TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 4, Episode 7 – The Secret Sharer

A repetitive theme runs through this week’s episode: bad, uninformed decision-making. Arthur’s development takes a bit of a nosedive as the young king once again ignores his intuition and trusts the wrong person. Meanwhile, Morgana’s mounting fear of Emrys exposes her to increased influence from the slimy Agravaine.

She’s desperate to find a way out of her eventual death at Emrys’ hand and in an attempt to alter her future, she forms an alliance with the mysterious Alator (guest star Gary Lewis), hoping that he will provide her with the answers she seeks. But for both Pendragon siblings, betrayal is the flavor of the day as truths are revealed about who their friends really are.

In the aftermath, neither is left with a clear understanding of where loyalties lie but only more questions.

We open with Agravaine being creepily affectionate towards an unconscious Morgana after her fight with Emrys. She’s having another vision about the old wizard and startles awake with both try to figure out who Emrys’ source of information is. In Agravaine’s faux “I can’t believe it!” moment, he pins the blame on Gaius as pretending he’s just thought of the physician for the first time. Morgana sets about a plan to kidnap and torture the information out of the old man. In order to do so, she enlists the services of a mysterious warrior priest who has a reputation for getting the truth.

Back within the walls of the castle, Merlin attempts to prepare Arthur for a busy day. However, the sleepy king is reluctant to leave the comfort of his bed and questions Merlin’s actions. The latter starts listing off all the things that need to get done: a bath, breakfast (Arthur gets a scone stuffed in his mouth), practice time for a speech about polishing with innuendo-laden dialogue…etc. Arthur grouses that he has alone time and burrows back under the covers. We all know how this is going to end and comically, Merlin drags Arthur out of bed and onto the floor (blankets and all) with a yelp.

Eventually, they continue their morning routine when there’s a knock at the door from who else? Agravaine. He wants to speak to Arthur privately as we know he’s going to attempt to refocus Arthur’s attentions on who the traitor is. Arthur defends Gaius when his uncle questions about suspects – calling him a friend and loyal servant to both Arthur and the late Uther. The wily man hammers at Arthur’s weaknesses: loyalty to family and his duty to Camelot as well as alluding to Gaius’ former use of magic. In doing so, Arthur questions his own judgement again and reluctantly agrees to a ‘little talk’ with Gaius in order to determine the old man’s loyalty. It also confirms that at least for now, that he no longer suspects his uncle, which is disappointing as I thought Arthur was finally wising up to his uncle’s deviousness.

Morgana rides arrives in Agrabah a middle eastern bazaar – I didn’t know there was one so close to Camelot! Regardless, her trademark smirk makes an appearances as she pushes open a door to the home of the Katha. Morgana appears slightly fearful yet intrigued by Alator – a warrior priest who calls her the High Priestess of the True Goddess and last of her kind. Well, this guy doesn’t seem to know Merlin exists yet does he? I can’t tell what accent he’s speaking in (I half expected him to start singing the lyrics to “Arabian Nights” from Aladdin) but he questions why he should risk his neck and Morgana’s got an enticing offs; she’s willing to part with the healing bracelet that was given to her by Morgause. He recognizes it as a powerful magical artifact and agrees to kidnap Gaius for her.

In the council chambers, Arthur uncomfortably watches as his uncle questions the old man. To me, Arthur is not confident in his coerced decision to interrogate Gaius and that’s why he isn’t running the show himself. Agravaine pushes Gaius to reveal his thoughts on magic – the latter is not a good liar under pressure and the line of questioning raises Arthur’s dubious suspicions, much to his uncle’s silent joy. Nathaniel Parker plays up Agravaine’s smarminess to the Nth degree – it’s no wonder I can’t stand the character at all. The writers do Arthur a disservice by continually blinding him to the true nature of so many.

