Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer TV Rewind: Merlin 1.07: "The Gates of Avalon"

It's time once again for another installment of Sarah's Summer TV Rewind of Merlin series 1...


“An immortal life for my daughter is all that I desire, so I promise you the soul of the greatest prince of all- Arthur Pendragon.”
- Aulfric

We begin with a figure in armor floating in rather murky, gross water. It quickly becomes evident that the figure is actually sinking and in fact, it’s Arthur. He looks rather peaceful as he drowns, a pretty young girl standing over him. Just as Arthur disappears from view, Morgana wakes from a nightmare, calling Arthur’s name. Suffice it to say, it can’t be good.

Arthur and Merlin are out hunting in the woods (Merlin is carrying the silliest looking dead rabbits), well okay Arthur is trying to hunt and Merlin’s interrupting his focus when they happen upon some thugs attacking an old man and his young daughter. Being the great guy that he is, Arthur sweeps in to save the day. Merlin helps a little by making a tree branch fall on one guy, but obviously Arthur’s too busy to notice. Once the thugs have been thoroughly dispatched, Arthur introduces himself to the would-be victims and we discover the young girl is the very same one from Morgana’s nightmare. Not surprisingly, Arthur brings the pair back to Camelot and we learn that they are Aulfric and Sophia Tiamore. Uther insists they stay in Camelot a while to break their journey and they willingly accept. As they leave the throne room, Sophia gives Arthur a little smile and it’s clear he’s falling for her. In his chambers, he not only allows Merlin to talk him into putting Sophia in the next room, but he changes his jacket twice. It was more an amusing visual bit of comedy than anything else.

Merlin settles Sophia into her room just as Morgana walks by. There’s a slow motion approach where the two women eye each other. Morgana says that Sophia can’t stay in Camelot and immediately seeks out Gaius. She tells him about her nightmare in which Arthur drowned while Sophia watched but Gaius convinces her it was nothing more than a dream and that there is nothing to be worried about. He gives her a stronger sleeping draught and sends her on her way. But, it’s clear by his facial expression, he suspects it’s more than just a dream. Morgana is beginning to come into her magic.

Night falls and Aulfric heads to the woods to confront the only thug that managed to survive (by running like a scared little girl). It turns out Aulfric set the whole thing up to lure Arthur into finding them. He promptly kills the thug with some incanted words and a blast from his fancy magic staff. Meanwhile, back at the castle, Morgana has the dream again of Arthur dying again.

The next morning, Arthur begs Merlin to lie to Uther about Arthur’s whereabouts because he’s promised Sophia he’d take her out for a ride that morning. Merlin’s not entirely sure he can or should lie to the King, but when Arthur says Merlin would be a friend for life if he did, he’s more than happy to. As Arthur and Sophia ride out from the castle, Morgana and Gwen watch. Gwen thinks Morgana should tell Uther what she’s seen but Morgana says Uther fears and loathes magic more than he cares for her. Morgana is convinced she’s going to have to stop Sophia on her own.

Merlin’s plan to lie for Arthur is rather amusing. He catches Uther as it appears he’s coming from the loo (evidenced by Uther situating his belt). Uther asks where Arthur is and Merlin insists that he forgot to tell Arthur he was on duty. Of course, Merlin ends up in the stocks for his troubles. Out in the forest, Sophia is about to put her magical whammy on Arthur when they’re interrupted by guards searching for the bandits. One of the guards shoots an arrow at them (before realizing it was Arthur) and Arthur manages to get Sophia out of the way before she’s hit. Arthur is rather pissed off at this and goes on a small rant to the guards while Sophia looks equally pissed off that she was interrupted. They return to Camelot and part ways for the night. I have to say the outfit they have Sophia in is gorgeous. Her cloak is kind of a golden amber color and it’s just beautiful. Merlin tells Gaius about covering for Arthur and Gaius does his best not to sounds too suspicious but he heads off to check out Aulfric’s room and finds his magic staff. Aulfric shows up and kind of scares Gaius off. We have another meeting of Morgana and Sophia and this time the claws come out. Morgana tells Sophia in no uncertain terms that if anything happens to Arthur, she’ll find Sophia no matter how long it takes. Sophia, equally as catty, dares Morgana to try and stop her.

