TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 3 – Episode 13: The Coming of Arthur (Pt 2)
Posted by Sharlene Mousfar on December 6, 2010
What began with an epic premiere ended with an epic finale! The conclusion of “The Coming of Arthur” was chock full of great fight scenes, big nods to Arthurian legend and only slight things that I wish there was more of. Overall, big props to Julian Jones, the crew and cast of Merlin for a fantastic season ender.
When we last left our merry band of outlaws (for at this point, that’s what they are), Morgana has just revealed herself as Uther’s daughter and Arthur’s half-sister and taken over the throne of Camelot with big sister Morgause by her side.
Sir Leon is being dragged through the halls by some immortal soldiers to the throne room, where Queen Morgana has been trying and failing to gain his allegiance. He states that he’d rather die than serve her and is taken away. In the courtyard, a firing squad aims at the Knights of Camelot and they are given one last chance to change their minds – they don’t. We see Morgana truly taking after her father’s derangement (on the opposite side of the magical divide however) because instead of killing the Knights – she has the guards shoot innocent civilians.
Meanwhile, Merlin is being chased through the forest by more Soldiers of the Living Dead but manages to escape into the secret cave hideout where we see a depressed Arthur staring into space after learning of the betrayals of both Morgana and the King. Merlin implores to Gaius that they must do something as the forest is besieged with the Queen’s lackeys.
In the dungeons of Camelot, a emotionally broken Uther is visited by his daughter, who cruelly taunts him in revenge for her suffering at his hands. When asked if she really hates him as much as it seems, she replies that he’s only begun to know just how much she loathes his existence. Now this? Is the evil witch we should’ve seen all series – the scene is played wonderfully by Katie McGrath and Anthony Head.
Switching over to the cave, Merlin is trying to rally Arthur out of his despondent state by teasing him about eating rat but it doesn’t take. He wisely appeals to Arthur’s sense of responsibility to his father and Camelot – which works as Arthur begins eating the food Merlin brought him. And back in Morgana’s chambers, the young Queen frets over the opposition she’s facing from the knights and the people themselves. Did she think it’d be super easy? Gwen continues faking her support of her former friend by giving her encouragement and manipulates Morgana into sending her to talk to Sir Leon.
The M&Ms (Morgana & Morgause) eavesdrop on Gwen betraying Morgana to Leon in helping him escape. What she doesn’t know is that she’s been given a potion that will track her movements, leading the evil witches straight to Arthur. Which is exactly what happens but before then, Merlin accidentally cracks open the water from the Lake of Avalon, given to him by the Fisher King in “Eye of the Phoenix”. In doing so, the puddle reveals Freya, who is now the Lady of the Lake and the emotion that Merlin has at seeing her again is touching.
She tells him that he must come and get Excalibur from her and goes to the Great Dragon to get him to the lake. He hears in his mind that he must not let anyone else wield it, promising to put it where no one else can use it. One of my favorite moments is seeing the legendary sword come out of the water with Freya’s hand holding it.
Gwen sneaks into Morgause’s chambers to get an imprint of the key to Leon’s cell and uses her skills to create a copy. She passes it to Leon by pretending to trip and drop her laundry. Once escaped, she gives in a dress to use as a disguise. Haha! When everyone is together at the cave again, the immortal guards are hot on their heels but are thwarted by the arrival of Lancelot and newcomer, Percival.
Escaping to the castle of the Old Kings, the best scene of the episode occurs when Arthur reveals the Round Table and gives a great speech which has everyone at the table standing up one-by-one stating why they’d give their lives for Arthur. The best was saved for last as Merlin stands and no words are needed between him and Arthur for the latter to know that he’d be with him until the end. Bradley James truly shines in this scene – the strength that Arthur is supposed to show comes out when he’s given the material to do so.
