Merlin: The Madness of the King

KT suggests you check under the bed.

MERLIN:  3.01 “The Tears of Uther Pendragon, Part 1”

I love the way this episode opens: the banners and the battlefield, the grey skies and grim faces.  It’s a far cry from the show’s bright, silly opening in its first season.  The first ten minutes or so, up through Morgana’s rescue and recuperation could easily be the coda to any number of previous episodes in which someone is kidnapped or held hostage, so I liked it in that way too, as a glimpse at the aftermath of an adventure, even though this time it’s only the beginning.

Whatever else she may have accomplished in her year-long absence, Morgana has become quite the actress.  Given then benefit of the episode title, as soon as I saw her wipe Uther’s tears, I had a hunch where we were going, and once she walked away and smirked, I don’t imagine anyone was left in the dark.  Well, anyone in the audience that is, as Merlin has to literally bump into the mandrake root under Uther’s bed before he catches on.

I suppose, though, if about a year has passed since the end of season two, that we can forgive Merlin and Gaius for not immediately looking for someone using dark magic — they’re just out of practice.  Merlin also seems to be out of practice at tailing someone — he’d gotten pretty good at it, but this time Morgana spots him.  Whoops.

Morgana’s clearly become a serious threat (though really, after all those lovely things Uther said about her, did her heart not melt even a little bit?), but the really dangerous one is still her half-sister, Morgause.  Morgause is the one with the contacts and the one with the plan, which seems to be to drive Uther mad with the magic mandrake root, then help an enemy king come in and conquer Camelot.

At first, I thought they were forgetting something:  surely Arthur would step in to defend and protect his people while his father was out of commission.  But it seems Morgana knew Arthur better than I:  when Gaius suggested that Arthur should step up, Arthur took it as a suggestion that he should usurp the throne and was utterly offended.  Let’s hope he feels differently about the situation when the other army comes knocking at his gates.

And meanwhile, poor Merlin is bound by Morgause’s magical chain and left in the forest for the giant scorpions (which, as I recall, we’ve seen before — so yay for continuity, but still, seriously?).  Lucky for him, he learned last season how to call a dragon.  Even luckier, one answers his call.


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