This week in Merlin, a rare jaunt into the sparkling fields of hate crime and the burden of responsibility, as the messy aspects of the kingdom’s long-running extreme persecution against magic are finally explored on screen.
And, as ever, they can see no better way than through brainwashing a regular character.
The Ballad Of Elyan
This week’s hapless puppet is Elyan, a knight who has particularly suffered from the massive increase in cast members of late. He’s basically been nothing but fodder for fight scenes all year. In fact, has the fact he’s Gwen’s brother been mentioned since the start of this series? There might have been a namecheck, but I missed it.
With the banishment of Gwen last episode (which featured Lancelot as hapless puppet), this is definitely the best time to bring it up again, but I’m not sure they ever dig into how Elyan feels about her exile, since he is possessed before getting a chance to emote. We do at least get shown that Arthur is grumpy, which is fair enough.
In fact, Merlin was a bit insensitive about that. Considering their long-running man-love, you’d think he’d be nicer.
Questionable Genocide Sausages
So Elyan doesn’t get much to do in his big episode, being possessed the whole time, but the exploration of how Arthur feels about his father’s questionable genocide habit is interesting. His revelation and mournful speech in the final scene came suddenly, but Bradley James sold them well.
But until said final scene, the episode was fairly standard. They made the spirit scenes good and spooky, but we’ve seen this basic plot regularly. And how many times has Merlin snuck past those guards to free someone from the cells? They must be beyond incompetent.
Also, another sausagefest on Merlin this week, as both Morgana and Gwen are on leave. Obviously, Gwen has a good reason this time, and it’s wise not to crowbar Morgana into every episode, otherwise she’ll become a Power Rangers villain. Still, a new major female character might offset all this growling.
Based on the trailer, both Morgana and Gwen return next week, and… is that Arthur as hapless puppet? Again? He should start being more careful. Check the episode out on iPlayer and let us know if you were impressed.