In the fourth episode, Merlin brings us everything we love from the series. Banter! A guest star! Jousting! Mysterious strangers with dubious allegiances! Shape-shifting! Slightly unclear waffle about knights and codes of honour! Ritual humiliation of the lead character! Incremental advancement of subplots!
In short, after the heavy drama of the series premiere and the tomfoolery of last week’s Goblin’s Gold, it’s business as usual in Camelot. So, does that make it a dull episode? Or a typically entertaining day in the life?
A Lancelot By Any Other Name?
This week, our heroes happen upon a stranger named Gwaine. He comes back to the castle and, after causing some disruption, shoulders some of the heroic burden. He helps Merlin sneak around the castle fighting evil, and even takes over the token male topless scene from Bradley James.
As well as being brave and knightly, he also dares to flirt with Arthur’s secretly-beloved Gwen. In short, he’s a slightly less clean-cut Lancelot. I imagine Lance himself will be along again at some point, assuming Santiago Cabera is still available to play him, to make his case as more honourable and clean-shaven then this Gwaine chap.
Or perhaps Gwen, Lancelot, Arthur and Gwaine will be embroiled in some kind of love… square? The fan fiction would strike you blind before fully loading in your web browser.
Good Prevails When Evil Morgana Does Nothing
Although Gwaine will surely come up again in the future, this one didn’t progress the existing storylines much. We get another tug at the thread of Arthur’s feelings for Gwen, and Evil Morgana sneers silently behind Uther, much like she did last week. This could quickly grow annoying, so it’s heartening to see she’ll be doing more active evil in the next episode.
This episode, then, wasn’t amazing in any particular way, but the banter between the characters was pleasant and I still felt suspense about exactly what would happen at the end. For a moment, it looked like they were heading for a twist.
Not every week can be a series-redefining masterpiece, but it’s good that even the more standard episodes are perfectly watchable. Another fun outing for Merlin, I thought. How about you?