TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 4, Episode 6 – A Servant of Two Masters

When I first heard the description for “A Master of Two Servants”, I was a bit appalled that Merlin, who is apparently the most powerful warlock in the land seemingly being so easily overtaken by Morgana’s magic. But all is not what it seems for Morgana or Arthur. As oblivious as the young King can be, he’s not blind to how much he values Merlin’s friendship. The old adage of “you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone” has never been truer.

The writers do a great job of showcasing the entire ensemble cast – a shift from focusing on just Arthur or Merlin in turn. Hats off to Colin Morgan, Angel Coulby and Bradley James for their fantastic comedic timing – this definitely is one of my top 5 Merlin episodes to date.

On the way to signing a peace treaty, Arthur, Merlin and the Knights are riding through the Valley of the Fallen Kings via a “secret” route. You know that when someone says something like that, it’s very much not a secret! Lo and behold, our motley crew are immediately ambushed. In trying to protect Arthur, Merlin fails to see a bandit coming up behind him and is slashed across the chest. Arthur turns and looks on in horror as Merlin lies motionless on the ground.

We find that Arthur and Merlin have been separated from the knights as Arthur drags the injured warlock into hiding. Merlin’s still conscious but in obvious pain. The wound is pretty bad but Arthur makes light of it to make Merlin feel better. The two banter about being heroes and glory after death but Arthur sobers quickly. He speaks his most honest thoughts about Merlin to date – by praising his friend and calling him brave. The next morning, the duo are awakened by noise from the bandits still searching for them. Merlin tells Arthur to leave him as he’ll just slow him down and Arthur steadfastly refuses. As they try to make their escape through a narrow gap, Merlin watches helplessly as bandits begin to consume Arthur. As always, Merlin sacrifices his own safety by causing a rockfall to save Arthur while he yells out for his friend.

Morgana takes the unconscious Merlin prisoner and the chemistry between the two sorcerers is electric. Even when captured, Merlin hasn’t lost his fighting spirit and Morgana looks like a cat that was just given a new toy to play with. He thinks she’s going to kill him, but she’s got other plans in store while she’s got him tied up. If your mind went there, it’s not my fault!

Back in Camelot, Arthur is frantic and dispatches guards to scour the forest to find his missing friend. Upon returning at nightfall, Agravaine lies saying that they didn’t find anyone while handing Arthur bloody scraps of Merlin’s neckerchief. Arthur refuses to believe it and talk turns to how their route was discovered in the first place. Sir Leon speaks the obvious – there’s a traitor in their midst. Of course, everyone misses Gaius’ pointed looks at Agravaine.

In Morgana’s hovel, she asks Merlin why he’s loyal to Arthur while she prepares him for whatever spell she’s going to cast. They converse about loyalty which illustrates that Morgana’s rage is not just about wanting the throne but in her eyes feeling betrayed by the people she was loyal to. The witch brings forth a hydra-like creature called a Formorroh – used to take over one’s mind until they have only one thought running through their mind. She cuts off one of their heads; it bites Merlin sliding under his skin as Morgana states his mission. Kill Arthur.

But not everyone thinks Merlin is still alive. Gwen selfishly and vehemently protests against Arthur going after Merlin. She only acquiesces when Gwaine informs her that he won’t be alone. Some friend she is. Barring that, the beginning of the touching and comedic moments are upon us and boy are they good ones! It starts Arthur’s new manservant actually doing a good job and confusing the poor King, who only wants his friend back.

In the forest, Arthur & Gwaine hear a noise –  it’s Merlin stumbling out of the mud. He smiles wide and Arthur hugs his friend in happiness. Upon their return, Gaius notices Merlin’s odd behavior right away when he matter-of-factly tells the old man that his cooking skills are atrocious and he should stick to making potions! Then in a very suspicious way, he asks what the strongest poison in the lab is (it’s Akanite) as he had an “opportunity” to poison the bandits food. He says he should keep some on him at all times, “just in case”!

Assassination Attempt #1: Poisoning. Merlin prepares Arthur’s food in the kitchens pouring the poison all over it and being rude to the cooks and  Gwaine. When he arrives at Arthur’s chambers, he walks in on Gwen, who brought Arthur his lunch. He’s quite incensed with her – claiming that she takes every opportunity to be by his side and that she’ll be pouring his bath water next!  Arthur (bless him) figures that it’s a misunderstanding and Merlin accuses him of always taking Gwen’s side (it’s kind of true). However to keep suspicion at bay, he makes it seem as though he just wants to resume his normal duties.

