Street to find a drugs’ bust going on in their flat, conducted by Lestrade. Lestrade needs Sherlock to cooperate (and we, along with John, find out that Sherlock may have illicit drugs in his possession, though he seems to use cases as a way to get high instead). Sherlock corrects Anderson of forensics “I am not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high-functioning sociopath, do your research.” Then later yells at Anderson while he’s trying to unlock clues: “Anderson, don’t talk out loud, you lower the IQ of the whole street,” and tells everyone to shut up and has Anderson turn his back. He silently leaves with a waiting cabbie, who is apparently the serial killer. John tracks him but ends up in the building next to where Sherlock is engaged with the killer. The killer simply gives what he considers a 50-50 chance to his victims, two bottles, with identical pills, they just have to figure out if he’s placed the good or bad bottle in front of them. Sherlock is ready to play the game, particularly intrigued when the killer mentions he has a sponsor who is very interested in Sherlock. He pries a name out of the man after John shoots him: Moriarty.

The wrap-up is a bit funny, the police keep putting a shock blanket on Sherlock and he starts to rattle off his deductions on who shot the serial killer, until he realizes it was John. Then he tells Lestrade to ignore everything he’s just said, “I’m in shock, look, I’ve got a blanket.” Sherlock meets up with his new flatmate and thanks him. They giggle a bit, which they really shouldn’t do, but are stopped by the well dressed man John met earlier. Nope, not Moriarty like we might have first guessed, it’s his elder brother, Mycroft. He really does worry about his brother. He remarks to his P.A. that John Watson could be the making of his brother, or make him worse.

The second episode, Blind Banker manages to tie a Chinese crime syndicate to mysterious graffiti in an international bank and the murder of a stock tradesman. Turns out the tradesman, along with a journalist and I’m sure many others, acted as couriers to smuggle stolen artifacts out of China to sell at auction for huge profit. All involved with the Black Lotus syndicate are tattooed on the bottom of their foot and communicate with an ancient Chinese cipher involving a book, which turned out to be London A to Z. John and Sherlock get some help from a young woman who works at the museum. John starts to see a young woman when he gets a side job as a physician; Sherlock tags along on their date to the Chinese circus, which acts as a cover for the syndicate. John’s girlfriend, Sarah, is kidnapped alongside John because he was mistaken for Sherlock (he had been mocking his friend earlier and was overheard). Sherlock rescues them, though the leader gets away. Not for long; she’s tied into the organization with Moriarty.

In The Great Game, Sherlock is given a series of cases to solve, with an innocent life at stake with each one. It’s all kicked off with a bombing across the street from 221B. And Mycroft needs a case solved involving missile plans. When Lestrade calls Sherlock in, he remarks “I’d be lost without my blogger,” and encourages John to come. The first case calls upon the pink phone from their first case (John’s blog is more highly read than they realized) and has pictures from the other flat at 221 Baker and shoes from the first case Sherlock tried to solve. He ultimately solves the case so a innocent person won’t be blown up.

The second case involves a bloody car and ultimately a cover-up for someone to disappear. The third case is about a celebrity’s death. Sadly, the old woman who was the in-between for Sherlock and the mastermind is killed; she was blind and wouldn’t be able to read a text and so she started to describe the mystery man’s voice and was killed in an explosion. John works Mycroft’s case while Sherlock is busy. The fourth case involves a new painting that a gallery has procured which is actually a fake. It’s down to the wire and a kid’s life is on the line before Sherlock realizes the painting included an astrological event that hadn’t occurred at that time.

sherlock meets jim

There’s still one case left: Mycroft’s. The brother to the fiancé of the man who was killed did it on accident and hoped to cover it up. Sherlock intends to meet the bomber at a local pool; then John steps out. He’s wired up and there’s a sniper to keep things on track. (Sherlock dear, please do not scratch your head while holding a loaded gun!) Then Molly’s boyfriend Jim, whom Sherlock commented was gay, steps out. His surname is Moriarty and he’s a specialist, just like Sherlock. While Sherlock is a consulting detective, Moriarty is a consulting criminal. And he doesn’t want to kill Sherlock yet, that wouldn’t be fun. He’s saving that for something special. No, if Sherlock doesn’t stop prying, Jim will “burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.” Jim strolls off. “Catch you later,” Sherlock says in farewell. “No you won’t!” Jim calls back. But Jim does come back, “I’m so changeable,” it’s his only weakness. He cannot let Sherlock and John live. Red sniper dots hover on Sherlock and John and Sherlock aims at the bomb vest as the music crescendos, Sherlock and Jim face off, building tension…and…black. Cliff hanger!

The acting is superb in this show. At the end, oh, we hate Moriarty, but we want to know what he does next…the cliffhanger only encourages us more. He’s all laid back and la-la-la, then shouts “that’s what people do!” when Sherlock mentions people have died as a result of the game Jim Moriarty has played with Sherlock.

While Sherlock flaps about showing off his intelligence and spouting that he is a sociopath and doesn’t have friends, he clearly has come to care quickly for John Watson. There’s a brief look of horror on his face when it’s John who steps out at the pool. For a moment, we and Sherlock wonder, was John only playing at being Sherlock’s friend? Was it all a set up? And then, Sherlock is anxious to get the bomb vest off his friend and save his life. He calls John an idiot only so much that everyone who is not Sherlock is an idiot. Yes, he doesn’t understand all the social niceties, but we still want to see him succeed. He comments to Jim at the pool, “I have been reliably informed that I don’t have one [a heart].” “Oh, we both know that’s not true,” Jim replies.

John is the audience, quite impressed by Sherlock and willing to take him under his wing and try to acclimatize him to proper society, because he finds the cases thrilling as well. He’s only just met the strange man, but refuses to take bribe money to spy on him. (Of course, Sherlock remarks that John should have accepted the offer and they could have split the money; because Sherlock knows it’s Mycroft.)

Personally, I highly recommend the show. I like the inclusion of modern technology to keep with the times. It makes me think, because I’m trying to solve the case and the twist, but I also know that Sherlock will solve it in the end.

Next Time: Season Two

There’s a Fish…For Some Reason

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The sequel to the previous movie (and there is news of a third movie in the works) bringing back Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams (briefly). Stephen Fry (veteran British TV actor and he pops up in The Hobbit trilogy) joins the cast as Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft. Jared Harris (Hodge in The Mortal Instruments movie, the father in Pompeii, and King George VI in The Crown) plays the conniving Professor James Moriarty. The soundtrack is once again entertaining.

The film opens with Watson typing, informing us that it is 1891 and the world is on the brink of war. Bombs have been set off in big cities and countries blame each other. Sherlock meets up with Irene once again, attempting to intercept a package. He warns her of men following her, turns out, they’re her escort. Sherlock beats off the four of them and races after Irene. She’s delivering the package during an auction and receives a note in return. Sherlock manages to stop the bomb from taking out its target, but Irene gets away. The victim is ultimately killed and Sherlock is on his next case. Sadly, Irene misses her dinner date, due to having lunch with Moriarty (whom Sherlock refers to as the Napoleon of crime…[I thought that was Macavity…we’ll get to that with the musical Cats down the road]). He chides her for succumbing to her feelings for Holmes and poisons her with a form of tuberculosis. We witness her pass out.

