Merlin Series 2, Episode 5: Beauty and the Beast Part 1

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This is a review, and thus abounds with spoilers. Read at your own peril.

Tonight’s episode of Merlin, “Beauty and the Beast,” wastes no time getting down to the beast bit. First things first, though: Jonas has ears that stick out more than Merlin’s do. It is actually quite impressive. He sits there stirring a clearly-empty cauldron and chanting words in a language near-dead before spooning some into a little clay vial in a way that clearly demonstrates the disgusting properties of the goop. Ew. And it probably tastes worse cold. Once again, Camelot, the Pendragons, and blah blah blah are being plotted against.
Enter Merlin and Gaius. For some bizarre reason, Merlin’s carrying more tiny barrels than an army of St. Bernards. He and Gaius have a lovely little banter about poor Merlin being overworked and under-stimulated before Merlin utters the magic words, “nothing interesting ever happens.” Poof, weird things start happening.
Look! A long-lost friend from a long-destroyed kingdom. What a coincidence! Uther is instantly smitten and the entire court (including Merlin) is ready to cater to her every whim. Everyone except Gaius. Though the old friend is sweet as pie, Gaius is unready to trust. Of course. Which he’s right to do. Of course. Because as soon as the lady and her servant are left alone, hunched goes her shoulders, stooped goes her posture and raw goes her voice. Honestly, I’d been wondering at how in the blazes Sarah Parish would pull it off, but this had me thinking she might just make it work. The attack of the food nearly sealed the deal.
Aw, and a Pendragon family dinner. I think this is the first one ever. It’s usually someone eating alone or just Uther and one guest. I do so love family dinners. Uther and Katrina give history, he flirts with her, Morgana snickers, and Arthur is disgusted. Good night, fake!tired Arthur! Good night, clearly-leaving-to-give-them-privacy!Morgana!
Merlin is singing Katrina’s praises, and Gaius is less than enthusiastic. Somehow, Merlin’s thick enough to completely miss it. He carries out Gaius’ errand to deliver an unspecified medicine, clearly meant to prove Katrina isn’t Katrina, with a bounce in his step. And Sarah Parish is once again a spectacular troll. (What is the proper way to flatter a troll?) Merlin knocks, but doesn’t wait. “At least I wasn’t undressing.” She’s got a point. Merlin, wait after you knock or there’s no point. But we’ve got our evidence now, and Merlin is being a little less thick.
Uther wooing. Oh dear. Uther is wooing. Or attempting to do so, in any case. With a morning ride and a picnic. And a smile. When does Uther ever smile? At least it gets Katrina out of her room so Merlin can do some unsnoopy snooping. Only to be caught by Jonas. Of course. With his usual pathetic excuses, Merlin tries to run away. Though he doesn’t get the chance to leave before finding Jonas had a tail. A strange green one.
Back to Uther’s wooing. He shares his love of Ygraine (awkward date talk, man!), and she tosses her food into the river while nodding understandingly. The flirting, the seducing, the overall sliminess Uther’s too blind and, dare I say, happy to see.
Whoops. Gaius, dropping hints around Uther just doesn’t work. Don’t you know this by now?
MORE flirting and wooing? What am I watching here? And Uther’s LOUNGING. He’s lounging on giant, fluffy pillows. Near a fire. It’s like a scene out of Ever After with an agenda. She’s laying it on kinda thick here. Aaaaaand….. Almost… not quite. Moving a little too fast for Uther there, Katrina. You need to slow down or he’ll, well, he probably won’t catch on unless you bash him in the face with your troll hands, but as that’s unlikely to happen, continue. Tomorrow.
Snoopy Merlin is snooping. Again. With a strange mirror trick. Merlin, that could end so badly. Never go all peeping-tom, especially in Arthur’s room. (By the way, Arthur, you need to put a shirt on. Something with embroidered flowers like Prince Caspian wears would do fine.) Why isn’t Arthur having a stronger reaction to catching his manservant in a supposedly-pervy situation? Aside from the fact that we need Merlin out of there quickly so we can discover that Katrina the troll is really sleeping in some nasty-smelling something somewhere under the castle. Full of flies. I’m fairly certain all that excessive gas was for the kids. I really hope it was. Because the rest of us don’t need it.
Pow-wow time with Gaius and Merlin. This is where we get our creature histories and the motives of our baddies. And hopefully come up with a plan. Gaius, when I said plan, I meant a good one. Telling Uther flat-out that Katrina is a troll is going to go down about as well as Merlin telling Arthur that Cedric was possessed. It’s a brick off the top of Big Ben. Though it’s adorable how you nearly lose your nerve. “Excuse me.” Yup. Not well. There’s little to no solid evidence, and you’re sounding crazier by the word, Gaius.
