This review contains spoilers.
7. The Long Night
As the credits came up at the end of this episode, the first thought to enter my head was that old parenting phrase, “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.” With all the potential the writers and producers of Camelot had to make this one of the best episodes of the series thus far, they spectacularly dropped the ball and delivered another stunningly average hour of TV. Let me be clear, it wasn’t a bad episode. Just average, and that disappointed me.
For several episodes now, we’ve known Morgan can assume the form of Igraine and despite not really doing much in Castle Pendragon except winning the favour of a few lords, we have impatiently waited for her to unleash her grand plan that would see her try and win the throne from her stepbrother, Arthur.
So, what do we get? Another invitation for Arthur and his knights to come for dinner. Sigh.
Last time this happened, I bemoaned the entire thing as a waste of time and the writers not knowing what to do with the character of Morgan or what her actual plan was. In that episode, she merely stole some of his blood so she could ‘see’ through Arthur’s eyes that he had feelings for Guinevere, but then that plotline seemed to go nowhere until now. This time, however, Morgan’s plan is to get all of Arthur’s knights drunk before pretending that Castle Pendragon is under siege from a warlord from the East. As a result of their impending destruction, all of our main characters are forced to face their own personal demons and fears, while Morgan looks on and notes their individual weaknesses.
Now, this could have been an excellent premise if we hadn’t known that Morgan was behind it from the very start. Let me explain.
We all know Morgan is up to no good, but this episode could have turned that on its head by assuming that she knew nothing of the potential attack that awaited our heroes. Instead, all of her actions could have been played as her potentially realising her errors of judgement with Arthur and Igraine (making those scenes actually interesting to watch), and the action of sending her knights to rout the warlord’s troops as a desperate act to gain his respect and possibly favour.
However, the problem is that, from the very first scene, we knew this was her plan and therefore nothing that happened made us think there was any threat against our characters at all. We knew there was no warlord, no army of troops waiting to slaughter them, and therefore no threat. Subsequently, all of their fears of losing their loved ones, facing their past actions and realising their worst fears were essentially for nothing, as we, the audience, knew that they were never in any really danger.
From the moment Morgan stepped out of her bath and confronted her masturbating admirer (I’m not making that up), we knew that the entire episode was yet another plan of hers, and thanks to the pre-episode “Last time on Camelot…“, we knew it had something to do with using her shapeshifting abilities to assume Igraine’s form. The writers need to know that, as an audience, if we are five or six steps ahead of our heroes, it makes for very dull entertainment.
The moment flaming arrows set a building on fire, we knew there wasn’t really a warlord out there. If there was, what kind of idiot sets a barn alight and doesn’t instantly follow up with an attack?
As a result, we have to watch the knights engage in ham-fisted conjecture about who could be behind the attack, only to have their exact theory confirmed by Morgan’s admirer when he returns from a scouting party. How convenient.
Even Merlin, who distrusts everyone, doesn’t seem to be a bit surprised by this. Even when Morgan’s forty troops reportedly drive off the warlord’s forces (that numbered enough to crush Castle Pendragon), the sorcerer says he would be interested in seeing the bodies, yet does nothing. Is everyone in Camelot an idiot? Are they just going to start believing Morgan’s solider without viewing the carnage for themselves, or even looking to see if this warlord is among the dead?
As a result, the final twist that Morgan has replaced Igraine was merely an ‘Oh, I saw that coming’ moment, instead of the surprise it could have been.
With Morgan and Sybil bearing witness to all of our heroes exposing their weaknesses during this long night, this episode could have been an emotional rollercoaster, with Arthur and co thinking they were truly going to die come the morning. But instead it merely played out as more domestic drama, as we knew there was really no chance of them dying.
And what was the point in getting the knights drunk? It seemed that the ale they drank just made them more emotional, and in no way affected their physical faculties. How useful.
I may sound like I really hated the episode, and I guess to a degree I did, not because it was bad but just because it was so dull to watch. There was no surprise, no real twist and worst of all, no excitement. The best thing I can say is it was a nice ensemble number with everyone getting their own scenes, which put some meat on the bones of some of the less interesting characters. I’m looking at you, Leontes.
Read our review of episode 6, Three Journeys, here.