Apologies Merlin fans for the extraordinary lateness of the recap of this past Friday’s episode. Sometimes the real world bars us from doing the things we want to do, in order to do the things we have to do. But enough about my whiny, financially-tied excuses! Let’s get back to medieval times…
Remember, when we last left our heroes Arthur and Merlin they were captured by Saxon mercs, which include the now grown up Mordred, who remembers both Arthur and Merlin, and manages to talk the Saxons out of slaying the dynamic duo and instead take them in chains to Ismere and Morgana. You’ll also recall that Morgana is enslaving workers, including several Camelot knights, to dig up something called Diamair, the Key to all knowledge, which will reveal “Arthur’s Bane,” a secret to destroy the king and not the Bat-breaking villain we know from The Dark Knight Rises. (And yes, I beat that joke to death last week, so that will be the last one.)
Back in Camelot, Gaius pays a visit to Sefa in the stocks. A gallows is being built to hang the girl, and she pleads with Gaius to get her an audience with the Queen to explain herself. It’s all for her dad, she later tells Gwen, Ruadan, you’ll remember, is Morgana’s right hand man. When Gwen refuses to back off her death sentence, Gaius tries to talk her down off of killing the pretty young thing, at which point Gwen reveals that she has no intention of executing Sefa, the Queen’s just laying a trap to catch her father. The plan works, but Ruadan isn’t taken alive by the knights.
Back in the north, Arthur and Merlin, with some magical assistance, manage to escape the Saxons, and Merlin works extra hard to make sure that Mordred can’t affect his future destiny to slay Arthur. Sneaking into Ismere through the sewers, Arthur and Merlin hook up with the captured knights, but Gwaine is still missing. Arthur and Merlin go looking for him, while Percival rallies the others for a jailbreak.
Meanwhile, in the fortress, Mordred arrives with the Saxons and Morgana picks him out right away. The two of them have a happy reunion until Mordred brings up the sensitive subject that he and the others had Arthur captured until the King got away. Morgana flips out at this news going full super-villain crazy. Skeletor would have been proud, but Mordred was just perplexed.
Merlin and Arthur find Gwaine, who’s been nursed back to health by that mysterious creature underneath Ismere. Arthur and Merlin find him and try to regroup with the others, whose revolt against the Saxons is already in progress. Suddenly the trio is attacked Aithusa, but before Arthur can get too freaked out about Morgana having a pet dragon, Merlin suggests they split up, he’ll lead the dragon away while Arthur and Gwaine get away. Of course, Merlin uses his Dragon Lord powers to address Aithusa, but the dragon’s lost the ability to talk. With the knights still nearby, Merlin orders Aithusa to run and hide.
But just when Merlin and Arthur re-unite, Morgana strikes. Knocking out Merlin, the half-siblings share some words before Arthur ticks off Morgana to the point of getting stabby. But Mordred gets stabby first – on Morgana. With the witch down, Mordred helps Arthur escape. Meanwhile, Merlin encounters the creature that helped Gwaine, and deduces that she is, in fact, the Diamair. The last of her kind, she promises Merlin that Morgana will never find what she’s looking for. But wait, Merlin asks, what is Arthur’s Bane? Why it’s himself, replies the Diamair. Wow, kind of anti-climactic.
Back home in Camelot, Mordred is knighted by Arthur for his heroism. Afterward, a still suspicious Merlin asks Mordred why he literally and figuratively stabbed Morgana in the back. Mordred says that the love that binds them is stronger than who has the most power, something that Morgana’s forgotten. But Merlin’s still not convinced and he confides in Gaius his opinion that Albion’s greatest test is, as Wolf Blitzer would remark, happening now.
Oh, and Morgana’s still alive and kicking, so there’s that….
-Is it kind of weird to anyone else that one good deed gets Mordred a fancy Knighthood gig in Camelot? I suppose we could chalk this up to the nature of the 13-episode season – we’ve got to build Mordred up to tear him down – but he was chummy with Morgana, and was aligned with the Saxons. Also, he’s a Druid, and while Arthur’s more *ahem* tolerant than his father about such things, there’s got to be some kind of lingering doubt that would keep Mordred out of the Round Table, right?
-And while we’re on the subject, why is Merlin still a servant? Granted he’s the King’s servant, and an ad hoc adviser of some weight, but if Mordred can stroll into Camelot and become a knight surely Merlin’s years of service and above average heroism should get him a better title. He’s Merlin, not Alfred!
-I like the development of Morgana this season. The scene at the top of the episode with Aithusa and the flashback to their imprisonment lent a little sympathy and a lot of humanity to the character. And it was also nice to see Morgana be a little more interactive with the rest main cast. There’s a real chemistry between Bradley James and Katie McGrath, and it’s been sadly lacking since Morgana went full evil at the end of season 3. I believe McGrath talked at Comic Con about more interaction between her and the rest of the cast this year, so hopefully, that’s something to look forward.
-Speaking of character development, I’m really digging the Queen Gwen. Her bad ass moment last episode sentencing Sefa to death was a ploy to get father out of hiding. That’s like Patrick Jane levels of trickery!
-Did anyone else get a creepy Benedict Cumberbatch vibe in Star Trek Into Darkness when Mordred talked to Merlin as the others slept:
Cumberbatch: You think you world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace. For I have returned to have my vengeance. So, shall we begin?
Mordred: You fear me, Emrys, don’t you? I know the hatred and suspicion with which men treat those with magic. You and I are not so different. I too have learned to hide my gifts. I promise… your secret is safe with me.
Maybe it’s something in the delivery, but Alexander Vlahos was definitely reading from the Cumberbatch Trek villain handbook.
Next Week: Arthur not afraid of no ghost, but he should be, because the ghost is his not-so happy dad.