In a land of myth and a time of tattoos that have really come back into fashion thanks to a certain hot alpha werewolf, Morgana greets the powerful sorcerer of the week from her throne. This one is especially powerful, according to rumour, and Morgana thinks he should prove it to her cronies. DANCE, MONKEY, DANCE!
As Ari the sorcerer protests being treated like a court jester, Morgana’s good humour fades and she demands that he extinguish the torches. He does so with a spell that sounds a bit like him coughing up bodily fluids all over the flames, but Morgana thinks it displays his impressive powers nonetheless. Mordred, standing at Morgana’s side, doesn’t seem to react at all. An ominous looking box is brought out and as Morgana’s men hold Ari down, he’s clearly terrified of its contents. Not snakes again, please! WTF IS THAT A GIANT TONGUE? A SLUG? WHAT? Whatever the fuck it is, it launches itself at Ari’s face and sucks the magic right out of him. Oh, it’s a LEECH. (I actually only just figured that out after the 2nd viewing, SHUT UP.)
Anyway, Ari knows his magic is gone, Morgana is mean about it and demands he relight her fire (what, Mordred didn’t take care of that last night?), Ari doesn’t want to humiliate himself any further, Morgana screams like a ridiculous banshee, Ari tries, fails and cries as he is led away. Mordred does not approve of Morgana’s methods, saying that taking away a powerful ally’s magic is a bit of a mistake, but Morgana has another plan. Poor Ari was just the guinea pig and now she knows she can take away a powerful sorcerer’s powerful power. “Now we know the war can be won. For Arthur is nothing without Emrys and Emrys is nothing without magic.” Well, he’s still all cheekbones and ears and LIPS and otherworldly prettiness, but we get the point.
And as I shout at Mordred to THINK about things now while we still have time to turn this runaway carriage to craptown around, let’s watch the opening titles.
While ANOTHER person with evil intent sneaks the leech box into Camelot, the jaunty happy funtimes music starts as we see the beloved entrance of our favourite tavern. YAAAAAY, I HAVE MISSED YOU, RISING SUN SIGN. Inside, Arthur and Merlin are playing a game of dice with all the other patrons cheering them on. Everyone thinks that the king and his servant trash talking each other is the greatest spectator sport ever, which it pretty much is. Merlin makes a substantial bet, which has Arthur leaning up to Percival so they can watch his spectacular defeat together. Except Merlin doesn’t lose, because Merlin is amazingly gifted when it comes to blowing. ON HIS DICE. And the quick flash of gold in his eyes probably helps, too. Arthur gets all up in Merlin’s face to whisper sweet nothings/threats and Percival’s all, ‘why aren’t the others here to witness this hilariousness?”
But here’s what I love: Arthur is obviously still upset about the whole Mordred thing so Merlin has taken him out for a lads’ night on the town to take his mind off things. This is exactly what happened and nobody can tell me otherwise.
Morgana’s sneaky man of sneakiness sneaks past some knights inside the castle and then sneaks past Gaius who is sleeping in his chambers. He’s holding a big rock in his hands as well as the box but who cares right now because our boys are still locked in a battle of
The crowd goes quiet as Merlin puts his money where his highly distracting mouth is. HE’S ALL IN. “It’s like that, is it?” Arthur says, and THE LOOKS they give each other will be something I return to when in deep depression in two days’ time. Arthur piles all his coins in with Merlin’s and it takes Merlin a second to put on his poker face, but then we get a shot of his determined gaze as he shakes his cup of dice and we can just see that his hand is making these jerking MOVEMENTS out of the shot while he and Arthur stare into each other’s eyes and whose mind WOULDN’T go there, okay? Merlin blows on his dice again and calls twelve with another quick flash of his eyes. Sure enough, he rolls two sixes. But COME ON, Arthur was starting directly into Merlin’s eyes the whole time. He had to have seen that. But if he did, his poker face is better than Merlin’s. He does, however, allow the corners of his mouth to turn up ever so slightly and you just know he’s happy for Merlin to take all his money and, really, Merlin’s celebratory cheers and smiles are worth ten times whatever he just lost. Plus, he’s going to make Merlin shout them all a kebab on the way home.
