TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 3 – Episode 10: Queen of Hearts
Posted by Sharlene Mousfar on November 14, 2010
I was trepidatious about this episode. It’s no secret that I’m not really invested in the Arthur/Gwen relationship or the way it’s been handled, but I actually liked it! Shocking I’m sure! My biggest gripe is that I can’t buy the whole “true love” thing because we know what’s going to happen down the line with Lancelot and it’s easily apparent to me that Arthur loves Gwen more than Gwen loves Arthur. But I digress, this review is not all about that – onward!
The episode opens with Guinevere’s coronation ceremony, which turns out to be a “nightmare” of Morgana’s. How dare someone else try and take her bedazzled crown! Distressed, she meets Morgause who tells her to take Gwen down! Morgana then plays “match-maker”, suggesting to both Arthur and Gwen that they should spend more time together. Merlin takes her into the forest outside Camelot, where Arthur is looking into a plate, trying to get all gussied up for his lady. This was hysterical! Especially when Merlin & Gwen start giggling and he fumbles and drops it.
Meanwhile, Morgana convinces Uther to go horse riding with her and just as Arthur and Gwen share a very awkward kiss, surprise! The King and his ward find them. Arthur is worried about Uther’s reaction but Papa Pendragon is amused as he thinks his son’s just having a fling. Exclaiming that he is in love with Gwen, Uther has her banished, claiming that it is for Arthur’s own good. Later, Morgana visits Arthur and realizes that her vision could still come true because Arthur would leave with Gwen and return to claim the throne, so she plants magical potpourri under Arthur’s pillow. She visits Uther suggesting that Gwen may have enchanted Arthur as he hasn’t shown feelings for her before (which is true!) and that leads to Arthur’s chambers being searched, guards finding the planted magic bag o’ magic and a confirmation that it could be used to cast a love spell.
As we know, Uther gives fair trials. Haha no. Gwen is accused of using magic to seduce his son. Arthur storms into the room to defend her but Uther reminds the prince that Gwen’s father consorted with sorcerers and that she is seeking revenge. Uther sentences her to be burnt at the stake. The sentencing scene was heart-wrenching and beautiful all at once. Bradley played this just right — the desperation, the stolen kiss which wasn’t awkward for once, and Angel did a fabulous job showing Gwen’s fighting spirit. I thought the slow motion timing, the silence and music all worked well to make you really feel for these two.
The latter half of the episode is Merlin promising to find a way to save Gwen, after she shares that she saw the Smirk of Evil from Morgana. How does he do that? By becoming the wizard everyone thinks of when they think of this legend, 80-year old Merlin! I have to say, Colin did such a great job here: “I ache.” Merlin aka Dragoon the Great was so funny, you could see he’s not very good at being an evil sorcerer and even Arthur thinks something’s up as he recognizes his friend from just his eyes. He gets knocked in the head with a helmet (which is deserved after all the things Merlin’s gotten hit with!) but Arthur catches up to him and reveals to Uther that ‘Dragoon’ is the true sorcerer, much to Morgana’s confusion.
Merlin “confesses”, yells at the Pendragon men and ‘Dragoon’ replaces Gwen on the pyre. Visiting Merlin in the dungeon, Gaius is told that he is unable to break the powerful spell. Working all night to brew the antidote, Gaius arrives just as Merlin is led to the pyre. Merlin pretends to rush at Gaius, pockets the potion and lights up the pyre as a distraction to take it. Just as Arthur and the guards are about to catch him, the potion takes effect and Merlin is returned to normal. Arthur yells at him for what he believes to be drunken incompetence in letting ‘Dragoon” escape. Later Arthur and Gwen say they’ll continue to hide their love and Merlin gets punished by mucking out the stables. I thought there was supposed to be no reset button?
As I do almost every episode, things I liked were:
- Powerful Merlin: I liked how Merlin just took charge when going to try & save Gwen instead of waiting for Gaius to help tell him what to do. More of this please!
- Old Merlin: Haha! Colin always manages to make something that might be ridiculous, absolutely amazing! He was hysterical, and it looked like he had a lot of fun running around and yelling in his crotchety-old-man voice.
- The lighting – Angel Coulby looking stunning as Queen Guinevere; Bradley James with the golden-halo effect. Props to the lighting crew!
- Merlin/Gwen friendship scenes – these always make me smile; I love how Merlin is able to be so supportive and a calming influence
- Even as a farmer, Arthur would take Merlin with him! Love that he and Gwen were chatting about that and also that Arthur recognized Merlin from his eyes, like Gaius.
- For once in his life — Uther was partially right about something. His son would never give up his right to the throne of Camelot.
And the things I didn’t like so much:
- “Idiot” Merlin: I hate that Merlin is written to constantly seem like an imbecile to Arthur. Couldn’t Merlin have pretended that he’d been knocked out by the “sorcerer” instead? How are we supposed to believe that Arthur would take Merlin’s advice in the future if they almost always make him out to look like a fool in front of him?
- Arthur abandoning Camelot: Initially, I could believe that he’d give up his destiny for Gwen because his emotions were heightened and he wasn’t thinking straight and we similarly saw last season that Merlin was going to give up his destiny for Freya. But upon second thought, really? Arthur’s characterization has been built up over the fact that his duty and love for Camelot almost always comes first; it’s the most important thing to him. This does not fit with him at ALL.
- Morgana. Again with not explaining her motivations. I want flashbacks of the missing year. But we got some new evil faces so I was happy about that
- Arthur & Gwen kissing. It looked awkward and still not seeing the romantic chemistry there.
And next week gives us another tournament! How many have we had so far? It seems as though Merlin’s magical friend isn’t quite good at keeping the magic secret.
GS Reporter: Sharlene