Merlin: Goblin’s Gold
Merlin accidentally releases a goblin which wreaks havoc on Camelot.
The dark two part season premiere has the writers of “Merlin” switching gears to the comedy side in “Goblin’s Gold”.
While searching the library, Merlin comes across a talking box and opens it releasing a mischievous goblin. He enlists Gaius’ help to capture it again but instead of returning to the box it takes Gaius’ body instead. In an effort to obtain gold, the goblin begins making up remedies to fictional illnesses and charging the townspeople to use them. Merlin tries to appeal to the goblin to no avail when the goblin in Gaius’ body fingers Merlin as the culprit in the mysterious problems that had been occurring around the castle. Arthur notices Gaius’ abnormal behaviour and tests him, quickly realizing that Merlin is correct about him being possessed by a goblin. To get the goblin out of Gaius’ body Gwen and Merlin are forced to kill Gaius until the goblin leaves and then resuscitate him with the antidote while simultaneously capturing the goblin and returning it to its box.
Following the trailer for this episode (in which fart jokes were prominently featured) I can say assuredly that I wasn’t looking forward to “Goblin’s Gold”. Thankfully, though, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this episode. Most of the good is owed to Richard Wilson and his fabulous performance as Gaius possessed by a goblin. It’s no wonder he spent 10 years on a comedy series before appearing on “Merlin” (“One Foot in the Grave” aired on the BBC from 1990 to 2000). His performance had me laughing more than I do during many comedy series’ I watch.
The goblin causes all sorts of problems around Camelot ranging from baldness and flatulence to donkey ears and braying. Some of the gags sit better than others but overall things were quite entertaining. The hat Uther sports after finding himself spontaneously bald should become a replacement for his crown. He would likely be far less menacing then though.
A nice touch to this episode is the inclusion of all the main characters to some extent. Even Morgana (who I suspect is difficult to integrate into any episodes that don’t centre on her at this point) gets some time with Gaius the goblin in which it points out exactly how obvious it is that she is evil these days. Maybe that will be a hint to her to be more subtle. Gwen, who’s been essentially absent these past two episodes, finally finds some substantial scenes, some of them with characters other than Arthur. The friendship between Merlin and Gwen is something I always find myself missing from the first season so anytime they’re reunited in some kind of plan is exciting. Not unlike “The Witchfinder” last year, it falls to Merlin and Gwen to save Gaius’ life here as well. Unfortunately holding onto an important antidote is a difficult thing in Camelot (think back to Merlin dropping the antidote when Arthur was poisoned during the troll escapade). Additionally Gwen starts to show some of her insecurities in “Goblin’s Gold”. She’s certainly not as obviously flawed a character as Arthur was when the show began but it’s good to be reminded that she is human as well and prone to the same insecurities most people suffer. Arthur is growing more trusting of Merlin with each passing episode. Though he may not state it publicly, it’s obvious that Arthur is more inclined to believe Merlin about the goblin than Uther is and he even tests Gaius to prove that he is not who he claims to be. Uther gets in on the comedy as well, and in my opinion this was far more entertaining than watching him be manipulated by the troll last season. Uther’s under no spell but he’s forced to deal with his balding and flatulence in front of the entire court. Definitely an embarrassing situation for the king to be in. Even Leon finds himself with some lines when Gaius heads to the tavern and spits in his face. He apologizes when Leon challenges him to a fight but Leon and the knights wake up the next morning covered in boils from the ale Gaius drugged.
Comedy episodes can be hit and miss for “Merlin” and, despite the fart jokes, “Goblin’s Gold” certainly falls into the hit category.