This review contains spoilers.
Last week, I slammed Camelot for taking a potentially excellent premise and instead delivering a stale, dull episode of TV. This week, I’m happy to report that things are much better, but this was, unfortunately, an episode of two halves.
Morgan has infiltrated Camelot, having assumed Igraine’s form and is all set to drive a wedge between Arthur and his champion, Leontes. This half of the episode delivers exactly what you’re expecting. Morgan informs Guinevere that she knows about her and Arthur’s tryst before ‘letting slip’ the whole affair to Leontes. Cue outrage, glares and pondering about what to do next.
So far, so predictable, but what I wasn’t expecting was to enjoy the rest of the episode, which contained the worst possible thing you could find in a series aimed at adults: a child.
While plotting Camelot’s downfall, Morgan starts spending more time with Merlin, playing on the feelings he already has for her. He’s not the only admirer in court, however. There’s also a young orphan, who it seems is Igraine’s playmate. Yes, it is a bit weird to watch, but thanks to Claire Forlani’s performance, surprisingly touching.
Forlani is one of those actresses who I feel never really hit her full potential. In the 90s, she caught my attention as Sean Connery’s daughter in The Rock, but then followed it up with roles in rather drab films like Meet Joe Black. For the best part of the decade, she hasn’t really done anything of note, apart from a recurring role in CSI: NY. Happily, her role in Camelot, which until now has been underplayed, really came to the fore this week.
She managed to get her portrayal of both Igraine and Morgan spot on, and at times I really felt I was watching Eva Green in her performance. This was especially evident in her scenes with Merlin and the young child, as she conveyed menace, joy and what appeared to be genuine feelings for both of them in one go. I was genuinely impressed. Also, the kid was nowhere as annoying as I thought, and when his death happened, I was really shocked.
One of the main rules of US TV is never kill dogs or children, as it depresses the audience, but luckily the producers of Camelot aren’t afraid to shake it up a bit. Granted, the child’s death was an accident, but Morgan’s apathy and thinly veiled emotion was brutal to watch.
Merlin, meanwhile, revealed he knew all the events from last week were part of Morgan’s plan, which makes you wonder why he a) went along with it, and b) didn’t warn Arthur and his knights, so they didn’t all expose their weaknesses to Morgan. On top of that, it seems Igraine’s flirting has finally worn him down. Unfortunately, it’s Morgan who capitalises on it.
The only question I have is if, when Merlin touches people and sees their ‘secrets’ and such, why does he not see anything is amiss when he’s all over Morgan/Igraine? This is a man who is normally two or three steps ahead of everyone, yet he can be surprisingly dense sometimes.
There’s also another subplot about Arthur and his knights going hunting, just so we can see the reappearance of the ‘evil wolf’, but apart from giving Leontes a scare and appearing in a mirror to Morgan, nothing was really revealed about what it is or what it wants. If it is a ‘dark magic’ ally of Morgan’s, then she’ll need all the friends she can get, especially with Vivian questioning her mistress’ motives and Sybil’s council.
Still, apart from some brutally over the top symbolism, more awkwardness between Arthur and Guinevere, this episode was a step up from last week, although, that’s really not that hard.
Read our review of episode 7, The Long Night, here.