Enough is enough – Merlin has had it with Gwen (and Morgana’s) scheming and is ready to put an end to it. And boy was I glad because this storyline dragged on far too long, especially with the series ending for good later this month. Merlin must act fast and will need help but only the most powerful magic can save the Queen and this will not be easy, even for Merlin.
Gwen tries sneaking out of the castle but is caught by Sir Percival before she can make a clean getaway. To get him off her trail, she invokes Elyan’s name and believes that sympathy for her fallen brother and his friend are enough to let her go without alerting Arthur. Oh how wrong she is! In the woods, we see her give Morgana a map outlining levy collection trails and other details. What they don’t know is that Arthur is watching the entire thing from behind a tree, with Merlin by his side. I was pleasantly surprised that this wouldn’t necessarily be a “Merlin-must-do-this-on-his-own” type of “quest”.
Arthur, enraged by this latest betrayal pulls his sword out of it’s scabbard but his hand is stayed by Merlin, who says they’ll find a way to free Gwen from the dark magic she is under. Another surprise – I guess Gwen wasn’t brainwashed; it would’ve made this entire tired storyline for her more interesting. Oh well!
Back in Camelot, Arthur and Gwen are dining in his rooms and he’s just staring at her, not eating the food that’s there, or agreeing to go out with her. Way to be more obvious that the jig is up! After he makes a hasty exit, he gathers Mordred & Leon in a secret locked room to set a new levy collection route that must be committed to memory. He’s not taking chances and won’t tell them why he’s doing this, just that they trust him.
Gaius has the answers to everything and tells Merlin of the ritual that would free Gwen – but only Morgana & the Dochraid would know the details as it was only told to female magic users. Merlin turns into Dragoon and goes to the Dochraid to get the details and when she refuses, he wields Excalibur and injures her to get the information. As he leaves, the Dochraid sees a sword and tries to kill Dragoon – only for him to stop it in midair and strike her down. We always tend to see Old Merlin as the comic relief and this stark ruthlessness was a bit unnerving. The need to protect Arthur and their destiny is driving Merlin down paths I didn’t think we’d see him take.
Once Gaius sells Arthur on this new plan – he tells him he’s chosen a new sorcerer. SHE will be waiting by the Cauldron of Ariandra that they must have Gwen willingly enter for the spell to be broken. The look on Merlin’s face when he realizes that he has to turn into a woman is priceless. A tincture of Belladonna serves to knock Gwen out cold. The way that they go about slipping her the tampered wine is great – Angel Coulby’s slapstick fall into her pie is spot on while Bradley James, Colin Morgan and Richard Wilson’s comedic timing is pretty perfect as they all stare at her and wait for it to take effect.
Hefting an unconscious Gwen in a wheelbarrow and getting out unnoticed proves to be harder than it looks. Merlin and Gaius encounter Gwaine & Mordred, the latter of which makes an excuse that they’re carrying infected linens. Gwen’s arm falls as they leave though, making Mordred do a double-take but he doesn’t say anything. In the caves, the Dochraid isn’t dead after all and chants out a spell to warn Morgana. As Merlin and Arthur make their way through the fields, Merlin says they’re being watched and Arthur believes his manservant’s “funny feelings” this time, agreeing to go a different way. As they talk and walk, Merlin falls and is rendered unconscious. Arthur goes after him but falls and his arm ends up stuck under a rock which he’s about to cut off when Mordred yells down to them.
Merlin isn’t pleased that Mordred is there and Arthur realizes that Merlin’s funny feeling about being watched as right once more. They make their way to the Cauldron and are attacked by Aithusa. To distract Arthur, both Mordred & Merlin demand he take Gwen to safety but Merlin makes Mordred stay behind so he can use his dragonlord powers to stop the young dragon. Doesn’t look like anyone but Gaius knows that Merlin is a Dragonlord. It works but Morgana blasts them from behind but only manages to knock out Mordred while Merlin runs to safety, leaving Mordred behind.
He lies to Arthur by telling them that Mordred has given them an opportunity that they cannot waste. The way Mordred has been portrayed so far is that he is good and trying to prove his loyalty so Merlin leaving him behind seems like an awful thing to do. However, don’t forget that in the opening episodes this series, Mordred left Merlin to die as well, so I guess they’re even…for now.
Morgana strokes Mordred’s face and he snaps awake asking why she hasn’t killed him. She says they’re of a kind but he disagrees and when she asks him where Emrys is, Mordred lies, saying that they’d feel the presence of such a great power. She buys it and is going to kill him as he’s now useless but he questions her motives about slaying one of her own. He plays her like a fiddle, continuing to appeal to her weakness for him – while he doesn’t have the power to defeat her, he hopes she finds the love and compassion that once used to fill her heart one day.
With that, we see Mordred’s first display of magic as an adult – he blasts her into unconsciousness. Arthur and Merlin make it to the Cauldron and Merlin makes an excuse to go transform into the Dolma, the recluse ancient sorceress meant to preform the dangerous spell to heal Gwen. Colin Morgan as a woman is the funniest thing ever – even better than Dragoon. The Dolma states the terms that Gaius said earlier – she must walk in of her own free will.
Gwen awakens and tries to fight against Arthur’s words but he reminds of her of what she said when he asked her to marry him: “With all my heart.” The words get through to her – to the part of her that hasn’t been touched by Morgana and the spell works. Before they leave, the Dolma’s only request is that he remember that magic saved his Queen. What he does forget however is Merlin and the Dolma gets quite offput at that…seeing as how she’s really Merlin in disguise. Arthur doesn’t quite understand why she’s upset but agrees to give Merlin the afternoon off in reward. She waves him off to run behind a rock and transform back – which we don’t get to see.
On the ride back to Camelot, Mordred recognizes what Merlin has done and does every day for Arthur with no reward or recognition. Merlin states that as long as his friend is safe, that’s all he wants. Mordred says they both have the future of Camelot in common. Overall, this was a decent episode that sets the story back on track for the final 4 episodes of Merlin ever.
What did you think of the episode?