TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 5, Episode 4 – Another’s Sorrow

Following three strong episodes, “Another’s Sorrow” takes on a more serious note as Princess Mithian returns to ask her former fiance to help find her father. At least that’s how it appears to Arthur but we all know when a crow caws, it’s bad news for all!

Morgana & a man walk into a throne room where two figures are kneeling – Princess Mithian & her father King Rodor are being held captive by King Odin in a bid to lure out Arthur and murder him. Come nightfall, Mithian and her older companion arrive in Camelot just in time for the young woman to fall over unconscious. With Gaius attending to her, Merlin informs Arthur of Mithian’s condition. We get the first of a few great moments for Merlin where Arthur listens to what his servant has to say – even if it’s done with a side of sarcasm sometimes. Colin Morgan really gets to shine and plays Merlin with more authority (status aside) that translates into respect from Arthur and other characters.

The old woman, Hilda, is revealed to be Morgana – along with bone-crunching sound effects. Ouch. However, her transformation isn’t as smooth as Merlin’s – the magic she uses takes a lot out of her. The next day in the throne room, Mithian tearfully relates her “story” to Arthur & Gwen. With a look from Hilda, she goes all Star Wars with an “Arthur you’re my only hope!”

Arthur doesn’t hesitate to help much to Gwen’s displeasure – the Queen doesn’t voice her unease with their plan. The first of Mithian’s many escape/warning attempts occurs when she overhears Hilda chanting but is stopped. Merlin appears with a sleeping draught and notices their odd behavior.

For whatever reason, Gaius has been doubting all of Merlin’s gut instincts lately, and it’s a bit tired this time too. Speaking of doubt, Gwen questions Arthur’s motives for helping Mithian. But if you’re hoping there’s a bit of jealousy, think again. She asks if his reasons are really to help Nemeth or for his own revenge.

What? Since when did revenge factor in the mix? Maybe I missed something but either Gwen is a saint and not going all green-eyed about Mithian or Arthur is very very good at hiding his thirst for Odin’s blood. The same can’t be said for King Odin, who receives the note Morgana sent and is ready to get revenge for his son’s death back in series 2. We get some more escape attempts and find that the princess isn’t just doing this out of fear but has also been tagged with a magical bracelet that causes immense pain when Morgana turns it “on” with magic. Gwen finds them this time but doesn’t find anything odd afoot.

Merlin once again tries to warn Arthur off the mission but Arthur refuses to listen to Merlin’s intuition. Like the last Harry Potter book, we’re off to the forest where I good chunk of the story takes place. And if you thought the same thing as me – I wanted less of that part of the book and less of it here too. Conflicting accounts from Mithian as well as Hilda’s surprisingly good health despite her age adds to Merlin’s suspicions but still no confirmation yet.

Later, in another fireside scene, Merlin and Arthur have the repetitive “If you were in my shoes” conversation. Honestly, if Arthur’s after revenge, he sure doesn’t seem like it. Finally, we get Mithian’s one last attempt to warn the others and it does turn out that she should’ve listened to Morgana’s warnings. The witch catches him off-guard and chokes him into unconsciousness with magic.

Arthur stubbornness must be how his vengeance shows as the King refuses to see reason and pushes on to Nemeth, leaving Merlin behind with Gaius and Gwaine. There’s a touching scene with Merlin and Gaius as the latter tries using magic to rouse his unconscious charge. Gaius’ words about his heart not being able to take something like that again sounds like foreshadowing about the physician’s demise.

Merlin & Gwaine race to warn the others but they’re too late – Arthur has walked right into Morgana’s trap. As he’s about to be killed, a hidden Merlin, sword in hand creates an earthquake, giving the others a chance to escape. He’s not that useless with a sword either, saving and surprising Arthur then blasting Morgana back, trapping her in the tomb.

Most of Odin’s men are taken care of but Merlin & Arthur eventually find themselves trapped. With nowhere to run, Arthur defeats Odin in a swordfight. About to end his life, Merlin stops his friend and gives advice to bring the vision of a united Albion closer to fruition. After Arthur tersely gives several chances to take the deal, Odin finally accepts. A truce is struck and both Bradley James & Morgan do a fantastic job in this scene.

In a nice nod, Arthur compliments Merlin on his good advice – even if its not to his face. But I have a feeling even if he heard the King’s words, it wouldn’t have mattered as the sorcerer is concerned at how much Morgana’s power has grown. Isn’t Merlin supposed to be the most powerful sorcerer to ever exist? I didn’t think Morgana would be able to ever reach the level of power that Merlin has. I smell a retcon!

Additionally, I was surprised at how Mithian was written this go around as she was shown as such a confident woman able to deal with difficult circumstances last series. Even with her father being held captive, I didn’t think she’d be shown as such a victim but we also didn’t see her reaction to magic. Regardless, I didn’t quite believe the princess could be so helpless – Janet Montgomery did a good job of showing just how afraid she was. Next week looks to ramp the action back up – let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Rating: 3/5
Reporter: Sharlene

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