This week we have Arthur naked in bed, dragged naked out of bed, naked as he gets dressed, surprised naked in the night; basically he’s naked the entire episode. Yay! Also, we get the father of a certain dancing icon, Gaius roofied, Merlin crying pretty tears, Morgana and Agravaine as contestants on The Amazing Race, and Merlin’s secret finally revealed! All that and a burning ring of fire, this week on Merlin.
We meet up with Morgana back in the hovel, being cared for by her obedient lapdog Agravaine, who has been looking after her for who knows how long even though he’s supposed to have a job at the castle. She awakens from her coma shaken but stirred — stirred into action to find Emrys and beat his skinny old white ass! How does Emrys constantly know their plans? Who the heck is telling him their personal shit? It’s got to be Gaius! Which is actually pretty much on the mark, although he’s not telling the person they thi-ink (singsong voice). They have to get Gaius to lead them to Emrys, but he’s not going to do it willingly. “Who said anything about willingly?” Morgana smirks fetchingly. The witch is back, baby!
Meanwhile Arthur is learning that being king is more than smooching wenches and waging war. He has a busy life day ahead of him, what with all the speech-giving and garland judging he’s expected to do. Merlin literally drags him out of bed (naked, and not for the last time) to get him started, assuring him that everyone is saying what a good king he’s becoming. “I’m glad your friends at the tavern approve,” Arthur mutters from the floor. Ha! Their witty banter is interrupted by Agravaine, who wants a word with Arthur — alone. Good thinking, Agravaine. You never know when Merlin is Emrys. I mean…listening.
Off gallops Morgana on a quest to a faraway CGI isle. Say what you will, the woman looks magnificent cloaked out on a fine white steed. We shall see what mischief she’s up to this time.
Arthur’s naked again. That’s all you really need to know about this scene. Arthur’s naked, Agravaine is helping him get dressed, and blah blah maybe Gaius is the traitor blah blah he’s always been loyal blah blah let’s ask him a few questions, and meanwhile all we can think about is whether Arthur wears underwear or goes commando.
We catch up with Morgana paying a visit to, and I say this with great joy, Billy Elliot’s dad. OMG LET HIM DANCE, DAD! IT’S IN HIS BLOOOOD. Ahem, I mean he’s actually Alator, warrior priest. Morgana wants him to kidnap Gaius in exchange for a bracelet o’ magic healing. I note it didn’t do much for Morgause way back at the beginning of the season, but that’s neither here nor there. Alator agrees to help her, although he’s not nearly as smirky as she is. Ha ha, she sneers, she’s finally going to find her mortal enemy — Emrys. “The asshole” is implied. You’d think she’d maybe want to keep that tidbit of information to herself, but you’d be wrong.
Speaking of Gaius, he’s in the meeting room, being waterboarded by Agravaine. Okay, he’s being peppered with uncomfortable questions, none of which he can answer without imperiling Merlin. Even Arthur can see that he’s hiding something, but there’s still no evidence that it’s something nefarious. If by “nefarious” you mean he’s hiding something “adorable plus your magic BFF,” then yes! He is! Agravaine assures Arthur that he’s sure there’ll be some evidence against Gaius just as soon as Agravaine can plant some. Stay tuned.
Agravaine wants Merlin to sharpen a knife he’s giving to Arthur as a gift. Either Merlin doesn’t want him to know he’s on to him, or he’s relieved he isn’t going to be questioned about Gaius, or he’s genuinely excited Arthur’s getting a nice present, but whatever it is he takes the knife gladly, promising to leave it at Arthur’s bedside so he can find it in the morning. This can’t end well.
Alator has come to Camelot, looking very much like a wee Scottish Last Airbender. He lets loose a horse before Agravaine sneaks him and his bodyguard into the castle. Merlin isn’t home because he’s — you guessed it — sneaking the knife into Arthur’s bedroom. Thus Alator captures Gaius with the greatest of ease, using a magic roofie spell. That leaves Agraviane to scatter a few incriminating books of sorcery and magical do-dads around before slinking off like the purple-velvet-wearing lizard he is. I told you so! When the alarm bells chime, naked!Arthur finds Merlin beside his bed in the middle of the night. Oh, TV writers, why do you torment us so?
