Monday, 23 November 2009

TV Snark - Merlin: Beauty and the Beast OR Uther Dates a Troll

You know how this works by now, the BBC air an episode of Merlin and I take about a month to actually recap it. This time I’m recapping two episodes in one post as this story was a two parter. Let’s get on with it shall we?

In a dank cave somewhere mysterious and er… dank, a pointed eared tramp is brewing a mysterious potion. The concoction complete, he hands it over to his mistress – an ugly troll. She drinks the potion and becomes a beautiful lady. Chris De Burgh would not approve:

The troll and her pointy eared servant make a beeline for Camelot where she claims to be the last surviving member of a lost noble family – Lady Catrina. Uther and Catrina were childhood friends and he is happy to see her seemingly alive and well. Merlin has a little crush on her but Gaius Meldrew is suspicious…

The troll maintains the charade for a while but soon returns to her newly appointed quarters to enjoy a meal of rotten fruit (which she creates by breathing magic green mist onto fresh fruit) and conspire with her servant Jonas. There’s some great comedy work from Sarah Parish as she gurns and shambles her way through the scene. It seems the troll’s plan is to marry Uther and then gain power and then err… profit?

Gaius informs Merlin about his suspicions and they decide to test ‘Lady Catrina’ by offering her medicine. Gaius knows that this medicine is essential for Catrina as he treated her as a child and knows that she has a painful bone condition in her leg parts. Gaius was tipped off because Catrina didn’t have a funny walk and neither did she ask him for any painkillers.

Merlin decides to investigate in his usual bumbling fashion as he decides to search Catrina's quarters without making sure that no one is already there. The room isn't that big but Merlin somehow manages to miss Jonas standing in a corner. Merlin makes a crap excuse and leaves but not before noticing that Jonas has a tail. It is never revealed why he has a tail or exactly what Jonas is. It's a mystery that will go unsolved.

I'm sure that, when confronted by Gaius's suspicions, Uther will take him seriously and investigate Lady Catrina's story closely. Hold on, no, he decides to ignore Gaius as usual and persists with romancing the troll woman. Uther ignores Gaius because he doesn't want to be impolite to the woman he's trying to get with. I also think it's because otherwise the episode would run very short if Uther actually listened to Gaius WHO IS ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT MAGIC AND MONSTERS.

To be fair to Uther he does ask Catrina about her bone condition but she claims that her bones healed themselves via a miraculous recovery. Uther accepts this because he has the same IQ as a peanut.

Merlin then ventures into Arthur's chamber at night so that the ladies can get a shot of Arthur's naked chest. Merlin steals Arthur's mirror so he can peek into Catrina's room and he sees her in full troll form. Arthur catches Merlin standing in his room staring into a lady's bed chamber and naturally assumes that Merlin is a peeping tom. Arthur also decides to ignore Merlin's concerns because it's easier for the plot.

Merlin then wanders off and finds Catrina sleeping in the stables in troll form. There's a lot of farting. Kids love farting. Gaius explains that trolls love money and power so that's why this one is trying to woo Uther. Gaius makes one last attempt to talk sense into Uther and informs him that Catrina is a troll in disguise. Uther ignores Gaius because there's another twenty minutes to go in the episode. LISTEN TO GAIUS, HE IS A WALKING DUNGEON MASTER'S GUIDE.

Catrina Troll decides to take a shortcut in her wooing and crafts a magic mind controlling amulet to dominate Uther's brain. Under the influence of the magic amulet, Uther agrees to marry Catrina the next day. They kiss but it's gross because Catrina has a troll hand.

Gaius decides that Merlin needs to use magic to reveal Catrina's troll form to everyone. Merlin isn't keen because he'd have to use magic in front of everyone and he kind of likes not being burned alive. As usual Merlin reads through a ton of magical grimoires that Gaius has lying around his chambers and finds the spell he seeks. Merlin tries to use the spell while Uther is announcing his impending marriage to everyone but Merlin's spell doesn't work as Catrina fights off the effects. Unfortunately for Merlin, Jonas spotted him attempting to reveal Catrina's disguise and so he and Catrina plot to rid themselves of Merlin.

Merlin decides to let Arthur in on the secret but, because this is a two part story, Arthur refuses to believe him and acts like a jerk. Merlin then bumps into Jonas who pretends to be an abused slave in thrall to the troll. Jonas then makes a mistake by informing Merlin about the potion that Catrina the troll must take to maintain her appearance (I'm sure this won't come back to bite him in the tail). Jonas tells Merlin that the potion is kept in a chamber beneath Camelot so Merlin wanders off to investigate without telling anyone. Unsurprisingly it's a trap and Catrina appears to seal Merlin underground with a ceiling collapsing spell. Maybe that'll teach Merlin to trust floppy eared strangers with troll mistresses.

Merlin eventually manages to escape by shouting his magic words and using his telekinesis. Well, that was a disappointing and obvious escape method. Merlin tries to stop the wedding which is now in progress. He is cut off by Jonas on the way and they indulge in a bout of unconvincing combat. Merlin finally stops repeatedly running at Jonas and uses his telekinesis to knock him out.

Unfortunately Merlin has taken too long and he appears at the wedding ceremony just in time to see it completed. Noooooo! Hilariously Gaius sat through the entire ceremony without saying or doing anything. Presumably because there's another episode to fill.