After much more celebrating and probable drunken debauchery, Merlin sneaks back into his room with the staggering stealth of the truly inebriated. Gaius doesn’t notice Merlin blundering through like a bull in a china shop, because Gaius has been knocked out with a large rock. And Merlin doesn’t notice Gaius because he is too busy passing out on his little bed. I’m gonna miss that bed. I bet half the red-caped population of Camelot is going to miss that bed. So many memories. *sigh* One of my true regrets about the series ending is that we didn’t get to see Percival spend a night in Merlin’s room like Lancelot and Gwaine before him. Imagine his feet sticking out over the edge – adorable!
Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be farewelling random props during the finale, it seems. (Seriously, though, if Santa dropped by on Christmas morning and offered to give me one thing for being such a loyal servant to Camelot, I would ask for that little bed. That, and the Rising Sun sign.)
ANYWAY, Merlin’s ale-induced coma is cut short when he hears the tongue leech thing flop out of the box hidden under his bed and slime its way around the room. He sits up and tries to work out where the noise is coming from then SLURRRRRRPPP, it launches itself through the air and attaches to Merlin’s face. Merlin flails around on the bed, then on the floor and eventually pries it off his face and throws it against the wall. It comes back for round two but just before it makes contact with Merlin’s beautiful face again, it is whacked with a shovel mid-air. YAY GAIUS! The tongue leech thing flops onto Merlin’s bed, where Gaius delivers another shovel-whack as the killing blow. Ew, please wash those covers first before delivering to me on Christmas morning, Santa.
(Tongue monster inspiration:
Even though Merlin is on the verge of passing out again, he’s still concerned about Gaius’ minor head wound, bless him. The next time Merlin wakes, Gaius has him back in bed and is waiting to explain the tongue leech thing. He’s pretty sure Morgana is behind it, because it was only a matter of time before she tried to take Merlin out after Mordred surely went all tattle tale and told Morgana of his powers. “We can only be grateful that she failed,” Gaius says. Um, yeah, about that. Merlin tries to magic the cup beside his bed closer (because after a night on the town with your boyfriend, Berocca gives you back your b-b-bounce) but can’t seem to manage it.
“I don’t think she failed,” Merlin tells Gaius after calling him back to his bedside. “I’ve lost my magic.” Oh god, he looks so young and fragile and scared and I cannot bear it.
Gaius goes straight into research mode and finds a picture of the symbol that was on the top of the tongue leech thing’s box. It’s also the symbol from the Book of Shadows on Charmed and I swear it pops up on this little trinket at some point too:
(“It’s Excalibur, you know, it’s the sword in the stone. It has to have that power.”)
Anyway, for these purposes the triquetra is a sign of the…Ghean Canach? Something like that. Gaius’ book says that it is the most feared creature of magic folk and was forged from the tears of the earth mother or something. It devours the magic of others, draining them of their power. Well, I guess it had a full little belly after snacking on Merlin. Dare I say it, the only reason Gaius was able to kill it was because it was feeling a little…sluggish?
Merlin thought all such creatures were destroyed in the Great Purge. Um, WHY would Uther want to destroy this one? He should have had a frickin’ army of them running around taking everyone’s magic. Meh. Also, with the jagged little cut on Gaius’ forehead and the glasses he’s wearing, he reminds me of someone…
(I have seriously got to get off youtube and get down to writing this recap, dammit.)
Overseeing a castle aflame with CGI fire, Mordred informs Morgana that the garrison is surrounded. Then they hold hands and magic a freaking meteor right into the castle grounds. People flee in terror and swords are swinging in earnest. Oh, look, there’s Gwaine saving the virtue of a pretty young maiden. The maiden returns the favour by saving Gwaine’s pretty young face from being caved in and it is so reminiscent of the time he fell in love with Merlin during the bar brawl, that we can guess where this is headed. He takes his girl to safety just as Leon decides they’re losing the battle and sounds the retreat. I guess now we know where Gwaine and Leon were while the others were partying at the tavern.
Merlin walks through the castle halls which are full of injured knights and Gaius fills him in on the attack on the garrison, concluding that Morgana is attacking now that Merlin is at his weakest. Merlin doesn’t know what he’s going to do but Gaius has it all figured out – Merlin can play nurse. “Your skill as a physician is still valid.” Gaius is not as comforting as he thinks he is.
