In a land of myth and a time of repetitive cloaked castle sneaking, Gwen is sneaking off in the middle of the night when she is discovered by Percival. Percival doesn’t really think the queen should be out alone at such late hour, even if she wants to reminisce about the days when she was poor and living in that one bedroom flat in the lower town, so Gwen is forced to remind him that her brother is dead and that excuses everything. He lets her go on her evil, merry way and agrees not to tell Arthur.
After getting stuck in traffic, because the middle of the night is basically rush hour for the gates of Camelot, Gwen finally meets Morgana. Morgana is a little snippy about Gwen being late, so there are no hugs, but Gwen hands over the spoils of their latest plan – intel on the upcoming levy collection.
We switch to a wide shot that indicates someone is watching them and then WHOA, it’s Arthur. Arthur draws his sword and Merlin stops him from doing anything stupid like try and take out the enemy when she least suspects it and has no backup. Because, you know, if they kill her now, what will they do with themselves for the next few weeks? Build the golden age of Camelot and give meaning to the last five years of our fannish lives or something? Ridiculous. Anyway, Arthur wonders why Gwen would betray him and Merlin tells him that, “She is not the one you love.” AMEN, MERLIN. And then he further explains that Gwen has fallen prey to a dark and powerful magic and Arthur says that if he loses Gwen, he loses everything. I just lost my breakfast.
And while the opening titles roll, I just want to quickly express my disappointment over them skipping the whole part where Merlin convinces Arthur to spy on Gwen. They’ve had him keep silent and share possessive glances with Gwen over Arthur for WEEKS and then we just bypass the resolution of all that tension. Ugh, THIS SHOW.
Ah, time for a romantic breakfast with the happy royal couple.
Gwen tries to engage Arthur in conversation (and an outing on horseback) but Arthur is distant. She says that he seems distracted. We all are, Gwen. It’s your wonky cleavage. If I could just reach through the screen and discreetly adjust them real quick, I’m sure I could concentrate on what you are saying a whole lot better. Arthur gets the hell out of there and secretly meets Leon and Mordred in a small, private chamber I like to think he takes Merlin to a lot. He has changed the levy collection route and it’s all very secret squirrel stuff. Mordred asks why they’re adding another day’s ride to the journey but Arthur just asks that he trust him. They commit the plan to memory and Arthur burns the evidence.
Ah, Gaius’ chambers is such a lovely set. I’m going to miss it. Merlin is camped out on the stairs reading when Gaius reveals that he suspects he knows what happened to Gwen. WELL NOW HE TELLS US. It’s an ancient ritual that Gaius heard rumours of as a boy, translated to ‘Sacred Fire’ and involving the use of mandrake root to take away the will of a victim and make them slaves to the high priestesses. Gaius doesn’t know much about it because he doesn’t have a vagina, or something, and he can think of only two people who might have more details. Considering how very few people actually HAVE vaginas in this world, it’s obviously rather limited. Merlin has the choice of Morgana or the Dochraid, otherwise known as that blind hag who gave us zombie!Lancelot.
Merlin goes with the second option and pauses at the entrance of her lair while Gaius’ voiceover reminds him that the Dochraid can never know his true identity. Merlin downs a potion, and it’s Old!Merlin who enters the cave. Ooh, I like the voice he uses as his disguise. It’s totally working for me. The Dochraid gets her creep on and demands Merlin’s hand so she can identify him. He totally should have covered himself in those stinky berries that disguise scents from the giant naked mole rats, because the Dochraid smells the ‘stench of enmity’ all over Merlin’s fingers. I’m pretty sure she means that Merlin reeks of Arthur Pendragon. And even though Merlin tries his best to persuade the Dochraid that he comes in peace, she recognises him as Emrys, no friend to the Old Religion or Morgana.
Um, so why the disguise, then, if she could just sniff him out? She HAS NO EYES. It’s not like she can link the smell with a visual to identify him if anyone else asks. Anyway, they argue for a bit and I’m still getting flustered over Merlin’s VOICE and how sure he is of his power and dammit, lusting over Old!Merlin is distressing but I can’t stop. Especially when, after the Dochraid skites that he can’t kill a creature of the earth such as herself, Merlin whips out Excalibur. “This sword was forged in a dragon’s breath and it WILL do my bidding.” Yes, Arthur’s sword ALWAYS does Merlin’s bidding. The Dochraid doesn’t think Merlin has the power to wield such a weapon and everyone everywhere laughs at her. Merlin does a quick bit of slicing and dicing to prove his point, and green slime oozes out of her wound.
