Season 4 Episode 5

His Father's Son

Aired Unknown Oct 29, 2011 on BBC

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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  • Arthur's Episode!

    Contrary to most of the episodes, this episode centres around Arthur when he makes a big decision and has to bear the consequences. He does what he thinks is correct. This episode is not about Merlin but Arthur who has been recently crowned as the king of Camelot. Arthur does it well, he fights valiantly but at the end he shows mercy by sparing his opponent's life. The queen (forgive me I forgot her name) detects something special in Arthur, and therefore decides to make peace. Camelot has one less enemy now. This is a different episode, but still enjoyable.
  • His Father's Son sets out to be a test for newly crowned King Arthur, yet was Uther Pendragon really so noble of a king to be copying from?


    This Review Contains Spoilers

    This episode isn't bad, and actually pretty decent, if you are a casual viewer who hasn't really followed the series over the past few years. If you know more about the series there's a lot of problems within the script and character portrayals. All the plot hooks provided in this episode lead the characters backward in development, or nowhere at all. The inconsistency of scripts is turning into an inside joke, and leaves an avid viewer frustrated. Each episode runs on the Las Vegas tagline "what happens here, stays here", meaning don't expect the plots to connect or even make sense beyond the one episode showcase.

    Overall, the episode feeds on the plot of Arthur makes a bunch of mistakes, then realizes where they have led. He then decides to set everything to rights, and does so. There's no lasting effects of Arthur's mistakes, although there might be one left on the viewer's who are still thinking "Arthur killed that guy (off-screen) ?!" Part of setting things to rights is Arthur doing a trail by combat to avoid war. Annis' champion looks like something from a bad He-Man cartoon, and after a close call, everything gets fixed up neatly. Impressed with Arthur, Queen Annis tells Morgana she is more Uther's daughter than she realizes, leaving the witch to wordlessly flee back into the countryside and ponder her fallen state, until she comes up with her next devious plan. That is the plot in a nutshell. It's simple, straightforward, but sadly incoherent when compared to actions or character development solidified in season one, when we are almost halfway through season four.

    One of the things that didn't sit right with me was Merlin's role in this episode. Merlin as the title character usually holds a lot of weight within the storyline. He usually is on top of things having the weight of the kingdom on his shoulders, solving issues that only his gifted magical abilities achieve. In this episode, Merlin has misplaced his usual insight. He seems to be playing the role of Arthur's Manservant without any hidden saving graces. While Morgana makes prevision to enchant Arthur's sword, to make certain he loses the fight, Merlin himself seems disillusioned and almost teary eyed about Arthur's single combat, as if he expects Arthur to die. He had no plans to ensure Arthur would survive the combat beforehand, then blinks a magic spell to save him as what seemed like an after thought when the fight doesn't go according to fairness. That's a huge downgrade from previous episodes/seasons where Merlin was challenged to come up with a ingenious way to save Arthur by magic.

    Arthur is the central character of this episode, and as a result, the storyline does him the most harm. Everything thrown at Arthur regarding the choice to kill and show 'strength' was already resolved in the first season, in the episode "The Labyrinth of Gedref". It seems like a rehash, devoid of real emotion or real character development. Arthur listens to ill-meaning Uncle Agravaine and kills a king thus starting a war. Since all of this is done off-screen it hardly seems like it happened at all, except that the characters keep harping on the fact that King Caerleon was killed by Arthur's hand. Uncle Agravaine then tells Arthur to break up with Gwen, as having a servant for a girlfriend doesn't befit a king. Arthur again goes along with this advice, rehashing a plotline already dealt with and resolved in the second and third seasons in episodes "The Once And Future Queen" and "Queen of Hearts". All these actions and behavior paint Arthur in a bad light. It seems inconceivable that any writer knowingly writing for the legendary character of King Arthur would drag him down this low.

    Arthur's progression throughout the series has always been to transform him from a selfish, arrogant, prat into the noble, honorable king. The trouble is, Arthur is now the king, yet he is falling short of being the type of king the early episodes always promised. No matter how insensitive Arthur might have acted at times in the series, there were always times the writer's chose to show the potential Arthur had to be King Arthur, the greatest king of legend. The series is taking an unexpected road, they have made Arthur 'king' in title alone, he is not yet living up to the type of standard set for being King Arthur, a standard set by the series itself. Camelot under Arthur as king is no different from Uther's kingdom, in fact, it seems far more unstable, as if hinging on the tide of destruction through the untested, and reckless behavior of Arthur. I just don't see how this fits. Too much has been built up about The Once and Future King and the type of destiny he had. I don't understand why the writer's are still lovesick on their idea of Arthur's mistakes almost leading to Camelot's undoing every week. In a forth season it seems like we should be past all that. Just take a look at Arthur, he's not a child, not a foolish teenager, so why isn't he growing up and being the king he once seemed headed to become?