Gwaine oversees things as Merlin patches up his pretty maiden, assuring her that Merlin knows what he’s doing. He’s totally about to suggest a threesome but then the maiden starts asking about news of her family, who are all dead, and it kind of ruins the mood a bit. He’s there to offer a comforting squeeze of the hand and assure her that she will be safe in Camelot. Oh, Gwaine, you sweet, gullible doof.
Even though there are clearly two spare seats at the round table, Merlin is still made stand behind them while Gwaine, Leon and Arthur chat about Morgana’s army of Saxons and her powerful sorcery. Merlin gulps. Arthur says that Morgana taking the castle at their northern border can only mean one thing. “She means to take Camelot,” Gwen says, like it’s a big, dramatic conclusion. No, really? Camelot? Are you sure? Nah. It’s probably something else. Something she HASN’T BEEN TRYING TO DO EVERY WEEK, YOU UTTER IDIOTS.
Percival thinks Morgana has already made her first mistake, then, and he and Leon try to convince Arthur that if they make their stand in Camelot, the walls will hold and they’ll be able to defeat Morgana’s army while keeping people safe in the citadel. Arthur does not like this idea because not everyone will fit inside the city and he will leave men, women and children unprotected outside. I LOVE YOU, ARTHUR PENDRAGON. “We cannot save everyone, Arthur, no matter how much we wish it,” Gwen says. I DO NOT LOVE YOU MUCH AT ALL, GWEN PENDRAGON, even if you make sense, because I want to believe that Arthur can still build the world we were promised and he’s not going to do it by making compromises like that.
Arthur says they have only on option: to ride out and meet Morgana’s army head-on, and fight them man-to-man to ensure they never make it to Camelot. Everyone is clearly terrified and Leon tries to dissuade Arthur with logic and numbers to no avail. “It is our duty as protectors of this land. We cannot stand by and watch our citizens be slaughtered. Those are not the values that Camelot was built on. Whatever the outcome of this battle, my sister cannot and WILL not desecrate those values.” *SWWWWOOOOOONNNN* Arthur tells them the war has begun and everyone sighs the sigh of ‘we are all so totally fucked right now’.
Oh, hi there, Aithusa.
Morgana holds out a sword which Aithusa breathes all over with his toasty dragon breath. Merry Christmas, Mordred! It’s Excalibur 2.0. Mordred declares he shall wield it in victory, and with honour. Still talking like a knight of Camelot there, bb.
Time to talk tactics as Arthur and his trusted knights (and Gwen, whose gift for stating the obvious must be highly valued) go over their maps. Arthur decides the best place to meet Morgana is at some place that Percival says he knows well. The path is banded by cliffs on either side, which sounds terribly dangerous for an outnumbered army, but what do I know about war? I’m just here for the big gay love story. Arthur explains a bit about why it’s a good idea, tactically, and asks Percival the name of the narrowest part of the pass. Percival’s answer sends chills down Merlin’s spine, and then Arthur says, “Then it is at Camlann that we make our stand.” Merlin stands still but his insides are pretty much:
Back in Gaius’ chambers, Merlin paces back and forth and contemplates the end of his world. Gaius tells him he has to persuade Arthur that going to Camlann is a bad idea. “I know Arthur better than myself. He’ll not listen.” In other words, he knows it’s a stupidly noble and heroic thing Arthur is doing in order to protect all his people, but he’s kind of responsible for MAKING Arthur this stupidly noble and heroic and wouldn’t have him any other way (except maybe ALIVE, but that’s becoming more and more impossible with every minute.) And if Arthur’s only option is to protect his people the only way he knows how, Merlin’s only option is to protect Arthur the only way he knows how. That’s right, guys, Merlin is off to the birthplace of magic itself to get his groove back! And, yes, the crystal cave is in the Valley of the Fallen Kings, which is crawling with bandits who will eat little defenceless Merlin for breakfast, but Merlin won’t be going alone this time. YAAAAAAAAAAY WE ALL KNOW WHO MERLIN WILL TRUST TO PROTECT HIM WITHOUT QUESTION. YAAAAAAAY. (*ticks one thing off the finale wishlist*)
And there he is! Shirtless! (*tick again*) And you know how Gwaine went to all that effort in order to save his maiden’s virtue? Yeah. Looks like he’s taken care of the maidenly virtue issue already. The guy moves fast. As they sit on the bed, both partially undressed so it’s very clear that they have been getting up to a lot more than Arthur and Gwen ever do, the not-so-much-a-maiden asks Gwaine where he’s going. He tells her he has to do a favour for his friend, Merlin, and he’s going to the Valley of the Fallen Kings but won’t be long. Gwaine’s a bit of an idiot post-orgasm, isn’t he?