Watson visits Sherlock and discovers his map work of crimes tied to Moriarty, a shadowy game of cat and mouse. But before he can delve too deeply into the madness of Sherlock’s mind, they have plans for the evening, Watson’s stag party. He’s getting married in the morning and Sherlock Holmes is his best man. Sherlock uses it as an opportunity to work more on his case, so Watson goes off to the gambling tables. Congress Reel plays as Sherlock fights off a Cossack from killing a gypsy, whose brother is involved in Moriarty’s scheme. The gypsy, Sims, helps in fact; I always like it when they let a woman fight her own battles. Both Watson and Sherlock are worse for wear when they arrive for Watson’s wedding, but it goes off without a hitch. At the end, Sherlock is called to meet Moriarty. The mathematics professor reveals that Irene Adler is indeed dead, giving Sherlock her bloody handkerchief. And the only reason Moriarty has left Sherlock live so long is professional respect. And Moriarty intends to go after Watson, even though he no longer works with Sherlock.

Which means that Sherlock has to crash the newlyweds’ honeymoon. He gets Mary off the train (don’t worry, Mycroft picks her up) and he and Watson take care of the regiment of soldiers….It’s rather entertaining. Sherlock is in a dress. Then they’re off to Paris, to meet up with Sims. They try to ruin Moriarty’s plans at Don Giovanni, but that was a decoy from the bombing that covers up an assassination. (To the Opera is my favorite track on the soundtrack, because I don’t mind a little opera music in my life.) Watson and Sherlock deduce that Sebastian Moran is working for Moriarty (the middle man we keep seeing); an expert shot and once served with Watson. The mastermind’s plan is ramping up and next stop is Germany, which they have to sneak across the border. A moment of humor; Sherlock dislikes horses: they’re a danger at either end and crafty in the middle. Why would he want something with a mind of its own between his legs? (That could be taken another way…both movies are full of innuendos).

gos hookIn Germany, Sherlock is captured and interrogated by Moriarty, which involves having a large fish hook stabbed into his shoulder, raised up, and Moriarty spins him about. The Napoleon of crime broadcasts Sherlock’s screams over a loud speaker. Watson faces off against Moran, ultimately using a bigger gun: “Come at once if convenient, if inconvenient, come all the same.” They meet back up with their gypsy friends and make a run for a train involving some excellent use of slow-motion. Once safe, Sherlock stops breathing. Watson thinks to use his wedding gift, a vial of adrenaline. They then meet up with Mycroft at the peace summit in Reichenbach, Switzerland. Morarity’s plan is to create a world war now that he has ties to everything from bullets to bandages. The final push will be an assassination of an ambassador at the peace meeting.

Sherlock leaves Watson and Sims to deduce which ambassador, determining that her brother’s face was changed surgically and he’ll take the fall. The genius moves Moriarty outside to play chess. He reveals he got Moriarty’s little red notebook which tracks all of his fortune and has sent it safely to Mary Watson and Scotland Yard. The two brilliant men are about to face off, each planning out their opponents moves and counter-moves, when Sherlock realizes that with his injury, his demise is inevitable, but he can take Moriarty out with him. Watson and Sims stop the assassination and Watson opens the door just as Sherlock pushes off.

Watson ends with Sherlock’s funeral. Mary checks on his progress and reminds him they need t leave soon for their second attempt at a honeymoon. But there’s a package first. Inside is Mycroft Holmes’ oxygen supply, which Sherlock had been toying with. When Watson runs out of the room, Sherlock reveals himself to have been catalogued as his armchair. Is this truly “The End?”

I enjoyed seeing Sherlock face Moriarty; they were well matched. Sherlock deserves, or requires a brilliant opponent, or else life is dull…and then he causes problems for Watson. The criminal mastermind did have a point; this is very similar to how the first World War began: tensions between nations rising before as assassination kicks it off. Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. once again play well off of each other, Watson always being right where Sherlock needs him. A good sequel, an equal to the first.

Up Next: BBC’s Sherlock

Discombobulate

Sherlock Holmes

One of the most famous literary characters ever created. I am once again a horrible English major and have not read the tales. They’re sitting on my bookcase; I’ll get to them…eventually. There have been many incarnations of Sherlock and his faithful sidekick Watson throughout the years. Basil Rathbone from the Golden Age of Hollywood is iconic. Christopher Lee was involved as well. Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin from the original Star Wars), Christopher Plummer, John Cleese, Ian McKellen, and of course, BBC’s smash hit Sherlock made starts out of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. And I love that show, though along with new fans everywhere I was confused when the episodes ran long and at the end of the third one; “where’s the rest of the season?”

This iteration features Robert Downey Jr (this movie came out a year after the first Iron Man) as Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law (now part of the MCU with a role in Captain Marvel, he’s also recently portrayed a younger Albus Dumbledore in Grimes of Grindewald [which I still have not seen], and I adore him in The Holiday) is his partner John Watson. Irene Adler, “the woman” is played by Rachel McAdams (again, now part of the MCU as Christine from Doctor Strange [made even more ironic since Strange is played by Cumberbatch, she has now starred opposite two Sherlock’s. Oh, there are a bunch of fans who want the line “No shit, Sherlock,” to show up and Downey and Cumberbatch just look at each other], also famous from Mean Girls and The Notebook [that movie will not appear in this blog]). Mark Strong (we just saw him in Young Victoria, and know him from Robin Hood) made his mark as Lord Henry Blackwood, accompanied by Hans Matheson (Mordred in Mists of Avalon and Thomas Cranmer in The Tudors) as Lord Coward. And if the palm reader looks familiar, she was Isolde’s maid in Tristan and Isolde. The soundtrack is composed by Hans Zimmer.

We jump right into the middle of a case. Sherlock enters first and begins taking down the guards. I like how this movie frames some of his analytical thoughts, when he imagines how an opponent will react and plans his own defense. He finds a man practicing dark arts, ready to sacrifice a woman on an altar. Watson joins Sherlock and they capture their adversary, Lord Blackwood. Quick time jump, we’re at 221 Baker Street where Watson is preparing to move once he marries. First, he has to rescue his roommate from his own mind; Sherlock’s mind rebels at stagnation, he requires work. Taking down Blackwood was their last case, but they’ll attend his hanging together. Watson wants Sherlock to meet Mary.

