TV Review: Camelot Episodes 8 and 9- Igraine and The Battle of Bardon Pass


My review of the last two episodes before the finale, which aired Friday, June 10th on Starz…Caution: Potential Spoilers Ahead.

Episode 8: Igraine

Review:

At the end of episode 7, the Lady Igraine was captured and locked up at Castle Pendragon, leaving Morgan free to ride back to Camelot with Arthur wearing Igraine’s face.  She’s determined to bring Camelot down from the inside by using Guinevere to drive a wedge between Arthur and Leontes.

To this point, Igraine has played a few different roles.  She’s Arthur’s mother, trying to build a relationship with the son she only recently met.  She’s Merlin’s love interest; she’s slowly been wearing down his defenses, getting him to open up and hide less.  And finally, she’s been the general castle confidante, making sure people are comfortable and that they have someone to talk to.  But even with all these roles, she’s always been off to the side, offering support without really taking any of the attention for herself.

Claire Forlani is fantastic in this episode.  She plays the two roles incredibly well.  As Morgan-playing-Igraine, she really captures the dual aspects of Morgan’s personality. She’s cunning and ruthless, not-so-subtly pressuring Guinevere into telling her what happened with Arthur, and then even less subtly “accidentally” mentioning it to Leontes.  But as I’ve mentioned in the past, I think that Morgan has another side to her, and we see that here as well with the little orphan boy who’s taken a shine to Igraine, forcing Morgan to keep up appearances.  But her interactions with him don’t feel forced, and while she covers up the real cause for his tragic death, she is genuinely upset by it.

The line is a bit blurrier when it comes to her interaction with Merlin.  Merlin and Igraine have been building toward…something for the entire season.  It finally happens here, and while it could be seen as Morgan manipulating Merlin for her own means, I actually think that there is history between the two of them and she is not as unaffected as she’d like everyone to think.  The lovely Ms. Forlani does a great job showing that ambiguity.

As herself trapped in Castle Pendragon, she’s insistent that someone will come and save her, but she doesn’t sit around waiting for it to happen.  She’s determined and persistent, a far cry from the woman who said she never questioned her king in the first episode.  Vivian helps indirectly, allowing her to escape rather than stopping her when she sees her leaving the castle.  There is definite tension between Vivian and Sybil throughout the episode, and you’re left with the impression that Sybil is definitely driving her own agenda, while Vivian is completely loyal to Morgan, and Morgan alone.

Arthur’s off hunting with his knights the entire time, so there’s not much worth mentioning there, except that Morgan’s black wolf appears to Leontes in the middle of the night.  Given the goings-on back at the castle, one can’t help but take that for a bad omen.

Episode Rating: 4.5/5

 

Episode 9: The Battle of Bardon Pass

This is a very good penultimate episode.  It tracks two main plot lines: Arthur and his men defending Bardon Pass from raiders sent by Morgan in an effort to undermine Arthur, and Merlin and Igraine’s trip to Castle Pendragon to confront Morgan for her recent deception.

It’s not as simple as all that, of course.  Right before Arthur and the knights depart for Bardon Pass, the truth about he and Guinevere comes out when Leontes confronts her about what he heard from Morgan.  Merlin stops him from confronting Arthur right then, but it leads to a tense atmosphere when they all finally ride out.

This is very much one of those episodes where Arthur gets knocked off his pedestal, and it happens in grand fashion.  Not only is Leontes angry with him, but when Gawain and Kay find out, they turn their backs on him as well.  Kay even goes so far as to tell him that not only is he not a worthy king, but he’s also not a worthy brother.  All of this happens after they arrive at Bardon Pass, surrounded by enemies.  Definitely not Arthur’s greatest moment.

I have to give Jamie Campbell Bower credit.  He’s done a very good job growing the character from the Arthur he was before he met Merlin into the Arthur he is now.  When we first met him he was rolling around in the hay with Kay’s girlfriend without any remorse whatsoever, even when confronted by Kay.  This time when Kay confronts him, though, his remorse is palpable.  Regardless of what Kay says, he’s not the same person he was in the first episode, or even in the third episode, when he slept with Guinevere.  When Kay is injured toward the end of the episode, Arthur’s main priority is to get him away from there.  He sends everyone away, but he won’t retreat and leave the village unprotected.  He’s a king protecting his people.

We discover that Morgan orchestrated the attack itself, as well as planning additional attacks, in an effort to undermine faith in Arthur.  By setting him up as incapable of protecting the realm and herself as someone people can turn to, she’s done a nice job.  She’s also made it a point to shed some doubt on Merlin’s character, suggesting that he’s a rogue sorcerer controlling Arthur.  When Merlin and Igraine arrive to confront her about her deception, it’s not surprising that the people don’t believe them.  She imprisons them both, and then sets out with them for Camelot, so they can answer for their “crimes.”

Despite the situation he finds himself in, and despite what he discovered about Arthur and Guinevere, Merlin remains steadfast in his belief that Arthur is the key to turning the people against Morgan.  But with Arthur still alone in Bardon Pass, a lot of ground will have to be covered to get there.

My review of the finale, “Reckoning,” will be up in a few days.

Rating: 4/5
GS Reporter: Mirjana

 

 

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