It’s been a short while since the last time a Merlin character fell for someone untrustworthy, so here we go again. This week, physician and father figure Gaius is smitten when a woman from his past turns up, but she has gone through some changes since the good old days.
Sorry if that counts as a spoiler, but since it was in the trailer last week, and is revealed in the opening minutes of the episode, I feel it’s fair game. So how is this particular rendition of the medieval pop classic “Don’t kiss her, she’s evil!”?
Richard Wilson Gets A Rare Work-Out
It’s nice to see Richard Wilson get a decent role in an episode, and not even that long after he was last centre of attention in Goblin’s Gold. He does a decent job of making Gaius seem believably misguided rather than annoyingly stupid, and his big emotional scene towards the end successfully twanged my frayed cynic’s heartstrings.
However, I admit this wasn’t my favourite episode. Perhaps it’s the mentioned over-use of this storyline (last time was The Changeling, three weeks ago), normally with little variation. Does Merlin discover the truth early on, only for the deluded supporting character to plunge into denial and abuse him? Of course he does.
So, even though Richard Wilson and guest-star Pauline Collins as his fake love interest were both good, I found my attention wandering a bit. There were a couple of good comic relief scenes with Arthur using Merlin as target practise, though.
Assessing The Degree Of Evil
I was quite taken aback by the monster this week. Many Merlin creatures are from the obvious-fantasy school of design, but the manticore was an unsettling looking thing. This may compensate for the absence of our regular source of malice and/or sneering, Evil Morgana.
In fact, I’m not sure Gwen had a second of screentime either, outside of the trailer for next week. I suppose I could have blinked and missed them in a crowd scene. Said trailer, though, did eclipse the episode almost entirely. Could we be headed for irrevocable progression in the Gwen/Arthur saga? Surely not.
I could pick more holes in this episode, but it seems childish. (If Alice was known across Camelot for magical healing, why didn’t Uther think of her when it started happening again?) Suffice to say, competent but samey. Hopefully they’re just lulling us into a false sense of security before next week’s quantum leap forward.
As ever, you are welcomed to watch the episode on iPlayer, then come back and tell me to cheer up.