They end up taking the fight back to Camelot as Arthur, Gwaine & Elyan go to save Uther, while Lancelot & Merlin go to empty the blood from the Cup of Life. Eventually, Merlin gets to the cup but just as he’s about to knock it over, Morgause arrives, throwing him into a wall. An injured Lancelot is leaning on a pillar, unable to help his friend. However, surprise! Gaius shows a big burst of magical strength, blasting the elder witch back into a column. She briefly recovers before Merlin finishes her off with a sickening crack to her head.
Is she dead? Reminiscent of the Series 2 ending, it is Morgana who finds her fallen sibling and screams the castle down. No really, the shrieking was unbearable. They don’t find either woman in the rubble but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of them (or at least one of them).
As I do almost every episode, things I liked were:
- More CONTINUITY! What is this, a trend? We had nods to the “rat stew” from Series 1, and Merlin using the water from the Lake of Avalon from “Eye of the Phoenix” to save her. Her being Camelot.
- Merlin! Plus a sword = smokin’ fighter That he was the one to wield Excalibur and not Arthur was a nice twist as the promo pictures showed the opposite. The way I see it, waiting for Arthur to get the sword elevates the moment. It would’ve cheapened the payoff later on if he’d used it now.
- SWORD IN THE FRAKKING STONE! Enough said.
- Arthur — now THAT is the man who becomes the High King, where has he been this entire series?!
- The Round Table — EPIC TABLE OF EPICNESS!
- All the Arthur & Merlin moments — in the last ep and this one, their relationship strikes all the right notes. (Though Arthur did repeat his “you’re wise” line from one of the earlier eps)
- Sir Lancelot! I felt so badly for him having to witness Arthur/Gwen smooching but love that he supported Merlin and gave him the encouragement that the latter needed. Truly a noble knight.
- Sir Gwaine – love how at the end of the fight, he stumbles out of the alcove – was he taking sips of some booze during it? Ha.
- Sir Leon(a) in a dress. Can we have an ep of all the knights + Merlin having to go under cover and wear dresses? That’d be hysterical.
- Freya – loved her small scene with Merlin and his reaction to seeing her again.
- Gaius’ display of magic! WOO! Go him for helping protect Merlin!
- Loved that Gwen was used as mostly something other than a romantic interest – especially using her blacksmith skills to create a key and using her own experiences with Uther’s wrath to trick Morgana, though it failed in the end.
Not so favorite:
- Anti-climatic use of the water from the Lake of Avalon. He had to break the vial? That’s it?
- Not enough Freya! Why didn’t they have her come out of the lake and give us a nice meaty emotional scene? Merlin needs some lovin’ too!
- Even though I like how Gwen was utilized – she actually wasn’t truly needed in the ep at all — just had her in there to stick it to Lancelot and lead the M&M’s (the witches not the candy) to Arthur.
- I would’ve liked to have seen an Arthur/Morgana confrontation — maybe we’ll get that next series.
And so ends another magical series! While the show was erratic this year from inconsistent characterization, some lackluster writing and slightly too much focus on the funny and/or romantic plots, there were some gems such as the previous mentioned premiere, “Gwaine”, “The Crystal Cave”, “Eye of the Phoenix” and “The Sorcerer’s Shadow” that really highlighted Colin Morgan, Bradley James and Anthony Head.
There was a huge missed opportunity in the way Morgana was written; Katie McGrath was under-utilized in my opinion. Additionally, while bringing Elyan to the show gave Gwen some more depth, the storyline was not fully explored and Angel Coulby was relegated to playing a love interest more than anything else.
I, for one, hope the series works out its kinks and we get a reveal to truly move Merlin and Arthur’s stories along next year, stronger writing for the ladies without being at the expense of Merlin or Arthur’s characters. Filming for Series 4 begins in March 2011 with a yet-to-be-determined 2011 airdate and keep an eye on Geek Syndicate for more Merlin-related coverage!
What did you think of the episode and Series 3 overall? Would love to hear your thoughts!
GS Reporter: Sharlene