MERLIN: Series 2 - Episode 2 / The Once And Future Queen

BBC1 - 26th September 2009 - 6.40pm

Now which 'queen' are we talking about here? Simpering little Gwen, who flutters her eyelids constantly enough that I fear she'll start to hover several feet off the floor? Or that en-armoured blonde hunk throwing hissy fits everywhere and treating the castle slaves as a sub-class. What a gay beeeaaatch you are, Arthur!

Now, we love Arthur just because he's such...such...a man! Arrogant, ignorant, thoughtless. Blonde hair, hairy chest. All that...and this word sticks in my throat as I'd vowed never to use it...'bromance' with Merlin. What's not to like? In this second episode Arthur decides that he's had enough of his fellow knights only giving respect because he's the King's son and he flounces off to join the common people and work out what people really think of him. But then he wants to have his cake and eat it. Even though everyone thinks he's off fighting some terrifying beast, he's still around to take part in the jousting competition and uses a substitute to cover his tracks and pretend to be the winning knight. Then he bunks down at Gwen's house, claims her bed and makes her skivvy around without so much as a thank you. Oh, he's such a lad! My sides!

Meanwhile, Adrian Lester, sporting an odd looking comedy beard, is hired by disgruntled neighbouring King Odin to assassinate Arthur for killing his son. It's a cracking pre-titles sequence, very moody and threatening but alas it does tend to go downhill after this. Poor Adrian, he doesn't get a lot to do apart from wear big hoods and shoot crossbows. By hook and by crook...well, actually by strangulation, he becomes Arthur's opponent in the joust and rams a big pointy thing into Arthur's side. A big pointy thing that pops out of a clenched fist. How very Freudian in a homosexual subtext sort of way. Obviously, Arthur's used to having things rammed into him because he seems to be standing up without the aid of an ambulance crew by the end of the episode.

Merlin is reduced to a series of comedy magician's apprentice nonsense this week. First of all we get the Disney-esque sight of him using his magic powers to clean up his room. Then he has a slanging match with Gaius about how put upon he is. D'you see where this episode is going? It's all about teenage boy tantrums. Yawn. Rather tedious. And they've actually decided to follow the proper legend, the swines. After upsetting all sorts of stroky beard 'it's desecrating the legend' types they've stuck to tradition and got Arthur and Gwen together. But not quite yet. So, we got a chaste little kiss between Arthur and Gwen, sunlight streaming through the window behind them. So, my suggestion that Merlin turns evil and seduces Arthur didn't go down very well, it seems.

Merlin's character was handled so badly in this episode that I thought he'd wandered in from another series. The worst thing is, and I'm getting very worried about this, is that Colin Morgan now has a striking resemblance to Pob. If he starts breathing all over the camera and writing 'Merlin' in childish scrawl across your telly I think we've good reason to be concerned. He suddenly became a simpering simpleton, reduced to a gurning child. Where was the Merlin that hurled fireballs at Nimueh? So, Merlin, if Arthur gets jiggy with Gwen, it's your own fault! I also loved the letter in this week's Radio Times where Holly Arthur seems to have been in sympathy with a lot of us gay boys and has spotted the 'undeniable chemistry' between the two male leads and has, shock - horror, suggested the show take an unorthodox approach with a romance between Merlin and Arthur. I am not Holly Arthur. You therefore cannot claim your £5.

Whilst Merlin and Arthur deal with their hormones, there is some excitement in the jousting scenes and they are well directed. However, who decided to smother them in tedious Carmina Burana 'Old Spice' music? I half expected the knights to abandon their horses, jump on their surf boards and leap from the castle ramparts. The Orff estate might be rather peeved. Also did you notice how immaculately those tents were made? Gorgeous machine stitching and metal eye holes in the tent flaps. How very advanced!

And poor Katy McGrath. Reduced to a few shots of standing and clapping at the tournament. Mind you, judging from the preview of next week's episode it looks like full on Morgana is upon us. At last. And it's a Ben Vanstone script too so we should be in for a treat. Until then we'll have to accept that this is very much a throwback to the rather dull stuff of Series 1.

Episode 1 Review

Series 1 Reviews

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One Response to “MERLIN: Series 2 - Episode 2 / The Once And Future Queen”
  1. Anonymous says:

    "What a gay beeeaaatch you are, Arthur!"

    "very Freudian in a homosexual subtext sort of way. Obviously, Arthur's used to having things rammed into him"

    Wow, someone's desperately overcompensating, aren't they! And at what point did Gwen simper, exactly?

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