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Merlin: To Kill The King

“What would that solve? That would make me a murderer. That would make me as bad as him.”

To kill Uther, or not to kill Uther, that is the question. One that plagues both Merlin and Morgana throughout this episode. Both would have reasons to celebrate Uther's demise, Merlin especially as he would no longer have to live in fear of being unmasked as a warlock. But if you murder a tyrant, or by omission of action, allow a tyrant to be murdered, does that make you any better than they are?

Would the kingdom really be better off if Uther were dead? Uther is not a good man. He's not really a good father, despite loving his son. And he is not a good king. But he is a strong king, one who holds the kingdom together and keeps it safe from its enemies. The real issue isn't whether or not Camelot is better off with Uther dead, but whether Arthur is ready to be king. It's all well and good deposing a tyrant, but it would be all for nothing if you can't replace him with someone who would be a better ruler. He might be brave and care for his people, but Arthur lacks experience and the resolve to make the hard choices that a ruler must make.

'To Kill the King' is one of my favourite Merlin episodes. Like 'The Beginning of the End', this episode tones down the use of magic, features no crappy monsters, focuses more on the characters and sees a shift into more mature storytelling. And that is why I love it. Just when I think I've got this show all figured out, along comes an episode like this one. Merlin had tricked me into thinking it was a safe, predictable show. One where the bad guys are always defeated, the innocent are always saved and everything is sunshine and kittens at the end of every episode. Lord, what fool this mortal be.

Even though I love this episode, it is not without its faults. Chief among them is how Gwen is used. Considering that it was her father who was killed, I was surprised that Gwen had such a small role in this episode. Much of this season has been focused on developing the bromance of Merlin and Arthur, and their relationship with their respective father figures. As such, the show's only female characters, Gwen and Morgana, have been underused and underdeveloped, Gwen most of all. This would've been a great opportunity to finally give Angel Coulby the chance to shine that she so richly deserves. Alas, that was not to be. Instead, Gwen was pushed to the sidelines and the focus was put on Morgana and her growing hatred for Uther.

Merthur Moments

None. Merlin and Arthur hardly interact with each other at all.

Notes and Quotes

--Gold acting star to Katie McGrath. This was another fantastic episode for her as Morgana dealt with her conflicted feelings about murdering Uther and also her guilt over her role in Tom's death.

--Merlin was using the staff from 'The Gates of Avalon'. Nice bit of continuity there. Although, it does beg the question why he didn't use it against Sir Tristan in 'Excalibur'?

--This episode identifies Morgana's father as Gorlois. In the legends he was the Duke of Cornwall, a bitter rival of Uther Pendragon, who desired Golois' wife, Igraine. He was the father of Morgan Le Fey, Morgause and Elaine of Garlot.

--As shocking as it was to see him killed, it's hard to care about Gwen's father. He's been a minor character, and not a very well written or acted one.

--Not only does Uther have those who practice magic executed, but anyone associated with them as well. Forget Tom, he clearly knew the guy was up to no good, it's the local B&B owners I feel sorry for. Executed for giving a man a bed for a night. Well, I hope they overcharged him.

Morgana: “I cannot see the future, only the present.”
--Or so you think.

Uther: “I will strive to listen to you more and quarrel with you less. You have been a blessing to me, Morgana. You are the daughter I never had. Your counsel is invaluable, as is your friendship and your love. Without you, I cannot hope to be the king this land deserves.”

Uther: “Your will is as strong as my own. You challenge me as a friend must, as your father did in his time.”
Morgana: “But when I do, you clap me in irons!”
Uther: “I know I'm not an easy man. My temper blinds me sometimes. There are things that I regret.”
Morgana: “Gwen's father?”
Uther: “Yes.”
Morgana: “Are you saying you were wrong to have Tom killed?”
Uther: “Yes.”

Tauren: “Are you sure you're committed to this?”
Morgana: “More than ever, I want Uther dead-- as much as you, as much as anyone in this rotten kingdom of his.”
Tauren: “Then the deed is as good as done.”

Merlin: “Everyone hates him.”
Gaius: “It is not Uther's job to be liked. It is Uther's job to protect the kingdom. Most of his methods are right. Sometimes he may go too far.”
Merlin: “Really? You mean like executing anyone who even passes a sorcerer on the street?”
Gaius: “Yes. Despite Uther's failings, he has brought peace and prosperity to this kingdom.”
Merlin: “But at what cost? At the cost of women and children, fathers and sons! When will it end?”
Gaius: “It will end when Arthur is king.”

The Great Dragon: “Don't you want Uther dead? It is Uther that persecutes you and your kind, Merlin. It is Uther that murders the innocent...”
Merlin: “But surely that doesn't make it right to kill him.”
The Great Dragon: “Only if Uther dies can magic return to the land. Only if Uther dies will you be free, Merlin. Uther's reign is at an end. Let Arthur's reign begin! Fulfill your destiny!”

Four out of four dead B&B Owners.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

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