TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 4, Episode 8 – Lamia

It’ll be a short review this week but that’s fine because there were only a handful of moments to enjoy in “Lamia” – one of them being Angel Coulby’s Gwen do more than be a love interest. The character showed strength and courage as she had in the first series. The other was well-deserved recognition from Gaius in Merlin’s abilities as a physician; the latter’s confidence was refreshing to see. Let’s hope they continue that for the remaining episodes!

When old friend of Gwen’s shows up on her doorstep, it’s not a happy reunion. She’s told of a mysterious illness in the distant village of Longstead and of an evil presence lurking about. Gaius, unable to leave Camelot, sends Merlin in his stead to investigate.

But when the knights rescue a damsel-in-distress on their way home, things start to turn ugly. Far from home and with no one to trust, Merlin becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse – and it’s up to Arthur to find his friends before it’s too late.

The title of the episode, “Lamia” is the name of our monster-of-the-week and actually really isn’t a name at all. It’s the type of creature she is; a half-woman, half-serpent who can suck the life out of men with a single embrace. She is the cause of the mysterious “illness” affecting the village of Longstead, home to old friend’s of Gwen’s.

Arthur agrees to help in any way that he can but Gaius is unable to leave Camelot due to a sweating sickness running amok. Suggesting that Merlin go in his place, a skeptical Arthur’s eventually allows it and Merlin, Gwen, Mary and the knights ride to the village. I appreciated Elyan standing up for Merlin when the village elder scoffs at the fact that a “boy” came instead of Gaius. The confidence that Merlin shows when he’s checking the victims is nice to see – he puts their unease to rest. However once they leave the sick room, Merlin uses magic to heal and is unable to. The only cause could be sorcery.

On the way back home, the group stumbles upon bandits harassing a young woman and come to her rescue. But she’s no ordinary woman as we soon see the knights turn on Merlin and Gwen – telling them their opinions mean nothing as they’re servants. When Merlin and crew do not arrive home, it triggers warning signs in Arthur, who sets off to find his friends along with Gaius and his uncle. The focus on the knights is nice for a change, they’ve been pretty underutilized so far – but it doesn’t do much for their characters as they’re under a spell most of the time.

Overall, the episode centers around the knights vying for Lamia’s attention because they’re enchanted while being cruel and mean to Merlin and Gwen in turn. When the Lamia makes Elyan her first victim, there’s some nice recognition of the fact that Gwen and Elyan are siblings. But even trying to argue with the knights is no use as they refuse to listen to anything the other two, who are left unaffected. Merlin because he’s a warlock, Gwen because she’s a woman.

In order to make sure Arthur finds them, Gwen leaves strips of her tunic tied around trees – it works! There’s a moment where Gwen wonders why Merlin isn’t under the spell and I wonder if the next person who finds out his secret will be Gwen. The group end up in a castle, which is really a trap so Lamia can finish off the knights as her midnight snack.

A fight ensues between Merlin and the Lamia – the confident warlock essentially tells her to bring it on but it’s not he who fells the tentacled monster. It’s Gwen (and Arthur who arrives in the nick of time!)! Nice reminder that she knows her way with a sword. There’s some cheeky banter between the king and his manservant; there’s also an uncomfortable scene where Arthur praises Gwen for her bravery – not sure she needs it as I think she’s confident in her own right but we’ll go with it for now.

Overall, this was a bit of a wasted episode save for the moments with Gwen and Merlin. When a series only has 13 episodes, having fillers that don’t move the overarching plot is less acceptable. Really looking forward to next week’s episode that sees the return of an old friend and some juicy bits of Arthurian legend unfold! What did you think of the episode? Vote below:

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One comment

  1. archaeologistD /

    I agree that it was a bit of a wasted episode. I did love the competent physician Merlin and how he’s growing into that role (although I worry that he’ll become like Gaius was for Uther – there’s a bit of a chilling similarity there). I also liked that Gwen finally got to do something other than be beautiful and Arthur’s love interest. I felt it moved the story arcs along but wasn’t that strong an episode. It would have been more fun if Lamia had changed her appearance with each knight but it might have been difficult to do in terms of filming.

    Anyway, considering how strong this series has been, I’m willing to forgive them this one.

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