This week we’ve got Very Bad News Indeed, jugglers, high end eyeshadow, Arthur tied up and tied down, Merlin riding Arthur like a cheap rented mule (not like that), a poisoned apple, and a wizard with a bladder control problem. What more could one ever ask for? Let’s get on this crazy train!
OMG it’s Arthur’s birthday! And everyone is excited about it except Arthur. As Merlin tells him, he has dancers, acrobats and jugglers to entertain him, so what’s the prob? Arthur says he isn’t as easily impressed as Merlin, since Merlin has the mind of a child (DRINK). “And yet I’m still more intelligent than you,” Merlin mutters. Says Arthur from the next room, “I heard that!” Hee.
In the green room acrobats’ quarters, the fellow in charge (the cab driver who almost killed Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Pink, for those so interested) is examining the birthday present they have for Arthur: three shiny daggers. “We must make sure this is a celebration the young prince will never forget,” he says, and throws one of the daggers into a post with such purpose you get the feeling he doesn’t mean there’s going to be a wench jumping out of birthday cake later.
Later on, Arthur is in Uther’s room, blabbing on about kingdom-related news, when Uther seems to come back to himself a bit. He remembers it’s Arthur’s birthday, and gets indignant at the suggestion he wouldn’t be going to the festivities. And so, just the old days, Arthur and his dad wear their matching royal menswear to the feast. Uther even wears black leather gloves while he eats, because he’s just that badass. The Gleeman (he of the sharp daggers from before) asks Arthur to volunteer for his act, and Arthur does because he has more pride than good sense. Sure enough, soon Arthur is tied to a spinning wheel (I approve) while daggers are whizzing into the wood around his head. Uther heartily claps as his only male heir risks death for the sake of a variety act. But short of a stabbity to the apple shoved in his mouth, Arthur finishes unscathed. Except for the sedative on the apple, which will soon render him helpless in his own bed. Honestly the fanfiction just writes itself, doesn’t it?
Merlin tries to help a woozy Arthur to bed (not like that), but even without pants, Arthur wants to go visit his dad instead. Merlin thinks Arthur is merely drunk, but it’s more insidious than that. Arthur stumbles to Uther’s bedchamber and joins him in his permanent spot in the chairs by the window. Uther is already asleep though, so Arthur also sits and closes his eyes. In sneaks the Gleeman, dispatching the guards and bringing a lovely sword to make short work of Arthur. At the last moment Arthur sees him and tries to defend himself, but the sedative makes his arms go all Spongebob Squarepants. The Gleeman is about to kill Arthur when BAM, Uther comes to the rescue. He’s far from his prime, but still gives the Gleeman more than he bargained for. Dammit, Arthur was supposed to be passed out in his bed for this part! There’s an epic sword battle between the two middle aged men, and Uther finally manages to run the Gleeman through – but not before the Gleeman drives a dagger between Uther’s ribs. Arthur cradles his father in his arms, and tearfully calls for the guards who aren’t coming. Uther tells Arthur how proud of him he is, and how much he loves him. Arthur is terrified and sobbing at the thought of his father dying. Fade to black. I wonder how long it took Arthur to finally crawl down the hallway and yell for help?
The next morning, Gaius tells Arthur that Uther has internal bleeding and it’s only a matter of time. Agravaine’s next in line with bad news, telling Arthur that they traced the assassin to Odin’s lands. Not Odin! That jerk. Wait, who’s Odin again? Anyway, Arthur is angry and desperate, and even Merlin can’t calm him down. Arthur does not respond well to a loss of control.
Agravaine gallops over to see Morgana and give her the good tidings. Morgana smirks evilly (DRINK) at the thought of Uther kicking the bucket and Arthur curling up into a grief ball forever. Here’s their chance to rule the emeffing kingdom!
Arthur is definitely stuck in the denial stage of grief. He tells Gwen that Uther CANNOT die, and is irritated that the peasants are huddled outside the castle during a candlelight vigil like it’s a foregone conclusion Uther is a goner. Merlin tries to help him accept the fact that Uther isn’t badly wounded, he’s mortally wounded. There’s no way to help him now. Arthur, of course, won’t listen to Merlin (DRINK) .What about magic, Arthur wants to know. Couldn’t that save him? Well…yes, it could.
Awkwardness ensues, ’cause Merlin’s the dude who can do it, yo, but Arthur’s the one who can have him beheaded for doing it, which is not a favourable outcome all things considered. Still, Merlin was able to scoot around that roadblock last time by turning himself into old man Emrys, and he could certainly do that again. Gaius, as per usual, is appalled that Merlin is even entertaining the idea. You’d think he’d be used to it after all these seasons. Merlin hopes this is his opportunity to prove magic is good, and maybe even get the chance to live an authentic life. Aw, Merlin. It gets better.
Merlin tells Arthur about Emrys, and Arthur has a last-second twinge of doubt. He asks Merlin if he’d do the same thing if it were his father. This is Merlin’s chance to stop this madness and go back into DADT mode, but he’s too far gone. He says he’d do exactly the same thing, and it’s settled. Because Arthur does listen to Merlin when he’s telling him what he wants to hear.
Arthur immediately goes to tell Agravaine of their plans, because otherwise how will Morgana find out about it? Ahem…I mean, because he trusts him like whoa (DRINK). Agravaine, once again “making sense” and “being logical” even aside from his evil intent, tells Arthur that magic killed his mother, and perhaps it’s Uther’s time to die no matter how Arthur feels about it. I like Agraviane, and would certainly give him a roll in the hay, even if Morgana wouldn’t — he could totally wear that black cloak to bed. But I digress.
