Although at first sight this appeared to be yet another average episode full of infantile humour - a sort of cross between Sweet Dreams, The Gates of Avalon and Beauty and the Beast - it was actually more enjoyable than the other two filler episodes this season. Yes, there were a few burp/fart jokes together with comedic moments as Miriam Margoyles' Grunhilda tried to "seduce" Gaius. However, this episode also highlighted and pushed forward the blossoming romance between Arthur and Gwen which, in turn, led to Morgana discovering this secret affair. Her new knowledge looks like it plays a crucial part in next weeks episode and hence provides a welcome feeling of a continuing storyline. It's an effective way of having a standalone episode whilst still progressing the background plot.
Of course, the appearance of Lord Godwyn and his daughter Princess Elena plus Uther insistance that Arthur marry the princess was a little sudden. This need to cement the friendship between the two kingdoms seemed to be introduced very quickly with no prior set-up. By sheer coincidence, of course, the princess is a 'changeling' - her body houses the essense of a fairy or Sidhe - which is part of an evil Sidhe plan hatched decades ago when Elena was a baby to get one of the fairy onto the throne and thus control all of Camelot.
Of course, Merlin finds out about Elena's fairy infestation and the fact that Grunhilda, Elena's nanny, is actually a pixie in disguise. He then uses the staff we haven't seen since the end of The Gates of Avalon to (eventually) blast Grunhilda to dust, whilst Gaius concocts a potion to remove the Sidhe from the princess. Funny that we haven't seen that powerful, crystal-topped staff for some time - perhaps it only works on fairies and the like?
Although this appeared to be the main plot, it was the other storyline which was probably the most interesting. Arthur is placed in the tricky position of doing what is required of him by his father, the King, in order to ensure Camelot's prosperity. The problem here, of course, is that he doesn't love the princess but instead has feelings for Gwen, a mere commoner. In the end, Arthur emerges out of the shadow of blind duty and realises that Camelot will be stronger (and he'll be happier!) if he marries someone he loves and who loves him in return. Aaah.
All in all, a well-played episode by the cast. There are some funny moments as well as emotional scenes in here, all peppered with a few decent bits of action. Surprisingly I enjoyed it, though I'd say it wasn't as fulfilling and dramatic as last week's. The episode next week looks to be a good one from the brief preview though.