There was a good build-up of suspense in this episode, but there were two major issues that marred it a little. The first is that the imposter servant Cedric plays a great thief, but as far as being the possessed incarnation of a great sorcerer, his presentation falls way short. Second, the ending is a bit contrived, with Merlin pretending to have succumbed for a few seconds (I won't say to what in case you haven't seen it). Also annoying is the blindness of Uther to real and potential dangers, despite repeated warnings, which he labels as superstitions. At some point, one would have to question whether Uther has lost a bit of his marbles. Finally, Morgana is getting a bit too hysterical. It's time for her to turn to the dark side before her whimpering gets worn on the audience. However, there were a lot of good concepts here, and I hope the rest of this season's episodes get more polished! I would consider this one a slight step back from last season.
The plot itself for this episode is fine, we have all ingredients for a nice 1 hour Merlin adventure. The script is not though and leaves some things to be desired. After all that has transpired in the court of Camelot it seems one can get into the Prince's chambers far too easily, I am sure the writers did see that but maybe just did not know what else to do in order to advance the plot in the alotted time.
The script also offers some blood and gore visual opportunities but the production scale does not so you are left to imagine the gargoyle attacks. I am not saying it has to be very graphic, it just is obvious that there is not enough money in this show to make such "mass attack" scenes, so you really shouldn't try and script them.
The "stupid" and "clumsy" Merlin role has been going on long enough as well and I find it tiresome, Season 2 should lead to Arthur knowing the truth about Merlin, midseason.
The scenes between Gwen and Arthur did come across too forced, it's like the writers trying to convey a point with a 10 foot high billboard. The art of subtleness would work like "magic" here.
So, be more subtle with the Gwen/Arthur stuff, ditch the "stupid plot advancement" elements (that means things the viewer cannot accept easily as believable like a stranger being nominated personal servant for the prince) and do not try to write about things that involve a lot of CGI unless you have the money to pull it off.
Other than that the episode was fine and I am sure the younger audience (9-12) will like it even more and don't have any gripes with the above mentioned points.
I was looking forward to the new series of Merlin, and in many ways this was a fine opening episode. It had great performances, good special effects and loads of action. However it was let down by a massive regression in the character of Arthur and the relationship between him and Merlin.
When a dejected Merlin, with a face full of horse muck, says to Gaius 'I just want Arthur to trust me. Everything I do is for him, and he just thinks I am an idiot' I thought I was in a time warp back to early series 1. The heart of this show is the relationship, and great chemistry, between Arthur and Merlin. Without this it could just be another formulaic, joining the dots, 'family drama'. What kept viewers coming back in series 1 was the fantastic development of the characters of Arthur and Merlin, and of their friendship. Arthur started out as an arrogant, rude prince who was brave but selfish. Merlin was a naïve young man with powers he didn't understand and no idea of how to use them. As series 1 progressed, Merlin taught Arthur to be more humble, and Arthur gave Merlin confidence and a purpose in life. They moved from servant / master to something much more like a friendship, at least in private (no slash overtones intended). Suddenly in this episode Arthur no longer appears to trust Merlin, thinks he is a clumsy, lazy buffoon, doesn't listen to him, and has him thrown in the dungeon. Doesn't ring true I am afraid. I presume the writers did this deliberately as a way of bringing newcomers to the show up to speed quickly on the characters – Arthur arrogant, Merlin ditzy, Uther doesn't like magic etc etc - but that was a mistake I feel.
On the plus side there were some lovely moments between Gwen and Arthur, the final battle was very exciting, and the villain of the piece was excellent.
Overall, an OK start but I want to see character progression, not regression from now on.
So nice to have this show back. Early on in the episode there is a reminder of Merlin's courageous character - as men come running terrified out of an ancient tomb, Merlin heads straight in to see what happened. The old dyanmic is there with Merlin saving Arthur and getting no credit, having to hide his power and who he really is, and the danger and vulnerabilities that creates. The evil old sorceror who comes back from the dead, who was executed in older times, is a good reminder that even powerful sorcerors can be overcome and executed. (although I'm still not sure how taht actually works, i.e., how these ultra powerfuls ever get caught, without using magic...) Sounds like Uther (who is as arrogant as ever BTW) is about to ramp up the ban on magic even more, which will make things even more challenging and interesting. Next week's ep something about a troll sounds good. This is is such a nice who, fun, adventurous, visually stunning show and always with at least a few good chuckles.
A tomb is found beneath the city that houses great wealth. A thief Cedric easily usurps Merlin's position as Arthur's manservant and ends up taking the key locking the tomb door. Cedric's greed then unknowingly unleashes great danger on Camelot.
I definitely enjoyed the return of Merlin to US television. Somehow the writers totally forgot the relationship Merlin and Arthur had put together over the first season. Arthur is totally dismissive of Merlin and actually really treats him as a servant which was not the case near the end of last year. Especially at the end of the season after they defended the village together.
In this season opener we see that a tomb of great wealth has been found and Gaius is sure it is the tomb of Cornelius Sigan who was a great sorcerer. Maybe the greatest of Camelot's history. He was killed by a former King for becoming too powerful, but he foretold that he would rise and destroy Camelot someday.
Along comes a thief named Cedric played by Mackenzie Crook who usurps Merlin's position as Arthur's chief Manservant quite easily so he can get the key given to Arthur by his father to guard the tomb. The tomb is full of gold and jewels including a large stone in the middle of the chest of the crypt itself. You can see the danger coming.
Of course it's up to Merlin to save the day without giving away his capability and in the end he must strike a deal which has long term consequences for Camelot. Also the King tells Gaius that the incident has brought him even more resolve to rid Camelot of sorcery forever. A very ominous declaration.
Enjoyable and well produced. The special effects were adequate for a television show of this production value. I am scoring down for the poor memory of the writers or their convenient forgetfulness of Arthur and Merlin's relationship. Thanks for reading...
This episode had its faults and its merits. As a season opener, it provided a range of the elements we have come to expect from Merlin - action, suspense and drama - while providing a more complex and intriguing plot than usual and still managing to portray important scenes with the handicap of a low budget for CGI effects. As a stand-alone episode, it was entertaining and certainly portrayed aspects of the dynamics we are used to in the Merlin universe.
However, this being said - there is supposed to be some progress as the seasons go on, and one mistake many shows make is submitting to a formula which has worked for them in a past and repeating it time after time. I have enough faith in the writers and producers of Merlin to know that they will not do this to too much an extent - but beginning the season with Arthur being a jerk (and essentially wiping off all the progress made on his character last season in one fell swoop) does mean it will be necessary for him to redeem himself, which I thought had been done last season. And at least last season we got the satisfaction seeing Merlin openly defy him - now that he is aware of his destiny, the best he did was call Arthur a clotpole - and what the hell does that mean???
Half the reason I - and I'm sure much of the audience - watch the show is because of the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. Not because I am a slash fan (as I'm not) but because it is an interesting and moving dynamic. The audience doesn't want to see Arthur being an unfeeling, ungrateful jerk to Merlin, and they don't want to see Merlin sit back and take it. I really hope that we'll see some nicer moments between them.
I did like the little Arthur - Gwen moments, which were very sweet. That coupling is surely going to cause some trouble as the show progresses.
All in all, a good episode - but I wouldn't want to see too many more like it.