I don't believe it! Goblin's Gold turned out not to be quite the belch-and-fartfest that the trailer had made it out to be. In fact the episode, although flawed, was surprisingly good, taking the occasional darker-than-expected turn.
While retrieving a book for Gaius from the dusty vaults of Camelot's well-stocked, but clearly underutilised library (good to see old Geoffrey of Monmouth, as played by Michael Cronin, again), Merlin stumbled upon a concealed room behind a secret door and accidentally freed a pesky goblin (voiced by Mark Williams) that was imprisoned within a lead-lined box in there.
To further its desire to obtain as much gold as possible, the goblin 'possessed' Gaius and began to secretly wreak havoc around Camelot that Gaius was then able to cure "for a fee".
And yes, for one scene, this did involve afflicting the court with flatulence - but it was only one scene (and, as much as I hate to admit it, I was laughing).
Eventually, Merlin realised what was going on, but then had to find a way of getting the goblin out of Gaius without hurting his old friend; unfortunately this was when the goblin-possessed Gaius "unmasked" Merlin to the court as a user of magic, even handing over a book of spells to Uther, and claiming it was Merlin's.
The episode also saw some tender moments between Arthur and Gwen, as well as the now obligatory half-naked shots of Arthur (we've had at least one every episode this season so far!) to pander to key demographics.
The tattooed goblin itself was a nicely realised piece of CGI and it was almost a shame that we didn't get to see more of it.
Richard Wilson also had a chance to shine in this episode, rather than be the usual background character to the younger members of the cast, although his 'possesed Gaius' sailed awfully close to Victor Meldrew territory on occasion, illiciting hearty cries of "I don't believe it!" in our house.
However, there were some glaring inconsistencies in Howard Overman's script, such as:
- why the goblin only possessed Gaius (when Merlin and Gwen eventually drove him out why didn't he just possess one of them?);
- given how easy it was to convince Uther that no-one knew how the goblin had gotten free in the first place, why didn't Gaius and Merlin take that course of action immediately (thus probably circumventing all the problems the goblin caused around the castle)?
Morgana (Katie McGrath) was still sultry and sinister, the use of magic actually felt quite appropriate (e.g. Arthur's donkey ears), Gwen and the prince were suitably coy with each other, and not all of the humour revolved around bodily functions.
After the epic nature of the two-part Tears Of Uther Pendragon, Goblin's Gold was definitely a smaller, light-weight affair - and at times felt like it had escaped from Season One - but as long as it remains a one-off, and not a sign of the tone for the rest of the season, I find myself not as displeased as I was expecting to be when I saw the trailer last weekend.