Just like I said she would be, Morgana is back in this week’s episode of Merlin, “Another’s Sorrow”. She even has a new goth princess hairstyle, looking like Amy Lee of the band Evanescence, and operating from her new stronghold in the kingdom of Nemeth. I’m still not quite sure how she’s still alive. She must be like Rasputin or a cat because just when you think she’s dead, there she is again! I could have sworn that Mordred stabbed her two episodes ago. Apparently not. Time to move on. Remember… spoilers ahead
This time Morgana has a new dastardly plan– use someone Arthur trusts in order to trap him and bring him down along with his kingdom. To be honest, I feel as if this device has been used quite a few times throughout the course of the show’s run. However, it’s kept fresh because it has a vein of a previous plot point running through it, and thus is able to weave in the themes of revenge and forgiveness. Morgana has teamed up with King Odin, whose son Arthur killed in a previous episode. Capturing the former King of Nemeth and his daughter Princess Mithian (who happens to be Arthur’s former fiance), Morgana threatens to have Odin kill the king if Mithian does not go along with her ruse to lure Arthur to his death.
Poor Mithian must make her way to Camelot feigning weakness with Morgana by her side, who is posing as her elderly handmaiden Hilda. Mithian doesn’t really have too much trouble feigning anything, as she truly is heartsick. What she tells Arthur and his court about King Odin holding her father is true, and she is sick at heart that she is forced to betray him. Janet Montgomery is excellent as Mithian, and displays a very believable mix of desperation and strength in the face of fear. While she was good in last season’s episode as Arthur’s betrothed, she is given the chance to show a lot more range in this episode, and we are fortunate to see it.
“Merlin” certainly has an affinity for old age makeup, as we’ve seen Eve Myles do it in the first season, Emilia Fox as an elderly version of Morgause, and of course Merlin as his hilarious yet powerful 80-something alter-ego. This time Katie McGrath gets to don the old-age makeup. She described what it’s like to act behind the prosthetics: “You’re exhausted by it. You’re constantly aware of something on your face. Colin was really good about telling me how it works and how the subtle movements on your face don’t translate, so you almost have to over-do everything because you’re moving your face and then that’s moving something on top. Small movements don’t work, so it’s a completely different way of acting.”
Instead of shades of “Game of Thrones”, this episode has shades of Star Wars. This is evident when Morgana uses her power to bodily throw Mithian, and later do the same to Merlin, following up with a “force-choke”. Shrouded in a black cloak and looking decrepit, one can’t help but think of Darth Sidious/The Emperor. If you listen closely, there are even slight notes in the music reminiscent of “The Empire Strikes Back”.
Fortunately for Arthur and for Camelot, Merlin is astute as usual, sensing something is amiss. We can always count on Merlin to come to Arthur’s rescue and work towards fulfilling his part of the prophecy. At the episode’s climax, the show starts to feel much more grown-up than in past seasons: an honest-to-goodness epic sword fight without the interference of magic, combined with a wise king offering a truce in exchange for the relinquishment of the desire for revenge. This feels like an extension of respect for an audience whose tastes have (hopefully) matured along with the show.
With a truce between Odin and Arthur, Morgana’s plans are foiled yet again. Despite this, Merlin is concerned with her growing power. He is still the most powerful wizard for now, but she is growing ever stronger. For Camelot, that is definitely a concern.
Next week: “The Disir”. What is going on with Mordred?