I swear, you throw one pretty face into the mix and it’s all testosterone and infighting and, oh yeah, evil vicious monsters. Ain’t it always the way, ladies? At least my Band of Hot Knights has an excuse this week: the pretty face they’re feuding over also has the benefit of being, you know, magical. Also an evil snake demon. But that’s getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
“Lamia” starts in true science fiction serial fashion: we see a husband and wife, John (Wayne Foskett) and Mary Howden (Melanie Hill, whom I adore in Stardust), talking and teasing each other, a normal scene of domestic life. Unfortunately the contentment is cut short by a scream, as is always the case. John goes to investigate and finds not a monster but one of the local village lads. The lad promptly faints in his arms, and we hear hissing noises to know that there is a Monster at Work. The monster does not eat John. I’m grateful for that. I like John.
Speaking of Mary: she rides into Camelot to beg Gwen’s help and gets a direct audience with the king. Arthur, benevolent king that he is, immediately volunteers Gaius and some of his knights to ride out. Gaius sends Merlin in his stead, claiming Merlin is ready to do some physician work. So Merlin, Gwen, Mary, Leon, Gwaine, my beloved Percival, and Elyan trot off to the village.
Once there, Merlin can’t heal the ailing lads, not even with the help of magic. He determines that they need to return to Camelot to request Gaius’s help, so the lot troops back. On the way, they stumble across a bunch of slave traders and “rescue” a beautiful maiden. Almost immediately, trouble brews, as the knights begin snapping at Merlin to stay away from Lamia, the maiden they’ve rescued (Charlene McKenna).
The men argue and fight over Lamia, ignore Merlin, and generally act like lovesick fools. I personally don’t see what they find so alluring, as Lamia doesn’t really do much more than cower up against a tree and glare at Merlin. But I can see how it might be fun to have such a noble breed of hot men in chain mail fighting over me, so my hat’s off to you, Lamia. Anyway, she convinces them that they need to head east, not west, to take her home. And the knights will not listen to reason that there are sick people who might die, which is a major sign that some serious juju is at work.
When Arthur’s boys fail to return his beloved (Gwen’s probably lucky Arthur never meets the alluring version of Lamia), Arthur grabs Agravaine and Gaius and heads to the village himself. On the way, they encounter the group of mostly dead that Lamia has left behind and bring the only alive one left with them. At the village, Gaius figures out from the man’s testimony that the men have been enchanted by a Lamia, a woman snake-demon that seems very similar to the Lorelei of the Rhine river. This snake-siren lures men into kissing her, which kills them (slowly), or turns men against each other. I’d like to stop for a moment and appreciate Gaius as a character. He’s such a great mentor to Arthur, as we saw in the last episode, and Merlin, and Gwen, none of whom have any parents left. They’re like Gaius’s cabal of orphans.
At any rate, they figure out Gwen has been left with a bunch of love-crazy knights and presumably a love-crazed Merlin as well. Arthur and his group kick it into gear to find the knights.
Anyway, the knights have advanced to dueling over Lamia. And of course, Elyan has that scene in the middle of the night in the woods in which he just goes around kissing any evil snake woman with a pretty face that he can find. He falls sick.
Merlin and Gwen push for them to return to Camelot and Gaius, but the other knights say Lamia has told them of a nearby castle where they can seek shelter (Lamia never says these things herself; the knights always say them for her). So instead of magically forcing the horses to trot on to Camelot, Merlin goes with the knights, trying again and again to talk them out of their plan, as it’s only a trap where Lamia will kill them all.
He’s mostly correct, except for the whole killing thing. Lamia gives it her best effort, separating the knights, getting them all sick or injured. She and Merlin have a magical smackdown that leads to Gwen doing her best Eowyn and impaling Lamia, no longer pretty and now very scaly and monster-y, with a gigantic sword. She doesn’t shout “I am no man!” as she does that, but the same principle applies: because she’s a woman and because he’s magical, Lamia’s charms worked on neither Gwen or Merlin. Arthur arrives just in time to see his darling skewer a snake monster, which definitely adds spice to the relationship, I think.
They head en masse to the village, where Gaius finds a
convenient awesome cure to heal all of my lovely, lovely knights, and the men from Gwen’s village, too! All is happy. There’s even teasing from Arthur about how Merlin got saved by a woman (though Arthur equates the embarrassment with death. Hey, Arthur, Gwen is fantastic! She perforated your snake monster for you! A little more respect for the ladies!) and Arthur telling Gwen he underestimated and is proud of her (that’s more like it). Overall, this was an entertaining hour of TV, even though Merlin suffers the Buffy curse in that he’s right every single time and nobody ever believes him. Sigh.
Merlin airs on SyFy on Friday nights at 10/9c.