Now she’ll talk. She tells Merlin that his queen is doomed. “Her body is nothing but an empty vessel filled by the will of another. Once she has served her purpose, that too will be cast away.” Oh, so she’s like every other female character on this show, then. Also UGH. I was really hoping that Morgana could have used some part of Gwen’s subconscious with this spell, like actually have it taken root in Gwen’s former relationship with Morgana, and her feelings about being made Queen while others are still not treated equally (despite Arthur’s good intentions) etc. It would have been INTERESTING and actually have given Gwen some much-needed character development. Instead, we get this. I should not be surprised.
So, yeah, there’s a cure. Only the greatest of sorcerers could attempt such a thing, so it’s lucky we have him right here. Merlin must travel to some Cauldron place and summon the white goddess and dunk Gwen in the cauldron. Sounds simple, but the catch is that she must enter the water willingly, or she will fall into the abyss and be lost forever. I guess that’s a bad thing but, I dunno, an abyss sounds perfectly delightful after watching this episode; I wouldn’t mind it at all. Merlin thanks the Dochraid and turns to leave. Seizing the opportunity, the Dochraid magicks a dagger towards Merlin’s back, which he deflects away just in time. She gets another taste of Excalibur’s medicine, and Merlin’s violent retaliatory streak scares me a little. But he’s still hot. Help me.
Arthur very prettily watches Merlin ride back into Camelot. He seems lost in thought as Mordred approaches and I GUESS he’s worried about Gwen but…okay, I am fully aware that I am setting myself up for a major fall with only four episodes to go, but…do we think Arthur KNOWS? Or at least suspects? He’s looking at Merlin and pondering SOMETHING that has him completely distracted from his new boy wonder (who is all puppyish and eager to please) and it just seemed like an odd scene to put in if we were just meant to see Arthur concerned about Gwen – he could have been looking at HER out the window instead. And did he know Merlin was going out to get information to help Gwen? Has he noticed Excalibur is missing? GAH I HATE IT WHEN THEY FILL ME WITH HOPE LIKE THIS.
Merlin is being all negative about his ability to cure Gwen, like he’s looking for a way out. Gaius thinks that the only person who ever doubts Merlin’s powers is Merlin, himself. Well, given that most people who discover Merlin’s powers end up dead pretty quickly soon after, I don’t think we have much of a sample to survey and make that call, Gaius. Ugh, basically, this is just them recapping the process that the Dochraid already told Merlin, with Gaius adding the tincture of Belladonna to knock Gwen out long enough for them to get her to the Cauldron. Oh, and Arthur has to save Gwen with the power of love, and Merlin has to be in disguise to perform the spell in front of Arthur, even though the aging spell is exhausting and he fears he won’t have the strength to use such powerful magic.
Then Gaius and Merlin meet Arthur and recap everything again, explaining that the tincture must be administered several times a day to keep Gwen snoozing, but for no longer than three days or she will cark it. If things go well, they should get to the Cauldron in three days so, you know, no problems there. Gaius urges Arthur to do it, but Arthur waits for Merlin’s nod of approval before agreeing. HE TRUSTS MERLIN! But there’s just one tiny problem – Arthur is not 100% comfortable with breaking his own decrees and using sorcery. He is talked into it when Gaius stresses that he has to fight sorcery with sorcery in order to save his wife.
Arthur wants to know if the sorcerer they will use can be trusted. Gaius looks at Merlin. “Upon my life.” Arthur reminds him that the last time Gaius went around vouching for a sorcerer, he ended up being responsible for Uther’s death (oops, Merlin), but Gaius assures him that this sorcerer will be entirely different. Merlin is very discreetly having a nervous breakdown. Arthur wants to know how Gaius can be so sure. “Because, Sire, I have chosen…” The dramatic music pauses. My heart stops. I lean in. “…a woman.” FUCKING FUCKITY FUCK. The comedy music trumps its arrival and Merlin’s FACE would probably be hilarious if I wasn’t trying to stop myself from throwing my computer out the window and throwing myself out soon after. If they don’t give us a reveal in the next four episodes after this teasing, I WILL BE SO MAD.