Urgh, the marathon continues. This episode becomes a Children's BBC classic, there's more farting, gurning and hot king on troll sexytime.

Oh yeah, remember Morgana and Gwen? Well it seems the writers didn't. Morgana had about two lines last episode and Gwen gets to say something in this one. Watch out for her two scenes!

Catrina has had enough of Merlin's ineffectual attempts to spoil her plans and she decides to frame Merlin for theft. Uther responds with his usual subtlety by having every single member of his army search for Merlin. Luckily for Merlin, Arthur has decided to stop being a jerk and warns Merlin so he can escape from the guards. Uther and his new wife are mean to Arthur because he let Merlin escape. It's all part of the troll's grand scheme to discredit Arthur and replace him as heir. Then Catrina wanders off to eat some horse dung in private.

Merlin loses Uther's army by setting up a fake trail in the forest. Gwen then appears and speaks two lines to Gaius as she worries about Merlin. Gaius, just like the writers, brushes her off and leaves her to worry. Merlin has in fact doubled back to the castle and hidden himself in Gaius's room.

To fill some time, Uther and Catrina declare that there is a new SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM STYLE EVIL TAX designed to piss off everyone in Camelot. Arthur is entrusted with enforcing this new tax despite his protests.

Later that night, Merlin sneaks into Jonas's room and steals the potion that Catrina uses to maintain her disguise. Merlin actually has a good idea and asks Gaius to make a dummy potion that tastes the same so he can switch the potions.

Meanwhile Catrina uses her magic troll breath to knock out Uther so she doesn't have to sleep with him. At first I thought this was a way of annulling the marriage as it won't be consummated. Unfortunately the episode decides to go down a more disgusting route later on...

The next day the guards of Camelot start enforcing the EVIL TAX but Arthur puts a stop to it. Uther and Arthur argue about the nature and responsibilities of monarchistic rule in an enligthening fashion and then come to an amicable agreement. Nah, just kidding, Uther snarls at Arthur and insists that the tax be enforced. After Arthur has left Catrina offers to help Uther with the burden of rule and Uther eventually decides to declare her as heir later that day. Money making schemes are so much easier when you have a mind controlling amulet. Uther then tries to kiss his wife but she uses her magic troll breath on him again.

Gwen gets another scene as she visits Arthur to congratulate him on sticking up for the peasants. Arthur seems to have forgotten being dropped for Lancelot and doesn't act awkward or sulky around her. Gwen's grand total of dialogue is approximately four lines. Thanks for visiting the show, Gwen!

Gaius completes the fake potion and Merlin makes the switch. Uther summons everyone to announce that Arthur is now disinherited and Catrina will take his place as heir. Fortunately for Uther, Arhtur doesn't immediately lead a rebellion of loyal men to take Camelot from his obviously insane father.

At the heir naming ceremony Catrina is revealed as a troll to the entire court as her disguise potion expires. Uther is still enchanted by the mind controlling amulet so he doesn't mind, despite everybody's revolted reaction and the obvious evidence that she's a supernatural creature. Morgana gets two lines in this scene so yay for her.

Uther comforts his troll wife and then well, I don't know how to say this but I'm pretty sure he goes ahead and bangs a troll.

Gaius once again attempts to reason with Uther but this obviously doesn't work because:

A) Uther is enchanted
B) Uther never listens to Gaius anyway

Uther threatens to execute anyone who insults Catrina by calling her a troll. So that went as well as it usually does when Uther is involved.

Merlin visits the expensive CGI dragon who presumably fills his time between episodes by completing crosswords. The dragon finds the current situation hilarious but reluctantly agrees to help Merlin because Uther's marriage will prevent Arthur from becoming king. The dragon informs Merlin that the only way to break the mind control is for Uther to weep tears of remorse. Then the dragon reminds Merlin that he still hasn't freed him from his underground prison after one and a half seasons. Merlin ignores the meta plot and leaves.

Merlin brings Arthur into his confidence and tells him that he needs to fake Arthur's death in order to save Uther. Gaius concocts a poison that will shut down Arthur's body but it requires the administration of an antidore within 30 minutes of being ingested. Arthur doesn't fancy his chances but plays along with the crazy scheme in order to liberate Camelot.

Gaius tells Uther about Arthur's sudden and suspicious death while Merlin gets knocked out by Jonas and drops Arthur's poison antidote. I have no idea why Gaius couldn't administer the antidote seeing as he's the court physician. Anyway, Uther cries over Arthur's body and the spell is broken. Then Uther realises that he's slept with a troll and makes this face:

Merlin arrives as the troll fights off various red shirt Camelot guards, he managed to mop up the antidote with a rag and squeezes out a drop into Arthur's mouth. Conveniently the poison can be cured by one tiny drop of antidote. Arthur eventually kills Jonas and the troll with his rudimentary sword play. Hurrah. The threat is over.

The episode ends as Arthur points out once again that Uther has totally knocked boots with a troll. This will probably never be mentioned again so I can see why Arthur would want to get the most out of it. I just wish I could erase the image from my mind...

NEXT EPISODE - Charles Dance - Witch Hunter!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just saw these two episodes again and they are among my favorites of any show. Sarah Parish was absolutely brilliant as she switched personae on a dime, as the elegant and beautiful Lady Catrina suddenly behaves like the disgusting foul-mouthed troll. Her pleased reactions to her own odorous body functions (of course, I mean, the FARTING) were hilarious.