Written by: Jake Michie
Directed By: Justin Molotnikov
Brought to you by OBS Staff Member Karolina
Picture: BBC Merlin
“There’s a chill in the air tonight”, a man from an unknown village proclaims to his amused wife. She teases him as he stokes the fire – as this has been his proclamation for the past 30 years. They smile the gentle smile of a couple who knows each other well – their peace, however, is broken by a terrifying scream. The wife begs John (the man’s name, apparently) not to venture out, but he states that he is the village elder, so he must. Out he goes into the night, bearing a torch alone. He finds one of his villagers, catatonic, and hears an ominous rustling in the bushes.
Later, Gwen is folding clothes and is visited by an old friend , Mary (John’s wife). Mary tells Gwen of her and John’s distress, and Gwen promptly takes her friend to Arthur. Mary tells Arthur of a “sickness” that is plaguing their village of Longstead, that has infected several men. Arthur promises that he will do whatever is in his power to help.
He goes to Gaius, who has been inundated with people suffering from the sweating sickness, and states that he cannot go – but suggests Merlin in his stead. Arthur is incredulous, but Gaius is steadfast in his faith in Merlin, even to Merlin himself. Gaius packs his own medical bag for Merlin to take with him – and off Merlin rides with Gwen, Mary and the Knights of Camelot towards Longstead.
When they arrive, they are greeted by John, who hugs Gwen, but is very disappointed by the lack of Gaius. Elyan jumps in to the defense of Merlin, and Gwen tries to assure her friends that Merlin comes with the recommendation of King Arthur himself (weird that Elyan doesn’t know John and Mary.) Merlin is led to the catatonic men puts on the airs of being a physician, and, once Gwen and John leave to get supplies, he attempts to use magic to cure one of the men, to no avail.
Merlin, slightly distressed, watches over the ill men that night. He hears something rustling outside, so he goes to investigate – and almost brains Gwaine (who is answering the call of nature) with a fishing rod.
The next morning, Merlin tells a worried Gwen that there is no change in the men’s status – he repeats this to John, and states that he thinks that something else is at work. John says that he was worried that it could be sorcery, and recounts the rustling and the feeling of evil he had encountered when he found the men. Merlin tells Gwen that they need Gaius.
On their way back to Camelot, Merlin, the knights and Gwen encounter a group of bandits. Gwaine spies them accosting a young lady, and leaps to her rescue, followed by the other knights. They soon disperse the bandits, and Percival is found cradling the young woman to his chest. Merlin moves to check her vitals, and as soon as he touches her, she lets out a blood curdling scream. The girl tells Gwen that her name is Lamia, and that she had been captured by the bandits. Merlin once again moves to help her, only for her to cower away. Leon steadies Merlin and states that if she is well enough to ride, they must move. Percival becomes Lamia’s self appointed protector, and when they stop to set up camp, he barks harshly at Merlin to stay away when he moves to help her from the horse. Gwen tries to console Merlin, who doesn’t look convinced at Gwen’s excuse that Percival is just tired.
In the night, Percival hears Lamia weeping and hugs her tight, but as they embrace, Lamia’s eyes transform and become reptilian. Before she can do anything though, Merlin interrupts, and is once again ignored by Percival.
Back in Camelot, Arthur worries about his men, Gwen and Merlin, as they have been gone for two days. . Gaius is now available again, and Arthur tells the old physician that they must ride for Longstead at first light.
At Lamia’s request, the knights agree to escort her home, rather than go back to Camelot to fetch Gaius, much to Gwen and Merlin’s dismay. When Merlin reminds them that they need to fetch help for the people of Longstead, the knights , one by one, turn on Merlin. Leon finally sneers that Merlin is not a knight, not even a physician, and is nothing but a servant. Gwen tries to talk some reason into the boys, but is told to stay out of it by Elyan. Affronted, Gwen looks back at a befuddled and frustrated Merlin.
When Arthur’s party rides out, they discover a string of fallen bodies – a band of slave-traders have been defeated, but , as Arthur and Gaius observe they do not have a scratch on them. Nearby, a carriage lies wrecked – and Gaius reveals that something has escaped from within.
A noise is heard, and it is revealed that one trader is still alive and Arthur decides to take the man with them, in hopes that he can shed some light on what is going on. Meanwhile, Lamia’s influence over the knights grows, with a jealous Leon and Gwaine coming to blows, and Merlin reprimanding them like children (which was incredibly funny).
Arthur and his convoy arrive in Longstead, but find no sign of the missing parties. Gaius inspects the sick and confirms Merlin’s diagnosis – that magic is the culprit.
Merlin and Gwen have a rushed discussion that leads them to believe that Lamia may be the culprit of the knights ill behaviour, which leads to the next scene …
When the slave-trader recovers, he reveals a story that Gaius retells Arthur. That he and his men became enchanted by Lamia – fights and quarrels broke out amongst them. Lamia is not the girl’s name, but her race. It is revealed that in the dark times of the old religion, the blood of a girl was mingled with that of a serpent – the result, Lamia. Lamia is able to suck the life from a man with a single embrace, Gaius states that a Lamia has the power to transform at will, usually hideous monsters.