Arthur is brooding in his chambers when Gwen sneaks up behind him. She catches him out in his lies about what he’s been doing all day and asks if she has done something to upset him. “I’m your wife, Arthur. I wouldn’t see you hurt for the world.” AHAHAHAHA, she seems so sincere. Arthur gives some big romantic speech about how much he loves her that I can’t quite hear over the violins.
Merlin, meanwhile, is trying on womanly outfits. He settles on a little black dress that Gaius thinks quite suits him. “You’re forgetting one thing,” Gaius says, and Merlin agrees that it needs a belt. AHAHAHAHA. Of course Merlin would be all about the accessorising. What Gaius actually meant, however, was the Belladonna, which must be administered every two hours to keep Gwen asleep. How many conversations about this are we going to have?
Arthur invites Gaius ‘round for supper, which Merlin serves. Their brilliant plant hits its first problem, however, when Gwen doesn’t feel like drinking the kool aid this evening. OH MY GOD IF SHE’S PREGNANT I WILL JUST QUIT RIGHT NOW. THAT WOULD BE ME DONE. Anyway, Arthur’s quick thinking saves the day (I almost typed that with a straight face, I’ll have you know) and he proposes a toast. To the Queen. They are all terrible, terrible liars. Gwen changes to the toast to Camelot and takes a sip. The comedy music trumpets as the men try to roofie her, because that shit is hilarious, right? And then, okay, it IS funny because they all stare at her expectantly and she looks perfectly fine, if a bit confused, one second, then passes out in the next. Merlin skilfully cushions her face’s fall with a loaf of bread.
The guys leap to action. Merlin runs out of the room and returns with a rickety little wheelbarrow cart thing, which Arthur despairs of. “She’s still a queen!” Heh. But it’s the best Merlin could do, so Gwen will just have to snooze on it, covered in a sheet to disguise her as a pile of dirty linen. Arthur isn’t sure this will work, but Gaius says he would be amazed how much license old age lends him. HEE! Gaius and Merlin take the cart and agree to meet Arthur in the Darkling Wood, Merlin with the understanding that he will lose his head if he drops the queen.
Gaius plays up the serving-boy!Merlin thing as they wheel the cart past random knights. Merlin is finding it tough because, apparently, Gwen is heavier than she looks. Gaius thinks saying such things might be grounds for treason. Heh, has he heard the insults about Arthur’s weight that Merlin always throws around? Their schtick is useless, however, when they run into knights who actually know them. It’s Mordred and Gwaine. Gwaine looks so happy to have stumbled upon them. His face just lights up! Gwaine clearly wants to play, and Mordred looks like he wants to join in, and they joke about the barrow of linen. When they reach out to it, Gaius stops them with a story about Red Thrush Fever, a contagious disease which just killed they guy who was sleeping on the linen. Gwaine backs the fuck up and lets Merlin pass to burn the linen immediately. They begin to proceed along their merry way until Gwaine stops them again to ask the name of the dead man so he can send something to his family. Aw, Gwaine, bless. “Timothy,” Gaius answers, and no more questions are asked. I hope there is an actual Timothy who is still fighting fit and wondering why his parents keep getting fruit baskets and Rising Sun gift certificates all of a sudden. Heh. Mordred pauses one last time and sees a blue-sleeve arm fall out from under the sheet. He decides to keep quiet.
Merlin and Gaius finally catch up with Arthur in the woods, Merlin lagging behind a bit due to the steep slopes out of Camelot. Arthur uncovers his sleeping wife and remarks that she looks so innocent and perfect. “She still is, Sire. The only evil in her is Morgana’s,” Gaius tells him. Arthur carries Gwen to his horse while Gauis and Merlin have a quick hug goodbye, and then the boys are galloping along with Gwen hung over the front of Arthur’s saddle, flopping everywhere. She is going to need a REALLY good chiropractor when this is all over.
Oh, the Dochraid is still part of the plot. She crawls along the ground to a big rock and starts chanting some kind of spell. Meh.