In Arthur’s chambers (I’m going to miss THAT bed, too, by the way), Merlin is showing Arthur how much work he has done, preparing everything for Arthur. Arthur is impressed, but also knows that this level of buttering up usually means Merlin wants something (unless the buttering up uses actual butter, because on those occasions, Merlin is more than clear about what he wants from Arthur) and he’s curious to know what it is.
Arthur: “Is it money?”
Merlin: Saddest and smallest “No,” ever.
Arthur: “No, it can’t be that – you’ve already won all of mine.”
Arthur: “Time off!”
Merlin (even smaller and sadder): “Arthur—“
Arthur: “No, it can’t be that, either. You don’t really DO anything.” Except maybe Gwaine, which I still do not approve of, by the way.
Merlin: “I just wanted to make sure you had everything you needed for your journey to Camlann. For the days ahead.”
Arthur: W T EFFING F? “Thank you…..Merlin. What do you mean MY journey?” WE SHARE EVERYTHING, WHY ARE YOU TALKING LIKE YOU ARE NOT A PART OF ME ALL OF A SUDDEN?
Oh, BOYS. Merlin finally faces Arthur in order to lie to his face. He tells him he has to go on an urgent errand for Gaius to gather supplies and won’t be able to accompany Arthur into battle. Arthur’s heart BREAKS IN HALF. My own heart shatters into a thousand pieces as Arthur tries to tell Merlin it’s fine when it is clearly NOT EVEN CLOSE to being fine. The saddest music ever plays. “You know, Merlin, all those jokes about you being a coward. I never really meant any of them. I always thought you were the bravest man I ever met.” They stare into each other’s eyes, Arthur’s full of hurt and confusion and Merlin’s filled with regret and I am seriously STILL trying to see what I’m typing through the tears, I swear. Arthur drops his gaze and says, “I guess I was wrong,” and Merlin watches him walk away and OH MY GOD, ARTHUR, YOU HAVE TO KNOW DEEP DOWN THAT MERLIN WOULD NEVER DO THIS TO YOU UNLESS HE HAD A VERY GOOD REASON. YOU HAVE TO AT LEAST SUSPECT WHAT THAT REASON IS. AND OH MY GOD, MERLIN, SURELY YOU CAN SEE HOW MUCH ARTHUR CARES FOR YOU RIGHT NOW AND MAYBE, SINCE YOU COULD VERY WELL BE RIDING OUT TO YOUR DEATH ANYWAY, A LITTLE HONESTY WOULND’T HURT? I DESPAIR OF BOTH OF YOU.
When Gwaine and Merlin ride out on their quest, it is the maiden, Eira (let’s use her name now she has been de-maidened) who watches from the window, probably because Arthur is too busy crying into his pillow at the moment. Oh, and despite Gwaine telling Eira it will be a quick trip with his BFF, the journey must take some time because they’ve already had to get fresh horses from somewhere. (Oh, horses, I shall miss you guys and your random swapping between cuts.)
Everyone else prepares to leave in the courtyard. As Arthur consoles his horse, who doesn’t want to leave without Merlin’s horse, Gwen arrives and declares she is coming with Arthur. Not on the battlefield, because that would be crazy talk for someone lacking a y chromosome, but she would like to spend every last minute together with Arthur until then. Still smarting from Merlin’s apparent abandonment, Arthur seems overly grateful for this.
Eira, meanwhile, has donned a blue cloak of mysteriousness and ridden out into the forest to be greeted with Excalibur 2.0 against her neck. Morgana calls Mordred off. “She can’t speak with her throat cut out now, can she?” Morgana asks if Gwaine found Eira’s company to his satisfaction, because we all know she’d be all over that given the chance (as would we all) and Eira likes to think so. I bet she does. She tells Morgana everything Gwaine told her about Arthur riding out to meet her at Camlann (seriously, Gwaine? Seriously?) and takes her payment. As she’s about to walk away, she pauses, and then also tells them where Gwaine is taking Merlin before scurrying away. Morgana instantly panics and Mordred tries to calm her down, saying Merlin is no use to his king now, but Morgana KNOWS Merlin and she knows he would never leave Arthur’s side without a very good reason. (Seriously, EVERYONE knows this, which is why I am sure that Arthur knows, too, and he’s just hurt that Merlin won’t tell him why.)
