If The Moment Of Truth forgot one thing, it was that elusive moment where Merlin revealed his secret to Arthur, thus proving that magic could defend kingdoms instead of destroying them. And by the end of this episode, those who dwell on my sofa with me for each installment of Merlin were baying for Arthur to know his manservant is a sorcerer.
But let’s leave the thorny issue of Merlin’s secret to one side for a moment. I’m becoming giddy with excitement at this series, which is only now beginning to hit its stride.
And one thing The Moment Of Truth offered in spades was a massive leap forward in character development. The bonds between Arthur and Merlin appear closer than ever. Gwen and Morgana happily abscond to Merlin’s home village to help him fight the local tyrant, and even Arthur breaks with grumpy old Uther’s orders and follows on to help his servant out. Hell, even old Gaius gives Merlin an emotional hug as he sets off on his journey. I was choked up.
The four younger cast members are by now forming fast bonds of loyalty, merrily disobeying the king whenever the plot requires it. This is great though. It shows how out of touch Uther is, and makes Arthur’s emerging theories about chivalry, justice and equality seem positively utopian.
Special mention in this review goes to Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Bradley James (Arthur): the two young actors are coming into their own now, as Arthur and Merlin discover their allegiances to each other are becoming stronger. There were many moments within this episode where the two shared conversations that were more fitting of close friends than they were of master and servant.
Anyway, the plot for this episode revolves around Merlin’s home village being beset by a tyrant named Kanan and his men, who are terrorising the villagers. Merlin’s mother visits him to pass on news of these events, but Uther refuses to help because the village lies outside his kingdom. So, Merlin decides to return to the village to do what he can.
Unfortunately, his best laid plans are upset when Gwen and Morgana decide to accompany him, and then Arthur catches up with the group at night and pledges his support. However, when they arrive at the village, Merlin’s old friend William is less than pleased to see Arthur and secretly urges Merlin to use his magic to solve their problems.
When Merlin refuses, William chides him that he and Arthur are hardly equals if he can’t confide his secret. Fast forward past the inevitable victorious battle with Kanan, and a slightly 90’s style "you killed the bad guy – but look out, he’s still alive!" William takes a crossbow bolt in the chest, and takes the credit for a magical act which Arthur witnessed during the battle.
Of course, the slightly inbred William takes Merlin’s secret to his grave, but not while we wonder if the soon to be powerful magician might be able to cure him. But nope, no Lazarus-style miracles today viewers – William dies on a dirty table with Merlin sobbing buckets over his still-warm corpse.
Which leaves us hanging on the question: will it ever be safe for Merlin to reveal his secrets? Surely it would make for more interesting adventures if Merlin and Arthur could stand shoulder to shoulder in battle, one using his magic, the other using his brawny sword skills? Plus, Arthur’s acceptance of Merlin’s magic (and keeping of his secret) would further emphasise the stark differences between the future king of Camelot and his out-of-touch father.
Still, I’m glad I stuck with Merlin – the series is reaching a crucial point now, and the gripping finale is just over the horizon. And…taking a sneaky peek into the future, we might see my prophecy about Morgana coming true very soon.