Merlin episode 6 review

Episode 6 of Merlin - aka Remedy To Cure All Ills - isn't the shot in the arm this flagging series desperately needs...

Meet Merlin...

Dark and devious forces turn up at Camelot this week, but it doesn’t take much guessing as to who it is, as they’ve given this week’s nemesis a big scar covering half his face. But actually the main focus of this week’s Merlin episode is Gaius, and his previous sins along with Uther which return to haunt him in the hideous guise of melting-mush Edwin played by Julian Rhind-Tutt. He turns up at Camelot claiming to have a ‘Remedy To Cure All Ills’, which is ironically the title of this episode.

That’s not so strange because he’s already used magic to remotely attack Morgana so that she becomes ill and falls into a coma. So Uther decides they need someone with those sorts of medical abilities, even if he does look like he’s a failed fire breather. They also need him because Gaius doesn’t realise that the cause of her ailment is magically induced, and why she’s not getting any better.

Edwin arrives, and once he’s removed the source of the disorder, Morgana is fine again. I felt for the actress Katie McGrath who plays Morgana in this story, and not because her character was targeted by some hideous sorcerer with a fascination for bugs. But because reading the first page she must have assumed she’d get more screen time, but alas once she’s well that’s almost the last we see of her. What we do get plenty of is Richard Wilson, who does his best befuddled and wizen schtick in the series so far. He knows that Edwin doesn’t just look bad, but can he work out where he’s seen him before more dark magic is unleashed?

Crazy old Uther likes Edwin, presumably because they’re both barking mad and manically twisted. Merlin’s magical powers give away his abilities to Edwin, who does his best to avoid all the key phrases between Darth and Luke without actually saying ‘and together we will rule the universe’. But he gets darn close. When Gaius finally works out whom Edwin is, it’s knowledge of Merlin’s power that he uses to avoid being exposed.

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Out-manoeuvred by Edwin, Gaius is forced to leave Camelot, or have Merlin’s powers made public. In the meanwhile, Uther finds out just how big a mistake he’s made when Edwin drugs him and puts one of his brain eating bugs inside his head. Luckily, Gaius returns and with Merlin’s help saves Uther and gives Edwin a splitting headache. Actually we don’t actually see what happens to Edwin, because it was all too graphic for tea-time audiences. He’s hit by an axe magically thrown by Merlin, but we never see it hit or what happens to him. It could be a shaving injury, or an especially nasty paper-cut.

Amazingly Uther doesn’t realise that magic was used to save his life, so Merlin uses sorcery again without it ending in a short sharp chop. End of story, Julian Rhind-Tutt can resume a normal life once more.

My problems with this show are many and varied, but this week it was dialogue that stood out as especially weak. When people from a distant time (whenever this is actually supposedly set?) start using terms like ‘cerebral haemorrhage’, I’m inclined to think those writing this don’t actually give a stuff. Or maybe they’ve take a week off writing Holby City for a change of scenery.

The only glimmer of light I’ve seen for a while comes right at the end when we get a slice of the next episode. That appears to include someone remarkably like the Lady of the Lake, which by association also means Excalibur. Or am I desperately grasping at the brittle straws known as Arthurian lore, in the vein hope that some might actually turns up in this series?

I regret to say, very possibly.

Read last week’s review here

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