Last year in Merlin, the King of Camelot accidentally married a troll. It was a bit silly, but in his defence, he was under a spell. This series, his son Arthur is about to make a similar error, without the excuse of enchantment.
Also, as I have mentioned, the troll story was dreadful and nearly put me off this whole enterprise. So is this not-really-sequel an improvement? It has a few fart jokes, but surely it can’t be that bad?
Merlin Character in “Retains Dignity” Shocker
Happily, it is nowhere near as dreadful. Rather than being compelled to marry a pixie via brainwashing, Arthur finds himself prodded by parental peer pressure. Such an arranged marriage, Uther tells him repeatedly, would be extremely “strategic”.
Which means we don’t get Arthur making a fool of himself in the name of obsessive “love”, but instead some soul-searching and tender moments with Gwen. Merlin’s child audience might have liked shots of Arthur falling off the roof to rescue a pigeon for her, but this provides more scope for fun banter, as opposed to slapstick.
And for fans of the larking about, there is a comedy strand involving Gaius fending off unwelcome female interest, not to mention a few scenes of Arthur’s “betrothed” breaking wind.
Apropos of nothing, maybe Doctor Who’s pacifism has softened me, but Merlin’s no-nonsense approach of blasting the monsters to atoms on sight seems a bit harsh sometimes.
Evil Morgana in “Does Very Little” Shocker
Elsewhere, Evil Morgana may show signs of human sympathy, or perhaps she’s taunting Gwen for fun; it’s honestly hard to tell. Her role in episodes not about her continues to feel awkward, as the writers struggle to fit her into the group dynamic now she wants to kill them all.
With her sidelined, this is basically a pleasant episode, and a reminder that Arthur and Gwen are totally meant for each other. If they’re going to be this brick-to-the-face blatant about it, hopefully progress will happen before it goes a bit Ross-and-Rachel.
As luck would have it, the trailer for next week suggests that I will be satisfied as a follower of both the Evil Morgana and Arthur/Gwen strands. So for now, this was a watchable episode, not phenomenally dramatic or unpredictable, but much more interesting than I expected. Catch The Changeling on BBC iPlayer and let me know if you agree.