- We join Merlin and Arthur returning from one of their patented bromantic daytrips, which seems to have involved Merlin saving the lives of fluffy animals by sneezing in their general direction. Suddenly, a woman squeals! And I don't think it can be a fangirl, because nobody's taken their shirt off yet.
- The source of the commotion is actually a village where they're making up for the lack of satellite TV and WiFi access by burning a witch for entertainment. Arthur, however, has other ideas. The lone shouty peasant who actually has lines in this scene is all "But SORCERY!" and Arthur is all "But NOT BURNING OLD LADIES!" and Merlin is all "Hmm, perhaps my boyfriend has a more tolerant attitude to magic than I previously thought?" Oh Merlin, forever the romantic optimist. Better not get your hopes up, sweetheart.
- To reward him for saving her from a death worse than BBQ, the witch gives Arthur the horn! Or at least, she gives him a horn. I guess it makes up for the fact that sharing their campfire with a dying old biddy probably put the scuppers on any OTHER horn Arthur was likely to get that night. Anyway, she tells him it has the power to summon the spirits of the dead, but croaks before she can tell him the full terms and conditions. Oops.
- Gaius hasn't had a horn in years, but fortunately he remembers this one from his own "I used to hang out with priestesses and do mystic stuff!" wild-child hippie days. He warns Arthur that it's VERY powerful and must be put somewhere safe and NOT used to create a spurious plotline for this week, no matter how great the temptation. Of course, Arthur's not listening because his ears are full of Daddy Issues (TM).
- I notice Elyan and Mordred are getting along nicely, if only for exposition reasons. I suppose it makes sense, since Gwaine and Percival have got some major-league flirting going on, and Leon hasn't got time for relationships because he's too busy researching exciting statistics on troop movements that he can use to bore everyone to death at the next Round Table meeting.
- Arthur leaves his anniversary party to go and have a regretful brood over his father's tomb. Or possibly he's just regretting the day he hired an inept tomb sculptor whose statue of Uther turned out like a grey Plasticine caricature with bandy legs. Either way, he's only got one thing on his mind and it's... the HORN.
While Merlin's fondling his fruit, Arthur finds it hard to hide that he's got the horn.
- When the fun of their apple-fondling and teaspoon-threatening dies down, Arthur and Merlin set off on a slightly damp daytrip to one of the Camelot region's popular tourist attractions, the Great Stones of
PolystyreneNematon. Arthur doesn't bother to disguise the fact that he has the horn and fully intends to use it. And given its rather petite size, it certainly makes a resounding parp.
- Gosh, the Land of the Dead is surprisingly full of lens flare. In fact, it looks suspiciously like the future did in the last Star Trek film. It's also got rather more hair gel in it than you might expect, if Uther's surprisingly quiffy 'do is anything to go by.
- About 15 minutes later than everybody else, Arthur is reminded that his dad was a right-wing loony who isn't happy that his son's handed out knighthoods to various bits of working-class rough AND married a servant. "Nooooww gooooo!" says Uther, hoping that the BBC will put some sort of ethereal sound effect over that line to make it spooky and not realizing that the effects budget has been cut in his absence so it's going to sound rather limp and silly.
- Oh dear, Camelot board meetings are so dull that the furniture starts to fall down in protest. Still, the historical accuracy police should be glad that Leon didn't try to liven things up with an anachronistic Powerpoint presentation.
- "Why does it always take you twice as long to change out of your armour?" - Good question, Gwaine, since Percival only wears half as much chain-mail as everyone else. Maybe it's because his muscles are so huge and rippling that he's got to pull it twice as far to get it off? Anyway, I'm not sure why Uther's ghost decides to pick on Perce. Perhaps it's his ignoble birth, or perhaps he just happened to pull the Token Shirtless Scene card this week.
- While Arthur is brooding in an attractive lace-up shirt, Gwen finds herself having an invisible encounter with her father-in-law, being attacked by sudden gusts of wind and rebellious household objects, and generally regretting the fact that she gave every single member of the Camelot staff the same night off. If it's any consolation, they're going to have a LOT of inexplicable tidying-up to do when they come back from the tavern.
- Poor Gwen goes down with a Bout of Convenient Unconsciousness, and Gaius decides to look after her in his quarters so that Merlin can have some quality hanging-around-in-Arthur's-bedroom time. Charmingly, this involves flirtatious mouse-hunting with the power of sign language AND being hilariously startled by a wild Gaius. Fortunately, Gaius has brought along an all-purpose plot solution: : creme de menthe shots that allow you to see ghosts! At this juncture, I shall note that Merlin is much better at swallowing a mouthful of nasty-tasting liquid than Arthur is, but I shall leave readers with more corrupt minds than my own to speculate why that might be...
- I know it's corny but I loved the running gag about Arthur hitting Merlin off-camera. "You're threatening me with a spoon?" = OWWW! "Oh, it's just our shadows." = SMACK! And these things are always funnier in threes, as we shall find out in the final scene.
- "Merlin, tell Leon what we're doing." - Frankly, Arthur should be grateful that Merlin came up with an excuse that made him sound like a lovestruck girl, especially since his OWN excuses generally involve the tavern and/or peeing, and thus make him sound like an alcoholic with bladder issues.
- "Camelot's a better place since you became king." - Merlin is so right. Why, male nipple exposure has increased by 140% over the last tax year! Ask Leon: he can probably produce the pie charts to prove it.
- Look, it's Uther and he's come in Hallowe'en fancy dress! Unfortunately, he couldn't decide whether to come as Bela Lugosi's Dracula or one of those blue chaps from Avatar, so he's opted for an unholy mixture of both. Or possibly he's meant to be Papa Smurf in goth lipstick? It's hard to tell.
- And now folks, the Really Dramatic Bit. Arthur stands up to his blue dead dad! Arthur unexpectedly joins his wife in the land of Convenient Unconsciousness! Merlin comes out of the magic closet to Uther! Uther does the same scary face he did when he was playing a Krillitane in Doctor Who! Merlin's jacket gets unexpectedly penetrated with sharp things! And Arthur saves the day with what can only be described as a heroic blow-job! It's the kind of bizarre collision of the moving and the hilarious than only this show can pull off!
Arthur's blowing brings tears to Merlin's eyes...
- Before he expires, Uther yells "MERLIN HAS...!" but doesn't get to finish the sentence. What does Arthur think Uther was going to say? "Only one outfit"? "A really cute bum under those unflattering trousers"? "A better English accent than Michael Fassbender"? I guess we'll never know.
- As if the preceding events had not been suggestive enough, we find out that Merlin secretly wants to be a slapper, and that the first rule of Camelot is horseplay is: Arthur ALWAYS gets to be the horse.
...but can Arthur bring tears to Merlin's eyes twice in one night?
Readers, I cackled so long and loud at the above image that I probably scared the neighbours. Just when you think this show couldn't get any more gay if it tried, it suddenly discovers a secret passageway to an even deeper layer of previously undiscovered gay underneath. It must be magic.
- In conclusion: A fairly flimsy plotline, but spun with so much charm that it somehow turned into comedy gold with a seasoning of heartwarming hopefulness. The moral of this story: Some are born
gaymagic, some learn to embrace the gaymagic in their own sweet time. Awww.
- Next time: the return of the nice Princess Mithian from last series, and more than three other cast members! Oh, and Morgana as well. Guess we can't have everything.
By the way, I'm going out next Saturday night, so my Merlin review will be a day late. I trust that the extra waiting time will not be too onerous...