Dinner…could have gone better. Mary insists that Sherlock make deductions about her, even though he and Watson protest at first. Sherlock, concerned for his friend, deduces that Mary has been engaged before, but assumes that she broke the engagement for better prospects. Actually, the man died, and Watson was aware. Sherlock finds his way to a boxing match (Rocky Road to Dublin is played underneath) and expertly takes his opponent down, despite a brief distraction from a woman. Come morning, Sherlock is Blackwood’s last request. Blackwood warns Sherlock there will be more deaths. The criminal is hung and Watson pronounces him dead.

rdj sherlock

Back at Baker Street, Sherlock has a visitor, Irene Adler. She has a case for Sherlock. When she leaves, Sherlock demonstrates he is a master of disguise and follows her, glimpsing her mysterious employer. His day is ruined when word arrives that Lord Blackwood has risen from the dead. Watson accompanies him, just until he has to meet Mary’s parents, and find a ring. Buried in Blackwood’s coffin is the man that Irene is looking for, which leads them to a lab that combines sorcery and science. A few thugs show up to tie up loose ends and there is a smashing fight between Watson, Sherlock, and the three men (one of whom is large). This carries on to a shipyard and results in a partially completed ship sailing into the water and promptly sinking. Watson and Sherlock are arrested.

They bicker like a married couple. “Get that out of my face.” “It’s not in your face, it’s in my hand.” “Get what’s in your hand out of my face.” Mary kindly bails Watson out. Sherlock has to wait until Lestrade comes with orders from friends in high places. They blindfold Sherlock, but that doesn’t prevent him from deducing where he is and who he is dealing with. They are a secret society with the intention to steer the world to their liking. Blackwood has grown too powerful and is a threat. Sherlock will stop him, but not for the society and not for a price.

Sherlock tries to warn Irene about the dangerous man she is now dealing with, but she drugs the wine. A bit hilarious later when a maid enters the room to find a naked Sherlock (modesty covered by a pillow) handcuffed to the bed. There has been another death, Blackwood’s father in his bathtub. Sherlock discovers a secret room. At a meeting of the secret order, another member dies, who opposes Blackwood. This leads him, and Watson, to a factory where they find and rescue Irene, only to be caught in an explosion, Watson more so than Sherlock. A friend on the police force finds Sherlock and warns him that there is a warrant out for his arrest, and assures him Watson is still alive. Sherlock briefly visits his friend, in disguise, and is encouraged by Mary to find the man responsible, Watson would say it’s worth the wounds.

Irene tries to leave her employment, but the professor will not allow it. She was supposed to manipulate Sherlock’s feelings for her, not succumb to them herself. He wants what Blackwood is working on. Sherlock descends down the rabbit hole (reference to Alice in Wonderland) and deciphers Blackwood’s spell. Then fills is in to Irene and Watson the next morning. It involves the sphinx and the four elements. Sherlock sends his two companions away so he can be arrested by Lestrade so he can see Lord Coward. The final puzzle piece fall into place and the trio prevent Blackwood from unleashing a chemical weapon upon Parliament. Irene gets away with the radio control feature and Sherlock faces off against Blackwood on the Tower Bridge, which is under construction. Blackwood does hang this time, permanently.

Mary and Watson stop by for a visit, Mary sporting a large engagement ring; a present from Sherlock, featuring a stone Irene stole. And Sherlock is on to a new case, involving Professor Moriarty.

This was my first true exposure to Sherlock Holmes and I was hesitant going in to it. But I love it. Robert Downey Jr. (this was also one of the first roles I watched him in, I didn’t get into Iron Man until afterwards) is excellent; the fight scenes are superb. Watson is serious and suffering. Sherlock is quirky and eccentric; Jude Law and Robert play off each other well. The music almost has a steampunk vibe to it, with the persistent tempo underneath and making use of some rather unconventional instruments. The story line keeps me intrigued. Overall, a very good film.

Next Time: A Game of Shadows

These Names Will Never Die

Troy

I’ll be honest, I watched this film originally because it has Orlando Bloom in it. And I probably only bought the DVD because I found it in a bargain bin at some point. Released a year after Gladiator, it is part of the early 2000s rash of “epic” movies. It’s an adaptation of Homer’s great epic poem The Iliad. Greek mythology is not what I tend to study, so I have not read this (I think part of it is that I can never keep their names straight; same with Roman names. They’re all the bloody same!) It has an all-star cast as well. Brad Pitt stars as Achilles. Brian Cox is Agamemnon, the king of the Greeks and Julian Glover is Triopas, king of Thessaly, an opponent of Agamemnon. Brendan Gleeson is Agamemnon’s brother Menelaus, king of Sparta (yes, when I hear Sparta now I think of 300. Yes, I’ve seen the movie; no, we will not be covering it [that was far too much death for me; though it was fun to learn about it a bit as part of A.P. English class]). Diane Kruger (she’ll later be in Copying Beethoven and the National Treasure movies) is the famous Helen. Peter O’Toole is king Priam of Troy; Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom play his sons Hector and Paris, respectively. James Cosmo is back as Glaucus, Julie Christie is Thetis, Achilles’ mother. Oh yes, and that’s Sean Bean as Odysseus! It’s been pointed out that Odysseus stars in the sequel to the Iliad, the Odyssey, so he can’t die in this story. Huzzah for Sean Bean.

The film opens telling us these events took place 3200 years ago, with a scrawl setting the stage; Agamemnon has spent decades warring with the kingdoms of Greece and forcing them into an alliance. His greatest warrior is Achilles, but Achilles disdains Agamemnon and threatens all that the king has built. Sean Bean narrates part of the prologue, that we ask ourselves, will our actions echo across the centuries, will strangers wonder how bravely we fought and how fiercely we loved? The idea of being remembered for all time crops up throughout the film.

Achilles is called to defeat Thessaly’s hero in single combat. He does so in one move. He asks the opposing army “Is there no one else?” Meanwhile, Sparta is working on a peace treaty with Troy, tired of fighting all these years. Seems to be going well; until Paris meets up with Menelaus’ wife, Helen. They’ve actually been meeting secretly for several nights and they have fallen in love (apparently, Menelaus is a terrible husband). Now they wish to run away together. And they are dumb enough to do it. I get this is an epic poem and a literary classic, but reading and watching enough royal shows, I have to point out; they knew what they were doing was wrong. There would be terrible consequences and they really don’t want those consequences; and yet they did it anyway! Yes, they loved each other. But a war got started because of it. People died. You couldn’t have left well enough alone, Paris? Hector is a nice older brother and will protect his young brother. Troy welcomes their new princess.

trojan princes

Agamemnon doesn’t care about the slight to his brother’s honor; he’s just happy to start a war with Troy. But, he’ll need Achilles, however much the warrior annoys him. There is one man that Achilles will listen to: Odysseus. His argument to his friend is “this war will never be forgotten, nor the heroes who fight in it.” Even Achilles’ mother says the same; he could stay where he is and have peace and a family, but eventually forgotten. Or he could fight in Troy and win more glory and the world will remember him; but it will be his doom. We all know what Achilles chose. His ship is the first of the fleet to land on Troy. The Greeks take the beach and Achilles attacks Apollo’s temple and has a short encounter with prince Hector. He tells the Trojan prince “go home, tomorrow we will have war.” Another twist is thrown in; Briseis, the niece of the king is a priestess of the temple and is gifted to Achilles. He’s surprisingly gentle with her. But Agamemnon tries to take her for Achilles disobedience. Achilles is ready to defend her, but Briseis declares “I don’t want anyone dying for me.”

