Title: the sorcerer’s shadow
Written by: Julian Jones
Directed by Ashley Way
Guest stars: Harry Melling as Gilli, Paul McNeilly as Tindr, Ian Burfield as Nollar
Brought to you by OBS staff member Karolina
picture from Merlin BBC
A young man walks through the forest, only to be accosted by two bandits. They taunt the young man, as he tells them his name is Gilli – and that he is heading to Camelot for a tournament. they ridicule him some more, and empty his back pack out and take his sword. – saying that he won’t be able to fight at the tournament now. Gilli tries to attack the two bandits, but fails- and they promise to see him in Camelot. He runs to his upturned back pack, and pulls out a ring, which glows -and in turn, his eyes glow gold.
Camelot prepares for a tournament, as Merlin and Arthur walk the length of the courtyard. Merlin mocks the whole idea; a tournament that anyone can participate in, with a prize of 100 gold cold – and sarcastically ponders what kind of people will show themselves. Arthur counters that it is tradition, and it will be fine. There are a multitude of ruffians in the courtyard, as Arthur tells Merlin that the knight’s code doesn’t apply, as there are no rules. Just then – the bandits that were accosting Gilli throw a hatchet at the target, just behind Merlin’s head.
Gilli enters Camelot, and tries to get a room at the inn. The inn keeper is sceptical that he is even a contestant to the tournament, but gives him a shared room when Gilli produces an invite. The inn keeper demands that Gilli pays upfront, as he guesses he’ll be dead by the next day. Gilli finds his way to the room, closes the door on the other patrons, and puts on his magic ring.
Merlin is mending some garments when the hoodlums who were harassing Gilli walk in. They mock Merlin, calling him the ‘prince’ , then ordering him to clean one of their boots – When Merlin is too slow, they use a whip on him. Gilli enters, and, with the use of his magic ring, manages to keep them at bay. They leave, and Merlin thanks his young saviour, spying the ring. Arthur bellows for him before they can talk more.
Merlin is serving Uther, Arthur and Morgana (he spills some of Arthur’s drink on him). Morgana, half in jest, teases Uther about not being in the tournament – even though he has won three times. She plays on Uther’s pride, goading him to go up against his son in the tournament. Arthur expresses worry over Uther being hurt, only adding to his father’s indignation. Arthur leaves, and Morgana expresses sorrow at not seeing Uther fight – leaving him contemplative.
Arthur readies for the tournament, while Merlin bumbles his way through making sure Arthur is okay (telling him that last time three people died in the first day – and the second day it was worse. When Arthur tells him that they should focus on the first day, Merlin answers “because that’s when people die”. ) The challengers stand in the arena on tournament day (Arthur amongst them) when Morgana enters the stands. She (to a very confused Arthur’s surprise) opens the tournament – revealing that the king will compete. Uther looks at his horrified son challengingly, and Gaius and Merlin look on, perplexed.
The battles begin, both Uther and Arthur easily apprehending their opponents. The bandit from the first few minutes kills his opponent (as Gilli watches). Gilli competes, and wins only with the aid of his magic and the ring. He is, however, wounded in the arm. Gaius and Merlin stop Gilli, and Gaius offers to tend to his wound, as Merlin introduces him as the court physician. Gilli declines, and Gaius sees the ring. He tells Merlin that it is a conduit for magic- with the markings of the old religion, and that Gilli must be using it to make his own powers stronger.
Gilli returns to the sword room, wincing in pain. In the corridor, he uses the ring to heal his wound, causing a huge flash of light that alerts the guards to him. He escapes – but drops the ring on the way. Uther hears of this and questions Gaius on the strange light- Gaius downplays the incident, stating there is no evidence of magic – but he spies Gilli’s ring on the ground and grabs it before Uther can see it. Back in their rooms – he tells Merlin that he must talk to Gilli.
Merlin goes to Gilli’s room in the inn – and confronts him about the ring. He tells him that he does not need to fear Merlin, but that he cannot use magic. Gilli tells him of his father- who bestowed the ring on him – who had magic – but refused to use it (out of fear of Uther), and met his death at the hands of three bandits. During this conversation, Merlin states that Gilli reminds him of someone – but refuses to tell him who. Merlin beseeches Gilli to withdraw, telling him that if he is caught – Uther will have him executed.Gilli tells Merlin that without magic, he is nothing; Merlin denies this telling him he is special. Gilli asks that Merlin let him prove that.
The next day at the tournament – Arthur and Uther once again win their challenges (with less ease than the day before) and Uther gleefully tells Arthur that they will compete against each other in the semi-final. Morgana also looks exceptionally pleased by this prospect, while Arthur is worried. Gilli, on the other hand – finds out he must battle his chief tormentor – who threatens to kill him. Merlin witnesses this, and the battle. The two bandits try to trap Gilli and kill him in the arena, but he uses magic and takes one of their lives. Merlin sits with Gilli later, who is in shock after killing a man. Merlin urges Gilli to withdraw from the tournament, to which he agrees. However – he reconsiders once he is treated like a hero on return to the inn.
READ THE REST OF THE RECAP AND JOIN IN DISCUSSION HERE
I LOVED this episode. I loved that Gilli was not evil. I loved Merlin taking on an adviser’s role – not only to Arthur (who actually listened to him!), but also to Gilli. I completely saw Merlin in Gilli – and more importantly, the Merlin of season 1. The fact that Merlin was able to express his own feelings towards magic – and his discontent and loneliness at being overlooked -CONSTANTLY was long overdue, in my eyes. The fact that Merlin as ancient Merlin was able to tell Uther how he felt last ep, and Merlin was able to talk to Gilli (and it was lovely to see Harry Melling as someone other than Dudley Dursley!) , and the Dragon about his feelings was great. I adored the “Some choices are easy, some … stay with you forever.” line. Very simple, but so integral to this show. Which , brings me to Arthur.
I loved that Arthur, once again, was shown to be the better man than Uther, who spent most of this episode being conceited and petulant – until that very last scene. Arthur’s worry for his father was palpable ; as was his frustration with him. But, unlike the Arthur of old – there was not the overwhelming petulance from him. Yes, he was upset and hurt, but it wasn’t as furious as previously ( I adored the ‘well done’ from Merlin and Arthur’s ‘if he wasn’t my father ….’ line after Arthur’s fight with Uther!). And, I loved that Arthur also needed to concede the battle to Uther, as well – for his people – and maybe for himself.
A very interesting episode, highlighting both Merlin and Arthur’s moral codes – and a bit of a ‘calm before the storm’ that will be the final two episodes of this season. Brace yourselves for “The coming of Arthur” parts 1 & 2!
What did you think of this ep? Are you excited for the next two?