The first part of Agravaine’s plan is complete – tarnish Gaius’ reputation. Part two is plant evidence and reveal the physician’s “guilt” by making it appear as though he has escaped in the night when he’s really been taken by Alator and his half-naked manservant. Merlin realizes that Gaius is being set up but in the face of overwhelming “proof”, Arthur doesn’t believe him. Because of his affection towards Gaius, he does not allow Agravaine to send out a search party but to let him run. A tearful Merlin and heartbroken Arthur fight about Gaius’ motivation and it results in Arthur storming out, refusing to hear anymore of Merlin’s opinions.

Morgana holds Gaius prisoner in some mines and Johnny Cash Alator uses a ring of fire to sweat Emrys’ identity out of Gaius. Meanwhile, Merlin searches for proof that Agravaine’s the true traitor and sees the unique red dust from the mines on Agravaine’s boots. He tries to hide when the latter returns to his room but not before Agravaine sees Merlin sneaking out. In a panic, he checks under his bed and sees the boots have been disturbed.

With a little rudeness and eventual understanding, Merlin and Gwaine figure out where Gaius is hidden – but Agravaine is watching and hot on their heels. However, they’re too late as Gaius spills his guts about the prophecy to a shocked Alator. Alator betrays Morgana, knocks her out and explains to a confused Merlin that others like them having been hoping for the world he seeks to build with Arthur and would gladly give their lives to help him achieve it.

Returned home, Agravaine is forced to swallow his words and admit he was “mistaken” about Gaius. In their chambers, Merlin, who is sitting by Gaius’ bedside says he’s ashamed that he revealed Merlin’s secret but Merlin only cares about Gaius’ life and nothing more. Arthur walks into the room and offers an apology but Merlin refuses saying it’s not him that needs the apology. In what I think is the redeeming factor of the episode, Arthur and Gaius have a heart-to-heart – both Richard Wilson and Bradley James brilliantly showcase the familial affection the two characters have for one another – and hopefully this time, Arthur will learn from his second mistake.

Arthur owns up to the bad call but Gaius doesn’t let him off so easily – saying he’s watched Arthur since he was a baby and he should have known better. Arthur asks who abducted him but the aging physician doesn’t give up Agravaine. However, he does implicate Morgana. In an effort to course-correct Merlin’s attempts to show that magic is good, Gaius explains that Dragoon/Emrys did not kill his father; that Uther was dying and he tried everything to save him. I guess it’s too late to try & implicate Morgana without accusing Agravaine as well. He tries to impart that there are many people with different beliefs all trying to protect him and that one day, he will understand just how much they’ve done for him. He’s defending Merlin by trying to change Arthur’s views on magic.

We’ll have to wait and see on whether or not Gaius’ words have any impact on Arthur or if it’s too late to change his mind. What did you think of the episode? Vote below:

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  1. Please, don’t forget to mention Colin Morgan’s amazing acting in your reviews! I rewatched the scenes in which Merlin defends Gaius face to a sceptic Arthur and Merlin scenes with Gwen, with Gwaine and with Gaius at the end, and I was deeply charmed by Colin Morgan’s beautiful portrayal of Merlin’s emotions. He is such an amazing actor!

    • Sharlene Mousfar /

      He was indeed amazing and I really enjoyed his performance 🙂

  2. chimex d excellent /

    i am getting increasely interested in this series.i will feel bad when this series comes to a crenscendo

  3. ARGHHHH, was I the only one yelling at the screen in frustration when the katha secret teller person knocked morgana out, I sooooo want morgana to know merlin has magic shes always putting him down ‘just a servant, don’t mess with things you don’t understand’ shes always saying stuff like that and I’m just thinking merlins could soo kill your rubbish magic, he beat her when he was an old man so as young merlin he’d win easy, WHY CAN’T MORGANA KNOW? SHE CAN’T TELL ANYONE IN CAMELOT ANYWAY!! arghh the writers on merlin are soo frustrating. they take baby steps every episode, theres hardly ever any development.

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