Merlin, Beauty And The Beast, Part 1 (S02E05) – Episode review

His horniness, King Uther, having been without a wife since Authur’s mother died, decides to get married in the latest episode of [[Merlin (TV Series)|Merlin]]. Well, to be technical about it, he’s cleverly manipulated into falling in love by a hideous troll masquerading as the daughter of an old ally.

Beauty And The Beast might have been one of the funniest episodes of Merlin to have graced our screens – Merlin using an enchanted mirror to discover the lady was a troll, dropping it and having Arthur think he was perving on her; the ‘Lady’ Catrina chucking her food in the river when Uther wasn’t looking, then delicately wiping her lips with a napkin.

It was nice to see Gaius being the one to uncover the deception for a change, noticing that the Lady Catrina no longer had the incurable disease that he disgnosed in her many years before. However, his attempts to warn Uther of the troll’s lie were a bit weak. Knowing Uther’s hatred of magic as Gaius does, he could have easily cautioned him that witchcraft was involved and had him take the matter more seriously. Moreover, by having Uther bluff about the incurable disease, they could easily have caught the troll out in a lie and ended the matter.

But, this is a two-parter and that would have left our fledgling wizard twiddling his thumbs for over an hour of screentime. So all Gaius accomplished was to bring the troll’s plans forward and trick Uther into a hasty wedding. I was impressed at the amount of guests Uther was able to muster for his wedding, given that he had less than a day’s notice, and adjoining kindgoms would have been too far off to send messengers, etc. Let’s be kind (for once) and assume that the dignitaries gathered were all locals, OK?

I found the ending particularly reassuring. It’s a bit of a cliche in TV weddings to have the minister say “If anyone herepresent has a problem with this union let them speak now” and suddenly a big secret is revealed, scuppering the wedding and denying the best man a fumble with the bridesmaid. Refreshingly, Merlin’s attempts to reveal the true face of the troll failed. Beyond a little rippling of Lady Catrina’s skin, his incantations were fairly useless and the marriage went ahead.

This of course leaves Camelot being ruled by the King and his hideous beast of a wife. How will Gaius and Merlin overcome this? Will they be able to fix the problem with magic, or will Lady Catrina become more of a problem for them, especially since she knows of Merlin’s abilities?

Although the comedic parts were funny, I came away feeling that the whole episode was a little limp. Uther seemed too willing to succumb to the romantic advances of Catrina, while the performances of Catrina and her sidekick were very pantomime, to say the least. This was definitely an episode for the kids, in my opinion, and not completely satisfying considering the potential the story had.

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