Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer DVR Dump: Merlin 5.01: "Arthur's Bane Part One"

“Now more than ever, it is you and you alone who can keep Arthur safe.”
- The Great Dragon

So a couple summers ago I recapped the first season of Merlin. And as the series came to a close in season 5, I thought it fitting I should recap the show’s swan song. Much has happened since we last saw our young prince and warlock. Arthur is now king, the round table is in full swing and Arthur has finally won the heart and hand of his true love, Guinevere. Oh and Morgana is actually Uther’s daughter and has gone rather mad with power and her lust for the crown.

We begin with Merlin racing about the castle looking for someone. It turns out he’s trying to find Gwen. He runs into Arthur who berates him (somewhat jokingly) about not being good at anything. Gwen appears with her maid servant and the boys calm down. They head into a meeting of the Round Table where we learn Sir Gwaine headed off with a group of knights to check out land to the north but they went missing. And there are rumors that Morgana is back in play (after 3 years of peace and prosperity). We see she is indeed making trouble by capturing all of the knights and putting them to work in underground caves digging, looking for the Diamar, a mystical key of infinite knowledge. Morgana believes this will tell her Arthur’s bane.

Meanwhile, back in Camelot, Gwen suggests Arthur and his new batch of knights approach the snowy death factory from the west. Morgana wouldn’t expect them to go that way. Yeah, something tells me it’s not going to be so easy. I do like that Gwen has grown as a woman and that Arthur truly values her opinion. The knights head out towards the west while Gwaine and Percival chat about Morgana’s plan (aka what she’s got them searching for). As Arthur and company search a village full of dead bodies, Merlin happens upon a man who appears dead. He comes to life and tells Merlin to be fearful of Arthur’s bane and shows him a vision of a gruesome battle where Arthur is wounded by a young man. That night, Merlin has a hilltop chat with the Great Dragon and learns that the man was a powerful druid sorcerer whose prophecies are legend and that it wasn’t a chance Merlin found him.

The knights make it to Queen Annis (an ally of Camelot) and Arthur learns his men may still be alive since Morgana is tearing the old castle apart. Seeking to lighten the mood, Annis requests Merlin perform for them (assuming he is also a jester). With the help of a little magic, he wows everyone with juggling. That night he’s less than thrilled with his impromptu comedy act. Back in Camelot, Gwen shares a meal with her serving girl. That doesn’t surprise me at all that she would be willing to sit and talk with a servant, given her roots. That night, her servant steals out of the city and meets up with a druid (the one Morgana is working with). He is also the girl’s father. She clues him in to Arthur’s plan to approach from the west and he rides off to let Morgana know. As Arthur and company ride out after a rest at Annis’ castle, Morgana orders her men to prepare for battle. Uh oh. I sense some uber sibling rivalry about to rear its ugly head!

Merlin is extra broody that night as he sits apart from the group. He is clearly worried that Arthur is charging ahead into Morgana’s clutches and its now Merlin’s responsibility to keep him safe. Since we’ve last seen Morgana, her magic has grown. Of course Merlin’s has also but they’re definitely a closer match these days. Arthur tries to explain that he can’t abandon his men because they are more than friends and brothers. Besides, they’d do the same for him. Merlin understands Arthur’s reasons. He just doesn’t want them to go forward. One thing that I find interesting is how they can now really mix in the serious emotional stuff with the lighter fluffy stuff. You wouldn’t catch these two having such a conversation back in season 1 (or even season 2).

Gwen sort of confronts her servant about seeing her slip out of town the previous night but acts like she thinks it was to see a lover. I can’t quite tell if Gwen is faking it or if she really doesn’t suspect the treachery going on under her nose. Speaking of crazy magical people, Morgana rides out and ambushes the knights. Arthur, seeing his knights in trouble, races into help but gets knocked down with a mace looking thing. As always, Merlin races to his rescue and uses a little magic to get them to safety. You would think, even if Arthur is only semi-conscious, he would hear Merlin mumbling weird words and get that something hinky was going on. But alas, our King is clueless. Arthur comes around the next morning and insists they go in search of the others. We cut to the caves where Gwaine sees a shiny blue light further in the cave. Something tells me following the pretty glowey light is not a good idea. Though I did not mind the slew of shirtless hotties populating that cave!

As I predicted, Gwaine’s trip into the cave proves unfortunate for him. The Saxon guards follow him in and beat the crap out of him. The glowing light turns out to be a creature that’s kind of translucent and it slowly starts to heal him. Meanwhile, Leon and company make it back to Camelot and fill Gwen in on the ambush. She determines it was her servant who betrayed them and sentences her to death for treason. As Arthur and Merlin continue their trek to rescue the rest of his men, Merlin imparts the warnings the old man gave him. Arthur isn’t bothered (after all it came from the lips of a sorcerer so how trustworthy can they be). In true Merlin fashion, he starts getting hungry, sees some rabbits and makes for them. Arthur fails to stop him (but they do get caught in a net). This is where Colin and Bradley shine in comedic acting. I laughed the whole scene. Until the burly Scottish guy cuts them loose and threatens to kill them. Fortunately for them, a young man arrives and says they should let Morgana decide their fate. It is the same young man from the vision Merlin saw and he is none other than Mordred (grown quite a lot since last we saw him making trouble). As if Merlin didn’t have enough to worry about with that vision. Now he knows he could have prevented Arthur’s death if he’d just let Uther kill the kid way back in season 1. This is going to make things very interesting.

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