Merlin: Lancelot du Lac

“My name is Lancelot, my lady. I am yours to command.”

Wow! If ever proof was needed that this isn't the same silly little show it was four years ago then I think this episode was it. This was an absolutely fantastic episode, the best of season. And considering how strong season four has been so far, that is really saying something.

Lancelot and Guinevere's affair is one of the most famous stories in Arthurian mythology, perhaps the most famous. Considering that they've been making googly eyes at each other since season one, it was inevitable that Gwen and Lancelot were going to hook up at some point. But I didn't think it would be like this. The epic love affair of legend becomes just one pre-wedding kiss in a dark room, for which, neither of them is entirely responsible for. The resurrected Lancelot is nothing more a mindless shade bound to Morgana's will (judging by her sly smile I bet she had some fun of her own after she brought him back), while Gwen was enchanted by the magic bracelet.

By using magic to bring them together, you'd be forgiven for expecting the old reset button to get pushed by the end of the episode. Many fans even predicted that Merlin would find the bracelet, expose Morgana's plot, exonerating Gwen so she and Arthur could get married and live happily ever after. But that's something season one Merlin would've done. This is the older, wiser season four Merlin. Season four Merlin is a show that is unafraid to shake things up a bit and deal with the emotional fallout. Praise has to go to Bradley James and Angel Coulby. They acted their little hearts out in this episode. Two well deserved Gold acting stars for both of them.

Even though this was mostly a character piece, there was still lots of room for action. The sword fight between Arthur and Lancelot was one of the series' best and the jousting tournament managed to look more grand and large scale than the one on Game of Thrones. I put this down to King Arthur not being in as much debt as King Robert. If Uther taught his son anything, besides magic being evil, it was how to effectively manage his kingdom's finances. This is why Camelot has managed to stay recession free since the days of the old religion.

Notes and Quotes

--Considering how close we are now to the season finale, I expect that Gwen's exile will be a short one.

--Is Lancelot dead for good this time? Unlikely. He's become the Rory Williams of Merlin. I'm certain he'll return to die another day. Again.

--Merlin, I know Gwen is your romantic rival but you could've at least given her a hand with that cart. More to the point, where was Eylan? Is he really man crushing on Arthur so badly that he would neglect his basic sibling duties?

--This is the fifth tournament to be held in Camelot. The previous ones appeared in 'Valiant', 'The Once and Future Queen', 'Gwaine' and 'The Sorcerer's Shadow'.

Arthur: “Guinevere has proved herself a valuable support and shrewd counselor these past few months.”
Agravaine: “You don't need a woman for support, Sire. I am your counsel.”
Arthur: “I fear you have rather too much stubble to be my wife.”

Morgana: “There is one that can ruin King Arthur's plans, one that can come between them. We all have our secrets, and unfortunately for Guinevere I know hers, I know exactly how to destroy her.”

Agravaine: “How is it with our old adversary?”
Morgana: “He is learning fast. Soon he will know enough to convince everyone he is the Lancelot we all knew. I thought it would please me, moulding his mind. Instead, I feel curiously sad. He was once so mighty. Now he is nothing but a shade, I shall be sorry to see him go.”

Merlin: “If nothing else, it's certainly an original engagement present. Well, as romantic gestures go. You could have given her flowers, you could have had a song written, instead, you've given her two days out of each other.”
Arthur: “As it should be. My father had a tourney before his wedding. It's tradition.”
Merlin: “Ah, so it's not even an original gesture then.”

Merlin: “Mmm. The chicken is good. It's a nice broth. What do you know about necromancy?”
Gaius: “What?”
Merlin: “Well, you know lots... about lots of things, don't you?”

Arthur: “Then forgive me, because I must be really stupid!”

Arthur: “I love Gwen with all my heart. And I'm sure, in time, I'll find a way to forgive her. But I'll never trust her. I can't live like that, not as a king, and certainly not as a husband. Though it pains me... it's best that she's gone.”

Four out of four Rory Williams.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

6 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Programming note: Since Community is going on extended hiatus soon I've decided to use the free time to review Merlin. I'm going to be reviewing the rest of season four as it airs, and then in January I'm going to start doing retro reviews for season 1.

Paul Kelly said...

It's baffling how an ex Demons writer could come up with such a good episode. Finally, some scenes where the actors get to stretch their acting muscles. Hopefully this is the beginning of a strong finish to what's been an excellent season. More like this please.

Paul Kelly said...

**More like this please**

Something I won't be saying very often when you start reviewing season one. (Of the episodes, natch, not your reviews.)

Paul Kelly said...

Oh, oh! I'm starting to comment on my own comments. Not good.

CrazyCris said...

This episode almost broke my heart! *snif*

When I saw Lancelot coming out of that lake my heart skipped a beat (He's back!!!), Arthur's most noble knight and the one person who knew Merlin's secret has returned! yay! But then those words - "I am yours to command" - NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

You're right, season 1 Merlin would have made him be really back from the dead, under some spell of Morgana's which Merlin manages to break and free him and reveal that Gwen was under enchantment as well. This series has grown in leaps and bounds since it first started out.

(has anyone else notice the change in the intro dialogue? "the fate of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young man"? I could have sworn it used to say boy)

I too was surprised at Merlin's not helping Gwen at the end there... I have expected him to escort her to Ieldor so she could have a safe place to stay with his mother...

Can't believe we only have 3 episodes to go! I'm pretty sure this season will end with Arthur discovering Merlin's secret and Merlin having to go on the road himself. Bring on season 5 with Merlin's magical education around the world! ;o)

When you review the first half of season 4, there's an episode where I'd swear Gwaine notices Merlin using magic (when they're off saving Gaius) but no more mention has come of that! odd...

Arely ZPerez said...

I want to quickly reply to the comment above, about the intro dialogue. I thought I was the only one who noticed it!

I like how they changed it from boy to man. He's grown so much more.