Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer DVR Dump: Merlin 5.10: "The Kindness of Strangers"

“But if she can truly help me protect Arthur from Mordred and I refuse to go, would all not be lost then, too?”
- Merlin

We begin again at night in the woods. A man is running, being chased by dogs. Morgana comes into view and with a little magic the man is apprehended. It turns out his name is Alator and we’ve met him before. A few seasons ago Morgana kidnapped Gaius and used Alator to discover Emrys’s identity (or at least that was the plan. Alator reneged on his deal with Morgana). But she’s persistent so she’s going to find out what he knows whether he likes it or not.

The next morning, Arthur and Gwen head out to the forest for a picnic and as Merlin is setting up the plates and blanket and everything, Arthur tosses a water skin in Merlin’s direction. It flies over his head and goes off to get it but finds marks on a tree. After returning to Camelot, they find refugees from Oden’s land in a town called Helva. Magic was involved and it sparks some curiosity I Merlin. If Morgana was there, why would she attack her own kind? It becomes clear when he returns to the woods and finds an overturned cart and a document bearing Alator’s signature. She’s up to her old tricks again. Back in Morgana’s hide out, she taunts Alator. Sure he’s trained to resist all kind of physical torture but psychological, he can’t separate his mind from his mind. She pulls out a snake (I’m pretty sure she used it on Merlin at one point) which causes extreme pain.

Back in Camelot, Arthur wants to surprise Gwen with breakfast in bed. But being all royal and what not, he can’t do it so he sends Merlin to fetch the food and flowers. He’s out in the woods gathering said flowers when a woman stops him. She’s clearly got magic (as she knows his real name) and she asks him to meet her that night I some ruins if he values keeping Arthur alive. Merlin delivers breakfast (sans flowers) before heading off home to Gaius to show him the drawing of the mark on her wrist. Gaius says she’s a powerful priestess and he fears that Morgana has already learned Merlin’s identity from Alator and this woman is just the bait to draw Merlin into a trap. Merlin doesn’t believe she means him harm. But he sort of promises Gaius he’ll drop it. This doesn’t stop Gaius from going to Arthur and warning him about the woman. So Arthur interrupts some knightly horseplay in the armory to give Mordred a little side task. The woman may not be all she seems as she calls the bird that usually carries messages to Morgana (and while casting whatever spell she’s working, specifically mentions Morgana’s name). That evening, Merlin is rather sullen and Gaius asks if he still plans to go see the woman. Merlin denies it but of course he’s going.

He finds the woman and after he learns that Alator is her master and she is trying to warn him of the coming battle, the knights happen upon them. Merlin takes them out with magic and promises to find the woman when he can. Meanwhile, her letter arrives and we see she really is on Merlin’s side. Unfortunately, Morgana’s men find the letter and they head off to hunt her down as Morgana kills Alator. She figures she can break his acolyte easily. Arthur ends up chastising the knights for failing to capture an old woman. He sends them out to double patrols and Gaius ends up apologizing to Merlin for ratting out the woman to Arthur. Merlin heads off and he starts following her trial marked by magic burned into trees when Percival finds him. The knights can’t let him leave until the sorcerer is found. He does manage to slink off the next morning before dawn. Well, after getting caught by Mordred who lets him go. I really have to wonder if Merlin’s attitude towards Mordred is part of what ultimately drives him away from Camelot (sorry, minor spoiler there).

As Merlin takes off again, Morgana and her men pick up the woman’s trail. So now it becomes a race against time. Merlin gets to the woman first but they’re interrupted again, this time by Morgana’s men. They fight the men off but Merlin is wounded. The woman says there is a watchtower nearby that should be safe. Morgana arrives on scene to find the blood trail. She’s getting excited now. Merlin and the woman make it to the tower but Merlin is growing weaker. She explains that she’s helping him because she believes if Merlin dies, Arthur cannot bring about the new world they all hope for. She gives him a box which contains a prophecy. And she warns that Merlin cannot trust Mordred. See I really think if people just gave Mordred a chance, he’d be fine.

Anyway, the woman knows the end is near and sends Merlin up to the roof. She keeps his sword to face off against Morgana but it is not as a defense. She will not reveal who Emrys is or where he is. She runs herself through with the sword before Morgana can do anything to do her. They burn her body and as night falls, Merlin tries to call the Great Dragon to him. He passes out but his magic was enough. The dragon saves him (including healing his wound) but the creature has grown old and tired. Merlin offers to heal him but there are some things that shouldn’t be meddled with, including the cycle of life. The dragon tells Merlin to remember him when he’s finally gone. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Great Dragon to be honest. Merlin gets back to Camelot and Gaius reads the prophecy. Arthur will meet his doom at Camlaan.

And if that isn’t bad enough, the knights carry in one of their own with skin grown over his entire face. Gaius has seen it before. It’s a warning and a declaration of war. Morgana means business. It would appear Arthur may be journeying to his death sooner than he would think.

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