This week in Merlin, an old standby makes a comeback: comical brainwashing! Much of series four has been too serious and grim for anyone to spend a whole episode pretending to be possessed by Sparrowgooch The Dancing Troll, but they’ve finally let it happen!
Well, in a way. Sparrowgooch doesn’t appear. And does that mean it’s a grating clash of styles now?
Merlin E. Coyote
The writers don’t drag out the mind control comedy for the hours they once would, but that’s not a bad thing. Too much over-indulgence leads us into such black holes as the horrific troll two-parter from the second series, which nearly made me swear off this show forever.
However, we do get fifteen entertaining minutes of Merlin as played by Wile E. Coyote, trying to kill the King with increasingly elaborate traps which either get thwarted by coincidence or backfire into his face. For once, the joke didn’t outstay its welcome; I’m just disappointed he never got to paint a tunnel on the wall of the castle.
And then things get a bit more serious, as Merlin dons his elderly disguise once again, confronts Morgana and discovers Agravaine’s smirking treachery. Everyone seems to be suspecting that guy already; he really isn’t as good at this as Morgana was.
Merlin Kent, Reporter For The Daily Camelot
In fact, Merlin is almost a superhero now, using his secret identity of Emrys for missions, and then getting raked over the coals by his boss for missing work while he was off adventuring. It’s a strange way to go, but does address the nagging issue of “How long can people keep narrowly missing Merlin doing spells behind them?”
After a few weeks of complaints, I’m pleased to report Gwen gets a more meaningful part this week, along with Gaius. Even the knights, in fact, get scenes as separate characters rather than a vaguely defined blob. I was disappointed Gwaine only got one line when he and Arthur went out together, though.
In short, this is one of the better episodes for a few weeks. It does a good job of balancing some old school comedy, their newfound commitment to proper arc plots and an increasingly huge cast. If the rest of the series is like this, I will happily cease whining. Check the episode out on iPlayer and let us know if you too were impressed.