Pausing to take in the view, Merlin tells Arthur that the sorceress lives at the western most peak of the mountains in front of them. “That’d be the highest,” Arthur observes. “It always is, isn’t it?” Aw, there’s just this softness and closeness to them that I can’t quite pinpoint, except you just know that the two of them have been through so much together and are so familiar with each other and I am going to miss them so very much. Continuing, Merlin’s spidey senses tingle and he tells Arthur that they’re being watched. “One of your funny feelings again?” Arthur asks, and Merlin nods. Arthur takes him seriously and is concerned as they ride ahead.
They stop the horses to continue on foot when things get a bit rocky. Arthur will carry Gwen and Merlin will take the supplies. It doesn’t seem like a fair deal to Merlin, given that Gwen is half the weight of everything else. He offers to take Gwen instead, but Arthur reminds him of who is married to the queen and who is the servant. Because, yes, Arthur will trust Merlin’s opinion and his instincts, but Arthur is still an ass.
The Dochraid sends off a raven-mail, just to split up the Arthur and Merlin scenes.
As Arthur and Merlin trod along the quarry, Arthur feels quite chatty and wants to talk about Merlin’s funny feelings. Merlin is too busy not dying under the weight of his load to answer, which Arthur takes as him sulking. Heh. Arthur thinks carrying all the supplies will do Merlin good. “How come it wouldn’t do you good?” “I’m already good.” HEE! <3 Merlin’s response, however, is cut off by him falling over the cliff. Arthur is still in full banter mode and doesn’t quite realise the severity of the situation at first but once he turns around and can’t find Merlin, he gets all panicky. He sets Gwen down and tries to climb down the rock face to reach Merlin, only to get caught up in a rockslide. Yeah, this would be the part where problems arise.
Morgana’s raven inbox pings/caws. She takes the letter back to a waiting Aithusa and reads it. The handwriting is surprisingly good for a woman with no eyes, but we learn of its contents via magical voiceover anyway. She tells Morgana that Emrys is thwarting her plans, and gives the location. Morgana pets Aithusa and enlists his help.
Back in the quarry, Merlin is still out cold and Arthur wakes close to him. Unfortunately, Arthur’s arm is trapped under a fallen boulder and Arthur can’t quite get enough leverage to either free his arm or kick Merlin awake. His only remaining option is to take his sword and go all 127 Hours style on his arm.
(So I couldn’t dig up Derek trying to convince Stiles to cut off his arm, so there’s Joel McHale instead. I guess we could pretend the Greenberg bit was Teen Wolf-related.)
Just as Arthur is about start hacking away, however, someone calls out from the top of the cliff. It’s Mordred! Such is Arthur’s relief that Mordred even gets the heroic theme music as he lowers a rope and promises that he checked on Gwen first.
Then we cut to the campfire that evening. Merlin seems to have recovered, Gwen is sleeping, Arthur is flexing his newly freed hand, and Mordred is trying to understand how such a sweet girl like Gwen could be so bad. Arthur explains that it was all Morgana’s fault and apologises for not confiding in Mordred. Mordred, in contrast to Merlin’s usual negativity these days, looks on the bright side and says that if Arthur HAD confided in him, he wouldn’t have been all curious and followed them, which means Arthur would be missing a limb right now. He admits that he noticed Merlin was acting strangely (“Is that so unusual?” Arthur asks) and also grew suspicious at the levy route being changed. “You had a funny feeling,” Arthur says, throwing an amused glance at Merlin, and it’s so cute that the two of them have these in-jokes which kind of confuse Mordred. Arthur thanks him for saving his arm.
Totes jealous because he wasn’t the secret magic boy to save Arthur this time, Merlin pouts and says he would have woken in time. “Merlin, if I had to rely on your timekeeping, I would have lost both my arms and my legs to boot.” Mordred laughs, and just looks so HAPPY to be included, like he belongs somewhere. Arthur seems to feel the same about Mordred being with them. “Three’s always better than two, isn’t that right, Merlin?” Merlin does not approve of this threesome.
When Arthur leaves to administer Gwen’s sleeping potion, Mordred takes the opportunity to speak with Merlin. He knows that Merlin doesn’t trust him. “It’s alright. I know you have the king’s best interests at heart. I only wish you’d believe that I do, too. One day, I shall prove my loyalty to you and the king. Then I hope we may be friends.” Aw, see, Merlin? He wants you and Arthur to be the parents he never had and you can all be a perfectly happy family. Or he wants into your pants. I am undecided at this point. Merlin says he could wish for nothing more. Yeah, I’d probably wish for a pony as well. And world peace.