Paris challenges Menelaus to single combat to prevent more death. But he loses the duel, saved only by crawling to his brother and Hector killing Menelaus. Agamemnon attacks and Troy proves why they are so hard to defeat. Odysseus finally suggests retreat. He speaks to Achilles after the fight, insisting that the Greeks need him, the soldiers need the morale boost. Achilles rescues Briseis. He once again tries to care for her and she resists at first, holding a knife to his throat. Until he starts kissing her and she drops the knife. I swear, this movie is more about their connection than Helen and Paris. Achilles still insists that he is sailing for home; he will not fight for Agamemnon.

achillesThe Trojans attack at night with giant fire balls, which leads into the Trojan army advancing. Achilles joins the fight and faces Hector. Hector cuts his throat and reveals that it is Achilles’ beloved younger cousin. Hector declares enough for one day. Achilles’ second in command delivers the news. The next day, Achilles rides alone to the gates of Troy and demands Hector to face him. Hector, an honorable man, faces Achilles. And behind the scenes trivia reveals that Eric Bana and Brad Pitt did not use stunt doubles for the duel. (They also has a gentleman’s agreement to pay for every accidental hit; $50 for each light blow, $100 for each hard blow. Brad Pitt ended up paying Eric Bana $750; Bana didn’t own anything to Pitt.) It’s a good duel, but really didn’t enrapture me. Achilles defeats Hector, then ties his body to his chariot to drag back to the Greeks. That evening, king Priam comes to Achilles to beg for his son’s body, so he can have an honorable funeral. “Even enemies can show respect.” Achilles relents and allows Troy to have their twelve days of mourning, and lets Briseis return to Troy. Agamemnon is furious.

Odysseus has a plan; his men start building. He makes it look like the Greeks have left and they have left an offering of a large wooden horse. Paris advises his father to burn it. He’s ignored. His father ignored Hector’s advice as well. The Trojans drag the horse into their city and celebrate. At night, Odysseus, Achilles, and others emerge from the horse and set about taking the city down from the inside. They get the gates open to let in the army. Well, Achilles is off running to find Briseis, who is looking for Paris. Helen, Hector’s wife and son, and as many others as they can find escape through an old tunnel that Hector showed his wife (because he was smart and knew what could happen). Paris refuses to leave and passes the sword of Troy to a young man so the Trojans will always have hope and can start over. Paris joins the fight with his bow (which is hilarious, because Orlando Bloom is Legolas).
Agamemnon kills the king and tries to take Briseis back. She stabs him and Achilles finishes the guards. But Paris finds them and misunderstands the situation. He shoots Achilles in the heel, slowing the warrior down. Another four arrows strike him. Achilles manages to tell Briseis, “it’s alright. You gave me peace in a lifetime of war,” and sends her with her cousin Paris. He pulls the arrows out of his chest, but the one in his heel is left, so that is how he’s found. Odysseus burns Achilles and the movie fades out as he says “if they ever tell my story, tell them I walked with giants.”

This movie moves slow at times. And I swear it’s more about Achilles than either of the Trojan princes. Helen is not terribly developed. From a certain point of view, one can easily agree that the whole war is her fault. She was unhappy with her husband and a younger, more handsome man took interest in her and she ran off with him. Though Hector does later stop her from running away, knowing that it won’t stop the war that has already come. We witness more nuances of Achilles’ character. He’s more than just a hardened warrior; he cares for his younger cousin and is downright tender with Briseis (this is after seeing him willingly bed other women). Hector is noble; I prefer him to Achilles. Paris is an idiot, though he tries to make up for it at the end. Priam is a bit of an idiot as well, listening to other advisors over his experienced sons. Agamemnon is an idiot as well, the definition of warmonger.

Overall, I’m underwhelmed by the movie. The duel between Hector and Achilles was alright; but they’ve shown all those moves previously in the movie. I didn’t connect with the characters. No, the thought I had running through my head after I heard Sean Bean at the beginning was “does he live?” I put Pompeii on again afterwards. I watched it for the same reason that I did Troy and yet I became more invested in it.

What are your favorite historical periods?

Next Time: Kingdom of Heaven

The Story We Have Been a Part of, Will Live Long in the Minds of Men

Merlin – Season 5

We’ve come to the end of the series. I feel they rushed this series; maybe they were surprised how quick they would have to wrap things up. My one friend came back and asked me where the season was that they end up in modern times, since she had seen pictures of it everywhere (I can find them on Pintrest, maybe they’re on Tumblr; I’m not on Tumblr, I don’t know). Sadly, no, that’s not how this season ends. I feel that they should come back and do that season, or a movie at the very least.

Arthur’s Bane, begins the season in two parts. Three years have passed since Guinevere’s coronation. Arthur meets with his knights at the Round Table. Unfortunately, Gwaine and Percival are missing after an expedition. Morgana is suspected, even though they haven’t heard from her in the three years. Morgana is indeed behind the disappearances; she’s capturing men to work searching for the key to the knowledge of Arthur’s Bane, his downfall. Joined by Liam Cunningham whose character isn’t named until the second episode. (Since I’ve been wandering down the Game of Thrones path, when I saw his name in the opening credits I was surprised. I haven’t seen this season as often as the previous ones, so a lot of this was unfamiliar to me.) Arthur and his knights, and Merlin, go looking for their brethren. Merlin receives a vision that Arthur is in danger and even Gwen worries about Arthur going on the mission himself; he is Camelot’s king, he needs to be cautious. But Arthur is the type of king who will show his people he is not afraid of any task.

Sadly, Gwen’s new maid who is adorable with Merlin is also a traitor, for her father who is harboring Morgana. Her father (played by Liam Cunningham) ultimately rescues his daughter, but also dies in the aftermath. Morgana doesn’t seem particularly bothered, more concerned with the overarching search for Arthur’s destruction. Arthur is injured on their quest and he and Merlin are captured by Saxons, and a familiar looking young man. Mordred is back and now a young man (don’t think too hard on what ages they look). He shows Arthur and Merlin kindness even though Merlin does not trust him. Arthur saved his life as a child and he will repay that debt. Arthur and Merlin manage to escape and sneak into the castle where they find Percival.

Gwaine has been missing for a few days. An alien-looking being (really BBC? Let’s bring aliens into the mix) finds him and heals him after guards beat him. (And they’re all shirtless for no apparent reason. Again, does BBC really need to do this to attract viewers?) Percival starts gathering men and taking out the guards. Morgana comes across Arthur while Merlin is chasing after Aithusa. Mordred is with her and prevents her from killing Arthur. He recognizes that Morgana has gone a bit crazy; she has chosen hate. He has not. He carries Arthur to his knights. Merlin finds Gwaine and the creature. He is granted one question. Who is Arthur’s Bane? Himself.

