This episode opens with Arthur in full armor sinking beneath some spectacularly lit water with a beautiful young woman watching him drown, followed quickly by Morgana waking from a nightmare looking exceptionally gorgeous and not at all like anyone I’ve ever seen wake from a nightmare. But we can’t all be as freaking gorgeous as Katie McGrath. And also acting.
After the credits, Arthur and Merlin are hunting in the woods when they hear a woman scream and they find brigands attacking an older man and a young woman. Arthur leaps into the fray and beats fights off (confession time – I actually typed beats off before I corrected it) the bad guys (Merlin helps with a magical falling branch) and Arthur takes the travelers back to Camelot where Uther agrees to take them in. Now, Uther is suspicious of literally EVERYTHING being magic - but the two very wizardy looking staffs Aulfric and Sophia are carrying don’t set off any bells? I’m so disappointed in you, Uther.
Arthur and Merlin have a discussion about where to place Sophia (the choices being in the room next to Arthur’s and across the castle) and Arthur waffles back and forth about where to put her – where he wants her (in the room next to him) or where she’d be warmest, safest, etc. (across the castle). Merlin, knowing Arthur is crushing on Sophia, convinces him that the room next door is perfect. As Merlin his putting Sophia in the room next to Arthur’s, Morgana rounds the corner sees Sophia and flips shit (quietly and regally, of course) and immediately questions Merlin about Sophia’s identity. Morgana goes to Gaius to tell her about her dream and that she feels Arthur is in danger. Gaius totally blows her off and tells her that she’s imagining things and offers her a stronger sleeping draught for her nightmares. At first the viewer thinks that Gaius is just a doddering old fool – but then he tells Morgana not to bother Uther with this. What’s up with that, Gaius – this seems a little sketch.
That evening we see one of the brigands sitting by a fire and Aulfric approaches and he apologizes for Arthur killing his buddies then he uses his super wizardy looking staff to kill him. Morgana wakes from yet another nightmare of Arthur drowning. Meanwhile, Arthur is telling Merlin he needs him to cover for him because he’s ditching the patrol with his father and the guard in favor of taking Sophia on a riding tour of Camelot. Merlin’s not down with lying to the king, but Arthur talks him into it. The end result is that Merlin cops to something that’s not his fault and ends up in the stocks being pelted with fruit and veggies.
While Arthur and Sophia are our on their walk, Sophia begins to cast a spell, but they’re interrupted by Camelot’s guard who’s out searching for the brigand’s that had attacked Sophia and Aulfirc. Arthur cuts their date short and brings her back to the castle. When Merlin explains to Gaius that it’s love at first site for Arthur, Gaius get suspicious and sneaks into Aulfric’s room. He gets caught by Aulfric checking out the wizardy staff and Aulfric is not pleased and his eyes change color.
As Sophia heads back to her room, she runs into Morgana who confronts her about her plans for Arthur. Sophia gets a little sassy and taunts Morgana about her attraction to Arthur. Sophia returns to her room and has an exposition-heavy conversation with her father about how she doesn’t want to be mortal a moment longer and he reassures her saying that once she has Arthur’s heart, the Gates of Avalon will open for them again, and they’ll be able to go home. Morgana talks to Arthur about Sophia and Arthur is Assy McAsserton to her, insinuating that she’s jealous of his affection for Sophia. Morgana says that she’s trying to protect him, then she tells him about the dream and Arthur actually laughs at her and then blows her off.
The next morning, Arthur decides to ditch a knighting ceremony – because Sophia. Merlin covers for him and ends up in the stocks getting pelted by food. Again. Cut to Arthur and Sophia running through the forest giggling. Then she turns on him and enchants him. Merlin goes back to his room covered in drying food and Gaius scolds him for helping Arthur - not because Arthur is ditching his duties, but because Sophia might not be who she says she is. Gaius tells Merlin about Morgana’s dream and that she's a seer. And that he'd seen Aulfric's eyes change color.
Sophia continues her enchantment of Arthur and convinces him that he needs to seek permission for them to marry. Merlin catches Aulfric sneaking out of the castle and follows him to a lake where Merlin sees the Sidhe - small, homely blue fae type creatures that rise up out of the water to talk to Aulfric. As it turns out, Aulfric is a Sidhe but he killed another of his kind and is now being punished by living in the world as a mortal. His daughter is being punished as well. Merlin, as always, almost gets caught, but manages to evade both Aulfroc and the Sidhe. The only way they can return to Avalon is to give the Sidhe a human prince's soul. And of course, that soul is Arthur's.