Sophia returns to her father’s room and explains that she was interrupted. She complains about almost dying and having Arthur save her. She wants to be immortal again. Aulfric impresses upon her that she needs to finish her enchantment of Arthur the following day so that they can complete the ritual and return to their immortal forms.

Once again, Merlin covers for Arthur so he can go spend time with Sophia. Merlin ends up in the stocks, yet again. Back in the woods, Sophia manages to finish the whammy on Arthur, complete with creepy glowing red eyes. Merlin gets back from his fruit-filled day and he and Gaius have an interesting chat about Morgana. Gaius reveals his fear that Morgana is a seer. Which is pretty damn obvious. Merlin isn’t going to tell anyone, he knows how dangerous sharing such a gift would be. By nightfall, Sophia and Arthur have returned and Sophia is convincing Arthur to seek permission from Uther for them to marry so they’ll never be apart. She does some more magic and seals it with a kiss, which leaves Arthur kind of wonky.

Sophia reports her success to Aulfric who races off to speak with the Sidhe Elders. Merlin follows him. Aulfric summons the Elders which honestly were really good CGI and costuming. Merlin uses a little magic to slow everything down so he can actually see the little fairies flitting about in the lake. He’s pretty impressed until he hears Aulfric’s conversation with one of the Elders. Aulfric wants back into Avalon but the Elder refuses, saying his punishment for killing another of their kind is a mortal life and a mortal body. However, Sophia can return if they offer up the soul of a mortal prince. Guess we know what they need Arthur for.

Merlin reports back to Gaius, who is convinced Merlin actually saw Avalon. Now, that may not seem all that impressive, but Gaius claims mortals only glimpse it in the moment before death. Clearly that doesn’t apply to Merlin because he’s still alive and kicking. Unfortunately, if Aulfric and Sophia have their way, Arthur wont’ be alive much longer. Merlin and Gaius decide that Arthur has definitely been enchanted, and they have to save him before Morgana’s dream comes true.

Meanwhile, Arthur seeks an audience with his father to seek permission to marry Sophia. Given the fact that Arthur is loopy on magic, it can’t possibly end well. And it doesn’t. First, Uther thinks it’s a big joke and has a good laugh. Then, when Arthur insists that he’s serious and that he’s going to marry Sophia whether Uther (and Morgana) likes it or not, Uther has Sophia and Aulfric arrested. He lets them go when Arthur shows some respect. During a rather nicely shot walk-and-talk, Morgana presses upon Uther that the situation is serious. Uther, in typical fashion, doesn’t believe it. He says Arthur needs to learn some lessons on his own. Morgana comes awfully close to telling him about her prophetic dream but doesn’t.

Things go downhill rapidly from here. Merlin tries to tell Arthur that he’s enchanted, but the enchantment blinds him from reason. Sophia and her father arrive and Aulfric blasts Merlin with his staff. Arthur’s rather confused and conflicted and has some massive eye twitching before they take off to the lake from some princely drowning. Sophia has an emotional goodbye with her father before she and Arthur walk into the lake. It wouldn’t be an episode of “Merlin” if Merlin didn’t secretly save the day. He races to the lake and uses Aulfric’s staff to destroy him. Sophia already has Arthur under the water by this point when Merlin takes her out, too. Then it’s diving into murky water to save Arthur’s sorry butt, again.

When Arthur comes to the next morning, Gaius and Merlin feed him a somewhat trumped up story about eloping with Sophia and Merlin having to club Arthur over the head to get him back to Camelot safely. We get some more entertaining banter when Arthur has failed to show up for his shift yet again. Uther wonders whether Merlin has some sort of mental affliction. Gaius says he’s looking into it. Merlin ends up in the stocks again and I really do have to wonder whether he does actually enjoy it. Morgana visits that evening for another sleeping draught. She can never know that her dream nearly came true. If she has magic, it could greatly endanger her life. And thus we find ourselves primed and ready for the next round of magical mayhem in Camelot.

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