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Merlin: The Sword in the Stone, Part 1

“I feel like such a fool. I put such trust in him. All this time, I was blind to his treachery as I was to Morgana's.”

'The Sword in the Stone' has a lot in common with season three's big finale, 'The Coming of Arthur'. Both featured Camelot falling to an enemy army, Morgana becoming queen, the king having a crisis of confidence after being betrayed by someone close to him, and Merlin and Arthur forced to go on the run. But this was bigger, better and, most surprisingly of all, funnier.

I fully expecting this episode to be a grand affair, full of epic battles and betrayals. But I didn't expect it to be as funny as it was. After Camelot falls, the episode suddenly switches gears and became a buddy comedy following Merlin and simpleton Arthur as they made their escape from Morgana's forces. Seeing Arthur Pendragon, the Once and Future King, as a tree hugging simpleton had me in stitches. Another gold acting star for Bradley James.

Agravaine's treachery was finally (finally!!!!) revealed to Arthur. He took a moment to look devastated then quickly joined the rest of us in the We Hate Agravaine Club. Shame Merlin stopped him from rushing off to kill his uncle. Bad, Merlin, no biscuit. It was a little frustrating that, knowing his scheme, Merlin hadn't been keeping a closer eye on evil Lord Lynley. Instead he's been too busy putting holes in Arthur's belt. There was just no way to write about that without it sounding dirty.

Tristan and Isolde were introduced and given the Merlin treatment, re-imagined as a pair of Bonnie and Clyde-like smugglers. Tristan was a bit of a prat but at least he was given a personality. Isolde wasn't so lucky. Isolde was just token eye-candy, a paper thin Xena-wannabe in a typically impractical costume that reveals more than it protects. All this would've been forgivable if she hadn't turned out to be such a naff fighter. Look, Merlin writers, if you are going to dress someone like a warrior princess, at least make them a warrior princess.

If that wasn't bad enough, neither of them sang any opera, something that this Wanger fan found deeply disappointing.

Familiar Faces

Tristan and Isolde were played by Ben Daniels (Law and Order: UK) and Miranda Raison (Doctor Who, Spooks).

Merthur Moments

Almost too many to mention but the belt scene is a standout. You just tell that the writers are doing this deliberately now.

Notes and Quotes

--The fall of Camelot was a brilliant sequence but Alice Troughton went a little overboard with the slow-mo. It was okay when Arthur was doing his Swan Queen and fighting off the invading soldiers. But Merlin running down a corridor was pushing it.

--Katie McGrath, you are awesome. Please don't ever change.

--Instead of giving us a crazy exciting cliff-hanger, such as Merlin being forced to reveal his magic to everyone, the episode just kinda ended mid-chase. Which is really the worst way to end an episode like this.

--Where in Albion did Arthur get his chain-mail at the end?

--It appears Agravaine is not happy that he is no longer Morgana's favourite lap dog. Is he worried Helios is after his job? Don't worry, mate, you'll likely be dead next week.

--Arthur and Gwen's reunion and make-up was rather lifeless. Much like their romance.

--While she was watching Gwaine fight for mouldy bread, Morgana looked about five lustful seconds away from ordering the guards to take him to her bedchamber. I guess it is good to be the queen.

--Elyan was having a less fun time. He can now add 'tortured to the limits of human endurance by Morgana' to the list crappy things that have happened to him this year.

--It has been so long since we've seen or heard from Merlin's mum I honestly thought she was dead.

--At one point Arthur is wearing modern day rain boots.

Arthur: “Why are you putting another hole in this belt?”
Merlin: “I, ah, was enhancing it for more comfort and ease of use.”
Arthur: “Are you saying I'm fat?”

Tristan: “He doesn't take kindly to strangers, I can tell you. Likes to decorate his fortress with their heads.”
--King Lot would get along swimmingly with King Joffrey.

Tristan: “What's wrong with your friend?”
Merlin: “He's a simpleton. He can't help it.”
Tristan: “Look after him, do you?”
Merlin: “Without me, he wouldn't last a day.”

Merlin: “Could we not come with you? I mean, I would be grateful for the company, to be honest.”
Arthur: “I'm very annoying.”

Agravaine: “What kind of coward would deny who he is?”
--Irony is clearly a concept lost on Lord Agravaine.

Arthur: “I'm sorry to have been a disappointment, Merlin. I'll try harder in future.”
Merlin: “I'll look forward to that. On the other hand, why wait? That pot will need rinsing out as well.”
Arthur: “Of course.”
Merlin: “And when you're done with that, the horses need a rub-down too.”
Arthur: “My pleasure.”

Arthur: (Kicking Merlin awake) “You'd better have a damn good explanation for this, Merlin! (Merlin says nothing) Fine, I'll just carry on kicking you.”

Gwaine: “Can't you see he's starving? We all are.”
Morgana: “Of course you are, after you killed so many of my men. I'll have the kitchen prepare you a feast.”
Gwaine: “I think not of myself, but of Gaius. He can't survive long without food.”
Morgana: “Oh, Gwaine. So handsome, so selfless. Of course you shall have some supper... as long as you're prepared to sing for it.”
--Oh, get a room.

Merlin: “All I know is that for all your many faults, you are honest and brave and true-hearted. And one day you will be the greatest King this land has ever known.”
Arthur: “Well... good to know I have the support of my servant, at least.”
Merlin: “I'm not alone. Believe me.”

Three out of four Swan Queens.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. Great review, Mark. I've been looking forward to reading what you thought of the episode. Have a tasteless, invisible cookie.

    Urgh, I loved this episode. Even though Tristan and Isolde were a bit pathetic. And at least we now know that Bradley James can work with an inanimate object and still have chemistry with it.

    Also, Morgana and Gwaine. Pretty sure Tumblr exploded with Morgana/Gwaine gifs and fanfics as soon as the episode aired.

  2. The Arthur/tree gifs had the Morgana/Gwaine ones well and truely outnumbered until they released that preview clip for part 2.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode...my wish list for Part 2 and for next season (not in any particular order):
    1. Merlin's magic revealed early on, please. Get it over with already.
    2. More action for Gwaine - love him.
    3. If Arthur and Gwen are to stay together, I agree, gotta pump up the intensity.
    4. Keep Morgana exactly as she is - Katie McGrath hit it out of the park this season.
    5. Need a story line or some story lines to let Colin Morgan show his emo side again - I am thinking of episodes like "The Lady of the Lake" and "The Last Dragonlord". He's too goofy all the time now.
    6. I liked Tristan and Isolde...find a way to use them again next season.
    7. No more spy's and betrayals. It's been done enough now.
    8. Bring Mordred back into the story (although they've got to at some point, haven't they?)

  4. Loved simpleton Arthur routine. Nice to break up action with humor. :)


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