In his anger and haste, Merlin dumped the poisoned food in the pig pen which inevitably kills all the pigs. Gwen sees and realizes it’s Arthur lunch from earlier in the day. She brings some of the food to Gaius for testing; they both realize that Merlin isn’t himself and is trying to kill Arthur.

Assassination Attempt #2: Crossbow. Merlin tries the armory for another way to kill Arthur. He gets Leon to help point out the best weapon for “killing a fly or possibly a human”. As is with boys and their toys, he enthusiastically gives Merlin information about the most powerful crossbow they have. When asked what the crossbow is for, Merlin flippantly replies “to kill Arthur!” which Leon laughs off as he thinks Merlin is joking. In Arthur’s chambers he rigs the crossbow so that it’ll launch when Arthur opens the wardrobe. It works when he tests it but when Arthur opens the wardrobe? Nothing!

Assassination Attempt #3: Ceremonial Sword. Arthur asks Merlin to get his ceremonial sword which gives him the idea to use it. Just as he’s about to swing it, Gaius & Gwen barge in causing Merlin to knock himself into the bedpost! While he’s stunned, Gwen takes a metal pitcher and lops him upside the head, knocking him out fully. Arthur thinks Merlin knocking himself out is par for the course and they remove the Fomorroh head from Merlin’s neck.

Before we get to the next attempt, Arthur has tried to deduce who the traitor is and miracle of miracles, he walks through Agravaine’s door and stares. Dun dun dun! After a moment, Agravaine realizes someone is there. Uh oh, Uncle Smarmy – I think your nephew is on to you. Arthur voices his suspicions as Agravaine tries to weasel his way out of it by invoking Ygraine’s name, saying he would never do anything to betray her. He again tries to throw someone else under the bus and this time it’s Gaius. I don’t think that Arthur actually believes this but we’ll find out soon enough!

Assassination Attempt #4: Acid Bath. To everyone’s horror, the Fomorroh head grows back. Gwen & Gaius hurry towards Arthur’s chambers, where Merlin is preparing the bath with acid while Arthur undresses. She takes the handy pitcher and knocks him upside the head again. Gaius catches him, hiding behind the bedpost curtain. Arthur stumbles out…well, naked and is startled by Gwen. He grabs a pillow to cover his unmentionables while Gwen stammers trying to get him to not try the bath by saying there’s something wrong with it. Arthur crabwalks to the screen.

Paralyzing the snake, Merlin is back to himself and transforms into Dragoon to kill the mommy Fomorroh. Funny moment between Dragoon and the Knights. Morgana walks in on Dragoon searching and is so startled that she just backtracks right out the door again slamming it shut! She’s terrified as he his the sorcerer from her vision. A magical fist fight ensues with Dragoon winning and destroying the creature for good.

Of course, while Merlin was gone, where did Gaius tell Arthur his manservant was?  At the tavern for two days! His punishment is to be trained by George. Arthur grins at his friend’s obvious discomfort over having to spend time with George — Bradley and Colin have such fabulous comedic timing. Agravaine rides likes the wind to Morgana’s hut; not finding her inside he goes outside and sees her looking pretty dead. He looks like he’s either sweating or crying but either way, he carries her off. What did you think of the episode? Vote below:

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  1. Neil Jefferson /

    Rather strange that Merlin has not mentioned that Agravaine is the traitor as he saw him coming out of Morgana’s hut!

    • Sharlene Mousfar /

      Agreed! Unless they’re saving that revelation for later to up the drama factor – no one tells Arthur anything!

      • sd /

        He can’t say that he has been following Agravaine, plus Merlin is still a servant, what real proof does he have? He also doesn’t know that Arthur is suspicious. It is obvious to us, but when you think about the status of each character and what they all know about each other it makes things more complicated.

  2. wanda rodriguez /

    Hmmmm, didn’t think it was sweat, looked like an emotional reaction from Agravaine…wonder if they are building up to some kind of surprise revelation on the Morganna / Agravaine alliance.

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