I am not a very fast TV reviewer. I need at least six hours to fully process any show I’ve seen. I need to read other people’s reactions to see if I agree or disagree with them, re-watch it a few times, and let my brain digest all my thoughts and feelings before I can come up with anything coherent.
I suspect more writers are like me in this regard than you would think, but it’s hard to tell because, as a writer, you learn very quickly how to write about a show in a quick and easy formula. Shows tend to hit the same character and plot points over and over, so you form an unbreakable opinion on those points and stick to it. In a sick way, you kind of look forward to lackluster episodes, because it gives you a week off. If Merlin sucks, my column is pretty easy to write — blah blah the writing on this show is looser than [crude joke about your mother here], blah blah why do you hate on Merlin and Arthur’s relationship, blah blah that is not how you write female characters, blah blah lack of character continuity and plot coherency, blah blah but everyone on this show is really stupidly pretty anyway and I’ll be back next week to complain more because that’s just the kind of relationship this show and I have, blah blah blah.
We are three episodes into this season and by now I usually have at least partially written out some version of this column. In fact, usually the third episode is the first time I break it out, because the two-part openers tend to be good and the third episode tends to devolve into monster-of-the-week silliness. But this season, just as I’m cracking my knuckles and readying myself for another long column on how constantly teasing about super high stakes (a main character’s mortality, a magical reveal) and then pressing the reset button every damn time makes the high stakes completely irrelevant, and then they did something totally out of left field — Uther actually died.