Next thing you know, the guards are tearing apart poor Gaius and Merlin’s home, on Agravaine’s orders. “Someone” saw Gaius riding away from the castle on a white horse — and lo! A white horse is missing from the stables. Agravaine wonders aloud what a search of Gaius’s belongings might find. What, no warrant? What is this, SOPA?
Arthur is shocked when magical crap is found amongst Gaius’s stuff. Agravaine condemns Gaius with much bemoaning over the terrible, awful, lying, betrayal. He basically piles it on with a trowel. Merlin looks on with such a scowl you would not believe it. Arthur tells Agravaine to let Gaius run, as there’ll be no search for him. Agravaine prances out, pleased as medieval punch. For once, Merlin lays it on the line to Arthur, telling him with tears in his eyes that Gaius would never leave without saying good-bye (that sound you hear is my heart breaking). At first Arthur is sympathetic, but when Merlin comes right out and tells him that Agravaine is the traitor, Arthur puts a firm stop to that kind of crazy talk. He simply cannot bear to believe that someone else he loves and trusts could betray him again. Arthur, people are lining up to betray you. In the words of Cold Play, oh who would ever want to be king? Besides Morgana, I mean.
Poor Gaius is carried into a cave and unceremoniously dumped onto a conveniently placed rock bed. Morgana wakes him and tells him it’s time for the fun and games to start. He’s all, “I’ll never tell you anything, you heifer!” But he doesn’t know what he’s dealing with, alas. Alator has ways of making anyone talk. Inexplicably, instead of hanging around to FINALLY find out who and where Emrys is, Morgana and Agravaine leave the cave to go get a mani/pedi or something.
Alator wastes no time building a magic ring of fire around Gaius, the better to smoke out his secrets (get it?). Gaius is weak, but isn’t going down without a fight. He uses his own magic to put out the flames, but that’s about all he has left in him. Alator’s surprised at Gaius’s magical abilities, but simply recasts the spell — but this time he yells it, so you know he means business.
Merlin isn’t going to take this lying down, so he sneaks into Agravaine’s room to see what he can see. He finds a box under the bed with books on sorcery, and fingers a pair of boots caked with red dust. Before he can make sense of that, Agravaine comes back from the spa feeling refreshed and oh so pretty. He goes behind the screen to undress (you know, if I didn’t know better I’d think this show was filmed under the female gaze, because it’s always the men who are stripping left and right. To which I say: YAHOO!). Merlin takes the opportunity to tiptoe out of the room, but Agravaine sees him in a mirror. Damn you meddling kids!
Merlin rushes back to his room, where Sir Gwayne is waiting for him, looking very dreamy if I do say so myself. He’s there to give a little moral support, but Merlin doesn’t want it. He wants to know if Gwayne recognizes the red dust on Merlin’s hands, and would you just not know it…Gwayne does. He remembers it from that one place on that one patrol that one time. Gadzooks, perhaps they should go there! Off they gallop, with nobody to witness their exit except, you know, Agravaine. Lucky he was looking out the window, am I right?
Gaius is not so lucky, being psychically pawed up by Alator and all. He’s cracking, but Merlin and Gwayne are rushing to find him. If only he can hang on a little while longer! But oh no! Agravaine tells Morgana what they’re up to! Now it’s a mad dash to the cave! Who’ll get there first?! Yup, it’s Amazing Race: Camelot.
Gaius tries with all his heart and soul to keep silent, but he just can’t do it. He tells Alator that Emrys goes by another name, and BTW he’s the most powerful sorcerer of all time. And what is the other name? It’s torn from Gaius’s lips: Merlin. Nooooo! But Gaius isn’t done. Now that he’s broken, he’s a regular Chatty Cathy. He tells Alator of Merlin’s destiny, to merge the old world with the new, and bring about the age of Albion.
Gwayne and Merlin are searching the tunnels of the cave, when they’re set upon by Alator’s bodyguard. He’s a big dude, and almost gets the best of Gwayne — at least until Merlin helps out with a wee bit of the old magic. The guy ends up impaled on Gwayne’s sword (not like that), and damned if Alator doesn’t sense it from afar. Blast his empath powers!
