RECAP – We open with Merlin—in chainmail and Camelot red ROWR—being chased by a group of men.
He leads them to where they are cornered. Turns out he’s lead them into a trap by Arthur. They aren’t just a band of bandits but are actually an army lead by Caerleon, a king form a neighboring kingdom. Arthur struggles with what to do, faced with another king leading his men into Camelot’s land.
Totally letting Greasy Agravaine sway him, Arthur gives Caerleon a choice—sign the treaty or die.
The king refuses to sign and Arthur kills him. When Caeleon’s body is taken back to his castle, Queen Annis is furious and vows that the whole of Camelot will pay for her husband’s murder.
Back in Camelot, Merlin tries to talk to Arthur about what happened…
They receive word that Queen Annis has declared war on Camelot, and her army is on the move. Morgana visits Annis, saying she comes in the name of her father Gorlois, and the two women become allies against Arthur and Camelot.
Greasy Agravaine counsels Arthur about his “inappropriate” relationship with Guinevere, telling Arthur that there are expectations of him, and a romance with a maid is falling short of those.
Arthur sneaks to see Gwen the night before he’s to leave for battle. He basically breaks up with her, while claiming it’s his decision solely. Gwen is heartbroken and tells him to listen to his heart so he can be the king he wants to be.
Before the battle, camp is set up. The knights of the Round Table—Gwaine, Percival, Elyan, Leon—swear to Arthur that they will stand and fight for him. Our king is now regretting his decisions and feel unworthy of his men’s loyalty since he has brought this war upon them.
Later in the night, he sneaks into the opposing camp and is brought before Queen Annis. He doesn’t want war, and all the death that comes with it, so he invokes the right of single combat—each side will choose a champion to fight. If Arthur’s champion wins, Annis will withdraw her army; if her champion wins, half of Camelot will be hers.
Merlin has followed Arthur and is caught then dragged into the tent. Annis orders him kills but Arthur asks her to spare his “simple-minded” servant’s life. Annis grants the request and accepts the challenge of single combat, telling Arthur to announce his champion by noon the following day.
Arthur names himself as champion, and Annis worries it’s some kind of trick. Morgana assures her that it isn’t, that Arthur would always risk his life before those of his men. Annis is still worried about her champion losing to a skilled warrior like Arthur. Morgana promises she has the power to make sure Arthur loses.
Greasy Agravaine snatches Arthur’s sword while the king sleeps…
…and brings it to Morgana, who curses it with “the weight of a thousand ages”.
Annis names Derian—a HUGE man—as her champion. Morgana tells him to have no pity on Arthur, that the king must die. The two men face each other—both armies watching. During the fight, Morgana says a spell that triggers the enchantment. The sword becomes so heavy Arthur can’t wield it. Merlin sees his king in trouble, clearly because of magic, and uses a bit of his own to help Arthur. Arthur manages to get ahold of Derian’s sword and wins the battle, though he spares the other man’s life.
Annis looks pleased and says that something about Arthur gives her hope for them all.
Back in Annis’ tent, Morgana says there will be other chances, but Annis says not for her. She allowed Morgan’s hate to infect her in her time of grief, but she now intends to seek peace with Arthur and Camelot. Morgana calls her weak and she won’t rest until all of Camelot bows before her. Annis says Morgana may have come to her in the name of Gorlois but she is far more like Uther.
Back in Camelot, victory is celebrated. Merlin says Arthur is a hero—well to the people not to Merlin. Arthur says he should have listened to Merlin, even if he is the worst servant in the five kingdoms.
When Gwen comes into Arthur’s chambers (not exactly sure why? She’s carrying a pitcher of something but what is her job, now, exactly?), he gives her flowers and apologizes.
He agrees he should listen to his heart and be seen with those he cares about. Gwen asks, “Even if they are ‘inappropriate’?” Arthur answers by pulling her close and kissing her. When he asks if that answered her questions, she replies, “It’s a start.”
If I’d written this episode, I would have changed…I would have had a stronger reaction from Gwen when Arthur breaks it off with her. This plays into the problem I have with her being too perfect. If it were JUST this instance, it would be one thing. But I’ve talked before about how the writers have her as this completely perfect character, and this just adds to that. And it’s too much. Nearly to the point of disbelief, IMO.
While she’s clearly upset he’s calling it quits on their relationship, it’s not enough. Why isn’t she more angry? She’s so sweet and understanding and forgives him in a snap when he hands her a flower and kisses her. I suppose most would look at all this and think she’s wonderful. And I like Gwen and I like them together, but it just seems like she’s not given much depth as a character.
Thing(s) I loved about this episode—The dynamic between Merlin and Arthur. And I’m NOT talking Merthur. Really. I love the conversations they have – even though Arthur doesn’t listen at first – and that Merlin is clearly comfortable counseling Arthur. AND Arthur seems not to mind it. Even when it’s going against what he decided. He confides in Merlin when he begins to see the mistakes he’s made. He calls Merlin “old friend” as Merlin is readying him for battle. He actually tells Merlin that he was right, that he should have listened to him. THAT is how far their relationship has come.
Thing(s) I hated about this episode—How easily Greasy Agravaine manipulated Arthur. Morgana’s sing-song voice. Gwen’s perfection.
Also, inconsistent character development. When Uther had an issue with Arthur seeing Gwen, Arthur was willing to give up his right to the throne for her, but Greasy Agravaine objects and he’s like, yeah, s’pose you’re right. So yes to defying your father whose approval you’ve desperately sought your whole life, but not to your douchebag of an uncle who, by all indications, has never even been around… Seriously?
Something I never noticed about this episode before—When Arthur goes to break up with Gwen. It’s late and he’s basically sneaking around. Yet, when she opens the door, she is NOT surprised to see him. Methinks there have been nighttime visits before.
Proof of some head canon I’ve created—When Arthur defeats Derian and is standing above him, sword ready to kill him, Arthur looks up at the Camelot crowd then plunges his sword in the ground, sparing Derian. It’s my head canon that he looks up at Merlin specifically – his
boyfriend who reminded him that he has sought mercy in battle – for reassurance he’s doing the right thing, a reminder of who he really is.
Favorite costume—Merlin as a knight. Rowr
What would Bron steal from
Camelot Annis’ tent in this episode? Annis’ chair/throne.
What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? I don’t think anything made her lose her shit in this episode, at least not too badly, since this happened…
I wandered away and fell asleep a minute. #MerlinClub
— 🏳️🌈Jenny Gallifrey-Joel Trout (@Jenny_Trout) November 18, 2014
NOTE: We will NOT be Merlin Clubbing next week, since it’s Thanksgiving week. We’ll be back the following week to pick up where we left off.
So, in TWO WEEKS, on 12/1 at 8pm EST, we’ll be watching S04E06 “Servant of Two Masters”. We’ll be on Twitter with the hastag #MerlinClub