This week we have naked!Arthur (notice I put that one first), Arthur carrying Merlin over his shoulder, a big bowl o’ endless snake heads, dead pigs but not like in Carrie, Morgana getting all up in Merlin’s personal space as he hangs by his wrists from her ceiling, and Gwen knocking Merlin out with her jugs – twice! All sorts of fun and games this way.
It’s time to sign the treaty that Arthur and the lovely Queen Annis agreed to last week. On the way there, Arthur wants to take Merlin and the knights through the Valley of the Fallen Kings even though Merlin reminds him that nothing good ever happens there. He doesn’t listen, of course, because his apology for not listening to Merlin last week is but a distant memory. Call me crazy, but you’d think a fella who just became king would avoid a place named after kings who have, you know, fallen. But what do I know? Sure enough, the second they actually enter said valley, they’re set upon by a band of scruffy hoodlums. There’s a lot more of them than knights, but pshaw. Sir Percival especially is ready to take them all on at once, the big lug.
One of the hoodlums (which is an even cooler word if you say it like you’re Sean Connery, trust me) comes right at Arthur, but Merlin takes care of him with a rather flamboyant magic push, considering he’s trying to hide his magic and all. Arthur is saved yet again, yay. The problem is, however, that another hoodlum is also coming up right behind Merlin, and slices him right across the chest as he passes. Merlin collapses face-first onto the ground. This may fill you with angst, but nothing compared to Arthur when he sees Merlin down. Luckily, the show has Merlin’s name right in the title, so he’s not going anywhere. Right? Right??
Arthur drags Merlin into the forest and hides with him there until the hoodlums give up looking for them and go on their merry way. Arthur takes a look at Merlin’s wound and tries to laugh it off with his usual insults. When Merlin wonders, half joking, half not, if he’s going to die, Arthur gets serious and tells him if he does, he’ll die a hero, and a good and loyal friend and servant. Aw, now if only Arthur can treat Merlin with respect when they’re with other people and Merlin isn’t bleeding out, everything will be perfect.
The next morning, Arthur wakens to the noise of men on the hunt. Merlin is obviously not doing well, but Arthur has no choice but to move him. He slings Merlin over his shoulder (the famous sack o’ potatoes move). “Please leave me,” Merlin mumbles, selfless to the bitter end. “Sure, whatever you say,” Arthur tells him, and sets off with Merlin in tow. He doesn’t get far before a hoodlum finds him. Arthur dumps Merlin and draws his sword, meeting the man in a narrow passage between two rock walls. But wait! Another man is coming from the other way! Arthur is trapped! He valiantly bests them, but here come a slew more hoodlums to take their place. Arthur raises his sword to fight, even though it’s obviously hopeless. That’s when Merlin, pale and shaky, uses his magic to created a rock slide, cutting Arthur off from the bad men. Yay! The only trouble is that Merlin is on the side with the bad men. Nooo! “Merlin!” Arthur shouts in a panic, but too late. The hoodlums scoops Merlin up, and he’s officially snatched.
They take him to the instigator of all this trouble – none other than Morgana. She’s so very choked that Arthur got away and all she has for her troubles is Merlin the servant. It always delights me when Morgana has Emrys right in her nicely manicured hands and never realizes it. I have to admit, I wait impatiently for the day when Merlin reveals his true nature to her and all the puzzle pieces fall into place for Morgana. How sweet it will be! But today is not that day, and all Merlin gets is a kick in the side. Agravaine whines that this wasn’t his fault, because Gaius already suspects him so he must take care not to bring more suspicion onto himself. Agravaine goes to run Merlin through, but Morgana stops him. Surely Merlin can still be of some use to her (not like that, unfortunately).
Merlin ends up in Morgana’s cave, strung up and tormented. Insert your own wishful thinking joke here. He refuses to buckle under her threats, saying he can die happy knowing he’s thwarted her. She informs him he’s not going to die – but there are worse things than death, aren’t there?
The knights find Arthur in the forest and bring him back to Camelot. Gaius is beside himself that Merlin is missing and possibly dying – which he indicates by raising one eyebrow slightly. Gaius has a great poker face.
Back in the cave, Morgan is setting about healing Merlin’s wound. Merlin wants to know why, but Morgana answers with her own question: why is Merlin so loyal to Arthur, who can be such a dick? The dick part is implied. He says she can’t understand because she has no sense of duty or loyalty. He’s wrong, she replies. “Don’t think I have no sense of loyalty just because I have no one left to be loyal to.” Which is such a great line. And she’s right – she’s loyal to what she’s trying to accomplish, no matter how misguided it may be. And she’s also right, both Arthur and Uther were asses to her and Merlin.
Back in Camelot, the knights report that Merlin is nowhere to be found. Although Agravaine helpfully has a battered piece of Merlin’s coat – oops, guess he’s dead. Oh well, on to the next order of business, which is that the hoodlums must be troublemakers from a neighbouring kingdom. Except nobody outside their inner circle knew where they were going to be travelling – which means a traitor is in their midst. But who?! Gaius looks at Agravaine, who makes a point of not looking back.