Morgana wonders why Merlin would want to go to the Valley of the Fallen Kings and then Mordred lightbulbs. “When I was a boy, the Druids told me of this special place. A place where magic itself was born. It was said to lie within the valley. They called it the Crystal Cave.” Morgana, because she has a functional brain, concludes that Emrys means to get his powers back.
As they walk down the path, past the eerie giant statues, Gwaine thanks Merlin for helping Eira, and Merlin teases him a bit about his feelings. Oh, Gwaine. Their bonding is cut short by the appearance of a pair of bandits. While Gwaine fights off one, the other rushes Merlin so he falls over. Merlin curls into a little ball and calls for Gwaine. Seriously? Merlin has used a sword before. I know he can’t use the standard blast spell as per usual, but he could at least TRY to defend himself. Or maybe he’s jealous of Eira and just wants to be the damsel in distress for Gwaine. Anyway, Gwaine gets to be the hero and save Merlin’s life, and Merlin gets to be a bit bashful and thank Gwaine. “No need to thank me, Merlin. It’s the least I could do.” Awwwwww. Gwaine is so lovely and so happy to be wanted and needed and I’m a bit cranky at Merlin for not paying him much attention for so long, but glad we have these moments, at least.
As Morgana rides through the forest in hot pursuit, Gwaine and Merlin arrive outside the Crystal Cave. Gwaine is admiring the beauty when Merlin tells him he can make his own way from here. Gwaine is concerned about how Merlin is going to get back to Camelot without him when there are bandits everywhere. “Once I have what I’m looking for I’ll be perfectly safe, I promise you,” Merlin tells him and Gwaine is intrigued. He asks what Merlin’s looking for, knowing it’s something big and important. “I can’t tell you that, Gwaine. You’ll just have to trust me.” OH! Merlin actually looks regretful at that. He tells Gwaine that Arthur will need him by his side, and there are TEARS in Gwaine’s eyes as he tells Merlin to look after himself and offers his sword, reminding him to use the sharp end with a grin. Their smiles fade as they look at each other and clasp arms. And Gwaine is CRYING as he tells Merlin he hopes he finds what he’s looking for and DON’T LEAVE HIM, GWAINE. YOU LOVE HIM. AT LEAST KISS HIM OR SOMETHING. OH MY GOD IT HURTS. Merlin leaves Gwaine alone with his heartbreak and enters the cave.
After a bit of walking through tunnels, Merlin’s torch is suddenly extinguished and Morgana’s voice taunts him from every possible direction. It reminds me of happier times, when Colin and Bradley were mucking around with their video diaries in the caves.
(And then Bradley is killed by the red-eyed duck, which obviously predicted Arthur’s future four series later.)
Merlin demands Morgana face him as she taunts him about being a worthless servant and not being able to protect her brother now. “Then why do you hide? Still afraid of me?” Merlin taunts back. YES, that’s the confident, brave Merlin we’ve been missing.
“I fear no one,” Morgana says, appearing behind Merlin. “Least of all you.” And then Merlin swings around with his sword and manages to cut her, which has me cheering a bit, I’ll be honest. Morgana laughs and backs up as Merlin threatens her. She walks backwards though a tunnel entrance, telling Merlin he has defied her for the last time, and then caves it in, trapping him inside. And I have just realised that we have gone this episode without anyone being magically thrown against anything yet. If we make it through the entire thing, there will have to be a celebration.
Percival and Leon watch Morgana’s impressive CGI army from above. They estimate that the enemy will reach Camlann by sundown tomorrow and also, they have may have been a little off on the figures because Morgana’s army outnumber them five to one. Things do not look good for our heroes.
A very dusty Merlin wakes up in a small cave, surrounded by rubble. He tries removing the stones blocking his way but isn’t having much luck. And then he starts crying, great big sobs of despair and he punches the rocks and screams the “Noooo!” we saw in the trailer and it is even more devastating than it was then. Thanks for breaking my heart even more, Colin Morgan.
