So, this episode starts out with a baby in a fantastic wooden cradle (that I covet but can't find a damn picture of) near an open window. A little blue fairy dude(one of the sidhe) flies through the window and casts a spell on the sleeping baby.
Several years later, we see an adorably awkward, unkempt, rather derpy princess clomping down some castle steps barefoot and bemoaning her fate to her father, the king, about having to wear shoes and ride in a carriage to Camelot instead of on horseback as she’d prefer.
I like her already.
Meanwhile, back in Camelot, Uther is almost giddily explaining to Arthur that his BFF, King Godwin, is bringing his daughter, Princess Elena to Camelot for Arthur to meet and marry. Uther seems incredibly enamored with Godwin. Enough so, I’m pretty sure he was hoping for another love match besides Arthur and Elena. And poor Elena falls flat on her face when she steps forward to meet Arthur.
Later Arthur is talking to Gwen and confesses that his father hopes to see him and Elena wed. It doesn’t go over well. Later that evening, Merlin is picking up Arthur’s room and teasing him when Uther shows up to browbeat Arthur some more about marrying Elena, becoming King and keeping Camelot safe.
In Elena’s chambers, she’s having a nightmare. Her nurse Grunhilda comforts her and sprinkles some glitter on her face because glitter fixes everything. And while Elena continues to sleep, we see the face of a sidhe emerge beneath her skin. Then she calms and continues sleeping.
Grunhilda sneaks out of Camelot and goes to a nearby pond where the sidhe live and reveals her true form. She’s got a giant nose, huge pointy ears and her face is covered with huge black warts. Turns out she’s a minion of the sidhe and their plan is to get the sidhe changling (Elena) on the throne of Camelot.
The next day, Arthur and Elena go riding with Merlin following behind with a picnic lunch. They get along, but there’s no spark and it ends with a super awkward hug on Elena’s part once they’re back at Camelot.
That evening, there’s a feast. Elena is uncouth and Morgana is a little judgey. Meanwhile, Grunhilda clearly has the hots for Gaius and sits next to him and lets him know that she’s available and willing if he’s interested. He is not.
That evening, when Grunhilda is helping Elena get ready for bed, Elena tells her nurse that she doesn’t feel like she’s the perfect princess and expresses doubts about the marriage. But Grunhilda soothes her and tells her not to worry. And to cheer her up, she pulls out a silver box. Inside is a live frog. And it does cheer up Elena because she eats it.
The next day, Merlin is out in the forest gathering herbs, and he sees Grunhilda and follows her. Because he’s a creeper like that. He sees her super long purple tongue flick out and slurp up flies. He tells Gaius about it who goes to search Elena’s chamber. He finds the bag of glitter and is surprised by the return of Grunhilda. She thinks he’s there for sexy times, but he not so deftly avoids it. However, he has figured out that Grunhilda is a pixie (from the glitter) and he knows that pixies are servants of the sidhe.
At supper that evening, Arthur, Uther and Morgana are eating and Gwen is serving them. There is a LOT of fruit. And cheese. And Uther is once again, wearing his leather gloves to eat. Arthur tells Uther that he doesn’t want to marry Elena because he doesn’t love her. Gwen and Arthur make some eye contact and Morgana notices it and, predictably, smirks.
Elena has another nightmare and creeper Merlin peeks in her window and sees Grunhilda using the magic glitter on her and he sees the sidhe trapped within her. He also makes a bunch of noise and knocks shit over in the hall and Grunhilda sees him running away. He tells Gaius and they start studying sidhe magic to come up with a plan to get the fairy out of Elena.
The next morning, Morgana spots Arthur out the window and tells Gwen how bad she feels that Arthur will be forced into a marriage he doesn’t want. Morgana also “guesses” at the relationship between Arthur and Gwen and purposely digs the metaphorical knife in a little deeper. For no other reason than to be mean. And there’s also a smirk when Gwen hastily leaves the room.
Gwen goes to Arthur’s room and they have a gut-wrenching conversation about why their love can’t be. And Arthur looks so fucking sad and heartbroken that it hurts to watch. Shortly after that, Arthur proposes to Elena in front of everyone – including Gwen.
Merlin returns with a difficult to find flower that only grows in the middle of bogs and Gaius uses it to brew up a cure for the sidhe that’s living in Elena. Before they can use it, Grunhilde goes to the sidhe lord and tells him that Merlin knows what’s up. The sidle lord comes to Camelot to attack and kill Merlin, but Merlin still has a sidhe staff from the last time he fought one of them, and there’s a big old magical fight in which a bunch of Gaius’ stuff is destroyed including the cure for Elena.
The morning of the wedding is here and Elena is having second thoughts. She’s not in love with Arthur and she knows that Arthur isn’t in love with her. Grunhilda insists that respect is more important than love.
Gaius brews up another batch of the potion and lures Grunhilda to the basement of the castle for sexy times, and then Merlin locks her in. Gaius and Merlin run back to Elena to get her to drink the potion, but Grunhilda escapes and has a magical battle with Merlin in the hallway. He uses the sidhe staff and kills her. Then he runs in the room, plugs Elena’s nose and pours the potion down her throat. She passes out, the sidhe is expelled and Merlin kills that one, too.
Elena wakes up, feels great – better than she has in years. Merlin goes to Arthur and brings him his ceremonial sword for the wedding. Arthur is clearly upset and Merlin asks what’s wrong and Arthur responds that he wouldn’t understand what it’s like to have a destiny. But Merlin does and clearly illustrates it. Arthur is somewhat comforted and then asks Merlin what he should do. Merlin says that marrying for any reason other than love is wrong and that an unhappy king isn’t what Camelot needs.
The guards come to escort Arthur to the wedding. And King Godwin escorts Elena. Geoffrey starts the ceremony and when it’s Arthur’s turn he tells Elena that he can’t marry her, she agrees, Godwin looks bemused and Uther is about to have a rage induced aneurism.
Godwin and Elena prepare to leave, still wondering what happened to Grunhilda. Uther is still furious at Arthur, but Godwin tells him that he shouldn’t punish Arthur – that Arthur did the right thing and will make a good king.
And there’s a brief bit of flirting between Gwen and Arthur at the end.
Okay...now for the questions.
1. If I’d written this episode...I would have found another way to do away with Elena's nursemaid. This is the woman that raised her, and who seemed to have genuine affection for her. I really disliked that Merlin was so "too-bad-so-sad" about it. Like it meant nothing to him to basically kill a mother who was (in her eyes) defending her child. After all, she had no idea what Merlin and Gaius were going to do to Elena.
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved the heartbreaking conversation between Gwen and Arthur about not being able to be together. Hated how absolutely hurtful (and very un-Morgana-like) Morgana was to Gwen about Arthur needing to marry Elena. That was awful.
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.Jen pointed this out while we were watching, but how reminiscent some of the music was to the main Beetlejuice theme.
4. Favorite Costume. This week I have to give it to Gwen's pink dress - even though I loathe the color pink. But that style is gorgeous.
5. Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. I didn't create it, but I remain convinced that Uther and Godwin are more than BFFs.
6. What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? I think it was when Merlin was talking to Arthur about destiny and Arthur was really truly seeing Arthur. However, in Jess' head, the whole marrying for love thing involved Merlin...not Gwen.
7. What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? Merlin just up and killing Elena's only mother-figure like it was NBD and Elena never finding out what happened to the woman who raised her. .