Merlin series 2 episode 12 review

Somebody has been watching Lord Of The Rings this week as Merlin tackles a classic fairy story with added Tolkien goodness...

After last week we all know what will happen in the finale of this second series, with (spoilers on) Merlin’s vision of the Great Dragon being released from below Camelot and wreacking havoc on the entire kingdom (thanks to his own bargaining). But until then there are other magical malevolence on the horizon this week as we see the return of Morgause and we finally see the final fate of Morganna.

In a far away part of England lies the ruined kingdom of Idirsholas, a haunted place that has been abandoned for nearly 300 years. However, the kingdom, it seems, is not as deserted as it once was as the evil sorceress/warrior woman Morgause has taken up residence there with the notion of performing a magical ritual, incanting seven dead warriors back to life. Clad in black robes and armour, these dead knights are, or rather were, the very best warriors Camelot had to offer. And now thanks to Morgause these undead warriors are to be used to take back Camelot from Uther. 

Cursed by the sorceress Medhir (whom one is to assume has some relationship with Morgause and Morganna), these knights are Morgause’s secret weapon against Camelot. However, her revenge and plan is twofold, requiring the aid of her sister Morganna to come to fruition 

As the undead are picking worms from their armour, Morgause visits Camelot, finding Morganna. Morgause gets her to finally confess how much she hates Uther. In professing her hatred for her ward, Morganna’s wild druid magic is used as a catalyst by Morgouse to weave a spell that will enthral all of Camelot. 

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The effects of this emotive strong spell are felt throughout the kingdom as at first people start getting sick and then fall into a stupor, a deep sleep. This curse of a sleeping kingdom is actually a great nod to the fairy story Sleeping Beauty but, surprisingly for Merlin, it has a very nasty twist. 

Tapping into this fairy tale actually works really well for the show and is actually quite inspired. With the Kingdom slowly coming to a halt, with even Uther succumbing to the sleeping illness, and with only Merlin, Arthur and Morganna to stop the invading knights and to try and find a cure, we get some pretty good action and some quite funny one-liners about where they should hide Uther’s body. Merlin’s comment on cushions shows that, at times, the show for all its failings is quite inspired.

However, for all the witty banter we still fall into the same trap with Merlin rushing off to the Dragon for a little magical help. This week, however, things get a little more sinister as, to release the spell and to awaken the kingdom, the magic must be stopped at the source, which is Morganna. And when the Dragon says stop, he means stop…as in to stop completely in the whole being alive way.  

So, to save a Kingdom Merlin has to find a way to kill off his friend who has been duped into destroying Camelot by Morgause. Eventually finding a way to trick her into drinking poison, Merlin, who himself is slowly succumbing to the spell, has to sit there and watch his friend slowly die in his arms.  

Surprisingly harrowing for a family show, both the slyness by which Merlin kills off Morganna and her cries for help are actually pretty moving and even with everyone recovering a little too quickly, the heartbreak felt by Arthur, Uther and the rest of the cast is pretty well played out. 

With Morganna whisked away by Morgause, whom it dawns on has unintentionally killed her own sister, we are left with a situation that was quite surprising but which has been hinted at – the slow crumbling of Camelot and the house of Pendragon. 

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And talking of dragons, his time is nearly here, as the warriors from Idirsholas fall as the sleeping spell is broken, it seems that, as the warriors were cursed using old magic, the armour and swords of these undead warriors have a unique quality to them and with some enchantment can be used to cut the Dragons bond’s, which Merlin does with dire consequences.  

Next week (thank goodness) we reach the end of this season which looks quite interesting as Arthur, Merlin and the kingdom try as much as they can to stop a siege from a very angry Dragon.

Although I hold out some hope the series will end on a high, I am not holding out much hope as even the Christmas edition of Radio Times has started to show its dislike for the series, being sarcastic about next week’s predictability as we are introduced to yet another deux-ex-machina in the shape of a hidden Dragon-Slayer who has a ‘past with Merlin’ My…. I wonder if we will get an Empire Strikes Back moment?

Read our review of episode 11 here.