Arthur won’t be swayed, so off he and Merlin gallop to find Emrys even though Merlin is Emrys; I’m sure this will end well. They come to a wee shack, which Arthur says looks more like a charcoal maker’s home than a powerful wizard’s. “I think a lot of sorcerers are in the charcoal business,” Merlin assures him with shifty eyes. Ha! Arthur wants Merlin to come in with him, but Merlin of course has to refuse. Arthur can’t believe that Merlin is scared again. “Scream like a big girl if there’s any trouble,” he says as he knocks on the door. The door swings open, so he peeks in. It’s empty, naturally, so he goes back out to yell at Merlin, who is trying his best to sneak around back. Merlin tells him to wait inside for Emrys. And where’s he off to then? To go pee. And as any parent can tell you, there’s no arguing with that, is there?
Soon enough Emrys come waltzing through the front door. I LOVE Emrys. He’s Merlin’s id, finally able to do and say all the things Merlin has no choice but to keep inside every day. He’s not taking anyone’s shit, and most especially not Arthur’s. Yay! He gives Arthur a piece of his mind when Arthur offers him gold if he’ll save Uther. He wants magic folk to be able to live in peace, that’s all. And maybe for Arthur to replace the pot he broke. Will Arthur agree to those terms? Arthur gives his solemn word. You go, Emrys! Arthur wants Emrys to ride to Camelot with him and Merlin at once, which might be tricky what with Emrys being Merlin and all. Emrys tells Arthur he’ll meet him at the castle at nightfall, as he’s going to need to gather a big swack of magical herbs first. Good enough.
Back at the castle, Gaius once again tries to talk Merlin out of taking such a huge risk, but there’s no changing his mind. He’s thrilled and excited that maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of real change in Camelot. And if you’ve watched this show for any length of time, you know that if Merlin is happy? Bad things are going to happen, stat.
Speaking of bad things, when Morgana hears about Arthur’s plans she curses a pendant that causes any healing spell to be reversed and magnified tenfold. That is not nice! But clever, I’ll give her that. Agravaine hides the necklace on Uther as soon as he get the chance. “Finally, you’ll get what you deserve, old friend.” Yikes. Is it cold in here or is it just me?
Even though Gaius is against it, he still helps Merlin with his healing spell because he loves him. Aww. Arthur comes barging in looking for Merlin, who quickly hides. Where’s his useless toad of a servant (DRINNK), Arthur wants to know. “Have you tried the tavern?” replies Gaius, which is always the only place he can think to suggest. Poor Merlin.
At nightfall Emrys meets Arthur at the back gate of Camelot (he doesn’t explain how he managed to get INSIDE the castle walls). Arthur urges him to hurry up and walk faster, which gives Emrys the opportunity to demand to be carried. Ahahaha! Sweet revenge.
In Uther’s bedchamber, Emrys gives Uther a potion, then prepares to cast his spell. Arthur interrupts him, suffering from cold feet. What if he’s making the wrong decision? Emrys assures him that magic can be a force of good, and outright talks him into going ahead with it. Uh oh. That doesn’t seem like a very good idea, Merlin my love. With Arthur’s permission, Emrys finishes the spell. Uther awakens! He’s saved! All is joyful! For about three seconds. Then the pendant of doom kicks in and Uther takes a swift and sudden turn for the worse. Before Arthur’s and Emrys’ eyes, Uther dies. OMG THEY KILLED GILES! YOU BASTARDS!!!
Arthur turns from grief to rage, and blames Emrys (justifiably) for his father’s death. He tries to kill Emrys, who is in such shock he speaks in his normal Merlin voice. Emrys has no choice but to give Arthur a magic push (DRINK) to escape with his life. How did things go so wrong, so quickly? He comes back after he’s turned into Merlin again, to find Arthur heartbroken at Uther’s bedside. Gaius pronounces the king dead. Long live the king.
Gaius, to his credit, doesn’t tell Merlin he told him so, even though he really, really did. He shows Merlin the enchanted pendant he found on Uther. Morgana! That witch! No, really, she’s a witch. But it’s too late, now. The damage is done and Morgana has won this round handily. Agravaine rushes to Morgana’s side, but she refuses to celebrate until it’s her shapely butt on the damn throne. She may not be a queen, but she certainly has some superior cosmetics in her cave of exile. That smoky grey eyeshadow really bring out her inherent wickedness.
Merlin goes to see Arthur, who is sitting morosely in the king’s chair at the head of the conference table. Merlin assures him that it’s not Arthur’s fault his dad died. No kidding. You know who’s fault it is? Magic. You know who killed both his parents? Magic. Now that Arthur is king, you know who his enemy will be from this day forward? That’s right: magic. Merlin stands there, speechless, near tears, as everything he’s fought for goes up in flames. He’s never seemed younger.
Arthur goes to pay respects to his father’s body, leaving Merlin and Gaius to wait for him outside in the hall. Merlin bitterly blames himself for what’s happened, but Gaius is there with a steadying hand. He tells Merlin that Morgana’s to blame, and Arthur is going to need Merlin more than ever now, and all is not lost even though it feels that way. He then suggests they go have some supper. Which is exactly right. Even when horrible things happen, life goes on. Even the mundane has to be looked after, because that is what life comes down to in the end.
Merlin is too upset to eat, so he spends the night in the hall waiting like a most faithful dog for Arthur to emerge. At dawn Arthur does, and he’s grateful for Merlin’s loyalty. They’re both starving, and leave to get some breakfast. It’s a new day in Camelot, in every way.
That afternoon Arthur is crowned king, to the shouts from his court of long live the king! And no one is shouting more loudly than Merlin.