The next morning, Arthur carries Gwen, Merlin takes all the supplies and Mordred seems to have gotten off lightly when he could definitely take a bag or two, the lazy brat. Mordred asks the meaning of the banners lining the path and Merlin explains they mark the way for pilgrims, as it is a sacred site for followers of the old religion. You’d think Mordred would already know that, given his upbringing. Maybe he’s trying to make Merlin look suspicious in front of Arthur or something. If that’s the plan, it’s kind of working, because Arthur asks Merlin how he knows this kind of stuff. “Gaius told me,” Merlin says. This is the entire reason they have actually kept Gaius alive for all five series - I doubt Merlin could have kept his magic secret without the easy scapegoat.
They continue as Morgana watches them from afar and then BOOM, fireball courtesy of Aithusa. They take cover and Merlin tells Arthur to go while he distracts the dragon. Arthur is not a fan of this plan, because it means he leaves Merlin behind and also, logically, Merlin is the only one who knows where the sorcerer is. Mordred helps convince him to get Gwen to safety while he and Merlin cover them. Arthur leaves with a very stiff-looking Gwen dummy in his arms.
Once it’s down to the two of them, Merlin takes charge and orders Mordred to stay put while he takes care of the creature. I’m not sure why Merlin didn’t just let Mordred know he was a Dragonlord, given that he already knows he’s Emrys, but I guess a guy is allowed to have his secrets. Merlin sends his wayward reptilian baby packing with a verbal tongue-lashing, and returns to Mordred, refusing to tell the kid what he did. They hurry away, and maybe could have made it if Mordred had offered to share the load instead of Merlin being dragged down by fifty billion bags, but Morgana appears behind them and sends them flying with that bit of magic that we’re all thoroughly sick of seeing. When this show is over and I have finished off all the missing recaps and am sitting around bored on a usual Merlin Sunday, I might make a compilation of every time someone has been magically blasted into the air, just to see how long it would go for. Anyway, Mordred gets knocked out but Merlin seems fine. Probably all the experience he’s had. He gets up and flees, leaving Mordred behind with barely a second glance. Ugh, Merlin, you suck.
Arthur wants to go back for Mordred when Merlin arrives alone, but Merlin tells him that he saw Morgana and they can’t throw away the chance that Mordred gave them. I am not a fan of him manipulating Arthur like that. At all. I know where it’s coming from and all but, ugh, all these years of other people telling Merlin his destiny has turned him into a bit of a psychopath.
Mordred, meanwhile, is woken by the gentle caress of Morgana’s hand. He asks why she hasn’t killed him. “My argument’s not with you, Mordred.” Oh, so she’s forgiven him for STABBING HER IN THE BACK, then? Apparently all is forgiven because she and Mordred are of a kind. Mordred does not agree. “You wear the uniform well but we both know what lies beneath it,” Morgana tells him. I, for one, would also like to know what’s underneath that uniform. I’m guessing he has to be very careful in that knights’ locker room in case they see the Derek Hale tattoo on his chest, which is probably why Morgana seems to be the only one who gets to check out everything legal!Mordred has to offer.
Morgana is obviously still hurt by Mordred’s betrayal, however, and tells Mordred a few home truths about Arthur probably not reacting all that well if he discovered one of his knights was a sorcerer. “One day he will know,” Mordred says. “One day we will be accepted.” Oh, Mordred. He sounds so much like Merlin did in his younger days, when he actually still had hope. It HURTS. It breaks Morgana’s heart a little bit, too.
She asks where Emrys is and Mordred plays it cool and doesn’t rat out Merlin. I am really loving this guy. But without any intel or willingness to return to the dark side, Morgana has no further use for Mordred. He stops her before she delivers the blow. “I am not strong enough to defeat you, Morgana, but know this: such hatred as yours can never triumph. I hope one day you will find the love and compassion which used to fill your heart.” Well, to be fair, she DID. She just had to brainwash her love to get it. Mordred takes advantage of the fact that he has kind of stunned Morgana into silence, and gets to blast Morgana back with his glowy eyes.
