This episode focuses on Arthur’s man pain, Morgana’s plans for a take-over of Camelot, and sets up the two part finale.
It’s Gwen! It’s Gwen everyone! And she’s cleaning up pig manure, dressed in her series one dress. Only now it has holes in it. She takes a moment to stop in her work, and gaze off wistfully into the distance. Arthur’s ring is around her neck and she touches it thoughtfully. At that moment a bunch of bad guys on horses start tearing through the peaceful village. Gwen runs, but is caught. Before she’s about to be skewered, the leader of the bad guys (Helios) prevents her death, looks at her and says, “There’s still pleasure to be had here.” Even for a family show the sexual implications of that are clear. And scary. And creepy.
Arthur addresses the knights and the court. He’s made a confidential agreement for the disputed lands of Gedreth. He’s going to marry Princess Mithian of said lands, and cement the two kingdoms. Okay. Merlin is stunned. Why didn’t he know about this? Apparently these negotiations have been going on for months. Wait. Gwen’s been gone for months? Wow. Merlin is obviously upset. He tells Arthur he can’t do this. Arthur says he’s the king; he can do whatever he wants. Merlin says it’s too soon. Arthur says never to mention Guinevere’s name again. She betrayed him; she has to take the consequences. Merlin protests that Arthur still loves Guinevere. Arthur threatens to exile Merlin if he speaks of Gwen again. Arthur likes to throw around the banishment thing, doesn’t he? Again, I found him to be a jerk through most of this episode. He’s becoming Uther-lite and I really don’t like it. Then again, maybe I’m not supposed to. If that’s the case, then good job, show.
A young man, Owen, is in what appears to be a document room where scrolls are kept. They must be important because they are under lock and key and guard. He’s putting scrolls away. He’s stopped in a castle corridor by Agravaine. Aggy wants to know if he found what Aggy asked for. Owen says he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t betray his master’s trust. Aggy says that’s okay, and stabs the poor kid. Aggy rushes to Morgana’s hut. She’s disappointed. Aggy’s failed her again. She wants the plans for the siege tunnels. Aggy says it’s not that easy. Morgana wants him to get those plans.
Gwen’s back in Helios’s place. She’s had a wardrobe change. She looks like a harem girl. Helios asks who she is, Gwen says she’s no one. Helios wants her to dine with him. Meanwhile Princess Mithian arrives. Arthur’s glad she’s not a dog. Phew. Pretty princess. I still think Arthur’s a jerk. He welcomes her and proclaims a feast in her honor. Helios and Gwen are dining. Helios treats her kindly. He’s wining and dining, but I think we all know his true goal. Gwen makes up a story about where she’s from. Their chat is interrupted by a guard who says that the Lady Morgana is there. She wishes to see Helios. Gwen’s like what? Oh crap. She excuses herself, and hides her face with her veil as she and Morgana pass each other. Morgana talks to Helios. Neither of them are ready. She doesn’t have the plans to the siege tunnels, his army’s not ready. It’s a shaky alliance. He tells her she’s welcome to stay. She tells him not to get too distracted. Once she’s queen of Camelot, he can indulge himself all he wants. Sounds like an invitation to me.
Leon finds poor Owen’s body outside the castle walls. Aggy says kid must have gotten drunk and fallen. They need Gaius to examine the body. Speaking of Gaius, he and Merlin are having porridge for breakfast. Merlin is sulking. It’s Arthur’s fate to marry Gwen. Merlin feels he should do something about it. Gaius says that’s a bit arrogant. If Arthur’s meant to marry Gwen, then he will. Leon enters. They need Gaius. Gaius takes a quick look at Owen’s body. His neck has been broken, but there are no other signs of injuries that would have occurred from a fall like that. There’s a letter in Owen’s tunic. The one Aggy planted there. It’s from Odin’s court. Aggy takes this letter to Arthur. He gets Arthur to think that the dead kid was selling Camelot’s building plans to enemies. They check the vaults. Aggy says there needs to be a complete inventory made. He’ll do it. Of course he will. He takes the plans to Morgana, who makes a magical photocopy of them. Wow. She should start her own photocopy business. Then she could move out of that hut-cave, and buy some new clothes.
Arthur and Mithian are getting along swimmingly, chatting at the feast. Merlin, the true Arthur/Gwen shipper that he is, and president of the Arthur/Gwen fan club, of course is not happy. He magically makes Arthur spill some soup on himself, but it turns into a cute moment between Arthur and Mithian, as she cleans him up. Why do Arthur and the knights wear their chain mail to dinner? And is it hard to get soup stains out of chain mail? Arthur walks Mithian to her chambers. He asks her to breakfast and a tour of the city instead of hunting. She likes hunting! So they agree. Arthur kisses her hand and holds onto it longer than necessary. He’s kind of bumbling, and I get a glimpse of the Arthur I know and love.
Morgana’s back at Helios’s hideout. She brings him the plans for Camelot’s siege tunnels. Gwen is eavesdropping, but she’s not too good at it. She’s been discovered. She runs off. Morgana finds Gwen’s old dress. She wore this in series one! I know this dress! Morgana says that this is no ordinary serving wench that Helios has found. Gwen is running through the forest, with Helios’s men on her trail. She hides in a pond under water. While Gwen’s running for her life, Arthur is picnicking with Mithian. Merlin uses his magic to make Arthur belch loudly. Mithian belches too, in order to make the king not feel so bad.