Troll-ish Sarah is back. I’m still impressed. Uh-oh. Merlin’s been discovered. But apparently troll lady’s got no worries ‘cause she’s got more magic up her sleeves. Great, just great. Uther’s toast.
See? Just when Merlin deserves to say I-told-you-so, he can’t. Though I admit that with his personality, it’s probably best we keep him from saying it. As much of an idiot as he really can be, he’s very oft right and thus saves the day at the end.
Whoa, creeptastic laughs. Cut to her seducing a flirty, smiling Uther again. He seems far too willing to be taken under her spell. Though he’s finally showing some sense. He may have ridiculed Gaius for his troll theories, but he’s at least following through on them. She’s having a few issues with his hesitance. Bestowing a gift on him will fix all. Especially when it’s magicked. I’m getting flashbacks to when Sophia had Arthur all brainwashed and red-eyed. And SWAK. I knew I never liked ‘sealed with a kiss,’ and now I know why.
Jonas and not-Katrina are celebrating their king of putty, ready to hand over his kingdom at the flick of her finger. Uther’s still smiling creepily. Time for another game plan. Gaius, Merlin, this better be an improvement on the last one. Magic in front of Uther? I wouldn’t call that an improvement, guys. I’m not worried because, well, this is Merlin and he can’t be deaded yet, but it’s still stupid.
She speaks, the necklace glows, he agrees. He’s totally in his own mind. Clearly.
Time to put the plan into action! Of course the plan involves magic he doesn’t have a proper handle on. And a spell he’s never tried before. Hehe. People are giving Uther funny looks for the bizarre things coming out of his mouth. Followed by shocked looks all around when he announces the wedding. Tomorrow. (I especially love the faces Katie McGrath makes.) Cue Merlin’s time to move. She’s having a little trouble holding it together, but Merlin isn’t really making much of an impact. Though why didn’t anyone notice her face looked like it had living things wiggling around in it?
Great. Now they want to take Merlin out of play. Fan-tas-tic. Though, this is Merlin, so no sweat. I know! Merlin can fix it all by telling Arthur! Except you sound crazy once again, Merlin. And perhaps a tad pervy. Again. Sad!Arthur, trying to convince himself that his father’s sudden marriage is good news. “Fruit-munching monster” was a great line.
Fake crying? Check. Sob story? Check. Conspiracy theory? Check. An offer to help? Check. TRAP! Merlin, it’s a simple check list. You need to remember these sorts of things or you will wind up dead, despite your name being the title. Remember Robin Hood? But, of course, you fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Which means you get troll-trapped (much worse than regular trapped) under the castle. Next time, at least leave Gaius a note so he knows to worry.
That’s a great audio montage of Merlin trying to magic his way out of his dilema.
Wedding time! Oh, don’t you just love weddings? Whoa, crazy Einstein/Shepherd Book hair. Trumpets, announcing Arthur and Uther. Is that a first? Morgana’s bow. She looks like she’s in the middle of the crowd, shouldn’t she be up front?
Whoop. Merlin’s out.
Back to the wedding. A friend keeps comparing this lovesick Uther to Uther on crack, and I have to agree. Gaius, why aren’t you disagreeing? Notice Morgana walking back to the crowd. I think she was supposed to be some sort of bridesmaid.
Oops. Merlin, you need to learn to deal with these sidekicks. Great flip, though the landing looked a tad painful.
Binding of the hands seems a little lower-class than you’d expect at a wedding involving a king.
Yay, Merlin! But you’re too late. They’re married. How scary is that? And scary is where we leave it as a cliffhanger. Great. Just fantastic.

All in all, I wouldn’t call this the greatest episode in all of Shine creation, but I enjoyed it. There were some less-than-favorite moments. I found the trolls intestinal issues entirely unnecessary, but I suppose they were there to make the kids laugh, as this is a family show. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect in the beginning, I was quite impressed with Sarah Parish. She displayed quite a range in acting for one episode. Uther, though absolutely ridiculous in his bizarre and unusual joy, made me smile. It’s weird enough that I don’t think I can take it for too much longer, but it’s a fun mix-it-up. Not my favorite episode of all time, but it was good.

GS Reporter: pfennig

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