Gwaine has caught up with the rest of the gang, and is settling down at camp with Percival and Leon. I hope they snuggle on their last night together. Meanwhile, Gwen sits with Gaius, who is preparing medical ointment or something when Arthur joins them. “Vital supplies,” Arthur says bitterly, confusing Gaius. “Shame Merlin didn’t feel able to join us.” Oh, Arthur. Gaius spins the same shit Merlin did, and apologises for sending Merlin off on the vital errand, as the timing was unfortunate. “Yes,” Arthur says, still so, so bitter. “Unfortunate, as you say.” He stomps off to probably punch a few rocks and scream his pain to the universe.
“I’m not sure he believes you, Gaius,” Gwen says. Her ability to state the obvious just improves with every redundant line she’s given. Then she gets to be slightly more insightful and awesome. “I know how devoted Merlin is to Arthur. He would never leave him at a time like this. Not for a mere errand. Not unless there was something else, something he doesn’t feel able to talk about.” Gaius leans in and tells her that her suspicions are true and it is something of great importance but he can’t tell her anything further for reasons that affect them all. “Then there is nothing more to be said, except that whatever it is, I wish him luck.” I LOVE THIS GWEN, CAN WE KEEP HER? Also, again, let’s all believe that Arthur knows all this as well and he is only sad because everyone he cares about is lying to him.
Back in the cave of despair, Merlin is despairing his woobie little heart out when he sees a blue light shining through the tunnel. He staggers toward it and passes out, surrounded by small glowing crystals. Meanwhile, Arthur and his A-Team arrive at Camlann. “The fate of the kingdom will be decided here,” Arthur says and everyone looks terrified. Leon is the one brave enough to finally speak up. “It is a death trap, Sire. Morgana will have no means of escape, but neither will we.” Arthur says it’s their only chance. Poor Gwaine contemplates his death and never seeing Merlin’s pretty mouth again. “It ends here, Leon,” Arthur says. “Be it life or death, it ends here.” The scenery is just as bleak as the probable outcome.
Merlin is surrounded by lots of now big, glowing crystals and he wakes to the sound of a gentle voice calling his name. It has a familiar lilt which is very much not Lancelot’s, who we all know would be my first on my finale checklist. And it’s male, so it’s not Freya, either. Merlin stirs and turns his head towards the voice and OH MY GOD IT’S BALINOR. I swear to god, last week I had the TV on mute while I was doing other stuff and just happened to look up when an episode of Silent Witness was on and there was Balinor’s FACE and I had this immediate heart-clenching reaction to it (Twitter proof) and now here he is in all his slightly non-corporeal glory.
Merlin wants to know if Balinor is real and gets a mess of riddles as a response. What is it with the magical people and their utter inability to make sense? “All that matters is that you heed the words of your father who loves you.” Awwwwwww, bless. He tells Merlin to not let go or give in. Look, Balinor may as well be talking to me as well as Merlin at this point because, let’s face it, we’re both feeling a little defeated and negative about the end. “If you fight, if you let hope into your heart, Morgana cannot be victorious,” Balinor advises and, okay, this is me, right now, letting hope into my heart. I AM NOT GIVING UP ON THIS SHOW. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT WILL BE AS BAD AS WE THINK IT COULD BE. I WANT MY HAPPY REINCARNTION COFFEE SHOP MODERN AU ENDING IN WHICH MERLIN AND ARTHUR BASICALLY REINACT THEIR FIRST MEETING AND I WILL NOT GIVE UP HOPE UNTIL THE VERY END, OKAY? (But if you kill Sir Leon, we will have WORDS, Show. Angry, bitter words. Ahem.)
Merlin isn’t quite there yet, however, and asks what hope there is without his magic. Balinor bends down at Merlin’s side. “Merlin, you are more than a son of your father. You are a son of the earth, the sea, the sky. Magic is the fabric of this world, and you were born of that magic. You are magic itself. You cannot lose what you are.” OH MY GOD HOW LONG HAVE WE BEEN WAITING TO HEAR THIS? TO HEAR MERLIN HEAR THIS? Merlin asks how he can find himself again. “Believe, Merlin. Believe what your heart knows to be true. That you have always been, and always will be…” But true to magical form, Balinor isn’t going to give Merlin all the answers, even though Merlin weakly asks what he is. He tells his son to rest, for soon he shall awaken into the light. Merlin does as he’s told like the good son he is. (It’s his immortality isn’t it? That was actually the end of Balinor’s sentence, and Merlin WILL ALWAYS BE. Y/Y?)
