Now the opening two-parter is over, does that mean the BBC’s Merlin goes back to business as usual? Comedy antics, bromantic hinting and regular characters falling in love with baddies? Well, in last year’s episode #3, former King Uther Pendragon dropped dead. This time, he’s back for a visit.
So, should we ready ourselves for unexpected excitement and big events? Best watch it on iPlayer to find out.
Uther Pendragon Has The Rage
Well, The Death Song of Uther Pendragon isn’t exactly a game-changer, but nor is it a vacant gleeful skipalong. in fact by Merlin standards, it’s rather glum. Arthur is reminded, forcefully, that his new Camelot might be popular with the people, but he hasn’t kept his father’s vision going. Does that make him a weak King?
The characters all act sensibly, rather than being morons to further the plot – in fact, Merlin is even open about the existence of magic with Arthur, rather than hiding it ridiculously. Not to mention, he confesses his secret to Uther’s spirit – will that come back to haunt him (no pun intended) later?
Speaking of Uther, it’s good to see Anthony Head again, even though he gets relatively few scenes and, to be honest, is played as a broad disapproving angry dad. I was under the impression Uther had been softening in the few episodes before he died, but here he defaults back to stern mode, rather than daring to admit Arthur might have any kind of point.
Arthur Pendragon Has The Horn
The plot, to be honest, is a thin one involving a magic horn, just to get Uther back on screen. An old woman gives Arthur the horn (pun intended), and they discover it has summoned Uther’s ghost, which can only be vanquished as long as Arthur has the horn. (That’s the last one, I promise.)
It does exclude most characters besides Merlin and Arthur – Gaius gets to dump some exposition, Gwen is briefly imperilled, and that’s it. But at least the scrutiny advances their relationship a tad, as Arthur trusts Merlin with this deeply personal problem, not to mention suggesting magic himself.
In short, as mid-season episodes go, this was quite good. It felt like something happened, the emotional scenes had some heft, especially the ones featuring Uther, the comic relief was mostly funny. Nothing actually happened, but in a good way. More episodes like this, please.