Morgana and Agravaine arrive at the cave, and are hunting Gwayne and Merlin even as Gwayne and Merlin hunt for Gaius. Morgana give Agravaine his orders: find Gaius and kill him, and she’ll do the same to Merlin and Gwayne. We shall see about that!
Agravaine finds Gaius and is about to stab him in the throat when Gwayne happens upon the scene. He accuses Agravaine of being the traitor, but Agravaine, always the fox, has a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything. He’s only checking to see if Gaius is still breathing, and he merely followed Gwayne and Merlin to the cave in the first place. Of course he did. Gwayne swallows it whole and is promptly bullied into helping Gaius rather than looking for Merlin. He’s a soldier; he’s used to following orders.
It doesn’t take Merlin long to run into Morgana, who quickly (and sans hands) puts a dagger to his throat. She can’t decide which gruesome way to kill him, giving him time to demand to know what she’s done with Gaius. Eager to share the info with anybody with ears, she tells Merlin all about Emrys. What harm can that do, when he’s about to die in five seconds anyway, am I right?
Enter Alator, who Morgana is so, so happy to see. Never one to forget her manners, she introduces Alator to Merlin, and you would not believe the look on Alator’s face when he finds out the all-powerful warlock Emrys is a serving boy who looks like one of those big-eyed plushies. Morgana is oblivious — all she wants to know is: did Gaius spill the beans? Yes, Alator confirms, he did. He told him everything. Which makes Merlin mighty uncomfortable, and more than a little confused, too. Well, Morgana demands, then tell her already. His answer? Never! He gives her a a magic push with his magic gigantic Q-Tip and knocks her out cold.
Alator tells Merlin how he’s been persecuted and hunted his whole life, and he and others like him would be glad to lay down their lives to help Merlin bring about the world he’s hoping for. In other words, Merlin is not alone. He then bows low in service to Merlin. I’m not ashamed to admit this speech gave me goosebumps, plus Merlin and I might have cried a little bit.
Agravaine and Gwayne hurry the unconscious Gaius back to Camelot, where Agravaine tells Arthur they both owe Merlin an apology, even as he hopes like hell that Gaius dies without ever waking up.
Morgana wakes up in the cave alone and with a killer headache. The healing bracelet she paid to Alator is in the sand beside her. She can’t believe she was so close to the truth before everything went mysteriously south. I love it that the concept of Merlin being Emrys is so preposterous, so offensive to her sensibilities, that she can’t see it even though it’s right in front of her.
Merlin is by Gaius’s side when he wakes up. He apologizes (needlessly) to Merlin for letting him down, and cautions that they can’t tell Arthur about Agravaine’s betrayal because they don’t have any evidence. Okay, WHAT? The evidence is that Gaius saw Agraviane with Morgana in the cave where she tried to kill Gaius, hello?! Although for what it’s worth, Arthur has proved time and again that he and logic are not always on speaking terms.
Speaking of Arthur, here he is now to apologize to them both. He wants to speak to Gaius alone, and Merlin breaks the uneasy tension by cracking a joke to prove that no matter what happened, they’re still all friends. As Merlin leaves he and Arthur exchange a look that says everything they can’t say about what they mean to each other, and how truly sorry Arthur is. At least, that’s what it said in my pointy head.
Arthur apologizes again to Gaius, then asks point-blank who abducted him. That’s when it becomes clear that Gaius wants to spare Arthur the pain of knowing that Agravaine is in cahoots with Morgana against him. Kind, but not very smart in the long-term since Agravaine is trying to kill Arthur and steal the throne. Regardless, for today Arthur’s heart is left intact. Gaius, who’s a veritable walking TED speech, tells Arthur that he lied about knowing Emrys because he feared Arthur would find and execute him, and that Arthur has no idea how much others have given to protect him…but some day he’ll understand. Some day…when Merlin reveals his true powers and takes his rightful place as Arthur’s right hand man and there’ll be unicorns and butterflies and by god, we’ll be right there to see it happen! ::fist pump::