    Gwen is another problem. Her entire role in this episode leaves nothing to be impressed with. Her reaction to Arthur's insensitive break up is to cry and beg that they can be 'together'. When Arthur refuses, Gwen throws out a 'be your own man, Arthur' then sinks quietly into the background to fulfill her thankless role of castle servant. The entire running plotline of Gwen always seeking out Arthur says nothing for Gwen as a character. As a servant she seems to have set her gaze a bit high in wanting the newly crowned king as her boyfriend. Arthur as the king would be more suited to try and court the servant girl, and seek her out against all odds, while Gwen should be more conscious of the social gap between them. A confusing writer blunder in the relationship, as far as I'm concerned.

    Personal feelings on the handling of this pairing aside, I think the real mistake in this episode comes from the end in which Arthur presents Gwen with some crushed wildflowers and makes a clumsy apology. Without any hesitation, Gwen readily accepts Arthur's apology. All is happy, lets have a kiss. If Gwen had any self-worth she would not have easily forgiven Arthur, after the appalling way he treated their break up. She would have backed away, explained she was not interested in reconciling, called him 'Sire', bowed and left the room. It would have served a good lesson for Arthur not to so easily win Gwen back, since he was the one he called off their courtship. Perhaps if Arthur had to prove his feelings for Gwen, win her back and have Gwen turn her attention to something beyond 'waiting to be queen', we would have the makings of an interesting pairing. As it stands, I'm not really impressed with the romantic side of Arthur and Gwen. I find their relationship too fickle, lacking real attachment, a love-story invented and sacrificed momentarily to suit whatever a script has in mind. Even when Gwen is made 'Queen Guinevere' I don't see the enduring effects it will have. She'll always in the girl at the castle, waiting for Arthur to kiss or break her heart. It just doesn't have lasting appeal to my sensibilities of what makes a good pairing.

    The knights are again background furniture. The only one who seems to have a decent part to play is Elyan, although why he was not affected by Arthur's treatment of his sister, I'll never know. The personality of Gwaine from season three is again greatly missed. This Gwaine doesn't even recall his father was a knight of King Caerleon and died at his hands. The writer's missed a good opportunity to make things personal for Gwaine, and just stuck him around the campfire with a random glance or line as the script called for. I seriously wish Gwaine hadn't been added as a regular, since he has been demoted from a character to a cardboard stand-up. It sad to see a character reduced so low. I just don't see the reason to have the knights, when they aren't respected or treated like actual members of the cast. It's very disappointing.

    Away from the flaws of story-telling and character actions, this episode has some uncharacteristic editing issues. The editing is choppy and actually laughable in places. Is it really necessary to bring a PG rated show down to G? In a storyline dealing with murderous execution, war and revenge, you would except the normal editing which implies these actions, cutting away neatly for the series' eating. I have always respected the editing done on Merlin and other BBC family viewing, however, in this episode everything was tamed and dumbed down to the point of stupidity.

    One other production oddity is the setting. Usually Merlin features a fairy tale setting where the kings/queens/princesses all dress in velvet and silk, and look like something taken straight from a story-book or Lord of The Rings and Narnia. Caerleon broke this mold, he hardly looked like a king. He was grabby, with the manners of a commoner, his queen, Annis wore furred robes and led a group of unwashed barbarians. The entire feel of Annis' kingdom was like an early Saxon or Celtic kingdom, it hardly fit with the series' usual setting. I'm not sure why this sudden jolting switch was included, except maybe the production of this episode wanted things to be gritty and earthy. Still, it's an odd combination that makes the episode seem misplaced when compared to others.

    As a whole, His Father's Son sets out to be a test for newly crowned King Arthur, yet was Uther Pendragon really so noble of a king to be copying from? In previous seasons, Arthur seemed pretty well set on what he did and didn't agree with regarding his father. Now he seems very hero-struck about his father's reign and easily led into error by his uncle. As advice, I would suggest the writer's re-look through the previous seasons and try to better connect the dots in the future.

    I'm left in a quandary when trying to rate "His Father's Son". Many aspects of this episode are a step up from some of missed opportunity filler episodes, and it has a few good scenes mixed in. It's watchable, fairly entertaining, and if you remove any gathered knowledge or know-how of the series and the characters, this ep can be viewed as a 'good' episode. However, if compared to previous storylines, previous episodes of previous seasons, it dims from 'good' to 'lackluster'. I suppose it could be said this episode is an okay mark to meet on most levels. If the series could just keep on a decent level and go up from here, it would be much more rewarding.

  • His Father's Son. A turning point for Arthur?


    Really enjoyed this episode. The point being that Arthur struggled with his first real test as King by making dubious decisions and definately NOT acting like himself. I sensed he felt lost and unsure and that was the reason why he listened to all the bad advice Uncle Aggy was giving him.

    He pushed his best friend away and I do believe this part of Arthur's and Merlin's friendship needed to be explored. It eventually made Arthur actually realise that Merlin DOES give him good advice and despite Arthur being so cruel to him and saying some unkind things to Merlin, Merlin decided to stay loyal.

    Also his realtionship with his lover Guinevere was explored too. Despite his numerous promises of when he is king they can be together, he broke them with the aid of Uncle who convinced him he couldn't have both (Guinevere and the throne). I think as a prince he felt he had more freedom with his choices but soon realised that as a king it wasn't so easy. The breakup scene was hard to watch (both actors were brilliant especially Angel Coulby) however, just like with his friend Merlin, maybe it had to happen to make their relationship stronger.