When Arthur says they're going to marry, Uther laughs and then there's a big old standoff between him and Arthur and Uther threatens to have Sophia and her father executed if Arthur doesn't get his shit together and show him some respect. Arthur backs down and so does Uther. Morgana follows Uther out into the hallways as he's giving a cursory glance at some super official looking papers.Morgana tries to explain that Sophia is dangerous Uther blows her off (are we seeing a theme here?) and completely dismisses her and her concerns.
Merlin goes to Arthur's chambers where he's in his armor and packing his bags. Merlin tries to talk some sense into him and Arthur isn't having it. He's nasty and belittles Merlin. Merlin tells him he's enchanted and intended to be a sacrifice. Aulfric and Sophia walk in and Merlin confronts them. Aulfric attacks Merlin with his super nifty wizardy staff and knocks him unconscious.
That night, Morgana looks out the window and sees Arthur riding away with Aulfric and Sophia. She runs to Gaius for help. Gaius convinces her not to tell Uther and goes off to find Merlin to fix this. He finds Merlin in Arthur's chambers. Merlin leaves Camelot and runs endlessly through the woods.
Sophia is upset because she finds out her father can't return to Avalon with her. But she leads Arthur into the water to sacrifice him and return home. Merlin reaches them while Aulfric chants a spell. Sophia kisses Arthur, he falls unconscious and she pushes him into the water where he does a nifty slo-mo fall to the sounds of swelling orchestral music.
He finally reaches the lake as Arthur has disappeared under the water. He sinks more slowly than you'd expect for someone wearing chain mail. Merlin magics Sophia's discarded wizardy staff into his hands and blows up her father with its magic. He quickly does the same to Sophia. Then he races into the water to save Arthur. After a few harrowing dives, he finally finds Arthur and pulls him up to the surface.
The next scene opens with Merlin and Gaius sitting by Arthur's bed as he finally regains consciousness and wakes with a horrible headache. They convince Arthur that Merlin knocked out Arthur with a lump of wood to keep him from eloping with Sophia. And all of this ends up with Merlin in the stocks again.
The episode closes with Morgana going to Gaius for another sleeping draught and after she leaves, Gaius basically tells Merlin that Morgana can never know that her dream was true and the fact that she's a seer must be hidden from her at all cost. Way to make a girl feel like she's going crazy, Gaius. I know he thinks this will protect her - but nope. Not even a little.
1. If I’d written this episode, I'd have changed the Arthur confronting Uther scene. Actually, I would have deleted it altogether. Seriously, why do this? She's enchanted him to leave with her so she can sacrifice him. Why have the big "Dad, you just don't understand" scene when it serves no purpose?
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. It's weird - I remembered liking this episode more the first time around than I did this time, and I can't think of anything I loved. There are lots of things I hated though, but the biggest is how everyone - literally everyone but Gwen discounted everything Morgana had to say and either reduced it to tricks of her mind or petty jealousy. That was for shit, people of Camelot. Okay, I guess I love that Gwen didn't do that to her.
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. The eyeroll look Uther shoots Morgana in the aforementioned unnecessary scene.
4. Favorite Costume. Sophia's fancy hair wins favorite costume this week.
4. Favorite Costume. Sophia's fancy hair wins favorite costume this week.
5. Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Since my head canon involves Uther and Morgana – what the hell is going on in this episode? Morgana is sitting in the other throne at Uther's side as if she's his queen. Again, their conversations are as peers and not liege and ward.
6. What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? This was yet another not very Merthur-y episode - but the interplay with Merlin and Arthur discussing Sophia in the beginning - basically because Merlin is all wide eyed and flirty. It's possible that I'm seeing subtext where's there's none, but I stand by it.
7. What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? Gaius knowing exactly what's going one with Morgana but refuses to clue her in and lies to her and attempts to drug her abilities away and make her think she's losing it.
You can read Jess' recap here and Jen's recap here! And you can join us for Merlin Club on Twitter on Monday nights at 8pm EST - #MerlinClub