Everyone is back in Camelot; Arthur knights Mordred. Merlin honestly likes Mordred, but doesn’t trust him. He asks why Mordred saved Arthur. “Because he’s right, the love that binds us is more important than the power we wield.” Merlin knows that for good or ill, the die is cast. Albion’s greatest trial has begun.

The Death Song of Uther Pendragon brings to light Arthur’s doubts whether he is being a good ruler. He does a lot of things his father wouldn’t approve of. He’s then gifted a chance to see his father again when he saves an old sorceress for a horrible death and no trial. And Uther is disappointed with his son. He knighted commoners, he married a commoner and not for an alliance for the kingdom. He feels that his son has failed to strengthen and protect the kingdom; he’s destroying Uther’s legacy. Meanwhile, we, along with Merlin, counsel Arthur that he is better than his father. His people love and respect him and his is a more wise and just ruler. But Uther’s spirit is released and haunts the castle. Percival is attacked. Gwen is almost killed. Merlin and Arthur set out to put Uther’s spirit back. Uther attacks Merlin and discovers that he has magic. Uther tries to warn Arthur, but Arthur sounds the horn dismissing the spirit before he is able.

Mithian’s kingdom is attacked, bringing her back to Camelot in Another’s Sorrow. It’s a ploy between Odin and Morgana. Morgana disguises herself as Mithian’s maidservant so Mithian will persuade Arthur to rescue her father. Merlin suspects the maid and discovers it is Morgana, but she knocks him out before he can warn Arthur. Arthur proceeds with the plan and walks into the trap. Merlin comes to, with magical aid from Gaius, in time to take Gawine and rescue Arthur. Arthur faces Odin and Merlin prevents his friend from killing the other king. There is a better way. Arthur asks for a truce; else, their blood feud will simply continue on. Odin accepts. And we start a trend this season of seeing Merlin injured more often. I think it’s good, because it shows that he is vulnerable and we like vulnerability in our heroes.

The Disir, the mouthpiece of the Triple Goddess, pass judgment on Arthur and find him lacking. He has persecuted sorcerers as a carryover from Uther. His fate is set; while Camelot flowers, already the seeds of its destruction are sown. Arthur argues he makes his own path, but he still wants to protect his people, so he appears before the Disir. He is not respectful the first appearance though and they attack. Mordred takes a spear meant for Arthur. Arthur now has a choice; to save Mordred, he must allow magic to be freely practiced in Camelot again. If not, Mordred dies. We can see Merlin struggle to advise his friend. Merlin desires for magic to return, for his sake and his people. But even Kilgarah warns him that Arthur’s fate is bound with Mordred. So Merlin tells Arthur there is no place for magic in Camelot, thereby sentencing Mordred to die. Yet when they return to Camelot, Mordred lives. This gets terribly confusing for Merlin; every step he takes toward not bring the future to pass actually helps it along.

Morgana kidnaps Gwen in The Dark Tower and tortures her in a way. She locks her former maidservant in a dark room with mandrake root, listening to screams, and seeing visions of people she loves. Elyan and Arthur mount a rescue attempt, though they are waylaid in a magical forest. Merlin trusts his magic and leads them out, but Elyan darts ahead to rescue his sister. An enchanted sword runs him through. At the very end of the episode, we see Gwen sneak out to visit Morgana. She now believes that only Morgana has her best interest at heart; after all, they were close friends for many years, they know each other best.

Gwen begins to work behind the scenes to help Morgana and bring down Camelot and kill her husband. Accidents begin to befall Arthur in A Lesson in Vengeance. (Yes, the stable hand is played by John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones. And due to when this season was filmed, he had already begun playing Sam. So we are correct to gasp, “Oh my gosh, it’s Sam!”) The stable hand Tyr Seward takes the fall and Gwen stabs him to prevent him from talking. Morgana gives Gwen a magical poison to slowly and painfully kill Arthur. She has no hesitation in giving it to Arthur; she plays her part as grieving wife well. Gwen next arranges for Merlin to take the fall; he’s close to Arthur and has access to cause him harm. Gaius helps Merlin out of the cell while Leon pledges the knights to follow Gwen who will succeed Arthur should he die. Merlin ages himself (we can see he is having a lot of fun in his Dragoon character). Only Merlin’s magic can save Arthur, but he doubts he has the strength for both the aging and the healing. Gaius informs his ward that the only one who doubts Merlin’s abilities is Merlin. Merlin cries when he thinks Arthur has died, but Arthur survives. Merlin sneaks back into his cell so he can be released the next day. Arthur never suspected Merlin. Well that’s good, but why didn’t the knights stand up for him? Gwen gets the credit when she finds a new suspect and pins the blame correctly on Morgana.

Arthur meets with potential allies in The Hollow Queen while Gwen arranges a distraction for Merlin. A “Druid” boy sneaks into Camelot and asks Merlin for help. He leads Merlin into a trap by Morgana (she and Gwen are just trying to get Arthur’s biggest defense away while Gwen arranges for Arthur’s assassination). She poisons Merlin and throws him into a ravine. The boy returns for Merlin; the young man had shown him kindness and helps Merlin heal. They make it back to Camelot just as the assassin sets up. The boy is killed helping Merlin. Gwen had fed Arthur the tale that Merlin was sneaking off to see a girl when Arthur began to worry about Merlin. Now Gaius and Merlin know that Gwen is working against them.

They come up with a solution in With All My Heart. Merlin helps Arthur spy on Gwen when she meets with Morgana. They know it’s Morgana’s magic this time betraying Arthur. Which means it will take even more powerful magic to undo the spell. Merlin gets the solution off of an old sorceress and must lead Arthur to a magical lake and summon the White Goddess. Gwen must enter the lake of her own will. Arthur and Merlin sneak Gwen out of the castle, keeping her unconscious. Mordred follows them, which was a good thing because both Merlin and Arthur fall off a cliff and Arthur’s arm is pinned. Merlin has to transform into an old woman so as to not arouse suspicion merlin dolma(though Mordred does note that Merlin is missing at one point). The magic works and Dolma (Merlin in disguise) asks that Arthur remembers that magic can save, as well as hurt. “She” tells him off when they almost forget Merlin and tells Arthur “one day, he will recognize the true worth of those around him.” Mordred finally realizes that Merlin has magic, but promises to keep his secret. They share the dream of magic returning to Camelot.

Alator returns in The Kindness of Strangers; Morgana has hunted him down and tortures him to reveal Emrys’s identity. He refuses, but has recruited others to his cause. An old woman warns Merlin that the great battle is approaching. Mordred and the other knights give chase when they discover the old woman, since Gaius does not trust her. She is not in league with Morgana, but Morgana finds out about her, so she too is hunting for the woman. Merlin goes to help and is injured. The woman sacrifices herself to protect Merlin and he is not discovered. He hears the prophecy of Camlan and receives word that Morgana has declared war.

