This episode opens with a quick recap of part 1 from last week. It continues on where Merlin, Arthur, Gwen, Tristan, and Isolde are running through the darkened woods. Agravaine and his men aren’t far behind. Merlin tells the group to keep going, he’ll cover their tracks. When the others are out of earshot, Merlin summons the dragon, Kilgarrah, which by the way, never fails to be totally cool to me. Kilgarrah arrives and makes a barbecue out of Agravaine’s men. Merlin reunites with his friends in some tunnels. Agravaine and a few remaining men, run to the tunnels as well to avoid another dragon attack. While inside the tunnels, Tristan asks Gwen why she’s there. Gwen simply states that she was a servant in Camelot, and that Arthur is her king. Tristan snarks that he hasn’t seen too many kingly qualities in Arthur, which of course Arthur overhears. Agravaine and his goons are still on the trail, and Merlin goes back to create a diversion. Merlin finds them and draws attention to himself, and leads them to what appears to be a dead end. Agravaine asks for Arthur. Merlin doesn’t answer. He’s calm, cool, collected. Agravaine says he’ll kill him, and as he approaches, Merlin throws them all backward with his magic, with a mere look. Agravaine rises from the ground. “You have magic!” he says. Merlin is still cool as a cucumber. “I was born with it.” Somehow, Agravaine figures out that Merlin is Emrys. How he came to that conclusion, I’m not sure. Maybe the plot called for it. Maybe he’s a genius. He says that Merlin’s been at court all this time deceiving Arthur. Maybe Merlin’s more like Agravaine than he’d like to admit. Agravaine attempts to kill Merlin, but before the sword can hit its mark, Merlin throws Aggy back against the rocks, killing him. Arthur goes back to search for Merlin, relieved to find him. It’s a nice bromance moment, with Arthur telling Merlin he’s the only friend he has left, and then stupid. The group exits the tunnels and decides to head to the forest where others from Camelot may have taken refuge. Meanwhile Tristan seems to delight in making digs at Arthur. I think I like this guy.
Back in Camelot, Gwaine and Elyan are holed up in a prison cell with a dying Gaius. Guards come for Sir Gwaine. Looks like he’s become Morgana’s choice of entertainment at the fight club. I still don’t get this. Shouldn’t she be doing, I dunno, other things? Queenly things? She gives Gwaine a wooden sword to fight with. Honestly, this part is just… well, pointless to me. Aside from getting to see Eoin Macken shirtless, that is. Yes, we know Morgana is ruthless, but I thought at least part of her reason for wanting to take over Camelot was to have a safe haven for magic users? Bring back magic? Maybe I’m wrong.
Arthur and company are in the woods. They’re setting up camp, gathering firewood. Tristan takes the opportunity to insult Arthur again, saying that he’s no one special, he’s no longer the king. Arthur walks away. Gwen follows. Arthur rejects her, telling her that everything he’s cherished between them is gone. Ouch. Gwaine is tossed back into the cell, Morgana throws moldy bread at them telling them it’ll be their last meal. Elyan tries to get Gaius to eat, but Gaius says he’s not long for this world. Give the food to Gwaine, he’ll need his strength if he has to fight again.
Back at camp Arthur is being broody. He does it well. Merlin tells him not to listen to Tristan. Arthur says he trusted the wrong people. He’s not wise, nor a statesman. He’s good with a sword that’s it. He says that Tristan was right. There’s nothing special about him. He walks away. Merlin goes to seek council from Kilgarrah. Merlin tells the dragon that Arthur has lost faith. Kilgarrah tells him that the fate of Camelot rests on Merlin. He must make Arthur believe that he can be king once more. Merlin has an idea. He asks Kilgarrah to find the people of Camelot that have fled. The following morning, Merlin wakes Arthur, leads him through the forest, and tells him a story about the founding king of Camelot, Bruta. Arthur’s not too amused. Merlin tells him that Bruta thrust a sword into a rock, as a test. Only a true king of Camelot could remove the sword from the stone. Arthur thinks he’s making the story up. Well, he is. But, the sword is indeed in the stone. Soon people of Camelot come pouring into the woods. Among them are knights, Leon and Percival. They’re waiting for their king to remove the sword. Arthur thinks Merlin’s playing some kind of game. Merlin says he’s the true king of Camelot, and he will pull the sword from the stone. In a beautifully shot scene, Arthur does indeed remove the sword, but with Merlin’s magical help. I sort of wanted Arthur to be able to remove the sword on his own, since the sword was forged by Kilgarrah made only for Arthur’s use. But, I see what they did here. Afterwards, there are shouts of “Long live the King!”
Back in Camelot, Helios is informing Morgana of the dragon attack. He tells her Agravaine is dead. She doesn’t bat an eye over it. Only says that there’s only one man who can command a dragon. It must be Emrys! Really? No other words about Aggy, the loyal Morgana puppy? Wow. Okay. In the forest, Arthur and the knights are discussing strategy. They’re outnumbered, but the knights assure Arthur that they and the people will fight for him. Tristan looks on, a bit impressed that so many would be willing to lay down their lives for their king. Later that night, Gwen watches Arthur from a distance as they prepare for war. Isolde tells her to have hope. Love is stronger than anything. Merlin and Arthur talk again. Arthur says he’s concerned about Morgana’s magic. She’s powerful, and they have nothing to combat her. Merlin relates another part of the legend of the sword. The king who releases the sword will rule over all of Albion, the greatest kingdom the world will ever know. Arthur is that king. Basically Merlin gives Arthur another pep talk. Sitting at the fire later, Merlin gets an idea. He sneaks into Camelot, turns himself into his old Merlin disguise, and places an enchanted straw doll under Morgana’s bed. Morgana is frantic. Helios tells her they must remain calm, and that she should get some rest. She asks that guards be placed at her door. As she falls asleep we see the straw, partially burnt figure under her bed.