As Morgana’s army marches on, Gwen pays Arthur a visit while he’s busy doubting his decisions and thinking Leon may have been right about staying in Camelot. Gwen’s pep talk is actually a good one (seriously, why did it take them so long to find this Gwen? And also, I like her much better when she doesn’t have her cleavage squeezed into impossible and painful positions) and she says that she never doubted the valour and wisdom of Arthur’s choice. That’s enough for Arthur to cheer up a little. They embrace as the violins start up, and Arthurs scoops up his wife and everything goes all soft focus and blurs out to the sound of Gwen’s giggle. And, yep, that’s about my limit right there.
Mordred fills Morgana in on the info his outriders have provided – that Arthur has made camp at Camlann, and they found some mysterious path even though it was well concealed. She instructs Mordred to send one hundred warriors. Good ones, not those sub-par warriors sitting on the bleachers. Mordred says he will choose them himself, and I’m guessing their job is to ride around and attack Arthur’s army from the other side or something. Mordred is also told to prepare the army, for they attack tonight.
Merlin wakes after his little nap, during which he appears to have completely healed. Gaius has been right all along - there’s nothing a good rest can’t fix! He decides to take his magic for a test drive and holds his hands together, whispering a spell into them. His eyes flash and when he opens his hands, a beautiful blue butterfly flutters out. The only thing more beautiful at this moment is Merlin’s joyous, wondrous FACE. My heart is singing right along with his.
Then Merlin kind of realises he is in the cave of massive spoilers and takes a look into one of the crystals. I’m going to miss a lot because these images flash by really fast, but here goes: There are the giant scorpion things, Morgana’s dagger, Arthur nearly drowning in the lake that time, a skull, lots of flames, Excalibur being raised out of the lake by Freya, and Mordred leading his sneaky army. After a quick break, he sees the goblet that he drank from to sacrifice his life for Arthur’s, Morgana, himself going all Dragonlord, armies, and Camlann as Morgana’s men march on. Another break, and then Merlin decides to try something different and focus on one thing in particular. He tunes in to Channel Arthur. He sees Kilgharrah breathing fire, himself nearly dying that time Arthur went to get him flowers and win his love, the executioner’s axe, Arthur, Balinor being killed, Arthur riding out to get Merlin’s flower and defying his father for their love, Arthur nearly drowning again, THE UNICORN – THE SYMBOL OF THEIR LOVE, Arthur, undead Uncle Tristan, and, as he asks where Arthur is, the camp at Camlann and finally Arthur sleeping in bed with Gwen. OH MY GOD, MERLIN, YOU ABSOLUTE CREEPER.
It’s interesting to note that at some point during the proceedings Merlin thankfully slept through, Gwen changed into her nightgown. They look rather sated and peaceful but that doesn’t stop Merlin speaking into the crystal. “Arthur, I’m sorry I had to leave you, I didn’t want to. I hope one day you’ll understand why. Your plan is a good one and you may yet save this kingdom but you must beware. Your army’s flank is vulnerable. There’s an old path over the ridge at Camlann; Morgana knows of it. She means to trap you, Arthur. Find the path or the battle will be over before it’s begun. FIND THE PATH.”
Arthur’s eyes spring open and he stares for a second in shock. Gwen wakes and is a tad concerned. “Merlin,” Arthur says, and come on, it’s certainly not the first time she’s heard Arthur speak that name in bed. Gwen tries to tell him he just had a bad dream, but Arthur knows…Arthur BELIEVES, and he leaps out of bed and into action, Gwen once more left in his dust.
Me right now:
Just SO MUCH LOVE. Merlin calling for Arthur through the crystal, using all the memories of their bond to reach him (the unicorn was there, you guys, THE UNICORN!) and Arthur’s faith and absolute trust in everything Merlin told him. There was no questioning at all, he just BELIEVES IN MERLIN and that’s all that matters. THEY LOVE EACH OTHER AND I LOVE THEM AND NOTHING IS EVER GOING TO CHANGE THAT.
