Merlyn Temple

Part II: I Can't Think Of A Clever Title

by Stephen

Picking up from Wednesday, having now rewatched THAB - PS. As I said, unfortunately my
tape of the final 7 episodes is in the post somewhere between the UK and Australia, so I'll have to write comments on them from memory. As I covered general stuff yesterday, today's is more centered around the individual eps.

THAB:Quite notable in her absence. I can never fully understand why, as she manages to stir Ben into action to help her (EOYLG), comforts Gail (Triangle?) and constantly aids Caleb, but for some reason she never even makes an effort with Harvard. Sorry to play the cynic, but as a massive fan of THAB, I don't think the episode could have included her without losing the focus on Matt's very real and personal problems, and I think she may have been left out just to help the story's narrative (even if it does go AGainst her personality of helping and comforting where possible).

If you notice also, she has very simple and old-fashioned moral values - she holds institutions such as family and the church as sacred (compare with Lucas, who savaged the church as being as good a ritual as Caleb's weird tooth cleaning in PB). When Ray asks about her family, despite having lied continually to him about her identity, she carefully dodges any questions about her family, seemingly feeling no answer is better than lying about your family.

Just before her return as Halle, she shows her first signs of bitterness at her death (even Caleb comments on her behaviour to her). Once back, however, she shows nothing other than a complete zest for life and carefree attitude. 'Today's going to be a wonderful day' Along with this immense optimism, she shows great naivety and innocence (probably due to her lack of real life experience). Ray actually says to her with complete surprise at one point 'Everything pleases you'. Her reply is simple: 'Everything should'.

One last point - why the hell does Ray get on a bike with someone who's never ridden one before?


For all the people who see only the negative side of Merlyn, this is certainly an ep to watch. I always find the scenes with her and Caleb in the park quite poignant. If you notice throughout the episode her wishes and pleasures are always modest and simple, simply wanting what most take for granted 'grass stains and shouting........ The good times, not yelling' (Tells you what kind of a life she had and what kind of a father Gage was). If you notice also, her wishes in the scene on the porch are for both her AND Caleb and never just for herself.


Absent, possibly somehow 'trapped' after the Halle incident and before Caleb liberates her.



1) Is it relevant that she is trapped after her first attempt at 'body borrowing'?
2) Why does it take the locket to liberate her?
3) What does the 'Thy Will Be Done' in the almost demonic voice mean, and why next time we see her is she liberated and shows no sign of this weird voice thing? (Or was it just a nice but meaningless effect?)


Her first appearance is as a hooker in the motel room with Father Tilden. Like her taking the concept of a family very seriously, she shows similarly strong sentiments towards the church, if only as a potential refuge for the needy (in this case Caleb). She also refers to God and assures the priest that God has not deserted him. For a show as steeped in religious and spiritual references, it has very few direct references to God. Maybe Merlyn simply says this to reassure him and to comfort him, but what if she actually means it? EOYLG suggests that some concept of Heaven exists (unless you dismiss this as Caleb's
dream), and Lucas claims to have been in Hell (possibly a flippant remark), so maybe it's not such a daft suggestion to say that she may have been in 'Heaven'.

Throughout this episode, her normally good judgement is absolutely flawless (which makes PS even harder to explain). She knows exactly how to get (the normally cool as ice) Lucas worried, so much so he even admits it to Selena. She makes many boasts of her powers to unsettle Lucas, but IMHO these are hollow claims to get him rattled. (eg her claim that she knows his weak spot - if she does, she certainly forgets it very quickly!) There are clues in the ep that her excessive confidence is simply a front - 'Whatever happens, I'll always love you' (to Caleb). Despite her outward certainty of success, she does reveal that in reality she is unsure of her own fate.

