Merlin 4.12 – The Sword in the Stone Pt 1

We’ve got breasts aplenty, Arthur battling the royal Freshman 15, Arthur trying to be king in very silly clothes, Arthur doing dishes (!), Arthur apologizing (!!), a palace coup, a reconciliation, and lots of sweaty slow-mo fighting. Whee! This week on Merlin.

Arthur’s fat. He’s so fat that when he goes to council meetings, he sits next to everyone. At least, this is what Merlin implies when he has to poke a new hole in Arthur’s belt (which is “one hole shy of perfection”). Merlin actually tries to hide it from Arthur at first, who reacts exactly as suspected: with vehement denial. At least…until he can’t actually do up the belt. Okay then, just one more hole. That’s what she said. Arthur commands him not to tell a soul about this, which Merlin agrees to do. After all, he is good at keeping secrets.

Colour Merlin impressed!

So many jokes, so little time

Agravaine is spending his night knocking out and/or killing the guards on watch duty and then signaling to someone in the woods. They signal back. It looks like the wheels of Morgana’s plan to overtake Camelot are being set in motion at last. Woe!

It’s time for a feast, and even though Agravaine is mysteriously absent, they start without him, mainly because Arthur and his knights are excited about the chicken being served. What can Merlin do but immediately break his promise and joke about the holes in Arthur’s belt? Everyone laughs but Arthur, and we’re reminded what a wonderful and endearing place Camelot is. Hmm. I sense an emotional trap by the writers. ::shifty eyes::

Agravaine lets all the bad guys in through the very tunnels of the map that Morgana stole last week. Little do the the revelers upstairs know what’s about to happen. Arthur, who’s had perhaps a little too much mead to drink, is waxing poetic to Merlin about how much he misses Gwen. Aww. The fire in his heart burns just about as hot as the village just outside that castle that Agravaine is burning to the ground. Oh, by the way, that’s also the signal for Morgana and Helios to attack. Dammit!

The knights are outside battling the blaze when Helios’s many men attack. Arthur is informed of the most alarming turn of events and he instructs Merlin to get all the peasant-types in the castle to the safety of the citadel. Sir Elyan is the first to find out about Agravaine’s betrayal, and though they’re more than willing to kill each other over it, Morgana gives Elyan a magic push that knocks him out…and saves his life. Lucky she’s in a hurry to be queen ASAP.

Soldiers are pouring into the city, the wounded are piling up, and Merlin and Gaius are not happy to have their every suspicion about Agravaine proved true. Merlin runs to find Arthur, who’s swordfighting in glorious slow-mo a la 300. Merlin runs in slow-mo, which is also cool. Sort of. The castle is overrun, and Arthur is hopelessly outnumbered. He’s sliced across his side and would surely perish if Merlin doesn’t find him and save him at that moment. There’s still time for Arthur to make a joke about Merlin being a fraidy cat, because there’s always time for that — even in the middle of the fight for Camelot. They try to make their way out, only to spy Morgana, Helios, and, yes, Agravaine marching to victory. Arthur realizes that Merlin was right and Arthur was so, so wrong. It knocks the wind out of him, but he still wants to go and fight all of them at once. Merlin stops him and tries to talk some sense into him. If he weren’t gravely injured, Arthur probably would have done it anyway.

Things are not going well for he kingdom. The citizens of Camelot have fled and Morgana is sitting her pretty ass on Arthur’s throne (not like that). She wants Arthur captured and/or dead, and her soldiers are pounding on the door to the room where a gravely injured Arthur lies writhing in pain. While the knights hold the door, Merlin and Gaius try to figure out how to move Arthur when he can’t even walk and Gaius doesn’t even have his bag of medicines. Merlin casts a wee spell on Arthur, I think it’s the Percocet spell, and suddenly he’s happy to go do whatever anyone asks of him. Percival drags him away and Gaius insists that Merlin go with him. That leaves Gaius and Gwaine alone to hold off the soldiers all by themselves. Nooo! Even they realize it’s hopeless, so when the soldiers break through the door they immediately surrender. LOL! Morgana is incensed to find Arthur has limped out of the coop, and calls for her horse. “I’m on a hunt!”

By this time the boys are in the woods yet again. They meet up with Elyan and try to plan their next move. Arthur looks back at Camelot burning with vacant, stoned blue eyes. He knows he should be feeling something, but can’t quite remember what. Merlin pulls him away. Merlin says he knows a safe place across the border, but they’ve barely started out when Merlin hears the sound of hoofbeats. He shouts at the others to run, but here comes scary Morgana on her cool slow-mo horse, and it only takes one magic push to send them all flying. They scramble through a hole in a rock wall, where Elyan makes his stand to keep the soldiers out and give them time to hide. Luckily for Elyan, the soldiers fight him one at a time so he does pretty well. Heh. Magically stoned Arthur is hilarious, agreeing with whatever Merlin says, and even apologizing after Merlin bumps into him. Merlin is more creeped out by this than delighted.

