Gwen's back! And she's just in time to see Camelot betrayed by Agravaine and Morgana
4.11 "The Hunter's Heart"
Writer: Richard McBrien
Director: Jeremy Webb
THE ONE WHERE Morgana and Agravaine are planning an assault on Camelot, aided by Helios and his bandits. To this end, Agravaine steals secret plans of the citadel, but the exiled Gwen - a captive of Helios - overhears the dastardly scheme and flees into the woods. Meanwhile, Arthur plans to cement a political alliance by marrying the princess of a neighbouring kingdom.
VERDICT Look at that description of the plot above. That's the flaw in this episode: too much is happening. It's entertaining and exciting but fragmented, as it tries to tie up the loose ends of Gwen's exile and establish the people who'll participate in the series two-part finale and have some fun with a bit of soap-opera romance, all at the same time. It introduces two important new characters (Mithian and Helios) and as a result sidelines most of the usual supporting knights.
There's a hint of Merlin 's previous levity with some silly (but, admittedly, quite funny) belching gags but this is also an episode when Agravaine actually kills an innocent young man - a step beyond his usual ineffectual gofer role. Gwen has much more to do this episode and I almost wish that there was less of the other stuff going on so that we could have a proper story about her adventures and escape from Helios and Morgana. Speaking of which, after hunting her all night, Morgana does rather do a clichéd Bond-villain thing, and come up with an elaborate method of execution for Gwen (turned into a deer and left for the hunt) instead of just killing her.
While all this is going on, we have the courtly romance developing back at Camelot. Mithian is wonderful - charming, fun, and a badass with a crossbow - but Arthur is of course still immobilised by his love for Gwen. There's a fantastic piece of direction as he sits alone on his bed in a shaft of light ("I don't know what to do. I have no idea what to do. What should I do Merlin.") and as ever it's well acted. I'm not convinced by the resolution, though. Arthur gives away a bunch of his lands in order to get out of an inconvenient marriage? I'm not sure I'd trust a leader who said that his kingdom "was worth nothing" to him without his lover, and it's not what we've seen from Arthur before; it certainly demonstrates the depth of his feeling for Gwen, and it's heartbreaking, but usually he's more conscious of protecting his nation.
Many of the things that happened this week could almost have sustained a whole episode on their own. Mithian's a great character and it's a shame that courtship was wrapped up so quickly. But at least we can look forward to the two remaining episodes concentrating on the stolen siege tunnel plans and Helios battle plans with Morgana.
AWESOME MAGIC! Morgana has a photocopy spell! Merlin has a "spill the soup" spell! And a spell that makes you burp! They missed a trick by not having those incantations in Skyrim , as far as I'm concerned.
IT'S WOSSERNAME Princess Mithian was of course played by the beautiful Janet Montgomery, who'll you know as Ames in Human Target , Jennie in Entourage and Madeline in the movie Black Swan .
IT'S WOSSISNAME Helios is played by Terence Maynard who's been in a lot of British TV (including Casualty and Holby City ). Fantasy fans will know him as Madison Yorke in The Sarah Jane Adventures and as Van Helsing in Young Dracula .
LMAO Arthur's discomfort when dealing with Princess Mithian is adorable, for instance when she disarmingly says he's more handsome in person than reports suggested.
SLASH BAIT Pathetically little this episode. Come on guys, there are only two episodes left. This week Arthur kept all his clothes on and everything.
THE MERLIN UNIVERSE Gedref is the disputed land prompting the need for a treaty, apparently. It's another reference to the place where "The Labyrinth Of Gedref" took place, and where Agravaine acquires a dagger back in "The Secret Sharer" this year.
SPECULATION I'm assuming that Kilgharrah and Aithusa swoop down and help save Camelot in the coming battles this December - if not, then the dragon plotline kinda went nowhere...
AUTHOR! AUTHOR! This is Richard McBrien's first Merlin episode - previously you'll know him from several episodes of Spooks and The Bill .
MERLIN: "You can't do this."
ARTHUR: "You're right, I can't do this. Oh wait a second, I'm the king! So I can."
ARTHUR: "Are you really wise Merlin or just a prating fool? I can no longer tell..."
Merlin airs on Saturday nights on BBC One in the UK.
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Previous Merlin series four reviews:
Merlin "The Darkest Hour" TV Review
Merlin "The Darkest Hour (Part 2)" TV Review
Merlin "The Wicked Day" TV Review
Merlin "Aithusa" TV Review
Merlin "His Father's Son" TV Review
Merlin "A Servant Of Two Masters" TV Review
Merlin "The Secret Sharer" TV Review
Merlin "Lamia" TV Review
Merlin "Lancelot du Lac" TV Review
Merlin "A Herald Of The New Age" TV Review