Finally, a few general points:

1) The sight of her taking Bertie's appearance is one of the most horrid sights I've ever seen.
2) The sight of Merlyn in that blue top and oh so short skirt is one of the nicest sights I've ever seen.
3) The sight of Merlyn's legs is one the nicest sights I've ever seen.
4) Based on her trying to blow the letter away before it could be posted, she can clearly influence the weather (a la Lucas)
5) In the shower scene, Lucas says 'The Bitch is back', implying he knows that she's not been visiting Caleb (possible also explains how he knew he'd need the brimstone), but how does he know this?
6) How does she know Lucas will actually (stupidly) kiss her at the end? Still, I'm sure it was worth dying for. I'd happily have my neck broken any day for that privilege.
7) Why does she carry the locket which Caleb gives her when she's trapped throughout the episode, only to return it just before the showdown (I initially typed howdown by accident - a hoedown scene would have been a great ending!) With Lucas. Is the timing of its return relevant?
8) Her final claim is 'when I come back, you're mine'. From where?
9) Points 2 and 3 more than make up for point 1.


I don't want to get into it too much, to avoid stepping on the toes of whoever is doing the Lucas discussion, but Lucas claims on the bridge at the end of the ep: 'It's your job to keep people on the straight and narrow, I've been there' Could Merlyn be on the same path as Lucas? I personally doubt it, but it's not impossible. (It also seems to me like the writers decided NOT to make a decision as to what/who Lucas was, but to drop as many clues as possible, and let the viewer decide, without there actually being a particular answer)

I'm sorry, her behaviour in PS cannot be reconciled with the character who is shown in the other 21 episodes. What annoys me most is the fact that she is always quite humble and modest, yet in PS she can be described as nothing short of completely arrogant. (In case you can't guess, I hate this ep - for Matt's madness, Merlyn's arrogance and inconsistent behaviour and Jimmie Dean's first appearance)

Oh, and it also features the show's cheesiest ever effect - it's sooooooooo obvious that the withdrawal of the blood from the river scene is simply the scene of it being put in, only with the film running backwards. Surely they could have done a new shot with the blood spreading even SLIGHTLY differently. Obviously not.


I may be wrong, but I don't think she's in it. (If not, more evidence of her strangely failing to connect with Matt, whereas she does with everyone else when in need)


Why does she want Caleb to remain dead? I know she claims in Inhumanitas (about Caleb becoming the master when Lucas dies) 'I would sooner kill him than let that happen', but I always got the impression that even she didn't believe this (certainly I don't believe it after Requiem) The only other interesting point is that she seems to inhabit the same space ('Heaven' or whatever it was, assuming not simply a dream) as Lucas.


With the possible exception of Inhumanitas, this is probably Merlyn's most 'powerful' ep. As well as being able to do all her little supernatural party pieces in the hall of records when Ben's there, we see her provide much needed companionship to him, but she also gets him to do what she needs (confront Lucas). AGain, her superlative judgement is on show. It would have been very easy for her to scare the living daylights out of Ben so that he wouldn't act at all, but she provides the right balance of pressure and support so that he remains happy (in the end, Ben and Merlyn both benefit massively. The only person who suffers as a result of the episode is Lucas, who is forced to admit something he's been trying to keep secret). It would have been interesting to see how the Merlyn - Ben relationship would have developed. It seemed like romance was even possible.


The only major contribution that I can think of that she makes is comforting Gail.

Oh, didn't Judith Temple have a wonderful life - two kids (both from rapes) and married to a murdering arsonist who doesn't care about his kids or the state of his home. Nice!


AGain, glimpses of her irritating increasing-decreasing powers. Early on, she manages to throw Lucas off his feet in the graveyard and then later accepts her own death to Albert (until Caleb saves her). Surely she's realised that Lucas wants her dead, so why does she try to grant him his wish, unless she thinks her 'death' may spare Caleb's soul? (This may also explain her actions in Requiem)


Apart from confronting Caleb about his alarmingly Buckian behaviour, does she do much?


Without rewatching it (sorry about this, I wasn't expecting to be lending the tape when I agreed to do this!), the major questions seem to be based around the final scene. Most of this was either covered in the Requiem EpDisc or should really be left for the Caleb or Lucas discussion, but if she did was willing to let Caleb die in LTC in order to stop he becoming his father's son, why isn't she here?

Stephen (at 5:10 in the morning, I can't be bothered to check for errors. If there's anything major I've missed out, I'll post what I mean tomorrow!)

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1. August 2002