Merlin – Gwaine (S03E04) – Episode review

This week’s [[Merlin (TV Series)|Merlin]] marks a vast improvement as Arthur and Merlin get in a tavern brawl and make a pair of dangerous enemies. On the upside, they make a fun new acquaintance in Gwaine (Eoin Macken), who is secretly of noble birth, but isn’t a fan of Uther’s reign, which is why he keeps his background a secret.

But back to the episode. After Gwaine helps Arthur (Bradley James) and Merlin (Colin Morgan) win the brawl, he’s brought back to Camelot with a dagger in his leg.

Meanwhile, the thugs that Arthur has managed to upset are determined to get their revenge. So they acquire some magic pendants to disguise themselves and some magic swords to slice and dice Arthur with. The magic swords have the appearance of being blunt, but they’re actually razor sharp. Maybe even sharper than razors.

I’m going to quietly gloss over the fact that any meathead with an axe to grind can easily acquire the means to infiltrate Camelot. Because the ability to magically alter one’s appearance might spark Uther (Anthony Head) to step up his campaign against wizards and other magical creatures. And isn’t it noble that Uther has no plans to expand his kingdom and never spies tactical advantages in having magicians on-side?

Sorry, that last paragraph turned into a bit of a braindump.

There’s so much about Merlin that doesn’t make sense. So we’ll throw the ‘but it’s only a kid’s show’ argument at it and see if it sticks. Nope. Slid right off.

I actually enjoyed the episode as it stood – a combination of being sorely disappointed by Goblin’s Gold and this having a great fight sequence at the start and some interesting dialogue between the characters. Interesting that when an outsider like Gwaine or Lancelot shows up, only then does Merlin start to investigate the concepts of nobility that remind us of Arthur’s destiny.

Yes, there are valid criticisms – such as rehashed story elements and sore lack of character development. The series is definitely spinning its wheels at this point, and I’m not sure why. It feels like the story is trapped within the limitations of the format: Merlin’s secret, Uther’s intransigence and the lack of serious threats to Camelot. And add to that tonight’s biggest nitpick – the complete and utter lack of blood in an episode that featured a dozen murders.

Still, an enjoyable episode of Merlin. It’s not fair to nitpick too much, because after all this isn’t an adult show. Last night’s episode at least delivered some fun and a decent storyline that didn’t make me feel sorry I’d watched.

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