We’ve got Merlin getting dirty like you’ve never seen him (not like that), death, destruction and moldy bread, handcuffs and naked chests, puh-lenty of pretty boys and girls for your pleasure, a surprise albino guest star, and a certain iconic sword in a certain iconic stone. All this and an extremely sad good-bye, this week on Merlin.
We left our injured and desperate refugees last week running for their lives in the woods as Agravaine and his soldiers closed in on them. Surely there’s no hope now! It does indeed look grim…and stop calling me Shirley. But Merlin shoos the others ahead so he can skip right over the magic push and immediately call out the big guns – namely the Dragon. Am I the only one who thinks Merlin goes from adorkable boy to red-hot sexy man the second he starts speaking in Dragontongue? Just curious. Agravaine gets the shock of his life when the Dragon comes swooping down and promptly burns them all a new one. Every time the soldiers who haven’t been turned into burnt marshmallows try to regroup, the dragon comes back. Run away! Run away! Heh, it’s about time someone said that line on this show.
Merlin catches up with Arthur and the others hidden in a flame-proof cave, looking for the way out. Sadly, Agravaine and Co. have hidden in the same caves, and a deadly game of Marco Polo soon breaks out. Against his better judgment, Arthur lets Merlin stay behind to do…something. At first Merlin merely tries to make them chase him, but Agravaine soon traps him in a dead end. Merlin doesn’t want to hurt them, and more importantly doesn’t want to give away his magical secret, but he has no choice when Agravaine attacks him. He gives them all a magic wallop and they go slow-mo down for the count. Just as Merlin dreaded, Agravaine guesses at once that Merlin is Emrys, but his lizardy outlook makes him assume Merlin is deceiving and betraying Arthur just like he did. They’re practically twins! He pretends to back down, only to fling a knife at Merlin, who isn’t the least surprised and slams him backward – to his death. Agravaine, I’ll sincerely miss you and your black, black soul/hair/cloak. Merlin’s freaked out, but killing Agravaine only hardens his resolve. At this moment, he’s a step closer to the Merlin he’s destined to become.
Tristan’s made it clear he thinks Arthur is deserving of very little respect and loyalty no matter how much Gwen says otherwise, so he’s shocked when Arthur goes back to save Merlin. Arthur’s ready to fight to the death, but finds Merlin hale and hearty, and they’re both so relieved to see each other that they both immediately tease each other about how Arthur was worried and Merlin’s an idiot and so on and so forth. They leave the caves and try to decide what to do now that they’re out of the entire kingdom. They leave it to Arthur to decide, and you can see his confidence leaking out of him like a flat tire. He finally agrees they should hide in the woods for the night, but his previous bad decisions are obviously weighing on him.
Back in Camelot, Gaius is near death from starvation and Gwaine gets to be Morgana’s plaything for another day. She gives him a wooden sword to make it a “fair” fight, but no shirt because that would mean…um…she couldn’t see his chest anymore. And that just wouldn’t be right.
Tristan makes sure Arthur knows he’s nothing special, and when Arthur admits that maybe he doesn’t deserve to be king, Tristan reminds him that he’s not – not anymore. That has got to hurt. Gwen tries to comfort him, but they are so not getting back together after all, and Arthur gives her a proper smackdown for having the gall to think otherwise. She scurries away, heartbroken. It seems Arthur has finally taken it to heart that he can’t trust anyone. God, he needs ten minutes with Dr. Phil.
Gwaine’s survived again, but Morgana assures them it’s going to be their last night alive. Elyan wants Gaius to eat the moldy crust of bread she’s thrown them, but Gaius insists Gwaine have it, as he knows he’s not long for this world. Good grief, can things get any darker for our heroes?
Merlin tries to give Arthur a pep talk, but it doesn’t go well. Arthur is being eaten alive with guilt and doubt, and he pretty much resigns as king and walks off. Merlin can’t believe how much he sucks at bringing Arthur’s destiny to fruition. Dammit! When everyone is asleep Merlin slips away and has a meeting with the Dragon. Merlin tells him about Arthur, and the Dragon advises Merlin to restore Arthur’s confidence, and fast. Challenge accepted. Merlin asks the Dragon to go round up all the citizens of Camelot who are also hiding in these woods – he has an idea.
The next morning, Merlin drags Arthur into the woods and tells him a story about how the first king thrust a sword into a rock that only the true king of Camelot could pull free. Aha! Of course, it wasn’t the first king who did that little trick with the sword in the stone, it was Merlin. “Are you making this up?” Arthur asks sceptically. “Of course not!” says Merlin. Except he totally is. He leads Arthur to the very rock that’s the resting place of Excalibur, and the moment he sees it, Arthur goes all glowy and dewy and bathed in sunlight. Hee. They’re not alone, either. The surviving knights and townspeople are there to witness this.
