Merlin Season 5, Episode 8 Review: “The Hollow Queen”

In “The Hollow Queen”, Morgana continues her reign of terror through Queen Guinevere.  Not much has changed in Gwen’s demeanor from the previous episode, but Morgana takes it up a notch by enlisting the help of others.  She aims to turn the Queen into a traitor and a murderer so that she can take power.  What will she do with Gwen if she actually manages to help her achieve her goal?

The episode centers around a visit from a nearby king, Sarrum of Amata (played by veteran British film actor John Shrapnel).  You may recognize Sarrum from an earlier episode where he was Morgana’s and her dragon’s captor.  Arthur hopes that by welcoming him into Camelot’s walls, they will be able to form an alliance to achieve peace in the five kingdoms.  Sarrum still takes the opportunity to show off his kingdom’s strength, as one of his men beats Arthur in a broadsword fight.Bradley James (King Arthur) has had many opportunities to display his sword-fighting skills since the series began, and he especially gets to show off in this scene.  James says, “The challenge for us this season was to give the audience something to catch their eye. As opposed to just a generic sword fight, we’ve had to go that next step. Season Four really kicked the action of the series into gear, so we knew in this final season we had to really take it up another notch.”While Arthur entertains Sarrum and his men, Gwen and Morgana take the opportunity to lure Merlin away from the castle, using a young man posing as a Druid.  Merlin cannot resist the pull to help one of his own kind, a magic-user.  The boy leads Merlin far into the forest with the ruse that his sister is in peril, gaining his trust and kindness.  Of course at the last moment, Morgana shows up, poisons Merlin, and pushes him into a ravine.  Could she get any more cruel?  She never ceases to show us that she can.

Merlin to the Rescue... again!
Merlin to the Rescue… again!
While Merlin is away, Morgana will play.  With her puppet Queen, that is.  Doing every little thing Morgana instructs her to do, Gwen arranges a traitorous meeting with Sarrum–  power (because isn’t that what all evil rulers desire?) for her king’s life.  Sarrum agrees to a plot to assassinate the king without a second thought, but what did we expect from someone of his character?The rest of the episode is fairly predictable.  Merlin must save Arthur, because that is what he is destined to do.  It will be very interesting if the series surprises us as we get closer to the end of the show.Daegel, the false Druid boy, was never bad to begin with (which doesn’t come as a surprise), and he redeems himself by saving Merlin in time to save Arthur from yet another possible doom.  However, he doesn’t come away so lucky himself, which is a shame, but not unexpected.
Taking aim at the king.
Taking aim at the king.

One of the final scenes where Merlin serves dinner to Gwen and Arthur makes me feel particularly itchy, if you will.  Gwen’s excuse for Merlin’s earlier absence, that he was off seeing a girl, is such a transparent lie that the only one unfooled by it is Arthur.  (When will he grow some radar for betrayal and lies?  He’s as dense as Uther was sometimes!)  Merlin knows she’s obviously lying and so does Gaius, and Gwen knows that he knows she’s lying.

Next time in “With All My Heart”, maybe as Merlin suggests, something will be done about Gwen.  I echo Gaius’ sentiment:  “Yes, but the question is what?”

Quick note:  Merlin will take a one-week break before returning for its final five episodes on SyFy.
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Post Author: Amy Hirschman

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