Reviews: Merlin S 01 E 02 Valiant

In Need of a Decent Villain...

Ever notice that the second episode of any season is almost always rather tepid? Once again we get a one-note villain with a ridiculous plan, but this one is more clichéd and has even less motivation than the witch of the pilot episode. The ironically-named Valiant was physically intimidating (I don’t blame Arthur for giving him a nervous look before battle) with an air of brutality just simmering behind his knightly demeanour, but in all other respects was just a Card Carrying Villain with no personality, no motivation, and no brains (who leaves a door wide open when they’re feeding the magical snakes on their magical shield in a kingdom where magic is forbidden?)

Once again, it’s down to the main characters to provide the interest. In direct contrast to the prickly interaction between Merlin and Arthur, it’s clear that Guinevere and Morgana operate more as friends than mistress/servant (cf. the subconscious way Morgana stroked Gwen’s cloak when she was nervous), and yet Arthur’s unquestioning trust in Merlin’s rather crazy story and his half-hearted apology at the end of the episode bode well for things to come.

The Relationship Writing Fumble between Arthur and Morgana is in full swing. Though Bradley and Katie have moderate chemistry, they seem to be a tad confused as to whether they’re meant to be playing foster siblings or a potential couple. (For what it’s worth, Television Without Pity commentators had their true relationship pegged right from the start.)

At this point, Uther comes across as a one-note Jerk Ass, especially in regards to the treatment of his son. As this troper’s father said to her over the phone:

Troper’s Dad: Does Arthur become King in this series?
Troper: Um…not yet. Why?
Troper’s Dad: Because King Giles is a wanker!

Besides a few cute little moments of character interaction, and some more hints as to Morgana's latent powers, the show is still warming up…