Season 1 Episode 7

The Gates Of Avalon

Aired Unknown Nov 01, 2008 on BBC

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

Write A Review
out of 10
192 votes
  • Arthur saves the enchanting Sophia and her father from robbers in the forest. Uther invites them to stay in Camelot. Things are not what they seem. Arthur starts to act very strange. Morgana is having seer dreams and Merlin must save the day.

    Interesting characters and mythology in this episode. I like how they are not afraid to borrow from different sources but they stay fairly accurate to the actual mythology they borrow from.

    Sophia and her Father Aulfric are Sidhes pronounced "shee". The are a supernatural immortal race similar to fairies from Irish Folklore. Sophia needs to sacrifice the heart of a Prince to cross through the Gates of Avalon where the Sidhes belong. Her father is willing to sacrifice himself to help her get to this end.

    Morgana has a vision of the girl before she arrives and realizes all is not right with this woman. She tells Gaius who realizes that her powers as a "Seer" are growing and advises her to keep it from Uther as he tends to put anyone to death who even thinks about magic.

    Gaius realizes what these creatures are and in the end it is up to Merlin, who takes the brunt of the abuse in this episode for Arthur, to save the day.

    Uther's reaction to Arthur's announcement of marriage was one of the first times I think Uther seems to have shown common sense in the show. A good show that was very enjoyable with a interesting story and good acting. Thanks for reading...
  • 'I saw Arthur lying underwater, drowning, and there was a woman standing over him, watching him die- and she's here. In Camelot.' (SPOILERS)

    In The Gates Of Avalon, there's more playing hard-and-fast with Arthurian legend which will annoy the purists but should entertain everyone else. On a hunting expedition, Arthur saves a young girl- Sophia- and her father- Aulfric- from bandits. Uther suggests that they stay at Camelot to break up their journey- and Arthur becomes very smitten with Sophia. However, not everyone is pleased with the new arrivals. Morgana awakens from a nightmare in which a strange young woman is standing over a drowning Arthur... to find Sophia is the girl in her nightmare. Gaius also becomes suspicious of the newcomers and discovers their secret. They are Sidhe, mystical beings condemned to a mortal life for the killing of a fellow Sidhe. However, there is a condition which means that Sophia can once again pass through the gates of Avalon and back home- if she gives up the soul of a mortal prince. But with Arthur enchanted by Sophia and completely in love with her, will they be able to save him? Of course they will, but the route is always more exciting than the destination.

    The fact that the Sidhe are a mythological race from Ireland with no link whatsoever to either Arthurian legend in general or Avalon in particular hasn't stopped writer Ben Vanstone from throwing the two elements together to form the motivation for the villains of the week. That said, both Holliday Grainger and Kenneth Cranham turn in strong performances. Cranham is good as the elder statesman and Grainger makes a wonderfully fatale femme, enchanting Arthur to her will. However, she also gets a few decent scenes with other characters- notably a catty conversation with an agitated Morgana. After six weeks on the sidelines, Morgana finally gets her own episode- and Katie McGrath gets a chance to shine. And shine she does. Throughout the previous episodes, mentions of Morgana's nightmares and awry sleeping patterns have hinted at a different cause. It now appears that she's a seer or prophetess. She is by turns agitated, scared, upset, defiant, cautious, coaxing and brave and it's a strong performance by McGrath. She's equally matched by Richard Wilson, again acting as confidante and friend and also handily filling in on backstory. Anthony Head is as able as ever as Uther, coming to the fore when he callously suggests he will execute Sophia and Aulfric if Arthur doesn't pay him respect. He also gets some good scenes with Colin Morgan and lays on a nicely comedic edge. Morgan is as good as ever, with a slightly broader streak of comedy coming through here. The running joke of him ending up in the stocks just about works and isn't run too much into the ground. Bradley James is also good, showing yet another side when he is bewitched by Sophia. It's just a shame Gwen hasn't much to do, besides one scene with Morgana at the window.

    The scene with the Sidhe works well- the combination of CGI and prosthetics striking a good balance for once. However, the totally over-the-top death-blasts for both Sophia and Aulfric wouldn't have looked out of place in something like Starship Troopers. The niggles are minor though- this does rank quite strongly out of the episodes seen so far.
  • Ugly Guardian Fairies and the gates of Avalon. A very balanced episode.

    This show is starting to get far better. Where as it is called Merlin the fact is that its becoming an ensemble type show and fleshing out all the other characters and that is no bad thing. This time its Morgana who we get to know better and her relation to the world and the other characters. Till now this character has been very bland and its good to see that she has been born as a seer because it ends up making the character more fitted to her legendary self, and to the premise of the show. The fact that Gaius has known for a while means that he is guarding 2 people's magical secrets now. Another thing that this does well is keep the magic plot low key and not in Uther Pendragon's face. Last episode did something similar but this is a little more successful. The evil faerie guardian's (Sheee's) of Avalon are suitably creepy (and actually good effects as well). Where as most episodes have had you believe that magical societies do not exist and its mainly the work of magical individuals the feeling that magic is all around is a good set-up.

    The running joke of Merlin in the stocks was funny however he is keeping secrets from Uther already so its not very convincing that he can't lie to him. In all honesty all the characters get almost equal screen time here and that makes it balanced. Some get developments, others don't. What I would like to say is though that Arthur is the weak link here if anything as he's being taken for a complete and utter fool. This is a very enjoyable episode and this show goes from strength to strength, lets just hope Arthur isn't played the fool every week. Merlin also needs a little more gravitas as a main character otherwise he's likely to sink too deeply into this ensemble.