Merlin: The Dark Tower Review

By Will Barber – Taylor

When Gwen is snatched away, Merlin knows there can be only one person responsible: Morgana. Gwen is used to lure Arthur into a deadly trap.

The Dark Tower is, in some ways, one of the best episodes of Merlin ever, in others, it is probably the worst.  It begins with Gwen, her brother Sir Elyan and a bunch of Knights returning to Camelot after visiting her father’s grave. The Knights are ambushed by Morgana and Gwen is taken to The Dark Tower. Arthur, Merlin and co must travel to the tower to rescue Gwen. Once again, we have not got much of an original plot.  Unfortunately, whenever Morgana appears the story becomes a clichéd reiteration of the last time Morgana appeared.

In this episode, however, the show decides to rip off another story, as opposed to simply recycling Morgana’s previous plots. The Dark Tower is obviously taken from the J.R Tolkien book, “The Two Towers”. For once, Morgana does not have a sidekick who wants to take over Camelot so this means that we can focus on the main villain of the piece.

The whole set up of The Dark Tower though frightening, does leave us feeling as if we are missing something. The fact that Gwen becomes evil and decides to kill Arthur is false and out of character. The writers of the show have forgotten that Gwen was once a strong, independent, female character who had agency. Now she has been turned into the stereotypical damsel in distress who is easily brainwashed by the villain. The ending, in which Gwen sneaks out of Camelot to see Morgana is badly done and was tagged on to the end to add more drama to an episode that was lacking in it.

Katy McGrath, once again, is fantastic as the scheming Morgana. We see Morgana’s disturbing friendly side in this episode. Her plan is more original than last time but it still does not feel as though it is advancing the character at all.  I fear that after this episode, Morgana’s recent character developments will be reversed and she will return to the cardboard cut-out villain she was previously. However, McGrath does her best in this episode and is particularly chilling in the short scene in which she tells Gwen they are “going to play a little game.” The scene though short shows that McGrath can play the mad side of Morgana excellently.

The Dark Tower is very much a side step for Merlin, a show which has in this season alone had many good episodes but is bogged down with clichés and the reusing of villains. Maybe the next episode will get back on track with Merlin’s development into a more dark and adult series.

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