Merlin Review: Arthur's Judgement

Arthur’s impending doom was the center of discussion in this week’s episode of Merlin.  As we saw in the season premiere, Merlin had a vision about Arthur’s downfall at the hands of Mordred. Yes, the same Mordred who was recently made a Knight of Camelot and holds magical abilities.

The story this week begins with three soothsayers, The Disir, placing a curse upon Arthur. Or rather, his “judgment,” as they like to call it. But the curse, which comes in the form of a token, needs to be “delivered” to Arthur by a sorcerer named Osgar. Sir Leon tells Arthur that one of their knights has been killed at the hands of Osgar. Arthur vows vengeance, so he prepares his search party to go on the hunt for Osgar.

It’s at this point that Arthur decides Mordred is ready to join the knights on patrol, essentially meaning he’s made it to the big league now. And in true Merlin fashion, we get some comic relief with the rest of the knights teasing Mordred about initiation rites into the patrol. A bit of medieval hazing, if you will.

But of course, before Arthur can leave Camelot, we get to hear Gwen – once again – voice her concerns about Arthur’s dangerous missions. Listen, I get it. She’s worried. She has every right to be. But I feel like she’s been reduced to a nagging wife. Sure, there have been moments where we’ve gotten to see Gwen act as the thoughtful, just and kind-hearted Queen that she is, but I’d love to see her a bit more involved in the story.

Arthur, Merlin and the knights find Osgar and hit him with a mortal injury. But before he dies, he fulfills his duty to pass along the token – aka Arthur’s judgment. Arthur scoffs at it, at first, but once he hears more from Gaius, he becomes curious and concerned. He sets out with the knights to find the Disir and get the full story – why is he being so strongly judged? Arthur has always felt that he is a good and fair king, especially when compared to his father. The Disir tell him what we all know – it is because he continues to deny the Old Religion, a.k.a. magic. The Disir get hostel, then, and start throwing their magical javelins at Arthur. Problem is, Mordred jumps in front of the javelin and takes the hit for Arthur and now he’s dying.

Back in Camelot, Gaius doesn’t see much hope for Mordred. He can’t cure him. But Gaius says Merlin’s magic can cure him – problem is, earlier in the episode, the dragon (he’s back!) advised Merlin that if there’s ever an opportune moment to kill Mordred, do it. And this seems to be Merlin’s opportune moment.

But Arthur is guilt-ridden. And being the stubborn guy that we know him to be, he returns to see the Disir to beg for Mordred’s life. This time, it’s just him and Merlin who return to the sacred cave. The Disir tell Arthur the only way to save Mordred is to “bow to the old religion” and reestablish magic in Camelot. They give him until the next morning to make his decision.

Arthur is seriously considering it. And for a moment, I think THIS MIGHT BE IT. Merlin has grown to be a voice of wisdom for Arthur, so Arthur asks for his opinion. What should he do? You can see it in his face – Merlin knows this could be his chance to make a difference in Camelot and restore magic. But instead, he says, “There can be no place for magic in Camelot.” Cue things being thrown at the TV. But of course, it’s plain why Merlin says this. He wants Mordred to die.

So Arthur rejects the Disir’s proposal, and returns to Camelot ready to bury Mordred. BUT WAIT. Mordred is alive and well, and bouncing down the stairs to greet Arthur and Merlin upon their return.  And of course, I should have seen it coming (Merlin, too). Mordred’s life is Arthur’s punishment for rejecting magic. Dun dun dun….

Season 5, Episode 5: “The Disir” (originally aired Feb. 1, 2013)

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