TV REVIEW: Merlin - Another's Sorrow

This week, Morgana is back in the game as she carries out a fiendish deception that fools the entirety of Camelot, including Merlin, in order to trap Arthur and kill him once and for all. 

After Odin (Fintar McKeown), an old enemy of Camelot, takes the country of Princess Mithian (Janet Montgomery) and captures her father (James Fox), it becomes apparent that it's another plan from Morgana (Katie McGrath). With Mithian as captive, Morgana heads to Camelot and deceives Arthur (Bradley James) and Merlin (Colin Morgan) with her old woman guise. The knights set out to rescue the King but Morgana's trap lays in wait.

For more casual fans of the series, it may not have been obvious that this episode saw the return of several old faces. As was oft-repeated, Odin has been Arthur's sworn enemy for a while now, after Arthur killed his son way back in the second series and then retaliated by killing Uther. Princess Mithian also returns, having escaped an engagement to Arthur in the last series; their relationship isn't really commented on by any party but the gallant king naturally rushes to her aid when she asks for it.

Which leads us on to the next discussion point; old Morgana. We've already seen ageing spells with Merlin (who makes a very convincing and funny old man) and now it is Katie McGrath's turn. Rather than the comical and mischievous performance that Colin Morgan gives, McGrath goes full sinister, creeping and skulking about whilst controlling the entire situation. It's an impressive display and one that further demonstrates McGrath's development. It does help that her character is finally written for a bit more successfully (likewise with Gwen) which gives both actresses more to work with. There was also a lovely, rare moment between Arthur and Gwen (Angel Coulby) which shows how their relationship has progress in marital bliss.

However, for the most part, this episode has been the most lacklustre of the series, devoid of the tension that had made the first three episodes so compelling and generally not as involving as many previous episodes. The plot was as transparent as one of the castle's anachronistic windows and held little in the way of actual excitement. The Odin-Arthur feud was more than a little strained, although I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. And when are people going to start listening to Merlin when he has a bad feeling. He's a wizard and he's ALWAYS right. 

What is also beginning to look a little odd is the lack of interaction with Arthur's knights. I mean, these are some of the most famous Sirs in history, Gwaine and Percival in particular, and yet they barely have a line; they just skulk awkwardly in the back of scenes. Eoin Macken has always been a highlight as the rakish Gwaine and is afforded a couple of lines and an admittedly welcome cheeky grin, but it's a far cry from the time he has been given in earlier episodes. Also, much was made about Mordred's threat to Arthur but he's barely been seen since, not even appearing in this episode. Some of my favourite moments in past episodes have been the interaction between the excellent ensemble cast but they've been reduced to set-dressing.

The next episode will hopefully correct some of these niggles and also apparently features the magical version of the Black Spot. Arthur could be in trouble... will Merlin be there to save him? Well, yes.

- Becky

You can read Becky's review of The Death Song of Uther Pendragon here.

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