Merlin: The Eye Of The Phoenix – Dork Review

Merlin: The Eye Of The PhoenixAfter years of family-friendly Arthurian drama, Merlin lurches into surrealism this week, with the sudden appearance of strange filters, stabbing isolation and a lobster as metaphor for our unfulfilled desires.

One of those may not be true. Regardless, an odd episode at times. But was it a victorious experiment, or an unfortunate exercise in trying and failing?

Prince Arthur Versus Killer Chilli

So, as he often does, Arthur goes on a quest. Merlin discovers that Evil Morgana has tried to sabotage it, so he follows to try and assist. Oh, and he takes Gwaine along, because when you’re in Camelot surrounded by knights, the best choice for urgent help in a fight is some drunk you have to spend ages searching taverns to find.

Meanwhile, Arthur is having a trippy experience, stumbling through the desert in a haze and sinking into a marsh that closely resembles a giant bowl of chilli con carne. And those were probably the most interesting bits of the episode, closely followed by the sight of Emilia Fox in old-lady make-up.

A dwarf appears as well, closely resembling Warwick Davies, but doesn’t seem surreal at all. It’s just a dwarf, being vague.

Reviewer Versus Episode

The average Merlin episode tends to provide light comedy or exciting drama. The really good ones manage both, and this week doesn’t contain much of either. There’s a strong scene at the end when Merlin reaches his destination, but even that boils down to “the series finale is going to be well scary”.

Some progression occurs in the Evil Morgana subplot, as one character finally realises it’s a bit odd that the formerly fraught young ward has taken to sneering all the time and burning stuff in her room. And I was excited to see Gwaine again, but this appearance serves only to remind us he exists.

In short, ho-hum. This episode of Merlin just sat there for me. Do watch it yourself on iPlayer and let me know in the comments if I’m being needlessly grumpy. Next week, a main character is courted by a non-human beastie, for the twentieth time. But to give them their credit, they did it recently in “The Changeling”, and it was much better than expected.

More Merlin on Dork Adore | Merlin: The Castle Of Fyrien – Dork Review

Nick Bryan

Nick learned to read and write at an early age. This has developed into an unhealthy need to either write stories or consume them for later dissection. He reviews film and TV on Dork Adore and The Digital Fix, lives in London and enjoys a nice white beer.

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    • Jenny Wilde says

      A lot of the darker, greener woods scenes in each series (eg in this episode, the scene of crossing the bridge with the dwarf bridge keeper) are filmed in Puzzlewood near the Forest of Dean. Likewise, a lot of the scenes with castles which are obviously not Camelot, are actually castles in south Wales. I believe Raglan has been used before. This episode's castle may have been Caerphilly (but I am not certain of that). I thought a lot of filming took place in France, but actually, most takes place in Cardiff (sets) and south Wales and Forest of Dean (outdoors).

  1. says

    I have to disagree with you (well, I don't have to, but I'm going to) as I really liked this episode. Granted, I could be slightly biased towards it with the inclusion of the dashing Gwaine and half naked Arthur again. I thought it bought in some interesting hints at the season finale though – what was with the water thing?

    • says

      I really like Gwaine (though possibly not in the same way as you), but he didn't do much, and in a show with magic, the water could be almost anything. I just didn't think it had much story of its own. Although the scene where Merlin was given the water was very heart-string plucking, I admit.

  2. Roswell says

    I agree with you. The soul of this show is the Arthur Merlin relationship, not all of the subplots with evil Morgana, Gwen/Morgana, etc. or the latest CGI monster. What we need is to return to the spirit of Season 1 with episodes such as Poisoned Chalice and Labyrinth of Gedref. In the short scene between Gwaine and Merlin at the campfire in this episode, we have seen more friendship than a whole season of throwing dishes at Merlin. Many fans are tired of the lack of progress of the Arthur Merlin friendship and this frustration is growing. If the writers and producers want to give the fans what they want, it is clear there should be a whole episode only about Merlin and Arthur, and follow that with a steady progression of their partnership to the full Arthurian legend. This does not in any way detract from evil Morgana or possible Queen Gwen, or any other episode focus.

    • says

      I was quite liking this series, until the last couple anyway, but yes, it would be nice if Merlin and Arthur had a few more scenes together to bond. The problem is, as I think I said elsewhere, the Merlin/Arthur friendship can't really progress much further unless Merlin reveals his secret, and clearly they've decided that can't happen yet. So we spin in place.

    • Bo Red says

      “and follow that with a steady progression of their partnership to the full Arthurian legend.”

      I think it's a little late for that! This is a fantasy series about fantasy people living in a fantasy land in who knows what time period. The fact that the characters just happen to have the same or similar names as people in a legend (legends usually being about real people who did once exist) is just coincidence. The writers have veered too far away from even the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth or Thomas Mallory, right from the start, to ever give themselves a chance of getting back close to the real Arthurian Legends. 😉 Stop taking it seriously and enjoy it for what it is, popcorn for Dungeon & Dragons fans

      • Roswell says

        For Bo Red

        I don't disagree with you at all and you can be sure I know that “Merlin” in not strictly following Arthurian legend. I just think Merlin and Arthur should have more time together on the air. In all of Season 3, they have barely done anything alone, and when they are alone Arthur is throwing dishes at Merlin. I still believe that the Merlin and Arthur dynamic should be the core of the show.


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