On this week’s episode of Merlin there were devious plots galore: assassinations, revenge, poisoning, and at least one good deed that goes off the tracks. Things get pretty hairy for our young warlock and his king as Queen Guinevere becomes more dangerous than ever, and Morgana smells blood in the water.
At the top of the episode, we meet Daegal, a young Druid boy who seeks out Merlin to heal his sickly sister. Daegal lives with his family in the Valley of the Fallen Kings, which is a bit like saying you live in South Central in the 90s. Regardless, Merlin’s a good Samaritan, and promises to help the boy making the trip. Gaius is concerned because it’s a bad neighborhood, but Merlin says “Relax,” one day and he’ll be back home in the safety of Camelot.
Camelot itself, meanwhile, is playing host to Sarrum, ruler of the kingdom of Amata. Sarrum is an interesting character know for being brutal to his enemies and assassinating his friends. He’s also slightly less known for holding Morgana captive for two of the three intervening years between Merlin season 4 and 5. An alliance with such a man might prove deadly, but Arthur points out that sometimes you have to be diplomatic with people you disagree with in order to achieve the greater good.
But the greater good is a foreign idea to some. Morgana sees the situation as the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: Gwen will get Sarrum to take out Arthur, the knights will in-turn eliminate Sarrum out of retribution, and Gwen takes the throne. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, this is usually where Merlin steps in, but he’s on a mission to help Daegal. Kind of a coincidence, isn’t it? After trying and failing to warn Daegal telepathically about some approaching bandits, and being lead to seemingly a dead end in the valley, Merlin comes to the conclusion that Daegal isn’t what he says it is. The Druid tattoo on Daegal is a fake too, but as Merlin’s left holding the bag, Morgana appears with the real plot and intention: she knocks out Merlin, feeds him poison and warns Daegal that she’s still got some poison left if he steps wrong.
Meanwhile, back at Camelot, Arthur engages in some sparring with one of Sarrum’s men, who manages to get the upper hand on the king. It’s all in good fun, until Gwen approaches Sarrum on the sly and drops a few hints about hating her husband and wanting him dead. Sarrum picks up on the hint and starts to put a plan in motion.
Back in the Valley of the Fallen Kings, a guilt-ridden Daegal returns to the dying Merlin and following Merlin’s instructions manages to make a antedote to the poison. Daegal tells Merlin that he met Gwen and Morgana only once, but that Morgana was putting a plan in motion to kill Arthur. (Incidentally, killing Merlin was a bonus as he’s constantly interfering in Morgana’s evil schemes.) Daegal promises to help Merlin get back to Camelot and thwart Morgana’s plans.
The next morning, Arthur makes ready to sign the new accord with Sarrum, and Sarrum makes ready his assassination attempt on Arthur. The signing will take place in the round table room, and Sarrum’s assassin is positioned in a hallway overlooking the room on the level above. Merlin and Daegal arrive back at the castle, and searching the castle, Merlin notices an unlocked door that’s supposed to be locked. Discovering the assassin, Merlin manages to thwart his first shot, which ends up missing Arthur and killing Sarrum. Before he can get off a second shot, Merlin magically spears the assassin, but in the fight Daegal is killed with a well-placed knife.
When the dust settles, Arthur tells Merlin to make sure that the mysterious boy who saved his life gets a proper burial. At Daegal’s graveside, Merlin and Gaius agree that something has to be done about Gwen.
Next Week: Arthur and Gaius do something about Gwen!
-Although Merlin’s sojourn into the woods could be considered the B-story of the week, but Colin Morgan made it the A. He’s really quite convincing showing Merlin’s growth and wisdom, and this week was one of the few instances where Merlin has to carry out action solo without Arthur or any of the knights as back-up.
-John Shrapnel was also good as Sarrum, an oily sort of villain who gets his proper comeuppance in the end. Obviously the guy who’s made us sympathetic to Morgana had to be appropriately bad ass, a little slimy and completely morally bankrupt. Let’s just say that Gwen wasn’t the only one whose stomach was slightly turned by the clinical way Sarrum described imprisoning Morgana and Aithusa, and the quality of their captivity.
-For some reason, I love that old Merlin cover about being at the tavern. Arthur’s assumption for Merlin being MIA was that his servant was down at the pub washing away his sorrows with glass after glass of meade. If Merlin isn’t, by reputation, the biggest functioning alcoholic of the Middle Ages, then it’s got to be Friar Tuck.
-Admittedly I was a bit disappointed with last week’s adventure and the rather clumsy method of Gwen and Morgana’s attempted disposal of Arthur, but the Machiavelli dimensions of this week’s plot were much more satisfying. I’m still ready for this storyline to end though, and it appears next week I get my wish, but it was nice to see the writers actually able to take the proverbial bull by the horns with this one.
-Gwen Trivia Alert! Her favorite flower is the Gillyflower. This is what it looks like:
-We’ve now had two episodes out of the last three where Mordred is seen, but not heard. Way to be the bringer of doom, Mordred. Gotta love the way you just stand there and say nothing. Bravo. Good on Alexander Vlahos for being a sport about it.