Merlin Series 5 Review “The Hollow Queen” — The Sarrum, The Witch and The Reusable Plot

I have mixed feelings about ‘The Hollow Queen’, dear reader. On the one hand, it was a solid episode with great direction and some fantastic acting from Colin Morgan. On the other hand, I’m waiting for Merlin to surprise us, or at least subvert the trends it’s created over the past four series, and it just refuses to do so.

This week saw Merlin being lured out of Camelot by a so-called druid boy, Daegal, so that Gwen could convince a visiting king to murder Arthur. Morgana was waiting to poison Merlin, but Daegal, who was genuinely good, went back and saved his life. Together, Merlin and Daegal got back to Camelot in time to save Arthur. It was nothing new and, sadly, nothing particularly great.

As far as guest characters go though, I really liked Daegal. I was hoping that he would survive the episode, though it seemed unlikely from the very start. That he was leading Merlin into a trap was also obvious, but I suppose we can’t fault Merlin for caring about people. Besides, Merlin seemed sort of reluctant at the start, so bonus points for him not rushing to his doom too quickly.

We can fault Morgana for her utter ineptitude though. It’s bad enough when she won’t kill Arthur outright, instead concocting complicated plans that have a high likelihood of going wrong. But here she could have just snapped Merlin’s neck, buried him in a shallow grave, and that would have been that. For all we’re told about Morgana’s power, she seems not only weak but stupid with it. No one likes a stupid nemesis, Merlin.

The only thing that came remotely close to interesting was learning that the bad guy this week, a king know as The Sarrum, was the one who imprisoned Morgana for a period of time between series four and five. He kept her and Aithusa in some sort of well-like cell, which caused Aithusa to grow up malformed and in pain. That, together with Merlin’s poisoning, lent the episode quite a dark atmosphere this week. (This was offset somewhat by a comedic turn from Arthur, which, though adorable, made the great king look like an imbecile.)

I’d love it if someone could explain why Merlin didn’t tell Arthur about Gwen at the end of the episode. How hard would it be to tell him that she’s been enchanted, that he found out and was essentially kidnapped by Morgana because of it, and that the kid who saved Arthur’s life also saved Merlin’s? It would only be a slight reworking of the truth and Merlin wouldn’t even have to reveal his magic in order to do it.

Perhaps an even more important question is when are we going to learn what Morgana did to Gwen? While Angel Coulby is playing evil!Gwen incredibly well, she’s also making her seem completely okay with what she’s doing. Which would be understandable if Gwen was enchanted, but she doesn’t seem enchanted, nor does Morgana interact with Gwen as if she were. It’s strange and unsettling, and I really hope that the issue isn’t fixed and forgotten about in the space of one episode as Merlin is often wont to do.

TL;DR: a solid episode that sadly didn’t bring anything new to the table. At this point I’m just waiting for something to happen in Merlin. With only five episodes left of the series — and possibly of the show overall — I really hope that ‘something’ happens soon.

What did you think of ‘The Hollow Queen’? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!