Season 3 Episode 4


Aired Unknown Oct 02, 2010 on BBC

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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out of 10
176 votes
  • Introduction of another future Knight of the Round Table is a diverting story with good comedy and a buddy for Merlin. Entertaining but predictable, the episode is par for the course. Good stunt work was a highlight along with the guest star.

    What Worked:

    The Bar Brawl – Yes we've seen the introduction of a loveable rogue in a classic western bar brawl but it worked well for the show. And frankly, while it's a standard TV Trope, it's also probably new for the younger Merlin audience and the gags worked well. Eoin Maken has excellent comic timing and sold the introduction well. Nice moment also when the bar keep Mary takes a shine to Merlin over Arthur.

    Contrast between Uther and Arthur – Although Uther can come across as one-note regarding nobles and inordinate pressure on his son to perform, character consistency is sometimes a good approach. Arthur had a nice little showcase of development this episode. Like Prince Hal (Shakespeare's Henry Vth) he knows visiting the local tavern in disguise is a good way to take the measure of the people. He stands up for the locals when a bully arrives and acts honorably to a "commoner" who saved his life. When the Gwaine drinks up a big bar tab, cleaning the army boots IS a just punishment. Finally, he one again shows he knows how to reach his father by giving his word as a knight that Gwaine deserves clemency. Finally, while Uther would have fought to the end to win the melee, Arthur comfortably gives the field to the "mystery" knight who helped him out. It wasn't the "A" plot but Arthur's development is coming along nicely.

    Heating up Arthur/Gwen – Arthur's little jealousy fit when Gwen is laughing with Gwaine was a cute moment. In story-time not much has happened in the past year between those two. It's good to remind Arthur that Gwen is a desirable young lady. Gwaine – Our new bad boy has an interesting back story yet to be revealed it would appear. He's clearly older and more world weary than Merlin but really takes a shine to our sweet protagonist very quickly. Merlin seems very naïve compared to Gwaine but he also seems more relaxed than around any of the other characters. It's nice to see. And frankly, the view of Gwaine is easy on the eyes with his chiseled chest and windswept locks. Also nice was how Gwaine was tempted when Merlin suggested he and Arthur fought well together and Gwaine should stick around. A lot of potential left to be explored with this character.

    Partial Success:

    Merlin/Arthur – With the exception of the tiresome tankard to the head routine, the boys interaction was fairly good this week. As the most important relationship on the show, if this is in good shape then the episode fares much better. Arthur shouting a warning to Merlin, Merlin acknowledging he really understands why Arthur is fighting in the melee, and the little shoving match at the end were all nice moments. Conversely, Merlin making a crack about Arthur's intelligence and Arthur throwing things at Merlin really detracts. The Melee – Once again the French stunt horseman provide movie-quality action to the show. The melee was in fact a traditional medieval tournament and was good practice for future wars. The setup of deadly blades disguised as blunt swords was also a nice touch. But the "Arthur is going to get killed in a tournament" is now an annual plot that should be put to rest. Even worse, several of the Uther/Morgana/Gwen reaction scenes were clearly left over film from last year's "The Once and Future Queen". Katie McGrath has a terrible cold and fever during that filming and we see it again in this year's episode. The reused footage took me out of what could have otherwise been a nice action sequence.

    What Didn't Work:

    The Villains – The two bad guys were about as cardboard as they come. They weren't remotely entertaining and there was never a sense of real menace. Yes, they killed an old man when his back was turned, that hardly makes them a threat. If the villain is not interesting is always undermines the value of the hero's task. It was a hard sell to make these two worthy opponents for our heroes. Overall grade 8. Gwaine is a very nice addition to the recurring cast but the episode did not have any particular standout moments. It was a little too formulaic and run of the mill to get any higher rating and the villains were particularly boring.

    Upon Second Review: Because we see our new buddy Gwaine three more times this year, his introduction is appreciated even more. EP4 effectively establish his patterns of behavior and we believe he'd throw his lot in with Merlin in EP8 and with Arthur in EP12/13 without hesitation. Gwaine loves a fight which again lets us know there is more brewing underneath the "devil may care" exterior. He has his own personal growth arc this year and, in context with that arc, EP4 fares a little better as a solid foundational episode. It is Gwaine's introduction that lasts and the rest of the plot for EP4 is just a showcase for the new kid in town.
  • Another tournament episode, which is lively and adventurous as ever.

    This episode is somewhat 'Valiant'-esque - there is a weapon forged by magic, bought by villain, and then its maker is killed. But the beginning is actually a comic relief of a sort, before we are introduced to a new character, Gawain, and a dark plot to kill Arthur.

    Gwaine is a nice addition to the show, as he shows that you can be noble and learn to appreciate the common people like Merlin. Even more, he renounces his titles, and desires but nobility of his soul. Throughout the episode he is shown just like that - a virtuous knight.

    Arthur's character is also at the centre of the episode, for here it is foreshadowed that kingdom shall be much different when he becomes its king. First, he will have to abolish those differences in order to marry Guinevere; and also to have loyal knights such as Gwaine (and Lancelot) at his side. The Round Table will have to be formed according to other principles, which Uther will never be able to grasp.

    Arthur's and Merlin's friendship is also a highlight. After, to some fans worrisome previous episode, we are shown that there isn't a reset, which is a relief. Arthur can appreciate people not by their places in Uther's hierarchy, but by their valour, their inner value. There are a few scenes in which Merlin is much appreciated, but the one that has to be mentioned is the one in which Arthur is actually talking to Merlin as his equal. Fans will, no doubt, recognize it instantly.

    There is little Uther here, and even less Morgana - pity, but it may have been necessary if we were to be shown what it means to be good, courageous and virtuous. Tournaments do show what people are made of, and as all the previous ones, this tournament has achieved its purpose as well.
  • Wonderful light adventure episode!

    Great episode, that introduces a wonderful new character to the show. Gwaine is a good edition to the Merlin world, and I like his blossoming friendship with Merlin. I have high hopes for this character's return in episode 8 of this season, and where he will go from there.

    We got a fun bar room brawl, sneaky assassins, tourney fights, and a mischievous fun loving noble (Gwaine)who pretends to be a peasant. I really enjoyed this as a light adventure episode that most likely lays the foundation for Gwaine's character who will probably become a knight of the round table.
  • An enjoyable episode however a bit flawed.

    Overall I liked the episode however one item really bothered me. Merlin is able to use telekinesis which he did with the plates in the bar fight and the horses saddle. When he discovered the crystals around the imposters necks he should have simply used telekinesis to break the chains since he knew there was some kind of power in them. Even if he didn't know exactly what he could have safely broken the chains, particularly during the fight when Gwaine came to Merlins rescue. This would have unmasked the imposters in front of the King who seeing the magic would have arrested them on the spot.
  • See Summary

    Gwaine made a great 1st appearance in the series. This episode was exciting, had action, and some drama as usual. It was fun to watch, but I still feel that this series could be a little better. The actors are good, the writing is good, but something just isn't there. I like how the relationships between the characters developed in this episode. We were able to see different sides of each of them. Morganna was still in the background for much of the episode. Gwen is delightful as ever. I hope we start to see a steady story line develop. It seems each episode doesn't really have much to do with each other or come together smoothly.