Okay. So Arthur races out of the tent, dressing himself (and probably using the remaining energy from his Merlin dream to do so in a somewhat capable manner) and ordering Leon to get their men prepared. He tells Percival and Gwaine to take a patrol in search of the path Morgana is using to outflank them, and they all head off without question as our ever faithful friend the full moon watches over them. (I’ll miss that moon, too. Teen Wolf doesn’t have a full moon every night, because that would be problematic, so I won’t get much of a moonly fix once Merlin is over.) Percival finds the hidden path and readies Gwaine and their men. Meanwhile, Arthur addresses the rest.
Look, it’s no Coach Finstock’s Independence Day speech, but it’s okay, I guess. Heh.
(Couldn’t find a clip of the speech, but this fanvid is basically perfect.)
“Tonight, we do battle. Tonight we end this war. We end a war as old as the land itself. A war against tyranny, and greed, and spite. Not all will greet the dawn. Some will live. Some will die. But each and every one of you fights with honour, and with pride. For not only do we fight for our lives, we fight for the future. The future of Camelot, the future of Albion, the future of the united kingdoms.” *hearteyes* Arthur raises Excalibur into the air, calls, “FOR THE LOVE OF CAMLEOT,” and his entire army respond in kind.
Basically, it’s the most attracted to Arthur I have ever been and, let’s face it, I’ve been attracted to that man A LOT. And Merlin, watching all this via Channel Arthur, seems to feel the same way. So it’s probably a little awkward when his dad pops up again unexpectedly. Ahem. Merlin thanks Balinor for his help and guidance. “I only offered a hand. You stand tall on your own two feet, Merlin, you always have done.” Merlin tells him that he follows in his father’s footsteps. “Your journey has only just begun. You wield a power you cannot yet conceive of. Only in the heart of the crystal cave, will your true self be revealed.” They turn to face the source of the blue light and Balinor tells Merlin to move towards it, where his destiny awaits. “Do not be afraid. Trust in what you are. Trust in what you will be.”
Merlin heads towards the light and turns to say goodbye to his father. “There are no goodbyes, Emrys. For I will always be, as you will always be.” HE IS SO IMMORTAL RIGHT NOW.
As Merlin walks into his destiny, the two armies face off against each other. Morgana’s war drums are getting really annoying, so Arthur leads the charge into battle. Percival, meanwhile, leads the charge against Mordred’s hundred warriors. Arthur’s pretty damn impressive with the stop and go slow-mo while Morgana watches from above. Mordred, meanwhile, is far too relaxed and just strolling through the war striking out when the mood takes him. It’s a pretty hilarious juxtaposition between him and Arthur, who throws everything he has into battle.
And over in the Valley of the Fallen Kings, the rocks blocking the cave entrance are blasted away dramatically. Old!Merlin emerges from the rubble, carrying a staff and a very determined look on his face. Look, I’m not over-enthused about the whole idea of him being disguised. I mean, Merlin has said before that the spell takes a lot out of him and this is a time when he needs all of his strength. And if Merlin saw a future in which Arthur fell at Camlann while he was disguised as Old!Merlin, why wouldn’t he try and CHANGE things, by entering the battle as himself? Arthur accepted everything Merlin told him IN A DREAM as absolute truth and didn’t even flinch at the obvious magical implications of that. I think our king is ready to know the truth. (And if Old!Merlin is his true self or whatever, then I’m not all that interested in his story anymore for I am shallow and in love with Colin Morgan’s face as it is now.)
CHRISTMAS MORNING (MY TIME), YOU GUYS. I AM ACTUALLY EXCITED AGAIN.
And, okay, given that it is Christmas day and I will have presents to unwrap, food to feast upon, family to argue with and a beloved german shepherd to spoil absolutely rotten, I am not making any promises about finishing the recap on the same day. I will, however, try very hard to stream the episode live (provided my parents’ internet at home plays nice) and tweet along as usual. So if you wanna track me down over on twitter, I’m @sirkumference. You can totally nag me to finish stuff there – I’m on twitter way more than LJ these days. I’ll try to finish it as soon as possible and maybe even work on the missing episodes during the time I have off work between Christmas and New Year. It will be a welcome relief to retreat to the solitude of an air-conditioned bedroom after than much time with my family, trust me. :D See you then!