Written by: Richard McBrien
Directed by: Jeremy Webb

Brought to you by OBS Staff Member Karolina

Picture: BBC Merlin

We begin this episode with Gwen, in an unknown village, mucking out a pig pen and shovelling hay. Suddenly, the tired little hamlet (as opposed to Camelot – ha ha) is raided by bandits (surprise surprise). Gwen tries to run for it – only to be caught by the head bandit, and to be ominously told that fun is still to be had.

Back in Camelot, Arthur announces that the kingdoms of Camelot and a neighbouring kingdom have reached an agreement, and that, to add to that agreement and have a friendship between the lands, he has offered his hand in marriage the princess of said kingdom. Merlin is shocked, and makes his loyalty to Gwen very apparent, arguing that Arthur can’t do that, and that Arthur still loves Gwen. Arthur, frustrated and angry by all mentions of her, threatens to exile Merlin if he repeats any such thing.

Agravaine accosts a servant of Camelot , Owen – asking if her had completed the task required of him. Owen fearfully tell Agravaine he has not, as he cannot betray his master, and is rewarded by lord Agravaine by being stabbed in the ribs.Agravaine then rides to Morgana; who is less than happy to see that Agravaine has failed her (yet again. He doesn’t seem to be very good at his job). They conspire on how to get their required booty, which is revealed to be the map to the siege tunnels of Camelot. Morgana reminds Agravaine of his place in Camelot, and tells him that he will need to acquire the map – without getting caught.

It is revealed that Gwen is in the hands of the warlord Helios, who is a charasmatic leader, despite first appearences. And, he seems truly interested in Gwen. They begin to get to know each other, becoming more and more comfortable, until it is revealed that Helios has a visitor, by the name of Morgana. Gwen , in a panic, excuses herself, much to Helios’ disappointment. Gwen manages to slip past Morgana, unnoticed. It turns out Helios and Morgana are old friends, and , maybe more, and, after discussing their plans to lay siege to Camelot.

Princess Mithian arrives ; and, is quite beautiful and quite lovely and witty. Arthur is instantly smitten, and it appears that Mithian is as well and he announces there’s going to be a feast in honour of the newly established peace between kingdoms.

Merlin, however, is increasingly frustrated by this, believing he knows his king’s heart. Agravaine drags poor Owen (who must have been dead for a while now …) to the outskirts of the castle in the night (and he places a letter in Owen’s pocket), only to be discovered by Leon the next day. The “saddened” Agravaine and Leon discuss the possible demise of Owen – stating that he probably fell from the parapet ( Let’s ignore that fact that he probably has a gaping stab wound in his chest/ stomach, shall we?) Gaius is called upon to investigate the death of the boy. Despite the appearance of suicide, Gaius isn’t convinced, though the investigation is brought to a halt when he discovers a letter of betrayal upon the boy’s person. Agravaine swiftly delivers the letter to Arthur, who then, all trusting and willing, grants him access to the room where the plans are kept.

Agravaine delightedly delivers them to his lady, who then in turn a bit of magic to copy them and passes them onto Helios. As Morgana and Helios discuss their plans, they are unaware that they are being observed by Gwen. After Morgana has managed to reveal Agravaine’s involvement, Gwen accidentally makes herself known to the two. She manages to escape, but her cover finally blown as Morgana realises who she is.

With the great feast for Mithian and Arthur booming in Camelot, and the new couple happily getting to know each other, Merlin tries to sabbotage this by serving soup to Arthur and uses magic to make him lspill it on himself in front of Mithian. Mithian isn’t put off, lovingly tending to her future husband. Arthur and Mithian finally agree to a picnic breakfast the next day, after a very long “good night” scene.

The next day. Merlin carries the picnic goods, Arthur teases his servant, making him carry it back and forth for no more reason than the King’s amusement- this is stopped by Mithian, who apologises to Merlin and helps him carry the things. Merlin still attempts to break the budding couple up (by making Arthur burp, of all things), but to no avail.

Back in Camelot, before Arthur, the knights, Mithian and Merlin go hunting, Mithian stops Merlin, and begs him to give her a chance, as she really likes Arthur, and , although he won’t admit it – it’s Merlin’s advice that Arthur seems to value above almost anyone.

In the forest, Gwen is awoken by the sound of horses. Morgana approaches and she’s going to track down her prey. A brief exchange sees Morgan teasing Gwen before she goes off running again, only to be cast through the air by Morgana’s magic. With Gwen unconscious, Morgana casts a spell, promising that it will let Gwen see her beloved Arthur once more.

As the hunters hunt, with Merlin complaining and Arthur offering to give him a headstart, a deer is spotted by Sir Leon. Merlin gets it , and while watching it, senses that it is no ordinary doe – but an enchanted Gwen. Arthur takes aim, only to be diverted by Merlin; Mithian is a better shot. As they hunt for the injured deer, Arthur finds Gwen’s ring and calls the hunt off.

In the dead of night, Merlin returns to the woods and finds the injured Gwen, no longer in deer form. He tends to her with magic and stays until the morning, when Gwen awakens, recovered. She shares her knowledge of Morgana, revealing that she and Helios are planning to invade the siege tunnels. She also identifies Agravaine as being involved, which spurs Merlin to declare that she must return to Camelot. Gwen can’t return, however, as she betrayed her beloved and must live with that guilt, so Merlin returns alone.

Merlin tries to convince Arthur of Agravaine’s betrayal, taking him to the vault where the maps are held. Arthur furiously tells Merlin that he has known his uncle his whole life (how convenient) and he refuses to believe that he would betray Camelot. They reach the vaults, and, lo and behold – there is the map with the siege tunnels, safely packed away. And, apparently Arthur had alerted Agravaine that there could have been a problem, as he appears and smirks at Merlin. Arthur once again threatens Merlin with exile – but that night, in his chambers, a much more broken Arthur asks Merlin’s opinion on whether he still loves Gwen, and what he should do. A much more deferential Merlin tells him to follow his heart.

Morning comes, with Mithian departing the kingdom of Camelot on less than happy terms, Arthur plans to rescue some of his relationship with the princess and the neighbouring kingdom by offering the disputed lands back to the princess and her descendants. He admits that his love is for Gwen is greater than his love for anyone or anything else and Mithian admits that she, too, would give up her own kingdom for such love.

Arthur asks Merlin how he can love someone who betrayed him and how he can possibly love anyone else. Merlin tells Arthur to do what his heart knows is right, pointing him in the direction of Gwen and the loyalty that she offers. He is the ‘once and future king’ and will always do the right thing.

I really liked Mithian – she was sweet. It is sad that they brought her in as a plot point to prove to Arthur that he still loves Gwen – but what can you do? Janet Montgomery looked beautiful and played her well. I like the fact that everyone knows how important Merlin is to Arthur, even though the boys don’t totally seem to be there yet. Merlin’s loyalty to Gwen and Arthur and their love was sweet.

Some parts I didn’t like – and i’ve mentioned things like this before ; how easily Agravaine gets away with things. NO ONE NOTICES THE STAB WOUND? Okay, great, Gaius mentioned that if Owen had falled from the parapet he would have sustaineed more injuries than just a broken neck – but still !!

I’m really, really , really looking forward to the last two eps especially since they’re called THE SWORD IN THE STONE!!!

What did you think of this ep?