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05 November 2011 @ 10:04 pm
Merlin: A Servant of Two Masters  
Considering all the intended homicide, this episode was rather cheerful. And hilarious.

During a skirmish with mercenaries, Merlin gets injured and ends up having to tromp through the dangerous woods with just Arthur for the first bit of the episode. If any viewer was concerned that the Arthur/Merlin friendship had hit the skids, this episode more than put that to rest. We get the further development of Arthur as a mature adult as he shelves the usual banter with Merlin to flat out compliment the latter for his bravery, loyalty and overall wonderfulness. It's a nice moment that's not so sappy as to be out of character. Of course, had I been Merlin I would have thought myself to be at death's door to get such a compliment from Arthur of all people.

Anyway, later during yet another skirmish with the same mercenaries, Merlin more or less sacrifices himself by causing a rockfall to happen that separates himself and the swarm of bandits from Arthur. He's then taken to Morgana who with Agravaine had set up this whole ambush in the first place. Rather than killing Merlin straight off, Morgana decides to use him to assassinate Arthur. She plants a hydra-like thing in Merlin's neck that turns him into the most cheerfully brainwashed killing machine and sets him loose to be found by Arthur.

I'll get to the Arthur/Merlin stuff in a second, but I have to take some time to seriously praise the hilariously loopy sequences where Merlin tries to do the deed. He maybe brainwashed!Merlin but he's still Merlin and apparently incapable of setting up a booby trap or swinging a sword without knocking himself out. Aw, bless. His Snark setting also seems put on a permanent on position throughout the entire thing which only added to the entire thing. All is put well in the end and we get a sequence where Morgana faces off with old!Merlin which had some nice tones of a very old style magic duel.

And now to more Arthur/Merlin friendshippy-ness (or slashiness if you have a pair of those goggles on). We get Arthur who absolutely refused to believe Merlin was dead unless he saw a body with his own eyes. For a second when he ordered his men to scour the forest to find his lost manservant, I thought, "But wouldn't Uther object to all this man power over a servant?" before I remembered Arthur was now king and could do whatever he wanted. (Hooray!) We also got a hug when Merlin is finally found by Arthur which might have sent my computer freezing it was so shocked. The fact that Merlin was covered head to toe in mud did nothing to detract Arthur from hugging him was actually what really got me. I really thought the director had put in the mud thing to give a reason why Arthur wouldn't show his joy by embracing Merlin but no, they actually went for it! Good job, BetterWithEmotions!Arthur!

And lastly, I must mention George. I kind of hope he comes back. I really do. It was sweet that Arthur refused to take him as his new manservant out of loyalty to the idea that Merlin was still out there. But I really enjoyed the last bit of conversation between Merlin and Arthur where the latter commented on how boring George was. Mainly because the feel of the moment was that of two old friends chatting with each other rather than your usual Arthur/Merlin banter that usually features one insulting the other. There was this element of closeness which was a nice bookend to the earlier scenes when things felt more dire and Arthur was being honest about his feelings regarding Merlin as a friend.

A few of random things I noticed & chuckled about:

1) That gorge area where Merlin and Arthur got separated. Man, they use that location A LOT. It wasn't as jarring as Balinor's cave that got a repeat visit but still.

2) Was the acid poured into that bath the sort of acid that melts skin and metal but NOT the wooden tub it's sitting in??

3) I'm sad we didn't get a snippet of George giving Merlin polishing lessons. "Lesson one is my favorite. Polishing." "Yes, that's my favorite too..." Oh, how I love you, deadpan!Merlin.

Overall, a great episode! This season's really been shaping up to be a strong one.
thunderessthunderess on November 6th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
XD I definitely laughed at those bits too. And the part where Arthur changes location at the table while Gwen is serving him breakfast. If you pay attention he goes from one end of the table to the other.

This was indeed such a lovely episode!
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 6th, 2011 05:01 am (UTC)
If you pay attention he goes from one end of the table to the other.

Perfect excuse to watch this episode again and again!
thunderessthunderess on November 6th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
haha i definitely had to watch that part several times. At first I was like Wait, what? and then I spent several times laughing and then crying of laughter... and then I had to rewatch it so I knew what had actually been said XD
katarzi on November 6th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
I adored this episode. It was the first in a really long while that we got Gwen being Gwen-the-person instead of Gwen-the-love-interest. Also: acknowledgement that Elyan is Gwen's brother! And that Uther killed their dad! And Percival backstory! And Morgana practically pissing herself when she sees old!Merlin! I just want to squeeze this entire ep, I loved it sooo much haha.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 6th, 2011 05:01 am (UTC)
It was the first in a really long while that we got Gwen being Gwen-the-person instead of Gwen-the-love-interest.

Oh, yes. So true. I always love investigative!Gwen.

The sudden mentions of canon from previous episodes was fairly awesome.
X-parrotxparrot on November 6th, 2011 04:48 am (UTC)
Ahahah - I just watched the ep and it was pretty brilliant, I gotta admit - the first part was such pure fanfic that when Morgana had Merlin I remarked, "Now, if this was a fic, she'd totally curse him to kill Arthur!" ...and then two minutes later, lo! But I didn't expect it to turn so hilarious. Fanfic and then comedy, all I could ask for!

I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying this season so far. It's managed to get a little more serious without losing its goofy charm. And I'm especially liking mature!Arthur, and how he's becoming (or proving himself to be) genuine friends with Merlin, and counting on his advice. They're moving towards their traditional relationship of legend...
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 6th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
Is that why this episode felt so wonderful? Because it was half fan fiction? Good fan fiction, I mean.

They're moving towards their traditional relationship of legend...

Yes! And so much love for this.
bluebeeangelbluebeeangel on November 6th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
Merlin must have thought he was two shades away from death when Arthur was complimenting him. It was like Arthur was delivering his eulogy directly to him.

I love the scene of Merlin trying to kill Arthur. they flowed really nicely and were hilarious.

I love George. I definitely want him back in some capacity.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 7th, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
I love the scene of Merlin trying to kill Arthur.

Never has intended homicide seemed so fun!
bluebeeangelbluebeeangel on November 7th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
Indeed! I like that they did it comedic. When they've dropped this amount of comedy in the show in the past it hasn't always flowed so well, but this season all the comedy is great and a nice contrast to the darker content.