The rest of the gang arrive at the Cauldron at last. It’s basically a small dam surrounded by rocks and not particularly where you’d expect a goddess would be hanging out. Arthur asks where the sorceress is and Merlin explains that she is a recluse and shuns the company of men. Arthur says she’s going to have to make an exception. Well, if exceptions are to be made, she could do a lot worse than Arthur and Merlin, even if she’d prefer to join in on the Gwen/Morgana action. Ahem. Arthur doesn’t want to risk drugging Gwen any more than they already have, so Merlin heads off to find this mystery woman. As he grabs his bag, the little black dress from earlier falls out. Arthur’s concern for his wife is suddenly overshadowed by his curiosity.
Merlin explains that the sorceress likes to be paid in clothes because she can’t get to a tailor. “Why would a recluse be interested in clothes?” Arthur asks, because he seems to think everyone is naked when they’re alone or something. Merlin has had enough of his questioning. “I don’t know, Arthur, she’s a sorceress. She’s not going to be normal, is she?” He stomps off and finds a private nook in which to transform.
While Merlin struggles with the concept of skirts, Arthur is given a reprieve from fretting when Mordred appears. There is manly hand-clasping and their reunion is quite touching. Arthur had feared him dead and asks how he escaped Morgana. Mordred says she is no match for a knight of the round table. “No, seriously, Mordred,” Arthur says, and I laugh out loud. Luckily for Mordred, however, he doesn’t have to come up with an excuse, because they are both immediately distracted by another arrival…
Yep, it took five years but we finally got GENDERSWAP. AHAHAHA, Arthur and Mordred’s FACES. Merlin, or Dolma, climbs over some rocks and takes a moment to adjust and pose himself artfully. He was right – the belt is a nice touch. “Now it makes sense,” Arthur quietly tells Mordred. “Merlin said she had trouble getting clothes.” You know, this might not be a good indication of his character, but maybe Arthur would be a lot more willing to accept magic if he got to interact with some more comely and youthful sorcerers every now and then.
OH MY GIDDY AUNT, MERLIN’S VOICE. It is the campest, most ridiculous thing ever, but I can’t bring myself to mind all that much, given that the rest of this episode has been rather underwhelming. It’s just hilarious that Camelot has been betrayed, Gwen is about to be lost to them, Morgana and her dragon are probably still nearby, and yet Merlin is taking the time to dress as an old woman and parade around in front of Arthur like he’s at a night club and looking for cougar bait.
Something about the odd flirty behaviour raises Arthur’s suspicions and he asks Mordred if thev woman looks familiar to him. “There is something,” Mordred responds, and Dolma!Merlin walks closer to try and hear their conversation. Arthur tells her that she looks familiar and Merlin PREENS. Before Arthur can try any more pickup lines, Mordred asks him where Merlin is, and Arthur suddenly switches to steely menace and asks Dolma what she has done with his servant, hand on sword.
“Oh, the gangly boy,” Dolma says. “If you kill me, you’ll never see him again.” Which, TRUE. Dolma tells Arthur that Merlin will be returned to him once they have concluded their business. Check out Alex’s face in the background as he tries not to smile, for it is cute. Arthur notes that she already knows why they’re there. “Nothing is hidden from…THE DOLMA,” Merlin tells them, hilariously, and instructs Arthur to set Gwen down by the pool so they can get on with it.
As Gwen is gently laid at the edge of the water, Merlin gives Arthur the usual list of disclaimers and potential side effects (strong magic, difficult spell, might not work, might lose the queen forever etc etc etc) and Arthur kind of does the equivalent of what we always do when we get those iTunes Terms and Conditions updates and just clicks on ‘Agree’ so he can just download that One Direction album already, dammit. And AGAIN, we’re reminded of the spell-breaking process and that Gwen has to walk in to the water of her own free will. Arthur asks how he can get through to Gwen.
“You must reach her, Arthur. Reach into that part of your queen which has remained untouched by the evil of Morgana.” AHAHAHAHAHAHA! OH MY GOD I CAN’T BREATHE.
“Is there such a part?” Arthur asks. AHAHAHAHA. NO. Merlin says Arthur must believe there is. Believe all you want, mate, I believe Morgana was all up in that long before you even knew Gwen existed.