Morgana has mysteriously skulked back to the castle rather than press on (maybe because she refused to get off her slow-mo horse?), so she’s back on the throne when Agravaine reports the castle is in lockdown, and the people are all hell to the no when they hear Morgana is their new queen. She sets the tone by telling Agravaine to burn their crops. Even he’s a bit taken aback by the hard line, but what’s a minion to do? They’ve captured Elyan, and Morgana is sure he’ll tell them where Arthur is…with a little of the right persuasion. Poor, poor Elyan.

Arthur has less to worry about, but still. The clothes they steal so Arthur can dress in something less conspicuous than King Wear obviously belonged to a fourteen year old boy who didn’t have to poke a new hole in his belt. Arthur looks ridiculous; Merlin approves.

Morgana has yet another snake creature to do her bidding, this time a little fella who causes unimaginable pain. It doesn’t show what the snake does to Elyan exactly, but I imagine it has something to do with his testicles. Outside, Agravaine is feeling a little queasy over this torture. Perhaps he didn’t think it through what having Morgana as queen would mean, as he was too busy thinking about her bodacious bod. Tsk tsk. Helios couldn’t care less — he’s done worse himself. Morgana comes out to tell them that Elyan broke and told then where Arthur was headed. She also tells Agravaine that the snake will be chewing his balls if he fails her again. She and Helios have a grand chuckle over that, and Agravaine realizes much too late that he’s been played for a fool, and Helios is most certainly going to be standing behind Morgana’s throne when the dust settles. Dammit!

The guards drag Elyan to join Gaius and Gwaine in the dungeons. Gaius can somehow tell Elyan’s been tortured by snake magic, as opposed to alllll the other magic spells the people in this show have been subjected to. Gaius is bad-ass, is what I’m saying. There’s not much he can do for Elyan, but at least they’re together and alive.

Agravaine’s ready to go fetch Arthur, but not before impressing upon Morgana that he’s the dude who has and will always stand by her, not that bitch Helios. Morgana is smart enough not to dismiss him even if he’s grovelling a bit, but promises if he brings back Arthur, Agravaine will have a table reserved forever more at Chez Morgana’s Bosom of Delights. And that’s good enough for him. Off he gallops, a bajillion soldiers behind him.

Merlin and Arthur come across a band of smugglers, lead by Tristan and more importantly Isolde and Her Amazing Breasts. They’re lovers and partners in crime (and rather legendary in their own right). In truth, they’re not that thrilled to see the two men…or that they were seen by them. Merlin plies them with gold to be allowed join them, the better to sneak across the border to relative safety. “I’d be glad of the company,” he tells them, giving a shifty look at Arthur the apparent simpleton. “I’m very annoying,” Arthur confirms. The same time Agravaine finds Arthur’s abandoned clothes, the smuggler group are setting up camp for the night. As per usual, they think Merlin is way too cute to cause trouble. I have a feeling they’ll live to regret that assumption.

My pants are too small and I'm certainly not the king

That night while eating by the campfire, Merlin at last gets to tell Arthur what a jerk he is, and Arthur sincerely apologizes. Merlin decides it would be a great idea if Arthur washes the dishes and rubs down the horses. What bliss it must be for Merlin as Arthur cleans up and stumbles in the dark toward their steeds.

The fun can’t last forever of course, and the next morning Arthur wakes up feeling his old jerky self. He doesn’t remember anything that’s happened and is equally appalled that Camelot is lost and he’s now playing the part of a simpleton. He has no choice but to keep to the script so the smugglers don’t decide he’s a knight or some crazy idea like that. Though only he can explain why he thinks a simpleton should talk like a pirate. Argh, me mateys, I be not the king, I swear on Jack Sparrow’s compass!

He doesn’t have to fake it for long, because Agravaine and his soldiers have been riding all night, and they catch up with them at that moment. Chaos and whizzing arrows ensue. The smuggler couple can’t believe their freaking luck that their simpleton hitchhiker is Arthur Pendragon. They might have even come to blows over it if they didn’t have to fight the clot of soldiers trying to kill them. Isolde is a brave warrior, but soon gets bashed in the head and a slice on the arm for her troubles. Tristan is beside himself and pissed that Arthur brought this misfortune upon them, but agrees to follow Arthur and Merlin for her sake. “You and your kind bring nothing but misery to this land,” he tells Arthur bitterly, and you can tell that hits Arthur right in the gut, or maybe even a little lower. What a rough way to find out the vast distance between the king he wants to be and the king his people judge him to be.

Back in the dungeons, Morgana comes to see how her guests are doing. They’re starving and weak, although Gwaine is still hot. Morgana even says so, right before she drags him out for a spot of fun. As repayment for killing so many of her soldiers, Gwaine gets to fight her best man for entertainment — weaponless, naturally. This is as good as Dancing With the Stars!