    Although this story was a serious one it did have it's comedy moments. I particularly laughed when Arthur actually saw the man he was to fight, his expression was priceless. Also poor Merlin tripping up pass the tent as he followed Arthur. Finally Arthur giving Guinevere those flowers from under his pillow and telling her he found them at the side of the road,lol.

    All in all I really liked it and have re watched several times.

  • Arthur makes his first big decision as King


    Enjoyable episode, though it still doesn't match up to the first 3 of this season. I enjoyed seeing Arthur trying to figure out how to be king, and his conflicting emotions on wether or not to be a king that rules with his mind 'like his father', or to rule with his heart.

    He learns the consequences of making a bad decision, and I believe this episode will lead him to trust the words of his friends more, despite their station.

    This episode was more for character development than furthering plot, but it was good, with a great guest star, and as always great acting from the cast.

  • His Father's Son


    His Father's Son was a great episode of Merlin though I don't think Arthur would have really gone along with his Uncles advice about taking a hard stance and killing in cold blood. Other than this the story was great, the characters were a little distant, and the plot moved slowly onward. Arthur's Uncle continues to wield influence and work with Morgana. It was great that Merlin could help Arthur when he was fighting for the Kingdom. Queen Annis was pretty forgiving as well. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!

  • I'm still delighted about this series and now understand what all the actors and crew meant when they instantly quoted this year as their favourite.


    I can't believe a show that I loved so much in series one continues to improve and develop whilst still holding on to it's strong characters and charm. The 35mm stuff continues to look stunning (as does the cast, of course)

    It takes a lot to grab and keep my attention on TV nowadays; so much mediocrity around - but never do I remember a 45 mins going quite so fast. When we got to the final fight scene last night I looked at the clock in surprise, convinced that only 20 minutes had passed rather than 35!

    I love the angst in this new series - Merlin upset and struggling to find his place - Arthur pushing his friend and his girlfriend away in the name of his extra responsibilities, but this all adds to the dramatic beauty of and makes the resolutions all the more touching. Merlin's pain is especially difficult to watch (why does Colin have to do those but I love the angst all the same.

    Arthur calling him 'old friend' was lovely and I look forward to seeing their bond slowly develop from now on, even though part of Arthur's going to fight it all the way.

    I thought Arthur's dilemmas were dealt with very well. Carleon was the aggressor and he and Annis would have known what the consequences were if/when he was captured but took the risk that Arthur was not like his father. Uther himself was the ultimate deterrant. His neighbours, be they allies or enemies, knew how ruthless he was and the 'peace' that Camelot has enjoyed these last twenty five years has always balanced on a knife edge of fear.

    After so many expressed suprise at the knights interaction with Merlin last week (I still believe what we saw last week was entirely friendly boy-banter) It was lovely to see the knights ask Merlin about Arthur and act on his reply and also Arthur acknowledge Merlin's wisdom again with their usual teasing name callling simply emphasising their novel way of showing affection for each other.

    Other things I loved. Queen Annis and her scenes with Morgana, Merlin dressed in a knight's outfit and being bait, the lovely sad and romantic Arwen moments and the final confrontation between Arthur and the giant (isn't that part of Arthurian legend too - although he kills him in that one, of course!) I loved the sight of the two watching armies and the fight itself but, the best thing for me about that was Merlin and Morgana; a sorcerer on each side of the army, subtly helping/interferring.

    This wasn't my favourite episode of the series so far, that honour still goes to 4.03 but then it's almost impossible to grade these individual episodes this year, especially as there is so much more of a series arc.

  • This episode struck a perfect balance between comedy, action and storytelling.


    I'm really delighted at the pace this season is moving at. Every episode moves the plot forward a good amount; I don't remember a single episode thus far being a waste in the sense that it doesn't do anything for the overarching plot.

    That isn't to say that I think everything is perfect. Arthur and Merlin's relationship needs to translate better from previous episodes. On many occasions Merlin has clearly shown to have wisdom and give good advice, yet Arthur still dismisses him as a servent. I believe it's high time that Arthur truly realizes Merlin's usefulness and treats him with more respect.

    I hope this show doesn't go the way of How I Met Your Mother and take forever to reveal Merlin's magic to Arthur. I believe that it was a mistake to make Arthurdespisethe old man for killing his father, a man who was clearly about to die anyways; though I will miss Anthony Head.

    I wish we had more of a chance to learn about the enemy faction's king; his character wasn't explored at all. The queen on the other hand has a really great personality; she was written very well.The lady who played her was superb; her final comments and observations of Morgana were very moving.

    Overall a fantastic episode and a greatrepresentationof the show's good writing and actors.

  • Finally Arthur steps up to becoming Camelot's king.


    Despite Arthur becoming the official 'King of Camelot' two episodes ago our previous installment did not cover much on Arthur's new placement but that is covered most deeply in this episode both in Arthur's emotions and his feelings on how he should act now being king. Fair to say it was a very involving and finished of with me feeling very satisfied. And next week's episode doesn't look to bad either...

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