by Mark Greig
“You could never understand. Do you know how it feels to be a monster? To be afraid of who you are?”
It seems well past time that we had a Merlin falls in love episode. It's also about time we had an episode about the Lady of the Lake. We've had episodes featuring Lancelot, Avalon, Mordred, Excalibur, the Holy Grail (sort of) and Morgause. She's the one famous character from the mythology who hasn't appeared yet. So why not kill two birds with one stone and have Merlin's new love interest be the Lady of the Lake?
After a season and a half of being single, Merlin finally meets a nice girl who isn't secretly an evil sorceress plotting to kill him. She's actually young druid named Freya, who is currently being held prisoner by a nasty bounty hunter. Naturally, being the 'act first, think later' hero that he is, Merlin saves her from captivity and true love quickly blossoms. Sure, every night at the stroke of midnight (how do they keep time so accurately in the age before clocks?) she turns into a large panther-like monster with great big bat-like wings (Bat-Panther?) that attacks people. But as a wise man once said...
Merlin has always tried to interpret the various Arthurian legends in its own particular way. These are classic stories that have been told for generations. You've got to find new ways to tell them otherwise audiences will grown bored from hearing the same old story again and again. Sometimes they have been successful. Other times they have not. This is one of those times. 'The Lady of the Lake' is a fairly standard magical creature on the loose episode, mixed with a cute, but unconvincing, Merlin falls in love episode. In many ways, this is an episode that is undermined by its own title. The way in which Freya's story is tied into the legend of the Lady of the Lake is flimsy at best, and comes across like some quickly cobbled together origin story.
I'm not really a big fan of one episode romances. I just never find them convincing. It is just hard for me to become invested in a potential coupling when it is clear that one of them will either be gone or dead by the end of the episode. There are a few exceptions, the Doctor and Madame de Pompadour, Tom and Allison on Being Human (I was picking out the flowers for their wedding before that episode had even finished), and Captain Kirk and Edith Keeler, but this isn't one of them. Merlin and Freya are cute together, but I am never convinced that this is the tragic romance the writers want it to be.
It is strange how an episode that is supposed to be all about Merlin finally getting himself a girlfriend is full of Merthur moments. Best of the bunch was Arthur's nonchalant reaction to the idea Merlin likes to dress in women's clothing.
Richard Ridings (Halig) is a prolific British character actor who has appeared in everything from Coronation Street to Casualty, does a lot of voice work for video games, and played Silas, one of the Four Horsemen, on Highlander.
Notes and Quotes
--Mysterious figures always arrive when it is pouring it down, never when the sun is shining. Must make it easy to predict the weather: "Some shady characters were seen heading south, towards Camelot so we can expect some heavy showers followed by thunder and lighting"
--Not surprisingly, the lake where Freya is laid to rest is the same location where Merlin throws Excalibur in 'Excalibur'. It is also the same lake where Sophia tried to drown Arthur in 'The Gates of Avalon'.
--In the Arthurian legends, 'The Lady of the Lake' is a name given to several different characters who play important roles like providing King Arthur Pendragon with Excalibur, enchanting Merlin, and raising the orphaned Lancelot.
Freya: “Why did you do that?”
Freya: “Help me.”
Merlin: “I saw you and... it could have been me in that cage.”
Arthur: “Are those my sausages? (Merlin nods) You took them?”
Merlin: “To keep you in shape.”
Arthur: “Are you saying I'm fat?”
Merlin: “No! Well, not yet.”
Arthur: “I am not fat!”
Merlin: “See? It's working.”
Arthur: (sees Merlin carrying a dress) “As long as you do a decent day's work, Merlin, that's all I care about.”
Merlin: “No, it's not for me.”
Arthur: “What a man does in his spare time is completely up to him.”
Merlin: “No, you've got this wrong.”
Arthur: “Colour suits you, Merlin.”
Two out of four Bat-Panthers.