Merlin: The Servant of Two Masters

“What don’t die can’t live. What don’t live can’t change. What don’t change can’t learn.”

Terry Pratchett

Yes, Constant Reader, for reasons of which I am unsure we are back in Albion, the land peopled by those famous incompetents King Arthur, Merlin, Morgana and Guinevere.

Oh, and a whole load of other people nobody cares about.

Today’s episode is from series 4, which, to put it in context, is when Arthur’s dastardly uncle Agravaine (because we all remember him from Malory) is still up to his old tricks in Camelot, and Morgana is still hiding in the woods trying to kill Arthur using any means possible.

To this end, she sends out an army of mercenaries, who either have very convenient timing or really excellent hearing, given that they ambush Arthur and his knights just as they are remarking how no-one will ever suspect that they are going that way. To cut a long story (which somehow involves Merlin and Arthur getting separated from the other knights, who are, you know, only supposed to be his bodyguard) short, Merlin is captured by the ridiculously melodramatic Morgana (“he could be very useful indeed…MUAHAHAHAHA!”) who uses magic to make him want to kill Arthur.

Now, this magic is clearly not very helpful at all, since its net effect is apparently to make Merlin even more of an idiot than usual, so that it takes the intrepid Gwen and Gaius all of five minutes to work out what is going on. If this is the best that Morgana can come up with, I really don’t think she poses any threat to Camelot.

In fact, I’m sure this episode is played more for its comedy value than anything else. There never seems to be any sense that Merlin might actually succeed in killing Arthur, yet he’s supposed to be the greatest sorcerer since, well, ever. Are we really supposed to think that he can’t come up with a better murder plot than running Arthur through with his own sword? Like one that involves magic, for instance?

Although undoubtedly amusing, The Servant of Two Masters is an episode that takes no account of previous characterisation, narrative probability or even just common sense. God save Albion if Arthur ever really does come back.


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