Merlin wakes Gwen up, and Gwen is all WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT? and tries to run away from Arthur. Arthur grabs her, saying, “My Guinevere,” and she rounds on him. “YOUR Guinevere? Stupid, foolish man. I was never yours and never will be.” Ouch. Merlin reminds Arthur to reach out to her. “Who’s this old crone?” Gwen asks, and it’s probably one of Gwen’s best and most random lines ever. Arthur keeps trying to reach Gwen, who is telling him that everything was a lie and subterfuge to return Camelot to its rightful queen. Arthur doesn’t believe that, and tries to drag Gwen towards the water. DAMMIT, ARTHUR, THIS IS WHY YOU READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS. HOW MANY TIMES DID THEY MENTION THE FREE WILL PART? Merlin reminds Arthur yet again, so Arthur stops and pulls out the big guns, asking Gwen if she remembers what she said when Arthur asked her to marry him. “With all my heart,” Arthur says. A whole bunch of times. But it works. Gwen stops fighting and Arthur backs towards the water while keeping eye contact, kind of like a horse whisperer or something. Gwen follows and wades out into the pool so Merlin can work his summoning magic. There’s a white light and violins and when it’s all over, Gwen reaches out for Arthur, who wades out to hug her. Aw, it’s all very heartwarming. Merlin smiles.
After everyone has dried off somehow, Arthur tells the Dolma that they owe her a great debt and suggests a new dress. Gwen thinks that’s a bit rude until Arthur explains that she likes clothes. Hee. She doesn’t want a dress but there is one thing:
“Remember what saved your queen – magic and sorcery.” Arthur quite rightly says that it was also sorcery which started the whole mess. “There is no evil in sorcery, only in the hearts of men. My request is that you remember this.” Arthur gives his word.
Mordred joins Arthur and Gwen and they turn to leave. Dolma puts her hands on her hips. “Aren’t you forgetting something?!” Arthur checks his sword is still in his belt and everyone looks around stupidly. Dolma sighs. “The boy.” Arthur doesn’t seem all that concerned. “That boy was your surety, great king. Without him, your queen would still be lost.”
“I’m not sure that’s quite true,” Arthur says, scrunching up his nose. AND HE BETTER KNOW. He better be playing Merlin here, now that all the drama is over, because otherwise it’s completely ridiculous that he would fall off a cliff for Merlin and almost CUT OFF HIS ARM to get to him, and then threaten a powerful sorceress for him, and then forget about all about him once he has his queen by his side again. Ugh, I’m just going to tell myself that he’s just messing with them, because the other option is just too painful to even consider.
“You owe him a greater debt than you could possibly know.” Arthur raises a dubious eyebrow at that and offers to give Merlin the afternoon off as payment. Dolma seethes. “One day, great king,” she says, leaning in close, “you will recognise the true worth of those that surround you.” One day? He’s got, like, four weeks in which to do it. She sends them on their way, and scurries behind a rock.
Arthur and Gwen again share a horse on the ride back to Camelot, but this time she’s sitting behind him and not flopping all over the place. Merlin and Mordred ride behind. “Arthur’s a lucky man,” Mordred says, and Merlin agrees. “Not just to have Gwen, but to have you,” Mordred adds. Awwwwww. He loves you so much, Merlin, why can’t you see it? Merlin thinks Arthur would find someone else to do his chores soon enough. “It was hardly a chore. That was your magic back there, wasn’t it?” Mordred assures Merlin that he will keep the magic secret and that he admires him for doing so much with so little reward or recognition. Merlin tells him he isn’t in it for the fame and fortune, and only requires that his friends are safe and well. Mordred thinks they have something in common, after all: the future of Camelot. “Fuck you,” says Merlin’s face. And thank goodness that episode is over.
Next Week: Morgana searches for Emrys. More people go flying. Merlin seems to be in danger. SNAKES AGAIN? Arthur pacing in a circle of knights. Running. Explosions. Flames. Merlin giving Mordred & the knights the slip. Kilgharrah. DID THAT BOLT JUST HIT MERLIN? IS THAT MORGANA FORCING MERLIN TO KNEEL BEFORE HER? COULD THIS EPISODE ACTUALLY FOCUS ON MERLIN? I am more excited by this than I was for the entire episode this week.