Morgana has a special pet to show Merlin. It’s a Fomorroh, an extremely cute and grumpy multi-headed mini snake, which she conjures in the best coin trick that even David Blaine would envy. She cuts off one of its heads, but it immediately grows back, just in time to be grumpy with the other heads. Morgana informs Merlin that a Fomorroh can’t be killed and in other news, it can control the mind of anyone unfortunate enough to have one inside them. And how does it get inside a person? Well, although it could always be worse (use your imagination), it jams itself into the back of Merlin’s neck and crawls around under his skin. Ick! Now Merlin must obey the one command Morgana has for him: KILL ARTHUR. Oh noez, I’m sure everything will fall into place and Merlin will murder Arthur and be hanged for it! On the other hand…
Arthur awakens the next morning to find a new manservant in his bedroom. It’s George, the insufferably perfect replacement for Merlin. “It’s all very impressive,” admits Arthur, “but I already have a OTP manservant.” After eating the gorgeous breakfast George made him, Arthur decides he must go and look for Merlin himself. Well, not just himself – Gwaine is coming too so they can both admire how handsome the other is.
Meanwhile, Morgana has dumped an enchanted Merlin in the woods, where he wakes up looking like a character from Apocalypse Now. Arthur finds him almost immediately and brings him home, overjoyed. Now, you might think an episode where Merlin is trying to kill Arthur might be sad or scary, but you’d be wrong! Nobody does hilariously creepy magic Merlin better than our dear Colin. Merlin has taken on the the grumpy personality of the snake head wiggling around in his back. He disses Gaius’s cooking, skillfully deflects questions on how he escaped Morgana’s clutches, then nabs the most poisonous poison from Gaius’s personal stash. “You never know when you might want to kill someone,” he cheerfully declares. Indeed.
He toddles to the kitchen where he prepares Arthur a lovely chicken dinner, which he then liberally splashes with poison. He takes it to Arthur, where he’s rather miffed to find Gwen has already fed Arthur, because she thought Merlin might like to rest after his ordeal. Merlin gives them both the hairy eyeball and stalks out, tossing the poisoned mess to the pigs. Not the piggies!
Merlin spares only enough time to insult Gaius a couple more times before he heads to the weapons room, where Sir Leon helps him pick out a really deadly weapon. They settle on a crossbow, and when he asks what Merlin wants to use it for, Merlin is delighted to tell him it’s to kill Arthur. Ha ha! “Driving you mad, is he?” “Not for much longer!” Evil happy Merlin is my favourite.
Merlin sets up an elaborate trap where the crossbow will fire when Arthur opens his wardrobe door (not sure why evil happy Merlin doesn’t just walk up to Arthur and shoot him dead where he stands…oh yes, because then he’d be dead). Arthur comes in before Merlin is ready, though, foiling his plan. Arthur bitches about having a traitor in his midst – and who knows, maybe it’s Merlin trying to kill him! It’s just a joke, but Merlin isn’t laughing. Because it is! It is him! Him and his snake head buddy!
Gwen is in the market when she notices the dead pigs, Arthur’s supper plate next to them. She takes the suspect noms to Gaius, who puts two and two together and it makes four. They rush to find Merlin, asking Sir Leon if he’s seen him. Why yes, he was picking out a crossbow to kill Arthur. Ha ha! Good one, Merlin.
Merlin’s set up the wardrobe trap while Arthur disrobes. Even the sight of the shirtless king doesn’t make him waver, and Merlin leans forward eagerly when Arthur opens the wardrobe…only to have the crossbow jam. Dammit! Arthur asks him to get his ceremonial sword. Ah yes, his sword. It’s very sharp, isn’t it? Merlin takes the sword and tries to run Arthur through. But Gwen and Gaius burst in, just in time to make Merlin lose his balance and run into a pillar instead, promptly knocking himself out. Arthur looks down at him on the floor, out cold, and shrugs. LOL! He leaves, giving Gwen the chance to bonk Merlin in the head with a jug just as he’s about to come to.
They drag him to Gaius’s, where Gaius discovers the Fomorroh and removes it. We don’t see the procedure, but we can hear it, and by the sounds of it Fomorroh removal is a very squishy business. Gaius throws the snake head in the fire and sews Merlin back up. Now they’ll have the old Merlin back and Arthur is safe! I’d believe that if we didn’t have sixteen more minutes of show left.
Arthur has wracked his brain trying to think who, who, who might be trying to betray him. After a few days to contemplate it, he finally decides to make a list of all the people who knew the route he and his men were going to take through the forest. That would be: Agravaine. And that’s it. He confronts Agravaine, who makes the convincing argument that if he harms Arthur, he harms the memory of his sister, Arthur’s mum. Too bad for Arthur that Agravaine’s need for revenge against the Pendragons trumps Agravaine’s love for his sister, and is indeed enflamed by that very love. Agravaine suggests that it was Gaius who betrayed Arthur. Yes, that Gaius. The one who’s been loyal to Uther and Arthur for the last three seasons.
