TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 3 – Episode 7: The Castle of Fyrien


And we’re back! Sort of. Rebounding from last week’s plot-less and disappointing episode, this episode’s themes were based around family ties and the secrets that bind them — less of a focus on the Arthur/Gwen relationship than I was expecting. Surprised that I didn’t completely dislike it! Merlin finds himself in the thick of a rescue mission that can only end badly for Arthur, while trying to keep Morgana (and her evil smirk) from her ultimate goal of offing her half-brother.

Gwen gets ambushed by two burly lackeys of Cenred after coming home from work. The daughter of Tom the blacksmith uses a fire poker to “defend” herself, but gets some medieval chloroform to the face, getting knocked out and kidnapped. Cue evil smirk from Morgana, who’s watching from her window.

Merlin and Arthur’s morning routine is hysterical — “Rise and shine!” “Let’s have you, lazy daisy!” Are the writer’s even TRYING anymore? Seriously, I don’t think they even have to. At breakfast, Morgana mentions that Gwen’s playing hooky, ensuring that Arthur will find it odd and investigate. Merlin is sent to Gwen’s home and finds evidence of a struggle. He brings the drugged rag to Arthur, who promptly blacks-out for a moment after smartly sniffing the cloth directly. He informs his father, who (like the last time Gwen was kidnapped), refuses to send guards, then relents to a small group only searching the lower town until nightfall.

In a secret castle, far far away, Morgause and Cenred have a special prisoner held captive; Gwen’s absentee brother, Elyan. He is used as leverage to ensure that Gwen gets Arthur to walk into a trap – bring Arthur or her brother dies. Back in Camelot, Gwen lies about being ill — until she bumps into Merlin. Concerned about her well-being, he gets the truth by being a good friend and making tea (yay! the Merlin and Gwen friendship is back for now!). With Arthur, a plan to rescue Elyan is created – but wuh-oh! Morgana has “insisted” that she join. Cue frowny!faced Merlin, who protests but has no proof to provide on why he doesn’t want her there.

In traveling to the abandoned castle, we get the obligatory Arthur/Gwen scenes, which weren’t as awkward as they normally are. An almost kiss gets interrupted by Merlin and Morgana, who’ve returned from a sizzling confrontation. I really love the moments where Colin is allowed to really play up Merlin’s confidence. He comments on her sneaking off in the middle of the night and uses his skills to launch a snake at the witch’s horse, injuring her leg, in an effort to get her off their backs. Doesn’t work but Merlin means business; better watch out Morgana!

In the labyrinth of hidden tunnels, the team gets captured thanks to Morgana and thrown into cells. Gwen harbors resentment towards her MIA brother — I really loved that we get to see Angel Coulby act out emotions other than “in love”. Merlin and Arthur work together to escape and free everyone but Arthur insists on going after the missing Morgana — followed by Merlin. He gets confronted by Morgause’s Wall of Fire which is promptly deflected by Merlin, knocking out everyone and eventually all safely return to Camelot.

This go ’round, the parts of the ep I enjoyed were:

  • King Cenred. What an evil SOB in black leather! Seems like Morgause doesn’t think he’s too shabby either with giving the other highly-suggestive stares and innuendo-laden phrases like “please me” — haha!
  • The return Merlin and Gwen’s friendship. The concern he has for her, making her tea and making sure she goes to Arthur for help; I love when they both have each other to lean on for support and comfort.
  • Every Merlin/Morgana confrontation — these two are SMOKING and it’s electric (boogie boogie boogie). I like it when Merlin gets tough and isn’t afraid to show Morgana exactly how he feels – dragging her through the tunnels was awesome….Arthur throwing her over his shoulder was even better!
  • Arthur and Merlin working together to escape — the grins! the shoving! These two always shine when they’re written as being equals
  • The last time there was a rescue mission involving Gwen, Lancelot was there to save her! (Edit – thanks Jen!) And when told her to run and save herself, she didn’t and came back for him protested and hesitated before declaring her undying love. Because that’s what you do when you love someone. You fight about not going. She didn’t do that for Arthur. Hmm. Methinks that one person feels more than the other does.
  • Elyan – he’s sticking around and not being killed off! He’ll hopefully bring some much needed interest to Gwen’s backstory that has nothing to do with romance.