Nightfall. Helios and Morgana are still searching for Gwen. Helios says she could be anywhere by now. Morgana knows there’s only one place Gwen will go; back to Camelot and Arthur. Gwen is cold and huddled by a small fire. She’s alone and a bit frightened. She’s toying with Arthur’s ring around her neck, and kisses it for comfort.
Morning. The castle is readying for the hunt. Gaius is examining the letter found on Owen’s body. Something’s not right about it, he says. Mithian catches Merlin in the corridor, and asks if he’s not a fan of hunting. Merlin says it’s not much of a sport when one side has spears and crossbows and the other doesn’t. She knows Merlin doesn’t like her much, but she asks that Merlin give her a chance, because she truly likes Arthur. She says that Arthur values Merlin’s opinions. She’d like to have Merlin on her side. Meanwhile Morgana chases down and finds Gwen. They have a brief encounter. Gwen runs again and Morgana uses her magic to throw Gwen into a tree, knocking her unconscious. She rips the ring from Gwen’s throat, and drops it to the ground. Arthur’s hunting party is approaching. Morgana looks back at Gwen and performs an incantation, casting a spell upon her.
Leon spots a deer. The hunting party takes off. Merlin advances ahead and sees the doe. She turns her head and looks at him. They sort of stare at each other for awhile. Merlin can see that the doe is really Gwen. It’s Guinedeer! I wish I had made that up, but I didn’t. I can’t take credit for the name. Kudos to whoever thought of it. The doe runs, and Merlin can see Gwen’s reflection in a pool of water. He’s visibly shaken. They are about to hunt and kill her. They’ve got Guinedeer on the run. Leon says she’s a beauty, then “She’s yours sire,” allowing Arthur to take the shot. Merlin causes Arthur to miss, but Mithian takes the shot, hitting the doe. Merlin is quietly beside himself. They’re tracking down the doe to finish her off, when Arthur spots his ring tied to a leather strip. He picks it up, and all his thoughts of Gwen come flooding back. Arthur’s entire demeanor changes. Again, Bradley does a nice job here. You can almost read every thought on his face. He looks to Merlin, as though seeking answers. Mithian calls after Arthur a few times, but it’s as though nothing else exists for him. Just the ring in his hand. He declares there will be no more sport today, and walks off, leaving behind a confused Princess Mithian.
Later that night Merlin is on horseback in the woods calling for Gwen. He knows she’s injured. He finds Gwen back in her true form, with an arrow in her thigh, unconscious, and shivering. In a very poignant scene, Merlin removes the arrow, heals her, and soothes her. He sits beside her until morning when she awakens. Gwen is happy to see him. They share a hug, and she asks what he’s doing there. He tells her she was injured, and she asks where Morgana is. She tells Merlin that Morgana enchanted her, and that Morgana and Helios are planning to attack Camelot. She tells him that Agravaine gave them the plans to the siege tunnels under the citadel. He has to tell Arthur. Merlin wants her to come back to Camelot with him, but Gwen refuses, saying she can never see Arthur again. Merlin tells her that Arthur wants to see her. She says no, it can’t be, not after she betrayed him. I really hope that Gwen’s enchantment over this “betrayal” comes to light, because this girl will never trust herself, and forever blame herself for cheating on Arthur, when she didn’t do anything of her own volition, and was under a spell. I have my own issues with the entire thing, but let’s move on.
Arthur’s in his chambers brooding and fiddling with the ring he gave Gwen. Merlin interrupts his brooding to tell him about the plans being stolen by Agravaine. They go to the vaults. The plans are still there, because Morgana has a magical copy. Aggy’s covered his tracks well. Arthur threatens Merlin with exile again for besmirching his uncle’s name. So much for valuing Merlin’s opinions. Arthur continues to be blind to evil uncle once more. In the very next scene, Arthur’s wallowing in his man pain, back in his room again, Gwen’s ring in his hand. Merlin enters and Arthur tells him that he doesn’t know what to do.He can’t stop loving Gwen, even though she betrayed him. He doesn’t know how to love another woman, even if she’s as cool as Mithian. He asks Merlin for advice. Merlin says there’s no one who would sacrifice more for Camelot or for Arthur, than Gwen. Merlin tells him to follow his heart, and that he already knows what to do.
Mithian and company are leaving. Arthur is sorry, and doesn’t want to cause a war or to hurt Mithian any more than he already has. He’s going to relinquish claim to the disputed lands. She’s upset, but asks him, who is it, that trumps a princess. He tells her no one. Everyone. Mithian wants to know what great family this other woman is from. Arthur tells her none; she’s the daughter of a blacksmith. Mithian is surprised that he’d risk his kingship and his kingdom for such a woman. Arthur responds that without her they mean nothing to him. Mithian says she’d give up her own kingdom to be so loved. Later Arthur’s wondering if he’s made a mistake. They don’t know where Gwen is. Merlin says they will find each other again.
Next week: Part one of the two-part season finale. Looks like Morgana and friends are ready to invade Camelot!