Merlin: The Sword In The Stone, Part 1 – Episode review

by Gerard McGarry

Merlin meets Tristan and Isolde

Camelot’s under attack by dark magic, part #1,532. Morgana and Agrivaine have decided to stop playing “traitors in caves” and just go over the top. And so the two sneaky plotters who’ve been meeting in clandestine caves for the last 10 episodes suddenly have an army at their disposal.

We could stand around and moan all day about how quickly Morgana conquered Camelot, but what’s important is that Arthur’s kingdom is finally in proper peril. And with Morgana in the throne, Merlin has to help an injured Arthur to safety so that he can at least live to fight another day. Of course, in order to save Arthur, he must convince him to leave the castle. And in order to do that, Merlin has to use magic on him. Which ends up with Arthur being knocked absolutely senseless and relying on Merlin for his every cue.

What’s brilliant about this is that it helps Merlin and Arthur to hide. No-one suspects that the halfwit traveling with Merlin is actually the king of Camelot. Not while he’s hugging trees and generally acting the simpleton.

Meanwhile, back in Camelot, Katie McGrath is channeling her inner Helena Bonham Carter. Black lace sleeves? Check. Straggly long black hair? Check. Murderous mean streak? Absolutely. But the sorceress isn’t going to be happy until step-bro Arthur is captured and presumably tortured/humiliated at length. Still, we get to watch Morgana’s storyline this series come to fruition. She’s become relentlessly evil at this point, conveniently proven by DENYING GAIUS FOOD and making NOT-LANCELOT FIGHT SOMEONE TO THE DEATH!!!

Anyway, the thrust of the episode follows Merlin and Arthur’s escape from Camelot with the twattish Agrivaine in hot pursuit. Luckily, the spell that’s making Arthur a vacant-faced idiot wears off by morning, meaning we’re straight back to Arthur being generally abusive toward his manservant. Hooray!

By this stage, the duo have hooked up with legendary figures Tristan and Isolde. And may I say Isolde is showing much more cleavage than I ever imagined a dark ages smuggler would ever have dared. What with it being a mans, mans, mans world and loners in forests being quite rapey. Maybe I’ve misjudged ancient Camelot and a girl could show off as much cleavage as she liked back then, it didn’t make her a tart.

Regardless, sneaky traitor Agrivaine catches up with the gang and murders most of Tristan and Isolde’s merry men. Given that Agrivaine is obviously an excellent tracker and determined to kill them/drag them back to Morgana, Merlin decides that it would be a super-smart idea to go visit his mummy. And Gwen. Yes, uber-clever military strategist Merlin decides to go home for a cup of tea with murderous Agrivaine in tow. This is going to end well. Spoiler: It isn’t.

But this is a two-part finale, my friends, and the action pretty much dries up at this point. Arthur’s reunited with Gwen, giving us the missed opportunity:

  • Arthur: “Guinevere, what are you doing here?”
  • Gwen: “You exiled me, you plonker…”

Either way, it’s going to be a long way back for Arthur to reclaim the throne and defeat Morgana. Thankfully, Part 2 seems to raise the action level as even Gwen gets to take arms against the sorceress! And Arthur will be taking another step toward his destiny as he meets the rock that’s been guarding his mythical sword!

The Sword In The Stone was another gripping episode of Merlin. Sure, there were storyline issues you could have driven a horse and wagon through, but on the whole, you can’t discount the entertainment value of Morgana taking the throne while Arthur wanders the countryside dressed as a yokel! Best line tonight from Merlin was that “Beggars can’t be choosers. Sire.”

Did you enjoy tonight’s Merlin? Leave your comments below…