Merlin series 3 episode 3 review: The Goblin’s Gold

Merlin takes a much lighter turn in The Goblin's Gold, an episode in which Richard Wilson excels..

3.3 The Goblin’s Gold

I have to confess: I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about watching The Goblin’s Gold. I was thinking that the writers would follow the ‘monster-run-amok’ storyline that has been prevalent more than once in the last two seasons. However, Richard Wilson’s wicked, cantankerous wit, a mischievous Gollum-like Goblin with a cockney accent (voiced by Mark Williams), and some truly hilarious one-liners had me hooked right from the outset.

This week, while wandering through the East Wing of Camelot’s library archives, searching for a book on bestiary, Merlin unwittingly stumbles upon a hidden chamber behind a shelf of books, as you do. When he investigates a noise coming from a box, he quite foolishly opens it. You see, said box is not any ordinary one, but a prison for an audacious, acid-tongued, and greedy gold-obsessed monstrosity. The creature quickly escapes Merlin’s clutches, going on a rampage through the kingdom.

Merlin consults Gaius who warns him that the situation must be resolved as quickly and quietly as possible, and that a goblin is a dangerous creature that will stop at nothing to get what it wants, which is gold.

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Both Merlin and Gaius set a trap and manage to contain it in a room, only for it to morph into a small orb of light and possess Gaius. Merlin doesn’t notice the complete shift in his mentor’s personality initially. Said shift includes going to a tavern, barking orders for his breakfast and putting the frighteners on the wicked Morgana by saying he can see into her heart and there is nothing but coldness there. Soon, Gaius is extorting gold out of the local villagers by claiming that a dreadful and debilitating plague is sweeping across Camelot, and that everyone will die an excruciatingly slow death. 

What he is actually selling is a flatulence concoction, which leads to some awkward moments later on in the episode between Gwen and Arthur.

When Merlin realises Gaius’s body has been hijacked and reveals himself as a wizard, the goblin sneakily uses the situation to its advantage. Firstly by telling the boy that if he wishes to destroy it, he’ll also run the risk of killing his friend, leaving Merlin well and truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not satisfied with this course of action, the goblin tells Uther that Merlin is responsible for the baldness, boils and flatulence. Uther immediately sentences Merlin to death and throws him in the dungeon. Of course, Merlin escapes, and seeks Gwen’s help in putting a stop to the critter.

When Gaius tells Arthur he is looking forward to seeing Merlin hang, the prince draws his sword to tackle it, but the creature escapes (yet again) by partially transforming Arthur into a donkey, which subsequently leads to another awkward moment between him and Gwen. And once again, Merlin and Gwen manage to trick the goblin by using poison, so it will vacate Gaius and they can trap it. It’s all a bit cyclical, but it just about worked. The first stand-alone episode this year, then, is lighter and far more whimsical than previous offerings in the show. And although it occasionally lapses into farce, Richard Wilson’s comic-timing is perfect, especially during a scene when he tells a distraught woman that she will die in misery and poverty if she doesn’t buy the medicine that will cure her husband, who isn’t even ill.

There are one or two minor inconsistencies. If the goblin can see Morgana’s true nature, why not Merlin’s? And why didn’t it possess Merlin when he first released it, instead of waiting until it was almost caught? Still, all in all, it was a pretty strong and made for a refreshing change from the darker tone of the previous two-parter.

Read our review of the last episode, here

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