Arthur has the worst case of performance anxiety ever, but Merlin insists he try to pull the sword out. With everyone watching, he desperately yanks at the sword, but nothing happens. Merlin whispers that he has to believe he’s the rightful king of Camelot – he has to have faith. When Arthur closes his eyes and grips the hilt of the sword, Merlin allows the sword to pull free. Arthur raises Excalibur above his head, much to the delight of his subjects. And that’s when I break out in goosebumps. That’s right you’re the MFing king! Merlin’s eyes fill with tears. Now they’re both on exactly the path they’re supposed to be. As is the meandering Arthurian legend of this show. Yay!
When Morgana hears about the dragon turning her soldiers to tater tots and someone killing Agravaine, she instantly knows Emrys is to blame. Ooh, she’s shaking in her dainty boots now!
With recon from Sirs Leon and Percival, Arthur decides they should try to take back the castle. The knights assure him that they would go to the mouth of hell for Arthur. Arthur pulls out his shiny new magic sword. “To the mouth of hell it is then.” Tristan looks on, impressed in spite of himself.
While waiting for morning to come, Gwen pines after Arthur, who’s freaking out because no matter how good they are with their swords, Morgana’s magic is stronger. Merlin assures him that he’s going to usher in the time of Albion and be the greatest king ever. I’m sure that’s what Prince Charles tells himself while brushing his teeth every morning, but Arthur isn’t so sure. Merlin tells Arthur that he believes in him, and always has.
To tip the scales in their favour, Merlin breaks into the castle in the dead of night and turns himself into my very favourite curmudgeon, Emrys. He makes sure Morgana gets a look at him, scaring the crap out of her. He easily hides from all the guards chasing him, and makes his way to Morgana’s bedroom, where he casts a mystery spell upon her. He then turns back into himself and slips away into the night. Merlin, you scalawag.
The next morning, Tristan and Isolde tell Arthur he’s so badass they want to fight for him, too. He gratefully accepts their offer. Gwen takes a moment to also tell him that if anything happens in battle, she wants him to know she never stopped loving him, never once. Not even when she was shoving her tongue down Lancelot’s throat. Okay, I might have added that last bit.
The time has come, and they silently storm the castle. Morgana may be scared of Emrys, but when she hears it’s Arthur who’s coming for her, she’s damn sure she can win that battle at least. I guess nobody ever told her not to count her chickens. She and Helios wait for him in the throne room while he mows down everyone in his way. They burst into the room, where Morgana calmly greets him from the throne. He tries to reason with her, but she is so beyond that she makes Charlie Sheen look like Christopher Hitchins. She starts casting a spell to kill Arthur when…ho ho, Emrys’s spell kicks in. Suddenly she can’t concentrate enough to toss any magic around. As you might imagine, this isn’t very good for her state of mind.
Helios pushes her away so he can fight while she escapes. The knights chase her, leaving Arthur, Isolde, and Tristan to fight off the soldiers who burst into the room. Morgana gets away with Merlin hot on her trail, but she doesn’t see that one lurking knight there and gets an unexpected slice through her side. That puts a bit of a damper on her plans.
Helios gets the best of Arthur in the sword fight and is about to kill him when Isolde runs him through from behind. Most unfortunately, his last act is to run her through as well, mortally injuring her. You know she’s going to live long enough to say her good-byes, right?
Not Merlin but Gwen catches up with Morgana, and they have an epic girl-on-girl sword fight. Gwen is no swordsman and is soon staring down the blade of Morgana’s sword. She’s about to kill her when of course Merlin saves the day, sending Morgana flying with an epic magic push. “What happened?” Gwen gasps. “I don’t know,” Merlin replies honestly, because when the dusts settles, Morgana is gone baby, gone.
Everyone meets up in the throne room just in time to watch Isolde say sorry and cry and expire in Tristan’s arms like any tragic heroine worth her salt. Tears are shed all around and you best believe that the moral of the tale isn’t lost on Arthur and Gwen, who still have a chance to make things right.
Because old habits apparently die hard, later on Gwen is cleaning up the fight mess like the ex-servant she is when Arthur finds her. She offers to leave the kingdom, ashamed of what she did, but he stops her long enough to ask her to marry him all over again. And even though they’re both looking the worse for wear, they still manage to get a ray of sunshine in-between them as they kiss. Woot!
And so it comes to pass that Gwen, dressed in gorgeous purple, marries Arthur Pendragon and becomes Queen of Camelot, fulfilling her foretold destiny (which is to piss off Morgana to no end). Strangely, they don’t need no stinking priest or clergyman to marry them, just a ring bearer with the world’s largest ring pillow.
And what of Morgana? Why, she’s the one in the woods this time, badly hurt and unable to go on. This is definitely the end of her as she crumples to the ground with no one to help her. But wait! It seems she has one last friend after all – Aithusa, the baby dragon Merlin saved earlier on in the season. Aithusa breathes on Morgana, healing her and rejuvenating her will just when Arthur was poised to conquer all. As Aithusa flies away, we’re left to wonder just where the Dragon’s loyalties lie, and what can possibly happen next to these characters. And we only have to wait an entire year to find out!
Thanks for watching along with me during all the twists and turns of this season, and I’ll be right here when next we meet. Right here. ::touches your chest like ET::