The following morning as the group is readying to attack and retake Camelot, Tristan and Isolde stop to talk to Arthur. Tristan tells him that he’s shied away from war, and despised the power that kings buy with men’s lives. But Arthur has shown himself to be different. Isolde tells him that he fights for what’s right and fair. They’d like to fight alongside Arthur. Arthur says he’d be honored, and that they’ll fight together as equals. Moments later, Arthur is contemplating his sword when Gwen approaches. She tells him that if anything happens, she wants him to know that she understands why he can’t forgive her, but that she’s never stopped loving him, never once. She walks away quickly before he can respond. I don’t blame her, but good for her, for stating her peace. I was kind of hoping she’d recognize the sword as one her father made, but then that would ruin Merlin’s story about Bruta, so I suppose that’s never going to happen. Arthur’s heart might be softening here, but no time for romantic stuff right now. We’ve got a war to fight and a castle to storm.
And storm they do, all stealth-like. But how they go mostly undetected with those bright red capes in broad daylight is beyond me. They make it inside, taking out Helios’s men. Speaking of Helios, he enters Morgana’s chambers and tells her that Arthur has arrived. Morgana says they must welcome her dear brother home. Tristan and Isolde are like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, fighting together. Percival is a one man wrecking crew. They reach the cells and release Gwaine, Elyan and Gaius. Arthur is making is way to the throne room. Gwen takes out a guard, with the butt of her sword and makes it look adorable. Isolde asks Tristan what happened to settling down on some land. They all shout “For the love of Camelot!” and bust the door open. Morgana’s sitting on the throne, calm as you please with Helios at her side. She welcomes Arthur home. It’s been far too long, she says. Arthur makes a show of putting away his sword. He asks her what happened to her. He thought they were friends. She says she did as well, but they were both wrong. He tells her that she can’t blame him for his father’s sins. She says it’s too late for that. He’s made it perfectly clear how he feels about magical people. She says he’s no different from Uther, and Arthur counters, that neither is she. She says she’s going to enjoy killing him, not even Emrys can save him now. Arthur and crew withdraw their swords. Morgana says their blades are useless against her. She casts a spell, but nothing happens. Merlin’s smirking a bit. He’s taken away her powers with that straw doll thingy. He’s kind of enjoying this. Morgana tries again. Arthur says she’s not so powerful now. Morgana runs, leaving Helios to fight for her. Arthur, Tristan, and Isolde fight Helios and a few of his men in the throne room. Morgana is fleeing through a corridor, killing Camelot knights along her way. She’s sliced by one of them, kills him and keeps on moving. Arthur’s still battling it out with Helios, who gets the best of him with an elbow to the face. As Helios is about to make the final death blow, he’s skewered from behind by Isolde. Helios twirls and slices her in turn. She falls to her knees. Gwen comes upon Morgana. Gwen’s not the best swordswoman, but I give her credit. There’s a brief sword fight. She asks Morgana what she’s done to make her hate her so much. Morgana says, it’s not what she’s done, but what she’s destined to do. Morgana can’t let that happen. Gwen loses her sword in the fight, and just as Morgana’s about to kill Gwen, she’s thrown back into a pile of rubble by Merlin, who’s hidden. He asks Gwen if she’s okay. Gwen says yes and asks what happened. Merlin says he doesn’t know. Morgana’s gone. Merlin and Gwen return to the throne room where Tristan is cradling a dying Isolde. Arthur looks on wretchedly. He looks at Gwen. I think he’s got the message now. No Arthur, you can’t live without Gwen. Get over yourself. Unfortunately, this lesson is brought home at the expense of the cool chick’s death, who saved his life.
Sometime later, Gwen is in Arthur’s chambers picking up an overturned chair. The place is trashed. Arthur steps into the room. She tells him it will take some time to clean it all. He says they’ll have Merlin do it. They share a smile. Gwen says that if he wants her to leave, she’ll go back to Ealdor. He says he wants her to stay. He tells her that whatever happened between them, he doesn’t care. She says she can’t forgive herself. He tells her he doesn’t ever want to lose her. He asks her to marry him. She says yes, with all her heart. They kiss. The sun shines so brightly, I can barely see the kiss. The sun is happy, blocking my view.
The double doors of the great hall open. Slow motion of Gwen walking up the aisle in a pretty new dress. She kneels in front of her husband, (I think they’re married, but we didn’t see a wedding), he crowns her Queen of Camelot, and begins the chant “Long Live the Queen!” The audience repeats. Merlin is so proud he’s about to bust. It’s cute.
Morgana is staggering in the woods. She falls unconscious and dies? I don’t know, but suddenly baby dragon Aithusa is there, all cute and cuddly. He breathes his baby dragon breath of life into her, she awakens and looks at him, stunned. He squeals a bit and then flies off. Why baby dragon? I don’t know, but I’m sure this will be something to explore in series 5.
3 out of 5 stars for this one, I loved kick-ass Merlin, but I felt some things were too rushed, still don’t understand the motives for Agravaine, not too happy with Gwen thinking she cheated on Arthur, and having to live with that guilt, Arthur thinking he can’t trust anyone, and what’s going to happen when he finds out Merlin’s been lying to him all this time? Yikes. I thought Isolde’s death a bit pointless; Morgana doesn’t know how to be a Queen. And that’s it for Merlin! Filming for series 5 starts sometime in late March, or early April, I believe. I look forward to Queen Guinevere, more kick-ass Merlin, and a wiser King Arthur, and possibly a redemption arc for Morgana? We’ll see!