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Merlin: The Mark of Nimueh

“Merlin! Come here, look what I found. I found a place where you can put things. It's called a cupboard.”

Only three episodes into the first season and we've already reached the plague episode.

Along with the body-swap episode, the evil universe episode, and the time loop episode, every sci-fi/fantasy show has to do a plague episode at some point. It's traditional. A right of passage, even. You're not a true Star Trek series until you've had at least one episode where the entire crew succumb to some mysterious illness and there's a race against time to find a cure before someone important dies.

That isn't really a problem here. Against all the odds, not one of our heroes (and Uther) falls prey to Nimueh's plague. Yes, despite Camelot having just one source of fresh water, only background extras and one minor character get sick. Since Gaius and Merlin spent most of time rushing around trying to figure out why everyone was sick, there were times it felt like I was watching an episode of House, only with fewer cranky medical know-it-alls and more cranky know-it-all dragons. And it still wasn't Lupus. Poor Lupus. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride.

Merlin acted like a complete imbecile in this episode. His heart might have been in the right place, but did he really think no one would find it even slightly suspicious that Gwen's dad miraculously recovered? Has he forgotten that he's living in the kingdom of Uther 'I hate magic me' Pendragon? Just performing a card trick is enough to get you executed in Camelot.

Runner-up prize goes to Gwen for being so oblivious to the fact that Merlin was walking around the castle with a great big sign that read “I CURED YOUR DAD USING MAGIC”. Come on, Gwen! You were suspicious of him when he knew that your father was cured well before he should have known. You should've easily figured it all out when that magical pouch thingy was found in your home. I know the writers need to keep Merlin's secret... secret. But making the other characters stupid is not the right way to go about it.

Speaking of the writers, they get the bronze medal for failing to explain how exactly Gwen got out of jail. It was established back in 'The Dragon's Call' that Uther has a zero tolerance policy towards anyone who uses magic. Now, I'm no fancy big city lawyer, just a simple country Hyperchicken, but it seems to me that proving Nimueh caused the plague does not automatically make Gwen innocent. And yet she gets released without explanation. How? What evidence was there that exonerated her? I really can't see Uther being persuaded to let her off out of the goodness of his own heart.

Familiar Faces

Nimueh, our new recurring villain, was played by Michelle Ryan, best known for Eastenders, Doctor Who and NBC's crap remake of The Bionic Woman. We don't learn much about her except that she's a powerful sorceress who seems to have some kind of history with Uther.

Merthur Moments

Look how quickly Arthur stuck up for Merlin when he tried to confess to save Gwen. He really cares about his useless servant. Even if he is an idiot.

Notes and Quotes

--Morgana still isn't sleeping well.

--No feasts or tournaments this week. No doubt because all the staff wrote in sick.

--Even by BBC standards, the Afanc was a terrible monster. It looked like something you'd find in Roger Corman's basement.

--Nimueh is a variation of Numue, one of many names attributed to the Lady of the Lake.

Arthur: “You should stay here.”
Morgana: “I'm coming with you.”
Arthur: “No.”
Morgana: “Scared I'll show you up?”

Morgana: “Merlin, I wanted you to know your secret's safe with me.”
Merlin: “My secret?”
Morgana: “Come on. Don't pretend. I know what you did.”
Merlin: “You do?”
Morgana: “I saw it with my own eyes.”
Merlin: “You did?”

Morgana: “Sadly, the age of gallantry seems to be dead. You look around and all you see are small men, not big enough to fill their armour. There's not one of them that's able to stand up for what is right.”
Arthur: “What do you want me to do?”

Merlin: “Why couldn't he just tell you himself?”
Gaius: “Because that's the way it is. You're a servant.”
Merlin: “If he knew who I was, what I've done...”
Gaius: “You'd be a dead servant.”

Morgana: “That's because you're not like Merlin. He's a lover.”
--Umm, what?

'The Mark of Nimueh' was another serviceable episode of Merlin. It wasn't great, it wasn't terrible, it was just okay. Two out of four great big signs that read “I CURED YOUR DAD USING MAGIC”.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


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