Merlin series 4 episode 7 review: The Secret Sharer

Dave checks out the latest episode of Merlin, The Secret Sharer...

Merlin

This review contains spoilers.

4.7 The Secret Sharer

Following the events of last week, Agravaine is looking after the unconscious Morgana, stroking her cheek and making her food whilst she dreams of Emrys. She reveals that Emrys knows all of their plans and Agravaine thinks he knows the culprit that has clearly been feeding her mortal enemy this information; it can only be Gaius. Perfect opportunity, Morgana decides, to track down Emrys and put paid to the threat of Emrys once and for all. All she has to do is have Gaius kidnapped and brought to her, he’ll hand over the information she seeks, and then she can kill Emrys and go about conquering Camelot before taking her rightful place as ruler.

Back in Camelot, Merlin wants Arthur to get up and get a bath, even going so far as dragging the semi-naked monarch out of bed and dumping him, unceremoniously, on the floor. He’s also got a ridiculously long speech for Arthur to learn and a variety of other tasks that Merlin appears to be co-ordinating in his role as King’s secretary. Before this buffoonery can go too far, Agravaine appears to discuss the traitor with the King, dismissing Merlin to discuss the sensitive issue in private. Pressing the point that Gaius is the traitor, Agravaine finds Arthur’s faith in the medic a bit of a stumbling block that he’s going to need to overcome.

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Morgana, meanwhile, is searching for someone to carry out her plan to kidnap Gaius. She finds Alator, a cross between a saracen and a mystic, and secures his services by offering yet another enchanted trinket. Alator likes the look of the bangle and has no problems with the requirements of the job at hand, being a proficient torturer and mercenary individual.

Bringing Gaius to the King’s chamber, Agravaine begins his interrogation, under the watchful eye of a clearly uncomfortable Arthur. Gaius offers guarded answers, indignant at his treatment, but with some sly, pointed questions, Agravaine dismantles Gaius, revealing that he’s hiding things from the King and casting further doubt in the mind of Arthur. It’s all made far worse when Alator kidnaps Gaius and Agravaine plants evidence in his quarters, conveniently having them searched and revealing the findings and disappearance to Arthur.

Merlin is disappointed that his master would believe these lies. He has no concrete proof to offer and his belief that Agravaine has lied threatens to divide the friendship. Whilst Merlin searches for evidence of wrongdoing, Gwen joins him to offer support. He’s tells Gwen that Agravaine is behind it and Gwen reveals that Arthur told her what Merlin had said. She’s going to help him, though it’s not really clear what she can do. Thankfully, Gwaine pops by a bit later to offer help and he’s much more useful.

Gaius awakens to find himself in the possession of Morgana. She wants to know where Emrys is and isn’t beyond torturing a frail old man, despite the fact he’s adamant he won’t tell her. He’s not factored in the presence of Alator. His resolve is shaken slightly when Morgana gloats at the fact that Alator is a master torturer and has skills that will surely break him. Despite his magical skills and resilience, it doesn’t take long for Gaius to be worn down, revealing the truth about Emrys and his destiny.

Merlin, having found evidence of Agravaine’s wrongdoing, recruits Gwaine to track down Gaius, unaware that Agravaine has contacted Morgana and the pair are also in pursuit. Arriving at the caves and splitting up, Morgana plans to deal with Merlin and the troublesome knight, whilst Agravaine deals with Gaius.

Agravaine, having split up from Morgana, runs into trouble when Gwaine arrives to find him with a blade to Gaius’ throat. Some quick thinking and backtracking overcomes any doubt the knight may have and the pair set out to rescue the now unconscious Gaius.

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Morgana and Merlin face off, yet again, with Morgana threatening the life of the young wizard. She wants to get rid of the thorn in her side and still doesn’t quite understand why he is so persistent. The timely arrival of Alator disrupts Morgana’s plan when he refuses to reveal the identity of Emrys.

Knocked out and betrayed once again, Morgana is left behind as the heroes ride back to Camelot, with new allegiances forged and a happy reunion for the King and his favourite (and seemingly only) medic.

So that’s what happened. But was it any good?

Well, seven episodes in, and Nathan Parker, as Agravaine, finally gets to steal the show! Whereas some of his past performances have been near pantomime, this episode gives him the opportunity to turn in a Machiavellian performance, manipulating the various players as he carries out Morgana’s plans. The interrogation of Gaius and influence over Arthur has the man practically oozing oily charm all over the screen.

Talking of performances, Katie McGrath continues to be venomous as Morgana and really shows it in her threats towards Merlin. It’s also impossible not to feel for Merlin when he’s torn between his loyalty for Gaius and King Arthur, with Colin Morgan’s emotional performance tempered by Bradley Arthur’s regal bearing.

This week’s guest star is Gary Lewis, probably best known as the father in Billy Elliot. He’s a prolific actor who has had a very respectable television and film; seeing him in a series like this adds a level of respectability to the series and manages to avoid any sense of stunt-casting that some series would probably employ. As with many guest stars in this series, he’s not given much screen time but when he does appear he gives a commendable performance as he tortures Gaius. The door seems to have been left open for the return of Alator, so perhaps he’ll get more screen time if he does turn up again.

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After last weeks much lighter affair, Julian Jones gives us an episode that returns to the ominous path that the series seems to be set upon taking. The Secret Sharer is quite a layered story continuing to explore the uncertainty of the King, the machinations of Agravaine and Morgana, and the faith of Gaius and Merlin. Though Arthur doesn’t have much to do this week, by the end of the episode it might suddenly be dawning on him that there are many around him who are protecting him, whether he knows it or not.

Read our review of the last episode, here.

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