When Merlin and Arthur camp out that night, it gives Arthur a chance to talk about Agravaine’s betrayal. “I had my suspicions,” says Merlin, “but I couldn’t be sure.” Bwahaha! Way to let Arthur save face, because Merlin’s suspicions consisted of Agravaine kidnapping Gaius and having him tortured with Morgana. That was rather suspicious, by George. For the first time, Arthur has to come to grips with his poor judgment, and how everyone he loves turns against him. Arthur gets all up in his grill about how he may be a dink, but he’s loyal and brave and bloody hell, he’ll one day be the greatest king this land has ever known! Merlin might tear up a little as he says it. Arthur appreciates the gesture, but doesn’t really believe him. “At least I have the support of my servant,” he says with a crooked smile. “I’m not alone, believe me,” Merlin insists. Of course he can’t elaborate, but we know what he means. Dragons and druids and destinies, oh my.

Gwaine makes short work of Morgana’s fighter, killing him with his own club. He gets a moldy piece of bread as a reward…oh, and a new fight with TWO soldiers this time. Dammit!

Merlin and the others finally make it to the place he was headed all along — his village, his home, and his mom. Awww. There’s a bed for Isolde, who is getting better by the hour. Arthur apologizes to Tristan (setting a new world record for him, I’m sure), and Tristan is only too happy to forgive him since he still has his true love. “Then you’re richer than you know,” Arthur says sincerely, no doubt thinking of Katniss and Peeta. I mean, isn’t EVERYBODY thinking about Katniss and Peeta this week? Okay, maybe he’s thinking about Gwen instead. Maybe.

Speaking of Gwen, guess where she lives now? Oh, that’s right — here! She decides to be brave and tend to Arthur’s broken ribs while he’s asleep. He wakes to find her there, and he’s obviously relieved and thrilled to see her. They embrace as the violins/hearts swell, and I have a feeling all is forgiven all the way around. Also, Gwen is wearing pants. What’s that all about? I mean — they’re back together maybe! Yay!

Because all bad things follow Merlin wherever he goes, Agravaine finds the village and invades it. Knowing that Agravaine’s there for Arthur, Merlin tells the others to escape out the back while he creates a diversion. He tries to hit Agravaine with a magical burning wagon, but it misses. I don’t know why I find that so funny, but there you go. Agravaine recovers in time to see them all dashing into the woods. He screams for his soldiers to go after them, Arthur and Isolde injured and limping. Ooh, this can’t be good.

And OMG, that’s where it ends for this week. Will they be captured? Will Gwaine die? Will Morgana really become queen of Camelot? Will Merlin’s mom be okay?? We’re just going to have to bite our nails until next week to find out.

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  • Brunettepet

    I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It was well shot and I quite liked the look of the hordes descending on Camelot. The first slo-mo battle was beautiful to watch. Less beautiful was Arthur taking it in the side and having to be rendered simple to save his life.

    Simple!Arthur, though, was delightful comedy relief and Bradley’s timing and delivery were wonderful. From the outfit to the affable, self deprecating comments, the heart felt apologies and tree hugging, I was sold on his buffoonery.

    While his men were being imprisoned and tortured, Arthur got a mental vacation. It’s surely better than feeling betrayed and unloved and unworthy of the crown you’ve been handed, right? Too bad it couldn’t last. Or good thing it couldn’t last, or they’d all be dead. Or Merlin could have been outed as a sorcerer as he saved them all. That would have been cool, too.

    Arthur and Merlin holding the horde off with crossbows was great fun and I enjoyed Tristan and Isolde’s shocked reaction to Arthur’s sudden non-simplicity. At least this meant no more ridiculous pirate speak. Of course Merlin and Arthur couldn’t know that Elyan had given them up, but fleeing to Ealdor seemed a bone head move any way. Hell, Morgana knows that’s where Merlin’s from and they’re putting Merlin’s sweet mum in danger!

    Oh, well, the reunions with Hunith and Guinevere were lovely and way too short lived. It was also nice that the writers shoehorned in two Arthur half naked scenes. The make up team deserves a cookie for that livid rib bruise. Team continuity, on the other hand, gets no cookies for having Arthur suddenly in chain mail before you could say betrayed again. Poor Arthur.

    You were absolutely right to find that burning cart missing Agravaine hilarious. If you’re going to use magic in front of everyone, Merlin, why not just kill that traitorous bastard outright? It’s not like Agravaine hasn’t earned a good killing. Oh, well, maybe next week. I wouldn’t mind if Arthur baptized Excalibur with loads of Agravaine’s blood.

    I loved this episode. Colin and Bradley’s acting was top notch and Colin’s hair was gorgeous (yes, it matters how pettable Merlin is in every episode) in the blue dusk scenes. I am looking at your screencap of Simple!Arthur and cannot stop laughing. That look on his face is priceless. That’s royal portrait material!

    Thanks for another stellar recap. I can’t wait for next week!

  • fm

    I wish I had time to say more just now, but I’m dropping in this little note to say that I ADORE your recaps! :)