The next morning Merlin wakes up with no outward ill effects from his harrowing adventure. He’s chipper as can be as he collects some potions from Gaius’s work bench. Gaius asks how he’s feeling, but doesn’t need an answer when he sees a new snake head in Merlin’s neck. Darn those hydra-esque creatures!
Merlin is drawing a deadly acid bath for Arthur, who doesn’t see it because he’s undressing behind a screen while he prattles on about how Gaius has been loyal for the last three seasons. Hey, maybe Arthur will finally believe the right person! Gaius and Gwen burst in again, and cold-cock Merlin with the jug again, just as Arthur steps out from behind the screen, naked as my love for him. He’s shocked and covers his assets with a royal pillow.
Gwen tells him Merlin’s gone to fix the cold bathwater, and it looks like there’ll be no bath today after all. Gaius says nothing as he valiantly holds up Merlin behind a curtain so Arthur doesn’t find out he’s trying to kill Arthur every five minutes. Note to Merlin: punch Arthur in the throat next time you see him instead of using acid in his bath. You’re welcome. Arthur steps gingerly back behind the screen, and away we go, back to Gaius’s place.
Gaius puts the snake head to sleep, then wakes up Merlin. It really is the old Merlin, who’s famished and confused. If the snake head can’t be killed, then what should he do? Gaius breaks it to him that if he wants it killed for keepsies, he’s going to have to kill the mother beast. That’s right, the poor mother always gets blamed for the shit her kids do. Merlin decides this is a job best suited for Emrys. As he rushes out the door, Gaius asks him what he should say if Arthur comes looking for him. “Tell him I’m anywhere…anywhere but the tavern.” Ha! Poor Gaius.
Merlin goes into the woods to turn into Emrys. He’s trying without success to get back on his horse with his bad hip and all, when along come a pack of knights of the round table. Why they’re in the woods at that moment shall remain a mystery for the ages. They try to capture Emrys, which is such a silly thing to do. Emrys gives ’em the old magic push, then uses their prone bodies as stairs up to his horse. Emrys, never change.
Agravaine pays a visit to Morgana, who reams him out for trying to make his blame-shifting onto Gaius into some heroic act of treason. He’s never going to get to sleep with her, is he? Poor Agravaine and his black hair and blue balls. He skulks out to head back to Camelot, and who should spy him but Emrys, who’s sneaking up to make his move. Finally, proof positive that Agravaine is the traitor!
Morgana buggers off, so Emrys takes the opportunity to go into her cave (okay, it’s not really a cave, it’s a hovel) and snoop for the Fomorroh. Before he can find it, Morgana comes back with an armful of firewood. She’s so shocked to see Emrys there that she goes back outside and closes the door. Ha! He keeps snooping, even when she slowly comes in to confront him. “You’re not really here. You’re just my imagination,” she tells him fearfully. “That’s right. Just pretend I’m not really here and I’ll just get this and go.” Snerk. He picks up the Costco-sized jar o’ Fomorroh, and when Morgana reaches out to stop him he slams her with a Costco-sized jar o’ magic whoop ass.
He rushes outside but Morgana follows him, walloping him with her own magic. The wind’s knocked out of him, and the jar gets thrown into the bushes. Morgana is thrilled and a little disbelieving that she was able to knock down her arch-enemy so easily. Just as she’s about to stab him, he knocks her down and now it’s his turn to stand over her. She cries and begs for her life, but it’s all just a trick so she can send her knife sailing through the air into his head. He ducks like a boss but can’t avoid her magic push. He’s left gasping in agony on the ground. She smirks (natch) and grabs the jar. With his last bit of strength he starts up a dust devil that sucks Morgana right to Oz. I can only imagine what she’d do to the poor Tinman and Cowardly Lion, but alas, she only manages to make it ten feet in the air and then BAM! She’s knocked to the ground, out cold once again. These people get more concussions than hockey players, I swear to god.
Emrys sets his weary bones down in front of a small fire, opens the jar, and tosses the pissed-off Fomorroh into the flames before it can barely hiss. And just like that, the snake head in his neck dies, too. Yay!
Back in Camelot, Gaius removes the dead snake from Merlin’s neck (without freezing!) and that is the end of that. Gwen advises him that although it’s wonderful that he doesn’t want to kill Arthur, unfortunately Arthur wants to kill him.
Ah yes, Arthur is none too happy Merlin spent two days at the tavern – not the tavern! GAIUS!! He orders Merlin to get some extra servant training, from none other than George. Arthur thinks it’s the funniest joke ever to play on him, but assures Merlin that George will never take his place because George is just too freaking boring. True enough, Merlin is a lot of things but boring isn’t one of them.
When Agravaine realizes that Merlin is no longer under Morgana’s spell, he rushes back to her place. He finds her, beautiful and perfectly posed at the foot of a tree. Luckily, she didn’t need to pee or poop or anything the whole time she was unconscious. Whew! He’s terrified he’s lost her, and quickly gathers her up in his arms and carries her away. To where? And is she dead? Tune in next time to find out!