A familiar face for us pops up in The Drawing of the Dark. Alexandra Dowling (Roslin Frey in Game of Thrones and Queen Anne of Austria in Musketeers) is Kara, an old friend [and love interest] of Mordred’s. She’s injured and Mordred tends to her in the woods. Merlin finds out, but Mordred swears him to secrecy. Arthur and Merlin discover Kara themselves, even after Merlin tries to lure Arthur away. Kara attacks Arthur and is arrested. She proudly defies the king; “I will not rest until you are dead and your kingdom is no more.” Mordred pleads for her life, but she shows no repentance. Arthur cannot risk her being free. Merlin even pleads on Mordred’s behalf, but Arthur believes Mordred will see that Arthur had no choice and eventually forgive him. Merlin suspects that Mordred will try to free Kara, Mordred throws in Merlin’s face, “wouldn’t you do the same for a woman you love?” We know that Merlin tried, but Arthur killed Freya when she attacked Camelot. And Merlin forgave Arthur and serves him faithfully to this day. Merlin does not tell Mordred this (there is a fanfiction story Love Lost by Revhead where Merlin does tell Mordred and changes the story a little).

Mordred breaks Kara out, she kills a guard along the way, but they’re captured. Arthur offers her one last chance, but she will not change her ways. Mordred is in a cell when she is led to her execution. His magic breaks him out of his cell and he goes directly to Morgana. He has information for her, which will lead to Arthur’s death. He knows the identity of Emrys: Merlin.

The Diamond of the Day completes the season in two parts. Morgana sends a mook into Camelot to sneak into Merlin’s chambers, planting some sort of slug. It attacks Merlin’s face and somehow steals his magic. While that happens, Morgana and Mordred attack on outpost. Gwaine rescues a young woman and they make it back to Camelot to give word. Arthur decides to ride out and meet Morgana and her army on the field, to keep the fighting away from the people and other villages. The best place is Camlan, where the path narrows. Merlin sadly cannot accompany Arthur on this great battle; he must secretly journey to the Crystal Cave in an effort to restore his magic. But Gwaine’s new friend is a spy for Morgana, she passes along the information about Arthur and Mordred surmises where Merlin is heading. Morgana is waiting for the warlock and causes a cave in.

Merlin is injured and when he wakes, he sees his father. Balinor urges his son to not let go, don’t give in. Merlin is magic itself; he cannot lose what he is. Rest, he advises, believe in the crystals. When Merlin wakes again, he is healed and sees a secret path that Mordred plans to cut Arthur off with. Merlin warns Arthur in a dream, then bursts out of the cave.

Arthur misses having Merlin with him; the man who has stood beside him in every other instance is now gone for this vital confrontation. Gwen has accompanied him, not to fight, though she will help behind the scenes, but so they can spend what time they have together. She knows there is a good chance that Arthur may not return from this battle. Arthur receives Merlin’s message (Gwen has already begun to suspect there is more to Merlin that appears) and sets the camp to business. Percival and Gwaine will meet the band coming around behind. Arthur rallies his troops; fight for a united kingdom, fight against tyranny. The battle has begun.

Aithusa spews fire on Arthur’s troop, but a sorcerer (an aged Merlin, his true Emrys form) calls him off, then directs lightning on the Saxons, saving Arthur. He knocks Morgana down. Mordred hunts down Arthur on the field and stabs him with a blade forged on Aithusa’s breath. Arthur kills Mordred. Merlin finds Arthur on the field, bypassing Mordred, and carries him off.

When Arthur wakes, Merlin is back to his normal form. Merlin apologizes to his friend; he thought he was in time to defy the prophecy. Arthur doesn’t know what Merlin is talking about. Merlin reveals he was the sorcerer.

Arthur…doesn’t take it well. He responds to Gaius, when the old man finds them, but shies away from Merlin. They need to get word back to Guinevere in Camelot. Leon is giving her updates; but they have not found Arthur. Gaius tells Arthur that Merlin is his friend; he needs him far more than he needs Gaius. The wound is fatal, due to the blade. The only place Arthur could heal is the Isle of Avalon. Gaius can take the royal seal to Gwen.

Back in Camelot, they realize that truth of Gwaine’s traitorous female friend. She is executed, after passing along misinformation to Morgana. Percival and Gwaine set out to take down Morgana. Sadly, she bests them, knocking out Percival, then torturing Gwaine. Percival frees himself in time to watch his friend die. And so starts the “how many stabs does it take to kill Morgana?” Gwen confronts Gaius about the truth of Merlin. She seems pleased and knows that Merlin will care for Arthur.

Merlin continues to care for Arthur, confusing the man. Arthur slowly comes around to the fact that his manservant has had magic all along, but it still takes time for him to get over the fact that Merlin lied about it the whole time he knew Arthur. Merlin insists, it has always been to help Arthur; he is proud of what he has done and he wouldn’t change a thing. Arthur finally apologizes for the way he has treated Merlin. Morgana finds them just as the reach the shore of the lake. Merlin faces her and stabs her with Excalibur. That does her in. He has brought peace at last to Albion. But Arthur is fading fast. “It’s too late,” he tells the young warlock and asks his friend to hold him in his final moments, and says what he has never said before: “Thank you.” We cry alongside Merlin.

merlin and arthur in the end
Pardon my blubbering

Merlin calls Kilgarah one last time to carry them to the Isle. But it is too late, the dragon tells his young friend. Fear not, he has not failed. All that he has dreamt has come to pass. “I can’t lose him! He’s my friend!” Merlin cries. Some lives are foretold, Kilgarah counsels. Arthur is the Once and Future King. When Albion’s need is greatest, Arthur will rise again. Merlin throws Excalibur into the lake, caught by a hand. Again, we cry alongside Merlin as he lays Arthur to rest in a boat and sends it to Avalon. Gwen is crowned queen; Leon, Gaius, and Percival are alongside her in Camelot. The parting shot of the show is a truck passing the tower on the Isle of Avalon and an old man, Emrys, walks along the side of the road.

Gosh, the last two episodes hurt. Part of me expected, hoped, that it would turn out different than legend, that Arthur and Merlin would work together and see the fruits of their labors. There is a chance that Gwen was carrying Arthur’s child at the end, maybe the writers threw in her accompanying Arthur to the camp in order for that to be a possibility. I have no doubt she made a just and wise ruler, but it’s not the same as if Arthur would have been around. Yes, it’s a deviation from legend, but I prefer a happy ending where heroes get some peace and quiet and rewards. You make us love these characters and then you separate them. We have no idea if Merlin even returned to Camelot, or just stayed away. (Check out fanfics, we’ve got lots of ideas. And fixes!)

