Title: The Once and Future Queen
Written Howard Overman
Directed Jeremy Webb
Scene opens with a beautiful, dark castle by the sea, on a cliff edge. In the castle stands a king, staring down at a sword, shield, and armour helmet laid out in from of him. One of his guards enters with another man, who is asked by the king whether he is Myror, the most feared assassin. Myror answers affirmatively. The king asks if Myror is prepared to even kill royalty, to which Myror answers that if a bounty had been placed on the king’s head, he would have already been killed. A guard , as a test, attempts to attack Myror, but he is defeated swiftly. Satisfied, the king reveals what he wants with Myror- he wants him to kill the man who killed his son; and that man is Arthur Pendragon.
In Camelot, there is a practice jousting session taking place. Two knights charge at each other, lances raised, and one of the knights is de-horsed. The victor slows his horse and lifts his helmet, revealing himself to be Arthur. Merlin, who was watching the jousting practice, joins Arthur and makes a comment on the jousting looking painful ,to which Arthur in a haughty voice returns that it’s not a pillow fight. Merlin hands him a new lance and Arthur rides back to practice some more. As he rides towards his opponent, Arthur is blinded by the sunlight glinting off of the other knight’s armour, but instead of de-horsing Arthur, the knight pulls back and he and Arthur ride past. Angry, Arthur leaps off of his horse and berates the knight for holding back, and the knight retorts that he would not have if he had fought another opponent. Arthur realises that all his knights share this stance, and reprimands them for treating him differently in battle due to his status. His anger carries on as he and Merlin return to Arthur’s room, and it intensifies when Merlin suggests that he too sometimes alters his answers to please the Prince. When Merlin makes an off the cuff comment about not being able to change who he is, Arthur devises a plan to allow him to compete as a commoner in the approaching jousting tournament, eliminating the special treatment his knights are giving him. He enlists Merlin’s help.
Over dinner with his father, Arthur mentions reports of an animal in the woods, “Having the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and the face of a bear” (which amuses Merlin, who is serving both Arthur and Uther, immensely), and that he intends to ride out the next day to stop the beast. Uther does not seem pleased by this, arguing that Arthur will miss the tournament, but Arthur, knowing how to sway his father, states that the beast was conjured by magic, and that he must leave for the good of Camelot. Uther concedes and allows Arthur to ride out the next morning. Arthur rides out with some of his men, but leaves them and doubles back, ordering them not to mention that he is returning to Camelot. He meets Merlin on the outskirts of the town, and Merlin hands him some of his spare clothing and a cape, and they reenter the walls of Camelot together.
In the forest, Myror has the knights that Arthur took with him to go ‘hunting’ in sight, one leading Arthur’s horse behind him. Myror makes his way to Camelot to find the whereabouts of the prince. Uther is being informed of the fact that King Odin (the king at the beginning of this episode) has sent an assassin to kill Arthur, as he is mired in grief and loss. Uther states that Myror must not be allowed in to Camelot’s walls.
Merlin and Arthur (disguised by a long coat) make their way to Gwen’s house, where Merlin has organised Arthur to stay during the time of the tournament. Gwen (again under Merlin’s advisement) goes to make food for Arthur, as Arthur hisses to Merlin that he cannot expect Arthur to stay with Gwen. Merlin teases Arthur about not being able to be without his big bed and soft pillows, and Arthur stubbornly steels himself to stay. Arthur asks Merlin if he has found someone to play the knight that they need, and Merlin answers the affirmative and introduces a scruffy farmer from the outer villages. The plan is to let this farmer play “Sir William of Daira” – to show his face to the masses, and then swap with Arthur in the tent before the tournament, and Arthur will joust for him. Arthur, Merlin and Gwen spend the rest of the day trying to teach the farmer to act as a knight would.
Read the rest of the recap, and join in the discussion HERE
Adrian Lester as Myror
Okay, this was an episode that I had mixed feelings about. I loved the parallel of Gwen and Merlin, both servants in this retelling, both struggling with being servants, and yet having much greater destinies than the people around them realise. I also loved the fact that it is both Gwen and Merlin who are able to tell Arthur exactly how they are feeling, and what they think of his actions, whether or not he listens to them. I loved the confused look on Arthur’s face after the kiss. I even kind of loved the fact that Arthur was saying that he didn’t want any special treatment, but ACTING like he was entitled to it, even when Merlin and Gwen were very truthful with him. I also loved the scene with the three of them in the tent after the tournament. However -I feel this episode was kind of too soon in the season. Yes, Arthur has a lot of ‘growing up’ to do, but the Gwen /Arthur story seemed a bit out of the blue here. And Merlin was kind of relegated to the comic relief. What did you think of this episode?