Merlin: A Servant of Two Masters
Morgana captures Merlin and bends his mind to her will.
While travelling in the woods, Merlin, Arthur and the knights are attacked by a group of bandits. Merlin gets injured and he and Arthur become separated from the other knights. Arthur tries to get the injured Merlin back to Camelot but Merlin uses magic to create a rock fall stopping most of the bandits and cutting Arthur off from him. Arthur sends out the knights to look for Merlin but they have no luck. When Morgana realizes she’s captured Merlin she decides to manipulate his mind so that he’ll be forced to kill Arthur. Arthur and Gwaine head out to search for Merlin themselves eventually finding him covered in mud and bringing him back to Camelot. Merlin starts exhibiting strange behaviour causing Gaius and Gwen to become suspicious of him after he poisons Arthur’s food. They remove the snake’s head causing Merlin to do Morgana’s bidding and believe the problem is solved until the head grows back. Gwen and Gaius incapacitate Merlin again and temporarily immobilize the snake. Merlin goes undercover as the older version of himself to Morgana’s hovel to destroy the multi headed snake creature eventually defeating her and regaining the ability to think for himself permanently.
With these last two episodes this season of “Merlin” has improved greatly. Last week’s episode showcased the more serious side of the series while this episode managed to incorporate the humour as well making it a significant improvement on the attempts at humour in “Aithusa” two weeks ago. In “A Servant of Two Masters” writer Lucy Watkins (who has yet to write a bad episode of “Merlin”) proves that you can give all the characters a strong role in a story and incorporate all of their respective relationships.
It’s been too long since we saw Merlin and Morgana face off directly and this episode showcased them very well. Katie McGrath’s acting has improved considerably (maybe because they aren’t forcing her to do that smirk every five minutes anymore) and watching her torture of Merlin gives the audience a great look at her rivalry with him. I can’t wait for the time when Morgana eventually finds out about Merlin’s magical abilities because I’m sure that will make their interactions even more interesting as they’ll be on more even footing. At this time she still believes herself to be superior to Merlin because of her powers despite the fact that he always seems to thwart her somehow.
I also enjoyed the scenes between Morgana and Emerys. Her dreams of him have clearly been haunting her as she darts back out of the hovel the minute she sees him inside going through her things. And even after she eventually enters Morgana is unwilling to believe that Emerys’ appearance is not a trick of her imagination.
Continuing from my comments on last week’s episode, the relationship between Merlin and Arthur is again well presented in this episode. It’s good to see Arthur’s worry over Merlin and his comments to Merlin at the beginning about being a hero are well done as well. It’s clear their friendship is growing and Arthur is beginning to realize the people in his life who he can really trust (ie. not Agravaine).
Arthur is often presented as not the smartest of the characters. He is entirely oblivious to Merlin’s attempts to kill him (to be fair Merlin is a terrible assassin) but he does show off his smarts in another area. Arthur’s mind is largely occupied with trying to find the traitor who gave away his and the knight’s route to the bandits. It’s interesting to hear who Arthur is less sure about as he debates with himself whether Percival or Elyan would have reason to betray him. In the end he comes to the right person though, eventually realizing that his uncle could easily be the one behind the leak. Agravaine is quick to turn the blame to Gaius instead (something which looks like it will be spilling over into next week’s episode) insisting that he has nothing to gain from helping Morgana.
This of course brings up the question; why is Agravaine helping Morgana then? It seems the show isn’t quite ready to tell us the answer to that yet. When Agravaine finds an injured Morgana it’s clear that he cares for her quite a bit as he’s practically in tears. With so many failures on Agravaine’s part, Morgana seems to be unsure whether he is really a use to her and it will be interesting to see how he responds to that if she decides she no longer needs him.
With Arthur oblivious to Merlin’s assassin tendencies it falls to Gwen and Gaius to solve the problem of the week. Most of the humour comes in through these two and their attempts to get at Merlin without making Arthur suspicious. It’s not often the writers give Gwen the opportunity to do comedy and Angel Coulby proves this week she can do it just as well as the boys can.
It looks as though next week’s episode will continue the search for the traitor and with the blame pointed at Gaius, things certainly won’t go well.