Heck, I was even beginning to hope that Mordred would turn out alright. Again, doesn’t follow legend, though I like how they wrote around the incest nature of Mordred. And Merlin’s reveal has so little time to sink in. (Again, check out fanfics!) I would have preferred at least another season to the show. Again, I think they were surprised at when they had to wrap and had to bring about so much to end it, it all ended up rushed. Did not like Gwen’s storyline for several episodes. You’ve already done the “Gwen is a threat to Camelot.” They keep her a good character since none of it is her actual fault, she’s always influenced by Morgana. Still haven’t gotten over her turn and sudden descent into madness. “Oh, I’m a witch, so I must turn evil.” I don’t buy it. Never bought that mentality. (That is why my female characters who have magical powers are good. Well, they fight bad ones, but they’re still good after wielding phenomenal power).

I still like the show and I love the portrayal of characters, most specifically the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. Banter is my favorite. Yes, they insult each other, but they genuinely care for each other and they see that, even though they don’t say it (until the end and that makes us cry). I just wish it had ended different. Please, BBC, do a movie!

Next Time: Continuing a bit with fantasy type movies, Knight’s Tale (Well, it fits with the medieval setting).

Long Live the King!

Merlin – Season 4

The intro to season four upgrades Merlin to “young man” instead of a boy. We pick up in the two-parter The Darkest Hour about a year after the events of season three. Morgana is walking with Morgause in a cart and is discovered by knights. They report back to Arthur that she is on her way to the Isle of the Blessed. Arthur has taken over the running of the kingdom; Uther is frail and aged; he has taken Morgana’s betrayal hard. Agravaine, apparently Ygraine’s brother has shown up to help Arthur as a promise to his deceased sister (why there has been no mention of him before, we’re never told). It is Samhain and Morgana sacrifices Morgause, ripping a tear in the veil between worlds, unleashing spirits of the dead to attack the living. Merlin feels this and collapses. Attacks begin in outlying villages so Arthur, Merlin, and the knights ride out, but they can do nothing against the spirits. Then Camelot is attacked. Not even Gaius knows how to defeat their new foe, but he suggests maybe a sacrifice on the Isle of the Blessed. Arthur, being the self-sacrificing hero who will take on any challenge to protect his people, volunteers. Merlin secretly plans to sacrifice himself in Arthur’s stead. Oh, and Agravaine is in league with Morgana, reporting that the throne will be open to the “rightful heir.” The knights of Camelot ride out, Merlin continues to protect Arthur, even jumping into a spirit and collapsing frozen to the ground.

Arthur sends Lancelot back with Merlin to Camelot, despite Merlin’s weak protestations. On their way, Merlin has Lancelot lay him next to a river. Those spirits heals Merlin so he can return to Arthur and fix the veil. There’s an adorable scene when Lancelot returns to the knights and tells Arthur “bad news…he’s still alive.” We see that Arthur has really come to rely on Merlin. They make it to the Isle of the Blessed and Merlin knocks Arthur out before he can make his sacrifice. But while Arthur is dealing with the old woman in charge of the veil, Lancelot has offered himself as a sacrifice. The world is returned to rights, but now Merlin, Arthur, and Gwen must mourn their friend.

Meanwhile, Morgana has begun to receive visions of a powerful old sorcerer, Emrys, who will be her downfall. Merlin overhears Agravaine asking Gaius about the sorcerer.

It is Arthur’s birthday in The Wicked Day (another title from Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga) and a circus arrives in Camelot for the occasion. Uther breaks out of his stupor to attend the festivities. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the castle, the circus owner wishes to kill Arthur. They drug him and then try to attack him. Uther steps in the way, taking the blade meant for his son. Arthur is desperate to save his father and considers asking an old sorcerer “Dragoon” for help. (Really, it’s Merlin in a disguise. Arthur actually almost sees through it; he recognizes the eyes). Meanwhile, Agravaine has gone to Morgana and she places a charm on Uther that will reverse any healing magic. So when “Dragoon” goes to heal Uther, the effect is reversed and Uther dies. Arthur blames Dragoon and Merlin feels like it is his fault. But a new day has come and he and Arthur must face their new roles. Merlin waits outside the great hall for Arthur all night, so the young man wouldn’t be alone. Arthur is crowned King of Camelot.

Merlin and Arthur are drawn into a journey to discover a dragon’s egg (if the thief looks familiar, he is; he played Bonaire, the thief in Musketeers) in Aithusa. Merlin manages to save the egg and takes it to Kilgarah. He calls to it in the language of the Dragon Lords, giving it the name “Aithusa.” A white dragon is extremely rare. Kilgarah tells the young warlock that it bodes well for Albion, Arthur, and Merlin.

Arthur is tested as king in His Father’s Son. Agravaine talks Arthur into killing the King of Carlion. Word gets back to his wife, who marches on Camelot. Morgana joins her, referring herself as Gorlois’s daughter and wishes payback on Camelot as well. Arthur decides to fight single combat against the Queen’s champion in order to spare lives; he’s reconsidering his earlier decision, starting to make his own decisions about what kind of king he wants to be. (He even tries to break off his relationship with Gwen, considering to be inappropriate). Merlin helps a little in the battle; Morgana is helping her side as well, so it’s not really cheating. Arthur gets his large opponent to the ground, but does not kill him. He seeks peace with the queen and she agrees. She has a few choice words for Morgana, telling her she clings to bitterness.
arthur merlin hug

Morgana attempts to turn Merlin against Arthur in A Servant of Two Masters, using magic. Luckily, Merlin is very inept at killing Arthur (it’s a bit funny to see him try, and Leon doesn’t bat an eye when Merlin says he’s going to kill Arthur). Merlin manages to disguise himself as Dragoon, who Morgana takes to be Emrys, and destroy the mother beast that’s inhabiting him. There are a few endearing scenes; Arthur is genuinely worried about Merlin when he’s missing and sends knights out to find him. Even when he gets a more efficient servant, he misses Merlin and the banter they have. Gwen happens to see Arthur without clothes while she’s trying to knock Merlin out.

Morgana and Agravaine suspect that Gaius knows the true identity of Emrys, so they come up with a plan in The Secret Sharer to kidnap the old man and use a magical interrogator to wrangle the truth out of him. Agravaine makes accusations against Gaius, but Merlin won’t listen to them and goes after his mentor. He saves Gaius, but Gaius has unfortunately revealed to the interrogator (played by Gary Lewis, he is Colum Mackenize in Outlander and Hrothgar in Eragon) that Merlin is Emrys. But the interrogator is loyal to the old ways and won’t reveal his identity to Morgana. He helps Merlin escape. Arthur apologizes to Gaius; he knows the old man has always had his best interests at heart. Gaius tells the young king that there are others out there protecting him.

Arthur sends Merlin as a physician to a village in trouble in Lamia. Merlin quickly deduces that the ailment the victims are suffering is the result of magic. He and the knights begin to make their way back to Camelot, until they run into bandits who are tormenting a young woman. Proving themselves gallant, the knights rescue the girl. But she shies away from Merlin and Gwen. And then the knights start arguing with each other and turn on Merlin. (There are several fanfiction stories that detail the emotional toll that takes on Merlin; his friends, who have protected him against others, now scorn him). Merlin determines this Lamia girl is the cause of the problem and it’s due to magic. Indeed, Gaius informs Arthur when they go to investigate that the Lamia were created by the Priestesses of the Old Religion to control men, but they grew too powerful. The knights start falling prey to her; Gwen and Merlin to the rescue, well, Arthur helps a bit.