And the not-so-enjoyable parts which included:

  • The Smirk of Evil from Morgana. Can the writers and/or director have Katie do something else other than smile like that when her evil plan of evilness is going well?
  • GWEN KNOWS HOW TO USE A SWORD WRITERS! Just as Elyan is a blacksmith’s son and has lots of practice with a sword, Gwen is a blacksmith’s daughter and has used one before — so why all of a sudden does she never get to pick one up to defend herself?
  • The ending Arthur/Gwen scene — didn’t mind that she came to bring the silk dresses as proof for their backstory but thought this probably could’ve been cut shorter (AND CUT THE FRAKKING VIOLINS!)
  • Not letting Merlin explain why he poisoned Morgana — she’s brought it up twice, let him tell her! Even if she wouldn’t believe him over her dear sister.
  • Inconsistency with the strength of Merlin’s magic: How strong is he now? Do we have any indication on new things he’s learned? No. One week he’s not strong enough to break Morgause’s spell (the chains from episode 3×02) and this week he’s strong enough to blast away her Wall of Fire. SHOW us instead of having to wonder what’s happened off-screen.

From the preview of next week’s episode, which brings back the dashing Gwaine (woo hoo!), it seems like the show might find a consistent tone. It’s Merlin to Arthur’s rescue as Morgana tries once more to become sole heir to the throne of Camelot.

Rating:

GS Reporter: Sharlene

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6 comments

  1. Alec /

    Based on this version, I DO feel that Gwen deeply likes Arthur (Arthur has saved her for numerous times), but not in love with him. But the A/G moments in this episode is O.K. compared to 306 which totally let me hide behind my cushion to see that HUGE angst. Everything about them is too designed and too organized.

    • lightstarangel /

      Agreed Alec – she loves Arthur, she’s in love with Lancelot — at least that’s the way I see it 🙂 I can’t take the violins — no more violins! Haha.

  2. Jen /

    Loved the review (especially the argument that Gwen can use a sword — so true!), but I have one correction. You wrote, “The last time there was a rescue mission involving Gwen, Lancelot was there to save her! And when told her to run and save herself, she didn’t and came back for him. Because that’s what you do when you love someone,” but in that episode she DOES run, she just gets caught. The only difference between the two scenarios is that this time around she’s successful (we have no way of knowing what would’ve happened if she had escaped back in 2×04, though knowing Gwen she would’ve waited again because that’s just in her nature).

    • lightstarangel /

      Hey Jen! Thanks for commenting! And you are correct! (I’m streaming the episode now because it was driving me bananas not to find out..hah) However, I can say that she does protest and hesitate in leaving Lancelot, whereas she doesn’t even blink when it comes to Arthur. I shall correct that in my review 🙂

      • Jen /

        I’d say “doesn’t even blink” would be a bit of an overstatement. LOL. She definitely protests, albeit not in as dramatic a fashion, and in the end she DOES wait for him (she just makes sure her brother is out of harm’s way first).

        I think it’s essential to keep in mind that she also has Elyan to look after. It’s not just a simple matter of “oh, Arthur’s throwing himself into danger, but I’m going to prance off and save myself.” It’s also important to remember that in 2×04 Gwen was convinced that no on was coming after her and that she would die, which really heightened her emotions when Lancelot came through. It also became a situation of both only having the other to rely on and believing that one, if not both, would die in the next several minutes. In this episode, however, Gwen not only has her brother to keep her company, she also has every faith in the world that Arthur will find a way to save them (as evidenced by her pleased-but-not-at-all-surprised smile when he frees them). That “do or die” mentality — and the heightened emotions that comes with it — didn’t factor in for her this time around.

        Then again, I tend to over-analyze the hell out of things. 😉

      • lightstarangel /

        To each her own!

        I can see your POV however I see the situations as almost the same. Both were definitely do-or-die situations of heightened emotion and I didn’t see her as being worried about Elyan’s safety at that point. Ultimately for me, I just don’t find the depth of Arthur and Gwen’s feelings believable, and moments like this one only reinforce that. 🙂

        In any case, I hope you enjoyed the episode — next week looks to be a great one!

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