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Merlin: The Sins of the Father

“Arthur Pendragon, a great destiny awaits you. The battle for your soul is about to begin.”

I love this episode. Another stone cold classic from the mighty Howard Overman. There are times I wish he would quit Misfits and just write every Merlin episode. I know, unlikely, not to mention impractical. Plus, 'The Labyrinth of Geldref' showed that not everything he touches turns to gold. But, damn, when he's good, he is very good.

Say hello to Morgause, played by the always wonderful Emilia Fox. She's Morgana's half-sister and our new recurring bad guy. She is very similar to Nimueh in many ways. Both are powerful sorceress. Both are priestess of the old religion. Both are dedicated to the downfall of Uther and Camelot. But Morgause is more handy with a sword and has a better dress sense. Seriously, how amazing does she look in that red dress? Wozer. The revelation that she's Morgana's half-sister, however, was rather clumsily handled. It is just thrown in there and isn't really elaborated on, leaving us with a few unanswered questions. Why was she smuggled out of Camelot after her birth? She was clearly born long before the Great Purge so why did Uther want her dead?

Morgause's plan to destroy Camelot was sheer eloquence in its simplicity. While Nimueh was content to send monsters and zombie knights to bring down the Pendragon dynasty, Morgause is more subtle and crafty. All she does is tell Arthur the truth about his birth. Whether or not that was the spirit of Ygraine or an apparition conjured by Morgause is irrelevant, what she told Arthur was the truth. And that revelation shatters Arthur's entire belief system.

Arthur has spent his entire life trying to live up to father's high standards. Everything he is, his sense of duty and honour as a knight of Camelot, is because of that. More than that, Uther has had hundreds, maybe thousands, put to death for practising magic. And he's had his son, albeit reluctantly, carry out those orders. Their blood is on his hands as much as his father's. He didn't want to, but Arthur did his duty because his father raised him to believe the war against magic was right.

Now he finds out that his father is a hypocrite, who used magic for his own benefit. We've never seen Arthur this angry before. For the first time in his life he sees is father for the man he truly is. Gold acting stars for Bradley James and Anthony Head. They were both terrific in the confrontation scene. Not only is this the best scene of the episode, I'd go as far as to say it is one of the best scenes of the entire series.

The question is, if Merlin hadn't arrived when he did, would Arthur have gone through with it, would he have killed his father? He was so consumed by rage by what Uther had done that it is not difficult to imagine him actually killing his father. Once again Merlin has to save the life of the man who persecutes his kind. But he does it not for Uther's sake, but for Arthur's. Merlin wants nothing more than to see Uther gone and Arthur take the throne so “magic can return to the land”. But not like this. Not with Arthur killing his father. He might be guilty, but Merlin knows that Arthur would never be able to forgive himself if he killed Uther. So he lets the prince believe the comforting lie, even if it means reinforcing his belief that everyone who practices magic is evil.

Merthur Moments

The entire escape sequence.

Familiar Faces

A member of Britain's second most famous acting dynasty (the Redgraves being the first), Emilia Fox is the daughter of James Fox and the niece of Edward Fox. Or is it the other way round? I can never remember. She has appeared in the remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Rebecca (with Charles Dance), and is currently the star of Silent Witness.

Notes and Quotes

--Morgause test with the axe is right out of Sir Gwaine and the Green Knight.

--In the mythology, Morgause was the daughter of Gorlois and Igraine, sister to Morgan le Fay and half-sister of Arthur. In some versions she was the mother of Gawain, Gaheris, Agravain, Gareth, and Mordred.

--The guards outside Arthur's chambers must've been deaf. Unless they thought Merlin's scream of “There is no more rope” was all part of some sordid sex act.

--Just how big is Camelot? It seems to take Merlin forever to get from the courtyard to the council chamber. Is it bigger on the inside?

--Arthur was looking exactly at Morgause when she magic'd his horse, how did he not see her eyes glow?

Arthur: “I have never felt so humiliated in my entire life. I was defeated by a girl.”
Merlin: “It's actually quite funny when you think about it. Or not. No.”
Arthur: “It's like you said. I was hindered because I was fighting a woman. I was worried I was going to hurt her. That's why she won.”
Merlin: “You didn't look hindered. (Arthur glares at him) I'll stop talking now.”

Arthur: “What is wrong with this horse? It's even dumber than you, Merlin.”
Merlin: “Where are you going? I thought you said it was left!”
Arthur: “It's not me, it's the horse! Morgause told me: 'When the time comes, you'll know your way.'”
Merlin: “So the horse knows where we're going? Great.”

Morgause: “I am truly sorry that you learnt of your mother's fate in this way. I can only imagine how it must feel to discover that your father is responsible for her death. It is an unforgivable betrayal.”

Uther: “You would believe a sorcerer's lies over the word of your own father? I can only think that Morgause has enchanted you.”
Arthur: “You have hunted her kind like animals! How many hundreds have you condemned to death to ease your guilt?”
Uther: “Those who practise magic will stop at nothing to destroy us. I have only done what is necessary to protect this kingdom!”
Arthur: “You speak of honour and nobility. You are nothing but a hypocrite and a liar!”

Uther: “Those who practise magic will seek to exploit Arthur's inexperience. They will attempt to corrupt him. You must be extra vigilant.”
Merlin: “I'll keep my eyes peeled.”
Uther: “I know you will. If you ever speak of what happened between myself and Arthur to another living soul, I will have you hanged.”
Merlin: “Right. Of course. Yes, my Lord.”

Four out of four amazing red dresses that made my heart skip a beat.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

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