Lancelot is back from the dead in Lancelot du Lac. Morgana finds out that Arthur proposes to Gwen and decides to bring Lancelot back to throw a wrench in the works. Lancelot enters the jousting tournament held in honor of the proposal. Merlin and the knights are pleased that Lancelot is back, but Merlin quickly discovers all is not well. Lancelot doesn’t remember that Merlin has magic. (That’s because Morgana didn’t know, so couldn’t plant that information in Lancelot). Merlin starts to worry that Lancelot is after Arthur. No, Lancelot means to beguile Gwen, through an enchanted bracelet. Arthur discovers the couple kissing (with some help from Agravaine; it’s all a trap). Lancelot and Gwen are thrown in the dungeon; Lancelot, coached by Agravaine, drinks a potion to die. Agravaine counsels Arthur to put Gwen to the death for her betrayal. Arthur cannot see her dead, so exiles her. They were one day from their wedding; she had waited years, why could she not wait one more day, Arthur asks. Gwen cannot answer. She still loves Arthur but she couldn’t help herself around Lancelot. Merlin, who had figured out that Lancelot was a shade, takes his friend for funeral rights and rids him of the enchantment. Lancelot wakes for a moment to thank Merlin, dying peacefully again. Merlin knows Morgana is behind the events, but cannot prove it to Arthur.

An old mission comes back to haunt Arthur in A Herald of the New Age. The knights accidentally disturb a druid shrine; Elyan drinks from the well. He’s taken over by the spirit of a child who had been slaughtered and goes after the king. The other knights assume he’s acting out due to his sister being banished. Arthur in the meantime is out of sorts after visiting the shrine. Merlin and Gaius investigate the shrine and try to stop Elyan’s attack. Arthur eventually admits to Merlin that Uther had ordered Arthur to lead a raid on a druid camp. Arthur was not able to stop his men from killing innocent women and children, resulting in the restless sprits at the shrine. He was young and inexperienced and wanted to prove himself. Elyan, still possessed, confronts Arthur and Arthur apologizes, offering himself for the mistakes he made. The child spirit forgives Arthur and leaves Elyan. (A little jolt from the episode when I realized that they were using salt circles to repel spirits; a basis of Supernatural, lol).

We catch up with what Gwen is doing in The Hunter’s Heart. She has moved to a village where she has old friends; but it’s attacked by bandits. Their leader spares her and speaks to her. Unfortunately, he’s in league with Morgana. Morgana discovers that Gwen is at the camp and sets after her. She catches her and transforms her into a deer. Meanwhile, Arthur has made an alliance with the promise of marriage to the Princess Mithan of Nementh. Mithan is beautiful an kind and we really can’t dislike her. She gently chastises Arthur for causing Merlin more work. She genuinely likes to hunt, a favorite pastime of Arthur’s. Merlin tries little tricks to put Arthur and Mithan off each other, due to loyalty to Gwen. Then comes the hunt, and they cross paths with a transformed Gwen. Merlin realizes the disguise and goes after the deer after Mithan shoots her. He heals her, but Gwen refuses to return to Camelot; she understands the damage she did. Arthur has also found the ring that he had proposed to Gwen with, that Gwen was still wearing until her transformation. He is in no mood to continue the hunt. Arthur realizes that Merlin was right; he still loves Gwen, despite her betrayal, which confuses him. But he cannot marry Mithan. He draws up a new treaty, giving her the disputed lands. She graciously leaves.

Morgana’s plans come to fruition in the two-parter season finale The Sword in the Stone, bringing in more elements from classic legend. Agravaine signals the attacking army into Camelot. Arthur is injured, but Merlin drags him out of the castle, magically taking his will (though there’s not much left after seeing both Morgana and Agravaine at the head of the army). Gaius, Elyan, and Gwaine are left in Camelot to aid Arthur’s escape. Morgana tortures Elyan for information and makes Gwaine fight to win supper. Leon and Percival are in the woods with the townsfolk who could escape. Merlin plans to take Arthur to Ealdor. They come upon battle couple and smugglers Tristan and Isolde. Arthur acts as a simpleton until his will returns, but Tristan dislikes kings and they butt heads. Arthur also feels defeated; he must not be the king he should be if his family members keep betraying him. Merlin points out that it’s not his fault; they just desire Arthur’s power for themselves. Morgana sends Agravaine after Arthur (I can’t tell if Agravaine truly cares for Morgana or if he just doesn’t trust her and wants to stay on her good side).

Merlin and Arthur do make it to Ealdor, along with Tristan and Isolde. They reunite with Gwen, but have to run again when Agravaine catches up. Merlin offers again to hang back and protect the rear. Kilgarah comes in handy to destroy most of the force chasing them and in the caves, Merlin uses magic to defeat the rest. Agravaine is impressed by Merlin’s deception, claiming that they are more alike than they had realized. Another toss when he makes a move against Merlin and Agravaine is dead. Tristan is surprised that Arthur risks his life to go back for Merlin.

sword in the stone

They reunite with the other knights, but Merlin still has to convince Arthur to continue the fight. He spins a tale for his friend, claiming it’s from Gaius, about a sword that the first king of Camelot had buried in a stone. When Camelot’s need was most, only the true king of Camelot could retrieve it. Merlin convinces Arthur to try. Arthur struggles at first, but Merlin urges him to believe. And the sword comes clean out (well, it was Merlin who had put Excalibur in the stone in the first place). Arthur is back and leads his knights into Camelot. Tristan and Isolde agree to fight alongside him. Sadly, Isolde is killed in a face off against the leader of Morgana’s army. Merlin had earlier snuck into Camelot disguised as Emrys and puts a burning straw doll under Morgana’s bed. So when he and Arthur face her, she cannot cast any spells. She flees. She faces off with Gwen and almost finishes the other woman, but Merlin secretly rescues her at the last minute. Morgana is wounded and flees into the woods.

Arthur mends his relationship with Gwen and proposes again. She is crowned queen. And the little white dragon, Aithusa returns and heals Morgana in the woods.

I liked the twist that the sword in the stone was more about raising Arthur’s confidence. Merlin keeps leading Arthur to his destiny to become the greatest ruler Albion has ever known. Gwen’s brief affair with Lancelot did not bring down the kingdom and it was more brought on by magic. Merlin is proving to be Arthur’s most loyal companion and I love that Arthur is recognizing that. There’s times he will be kind and sincere to his friend, but they keep up their banter. I don’t think they would know what to do with themselves if they weren’t giving each other and hard time and calling each other names.

Next Time We wrap up with Season Five.