Merlin series 5 episode 8 review: The Hollow Queen

Review Dave Adamson 24 Nov 2012 - 21:00

This week's episode was Merlin at its most adult. Here's Dave's review of The Hollow Queen...

This review contains spoilers.

5.8 The Hollow Queen

This week's events began with Gwen pardoning a young boy in the middle of the night after wandering around with Sir Leon, then returning all loved up to the arms of Arthur who has romantically made the bed - though, it’s probably going to have been Merlin who did the work! Nothing unusual there - aside from Gwen wandering around in the middle of the night and being far too amorous - so it is somewhat fortunate that the boy is seeking Merlin's help, leading the wizard on a quest to help the Druid's sister. 

Arthur prepares for the arrival of the fearsome Sarrum of Amata and isn't too pleased that his only servant is off who-knows-where whilst the King attempts to sign a peace treaty with the vicious visitor. Arthur realises how useless at day-to-day activities he is sans servant, so is forced to recruit help from Gaius with comical consequences.  The physician may not be any good at dressing the King, but he can offer counsel on the reputation of Sarrum. 

Daegel the Druid Boy is obviously not what he seems as Morgana reveals her latest dastardly plan; poisoning and leaving the wizard for dead. Thankfully, her decision to pay off Daegal could be Merlin's saving grace - if only she'd killed him! 

As Sarrum and Arthur discuss how Morgana was captured by Sarrum, we discover that it was the love for her young dragon that kept her alive and the suffering that they both endured twisted them. It is all too much for Gwen as she skulks away to meet her new mistress.

Morgana plans to set Sarrum against the King in an epic power play that will dispose of Arthur and Sarrum, installing Gwen as Queen and leaving Camelot to Morgana. Unfortunately for Gwen, Sarrum sees an opportunity to dispose of Arthur and the Queen, if only he can get the timing right; of course, he has no knowledge that Morgana is involved in all this treachery. Thankfully, Daegel’s return allows Merlin to heal and together they save the day as the layers of betrayal slowly begin to peel away. 

The Hollow Queen isn’t an episode about magic or fantasy - though both obviously feature. This story is more about the characters and politics of Albion, though not in such depth that you feel you’re watching an episode of Game of Thrones.  Hopefully, the death of Sarrum will have consequences further down the line for Arthur and it won’t end up being a throwaway appearance. 

John Shrapnel's role as Sarrum is more than just a two-dimensional guest of the week appearance. He turns in a performance of power and control that wouldn't have been out of place in a political drama thanks to a rivetting script from Julian Jones. 

Colin Morgan gives us a real sense that the end may be near, helped by the performance of Alfie Stewart as Daegel, caught in the middle of things far beyond his understanding. We learn a little more about why Merlin does what he does, though there’s nothing earth shattering. Daegel’s fate isn’t a surprise, nor is the character's redemption, but they’re effectively handled and even Merlin doesn’t seem to get too emotional at the end. 

The women have all the power in this episode. We have Angel Coulby continuing to shine with the dual role of loving wife and cold, calculated Queen alongside the always excellent Katie McGrath. More could have been made of Morgana’s suffering at the hands of Sarrum, but hopefully this will, as with many things, have a pay-off in the near future. 

Here is Merlin at arguably its most grown up. Gwen's duplicitous character leads her to ever darker places, whilst Gaius and Merlin continue to be suspicious of her activities but lack the evidence necessary to do anything about it. The King suffers another assault on his reign and the good guys go on to fight another day. 

Morgana will not be pleased...

Read Dave's review of the previous episode, A Lesson In Vengeance, here.

Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.

Disqus - noscript

9- Merlin knows he must act fast before Morgana’s twisted control over Gwen gets further out of hand. But only the most powerful magic can save the Queen and this will not be easy, even for Merlin. As the High Priestess tightens her grip on Camelot, one thing is clear - she will not give up her puppet without a fight.

10-Morgana leads a terrifying manhunt in pursuit of her old foe Alator of the Catha, for she knows without doubt that he can tell her exactly where to find Emrys. Merlin’s life has never been in more danger, so when the mysterious Finna offers to help him, is he right to trust her? Or will he find himself cornered with nowhere to run?

11-Mordred finds himself torn between loyalty and love, but little does he realise that the path he chooses will shape Camelot's destiny. As the drums of war beat even louder, a desperate Merlin feels trapped by the cruel circle of fate - is he powerless to stop his dreams of Albion from crumbling to dust?

