I've sometimes felt that this third series of Merlin
toned down a lot of the Carry On
elements that used to make it so much fun but at least Julian Jones has come up with a thoroughly fnar-tastic title for the concluding two-parter:
"The Coming of Arthur" starts with Sir Leon dying then coming back to life but wait! Come back! This isn't like the other times Sir Leon (and the rest of the Camelot knights for that matter) died and was back the next week! This time it's actually a plot point! See, it's some druids who've got a cup DEFINITELY NOT A GRAIL which is magic DEFINITELY NOT HOLY and Arthur's got to go off on his own into Cenred's kingdom because we're back to Uther's more metaphorical attempts to get his sole son and heir killed. (Of course he actually does
have another heir but this week we finally get to see him realise why it'd be a bad idea for her to be in charge.)
So in the first part there's a lot of setup which is entertaining enough anyway, with Arthur and Merlin getting captured by Ralph Ineson from The Office
with a view to being sold into slavery; bumping into Gwaine along the way; escaping then losing the cup of definitely-not-grailness to the baddies. Cenred failed to take the hint of Morgause repeatedly telling him "oh, you're going to get what you deserve all right, mwahahahahahaha!" which ended up with him getting a fatal sword wound, apparently to the crotch. Which is a bit of a relief really because one of the problems with this series has been having to look at Tom Ellis in that horrible greasy wig. Actually it seems Tom Ellis invariably uses hair as a way to diminish his own attractiveness: Removing it from his chest on Miranda
so whenever he takes his shirt off he looks like a Tesco Value turkey; or piling it onto his head on Merlin
then styling it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Finally EvilSmirk!Morgana and her army of sort-of zombies take over Camelot. Uther's all "ZOMG Morgana? I had no idea" and she's all "really though? Because I've been EvilSmirk!ing right in your face
for the last two series, not even a clue? Dumbass."
Part Two's even better as Santiago Cabrera's Lancelot comes back, along with Percival who's automatically in the gang 'cause he fancies Arthur (see below,) Sir Leon and Gwen join them in their secret hidey-hole as does Gaius for some reason, and Elyan who they picked up on a quick trip to Camelot. And then it sort of turns out there's an entire spare Camelot so they all go there for a bit. Eh? What? It reminded me of the secondary control room in the TARDIS. "Oh, yeah, there's another castle here somewhere, we just haven't used it for a while and it's got a bit dusty." Nice to see the Round Table's first appearance although I thought they fucked up a bit by saying it was an old Camelot tradition of equality - it rather diminishes Arthur's uniqueness as the King who shares his power if it wasn't actually his idea. I see, though, that Uther's all for sacred Camelot traditions when it involves sending his son off to almost certain death for no reason but has a bit of a blind spot to the tradition of him giving up some of his absolute power. Funny that. Anyway Arthur knights Gwaine, Lancelot, Percival and Elyan so together with Leon they're the inaugural Knights of the Round Table; note how Arthur has included Gwen's brother in there, in a desperate attempt to make sure there's at least one
Knight of Camelot his wife doesn't want to bone.
So, big action scene going up to the castle, rescuing knights and Uther, while Merlin's got Excalibur back which, it turns out, makes zombie army go all explodey. Hurrah! Gaius remembers that he's the only character on the show to actually look
like a wizard so he does magical combat with Morgause and wins. Morgause has forgotten to put the kohl around her eyes so no wonder things start to go wrong, evidently it's like Samson's hair for her. She appears to be dead although this is Merlin
after all and we do later hear that her body's "disappeared" so there may still be a couple of paychecks coming Emilia Fox's way. And after spending all the second episode wondering how they'll press the reset button and have Uther thinking Morgana's totally lovely and fluffy again, they don't! Although I wouldn't entirely put it past them to do so in the first episode of Series 4. They will have three less episodes to play with next year though, so maybe they'll finally start moving the arc along at a steadier pace.SOSSERY! count
nil. Part two heavily teases that Gaius might die, which would have been criminal if they'd done that without giving him a final SOSSERY! to go out on.GAYWATCH!
As usual, the hot Marthur action gets put to one side a bit when Merlin has Gwaine or Lancelot to distract him, so it has to go right on the back burner this week with both of them back in the picture. Merlin gets to have a long meaningful chat lying by the fire while gazing into Lancelot's eyes but Arthur's not going to be outdone: As soon as he sets eyes on Percival he's flirting like crazy, which is fair enough since Percival's played by Tom Hopper, aka Wanking Jeff from Doctor Who
. Except this time he's all fitey rather than gormless so he can be properly fanciable at last. In fact Tom Hopper looks a bit like a larger version of Bradley James so given Arthur's not the least
narcissistic man alive it makes sense he'd fancy someone who looks a bit like himself. Actually everybody
seems to find a chance to stroke Percival's bare arms at some point. Phew! The show hasn't forgotten why people like it after all!