That night, Lamia is found by Elyan; whom she slowly seduces, and they kiss. Elyan falls to the ground, weak and defenceless.
In the morning, Merlin, Gwen and the knights wake to find Elyan gone. Leon takes Merlin and the other knights to look for him, while Lamia creepily tells Gwen not to worry, as they would find her brother soon enough.
Meanwhile, Arthur has caught his wandering knights trail East (away from Camelot) and begins to follow.
The other Knights find Elyan’s body. Panicked, Gwen tells Merlin that she knows that Lamia is responsible for her brother’s state. The knights are still insistent to follow Lamia however, despite Merlin and Gwen’s arguments to the contrary. They realise that they cannot reason with the knights, Merlin comes up with the idea to leave a trail for Arthur, knowing that the King would have been alerted to something being wrong. They decide that the best course of action is to to leave behind strips of Gwen’s tunic as a trail for Arthur, which he does, eventually – spurred on by his need to get to Gwen (much to Agravaine’s annoyance).
On their way to the castle suggested by the Lamia, the knights descend into a dark cave. Merlin tries to appeal to Percival for some sanity, but is told that no one cares for his opinion, and that he should keep his mouth shut, or Percival would shut it for him. Lamia suddenly vanishes. They soon find themselves in a grim chamber littered with skeletons. Merlin tries to warn them that Lamia has led the group into a trap, but the knights reject this, as they have every other time Merlin has opened his mouth this episode, and Leon throws Merlin to the ground.
Leon and Percival set off in search of Lamia . And abuse Merlin. Gwaine stays with Gwen, Merlin and Elyan. He goes off to hunt for wood to build a fire, but not after abusing Merlin, who tries to warn him about Lamia (Merlin looks so defeated as Gwaine walks off). Elyan’s condition worsens. Caring for her brother, Gwen wonders why Merlin has not fallen under Lamia’s spell like the others.
Merlin hears cries and when he dashes off to investigate. He calls for Gwaine, and finds him struck down by Lamia’s touch.
in the cave, Percival follows the sound of Lamia’s cries, but once he finds her, she strikes him down with a kiss. Leon FINALLY notices the attack, and comes to his senses. He charges at Lamia, screaming in fury – but she quickly dispatches him with a magic blast.
Merlin arrives to confront Lamia, and when she attacks, he uses his powers to spear her with Leon’s sword. But Lamia survives She sheds her human form, and transforms into a reptilian beast.
Merlin escapes, running back to Gwen – trying to pull her to safety, but one of the Lamia’s tentacles snatch hold of Merlin’s leg. Gwen comes to Merlin’s aid, and rushes at Lamia, stabbing the creature and screaming at her to get away from Merlin. Lamia will not be deterred, and pushes forward and descends on her and Merlin
Merlin moves to use his magic in front of Gwen to save them, but finally Arthur arrives, striking Lamia dead. Gwen and Arthur share a happy hug, while Merlin snarks at them from the ground. Arthur breaks away from Gwen and helps him up.”It’s *almost* good to see you, Merlin!” he tells his friend with a grin.
With the help of Gaius, the villagers of Longstead are cured, along with the knights. Arthur can’t resist teasing Merlin about being ‘saved by a woman’, but Merlin gives his own back, and they share a relieved smile. Back in Camelot, Arthur summons Gwen and tells her how amazed and proud he is of her courage , and the episode ends in a kiss.
Pros of this episode! Gaius’ faith in Merlin’s ability to do SOMETHING in the capacity of a physician – something that has never been shown in this show – DESPITE the years of Merlin working under Gaius’ watchful eye.
I liked the fact that this was a knight focused episode. Did I miss Arthur? Yep. But, it was interesting to see the knights away from him and focus on their characters a little bit.
The interaction between Merlin and Gwen. I have sorely missed Merlin and Gwen’s friendship since season 1. I think Angel Coulby and Colin Morgan have a great rapport on screen (I think both Bradley James and Angel Coulby work well together, too – but with Colin Morgan and Angel Coulby there isn’t that anticipation that there should be a romantic relationship between the characters, so it come across as much less forced to me) so I’m very glad they are sort of back to being friends.
Arthur’s dedication to Gwen, Merlin and his knights was also a pro.
The Cons: The fact that the knights rude behaviour to Merlin and Gwen went unacknowledged. It doesn’t matter that they were under a spell, their behaviour was … well, prattish.
The fact that Merlin’s magic was useless to save the victims of the Lamia. It saved him – but it would be nice to see his magic being able to ward of ill fate as well.
This is just my opinion, but while the final scene between Arthur and Gwen was cute – it felt tacked on to me- especially since while the Arthur/Gwen relationship is a given by this stage, it is largely happening off screen. It felt like the scene was there in anticipation of next week’s episode.
I’m glad they didn’t use the baby -eating version of Lamia from the Greek legends, though.
Lamia was a bit of a filler episode, but one that was enjoyable and did showcase characters that have been sidelined some what.
What did you think of Lamia?
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