Good ep, nice to see Merlin out on his own a bit, though I did miss the Merlin/Arthur banter.
Kudos, as ever, to Colin Morgan. Merlin in quite a bad way always chokes me up just a little. And Bad Ass Merlin is always welcome...everything feels a bit more dangerous and important.
Kudos also to Angel Coulby. She is doing such an amazing job with this story, it's great to watch.

Poor, poor Aithusa. It's a shame that the Sarrum didn't last past this ep, I would have liked to see Morgana get a chance to have some proper revenge there. Not to mention what Merlin might have done to him for what he did to Aithusa. Would have been an interesting thread to follow. Oh well.

Arthur's chest!! Aww, it's been a while! Remember, back in the day, nary an ep would go by without a shot of shirtless Arthur. True, the knights do their fair share now, but it's a staple of Merlin, just like evil people wearing black, Morgana's evil smirk, and the dramatic way Gaius says 'sorcery'. It's all part of the package!! ;)

His complete inability to dress himself is sort of adorable. As was his worry about Merlin, in so far as we saw it...

Between Merlin's 'This ends now' serious face right at the end, and the teaser for next week, it does look like it's about to get very interesting.

At the end Artur asked Merlin about a girl he supposedly met...
But Merlin indeed met a girl. And what a girl Morgana was! :) I'd like to think of it as a kinda hint of future relationships between these two most powerful sorcerers.

As for the episode itself, I liked it. There was more action in it. And I really liked Merlin's "If you value your lives, you won't take another step". It remind me of that Merlin who beat Nimueh and who is known as the most powerful possessor of the magic on the earth.

it's sad nonetheless that the Merlin being presented now is FAR from the "Merlin who beat Nimueh". Him being the "most powerful" is all but lip-service and not deservedly shown (no budget/idea/vision for better, spectacular magic?). The writers had only a myopic vision on what's make for an interesting Merlin - i.e, he can't change, his character is limited, he don't deserve growth, personal happiness and somebody to be there for him (else, they will be dead or gone in a blink). The writer's so smug in keeping him inept and eternally miserable - it's almost like an unbreakable creed.

no better end in sight ha? Only bitterness for the fans hoping for an indeed magical show, but only end up being slapped on the head repeatedly on the fact that there's nothing really magical to see - just like Arthur being blindsided endlessly for what it should've been if Merlin's magic is revealed. Sadly, the show in itself can not be proudly recommended to others except primarily for Colin Morgan's brilliance (and by extension the rest of the cast) and nothing more.

I have very mixed feelings baout this episode
I did like the episode for some of its content:

- Merlin reacting much more grown up to Daegal's request. 2 seasons ago he would have immediately rushed away to help. Now he was measured and thought about it.
- Merlin acting far more 'bad -ass' (as they call it), being prepared to do whatever
-The Sarrum was a great baddie - chilling with every look - I loved him. Shame he's gone! As for the boy: he was a goner as soon as he helped Merlin.
- last but not least Colin's brilliant depiction of Merlin's suffering and his determination to 'do his job'
- even more evil Gwen.
- finding out what Morgana's weakness was (I was surpised it was not DARK chocolate :))
- Arthur not coping without Merlin :)

What I did NOT like:
- no major movement in the story arc.
- Gwen asking Merlin to run a hot bath
- Merlin serving Arthur and Gwen at the dinner tabel!!!!
- Arthur never really insisting to know how Merlin got injured
- Arthur being too stupid to dress himself
- Arthur calling Merlin an 'idle brained idiot' for no reason

Final verdict: a lot of suspense and good drama leading absolutely nowhere.

At last here is an episode which felt like 'Merlin'. I hope next episodes will get better and as always Colin & co. (Arthur, Gaius) are great :).

Another Week and this Show is slipping past the shadow of what it once was. sorry i just dislike the Gwen Story i see no benefit to have turned her evil makes me sick. sad news today the show is done end of this season i will hang on and prepare for a train wreck end. i will eat crow if they even wrap up half the stuff nicely.

Dan Kirkman Bellingham Wa

Totally bored with Arthur complaining about Merlin being stupid....

I mean how much longer could they drag that out?

As for Morgana trapping Merlin to kill him , getting the chance and opting to poison him instead of finishing him off there and then was not very clever scripting.
Obvious padding and a season space filler.
It's lost it's way, the end will be welcome.

Sponsored Links