Written by: Jake Michie
Directed by: Alice Troughton

Brought to you by OBS staff member Karolina

picture: BBC MERLIN

Merlin is getting Arthur ready for a feast – by “enhancing” a belt by adding another hole to his belt, as being the King brings on many responsibilities – such as feasts and and other such chores. Arthur begrudgingly tells Merlin to do what he must, but not to breathe a word to anyone about the new notch. Merlin assures his king that he is good at keeping secrets. The feast starts, and Athur asks the whereabouts of Agravaine, to which Gaius states he does not know. Although Merlin is good at keeping secrets, apparently not ones that about Arthur, t because as Arthur is drooling over the food at the feast, Merlin cheerfully announces that he doesn’t want to add another hole to the belt in front of the court, much to Arthur’s chagrin.

The elusive Agravaine has been having his own party, of sorts, setting up the takeover of Camelot by Morgana – clearing the way for her to reach the siege tunnels (which, of course, she got the map to last episode.) Leon and Elyan encounter Morgana’s men, and sound the alarm, alerting Gwaine, Percival and Arthur of the seige. Arthur orders Merlin to get the other people at the feast out and safe, and goes to fight the incoming army. Elyan is abruptly alerted to Agravaine’s betrayal in the hallways of Camelot, only to be knocked out by Morgana’s magic for his troubles. Merlin worriedly tells Gaius that the lower town is lost, and Gaius fears that Merlin’s greatest fears concerning Agravaine are coming to fruition – a concept that has Merlin running to Arthur’s side. Arthur is valiantly battling the rogue army, and Merlin arrives just to see Arthur be wounded, but still managing to befall his foe. Merlin drags Arthur to safety, and uses magic to slow down the other bandits. They try to run to safety, Arthur admitting to having broken ribs. They stop as Morgana and Helios march past them, flanked by Arthur’s dear, much-trusted Uncle, Agravaine. Merlin sadly watches this new betrayal sink in for Arthur, and then stops the furious king from throwing himself into battle when he is clearly outnumbered.
In the throne room, Morgana leisurely lounges on the stolen throne while a delighted Helios tells her that Camelot has fallen. Morgana is unimpressed, letting her minion know that capturing Camelot had been the easy part, and that what she wanted was Arthur, who is, as Helios claims, still in the castle.
Meanwhile, Gaius is tending to Arthur’s wounds as best he can, Arthur refusing to do anything but throw himself back into the battle. Gaius, Merlin, Gwaine and Percival all talk about getting Arthur out of the kingdom, Gwaine rightly deducing that Arthur would not go willingly. Gaius and Melrin have a little plan up there sleeve, as Merlin uses magic to take away Arthur’s will – allowing Merlin to coax him into leaving Camelot with him and Percival. Merlin tries to get Gaius to go with them, but Gaius refuses, claiming that he is too old. Gwaine gently pulls Merlin away, and he escapes with Percival and Arthur, leaving Gwaine and Gaius to face Morgana and her minions. Morgana, incensed that Arthur has slipped by her again, orders Agravaine to search for Arthur.
Percival and Merlin get the jovial and somewhat simple Arthur to the woods, and run into Elyan there (not sure how he got there, last we saw he had been knocked out in the castle). They decide to take Arthur to Ealdor, which is now in Lott’s kingdom (obviously after the death of Cendred last season). Their happy reunion is short lived, though, when they are pursued by Agravaine and his men. They lose Percival quite quickly , and then Elyan as Merlin and Arthur continue to run. Elyan is captured and taken to Morgana (who seems to believe that she can win the people’s love by burning all their crops until they stop pledging allegiance to Arthur), who tortures him mercilessly with a smile on her face (while Agravaine looks quite ill) , until he reveals to where the King is headed. Morgana orders Agravaine to follow, promising him Elyan’s fate if he fails.

While this is going on in Camelot, Merlin is disguising the dimwitted Arthur (who seems to be a timid, jovial bloke) as a ‘village idiot’ in far too small clothes for him as they make their way to Merlin’s hometown.

Elyan is thrown into the dungeons alongside Gaius and Gwaine, while the distressed Agravaine begs Morgana not to let her guard down, claiming that he is her one and only ally, and that he despairs at being parted from her side. Morgana , amused, promises Agravaine that if he brings her Arthur, he will never leave her side again.

Merlin and Arthur run into some smugglers, and , under the guise of a man (with gold) and his simpleton, they manage to hitch a ride into Lott’s kingdom with Tristan and Isolde (*insert fangirl shriek here*). Agravaine finds Arthur’s discarded robes, and utters the most ironic line ever of “What kind of coward would deny who he is”, and then follows the trail left by Merlin and Arthur. While Merlin discovers that Tristan and Isolde are in the business of “free trade” and do not fear the ‘dimwitted king of Camelot”, Arthur happily hugs a tree, until Merlin pulls him away to what looks like their own private campfire. They have a little talk about how normal!Arthur treats Merlin, Simpleton!Arthur apologising for being a disappointment and , at Merlin’s request, fumbles through some chores, as Agravaine gets closer to his catch.

Arthur shows everyone that he is back to his normal, joyful self by kicking Merlin awake and demanding to know what is going on. Merlin explains that Camelot has fallen, Arthur had been injured and that he had ‘ passed out’. He tells Arthur that they are heading to Ealdor, where they will hopefully be joined by the knights. He also tells the disgruntled Arthur about his part as the “simpleton”. Tristan notices the simpleton carrying a sword that obviously belongs to the knights of Camelot, but Merlin quickly defuses the situation, stating that he won it in a card game, as Arthur cuddles the sword to him (it’s amusing that normal Arthur seems to think that to be a simpleton, you need to speak like a pirate.) Just as Arthur is bemoaning his fate, Agravaine attacks, blowing Merlin and Arthur’s cover. They run to hide, along with Tristan and Isolde. Tristan lets Arthur know how much disdain he has for Arthur and the crown and his taxes, when they are attacked again. Tristan , Isolde and Arthur fight, and Isolde is injured and nearly killed, only to be saved by Arthur.

Pushing on, the group make camp at the border of Lott’s kingdom. As night falls, Arthur begins to despair – he’s hurting over the loss of Camelot and Agravaine’s betrayal. Merlin assures his King, that despite his many faults, “One day you will be the greatest king this land has ever known.” Merlin also tells him that he is not the only one who has such faith in Arthur.

Back in Camelot, Morgana proves how evil she is by starving Gaius, Gwaine and Elyan. Gwaine tries to get food for Gaius, and is rewarded by Morgana dragging himfrom his cell and forces him to engage in a fight to the death with one of her warriors. After a vicious brawl, the knight overcomes his opponent. He’s rewarded with a single mouldy loaf of bread, but Morgana quickly sets two more men on him.

Merlin takes Arthur, Tristan and Isolde to his home village, where he is warmly greeted by his mother Hunith. Someone else has also taken refuge with Hunith – Gwen. She is reunited with her wounded love, and, slightly hesitating, Arthur and Gwen admit missing each other and embrace.

As darkness falls, Agravaine and his troops surround the village. They raid the town in search of the King, but Merlin, Arthur and the others are able to escape. They are being pursued however (Tristan and Isolde are along for the ride) and here the episode ends … and an AMAZING trailer for the next episode begins.

This recap and review was brought to you by a slightly feverish and drugged-up-on-painkillers Karolina, so apologies for any incoherent points forthwith. I really enjoyed this episode – it was fun ,and Bradley James got to exercise his amazing comedic timing once again, something he hasn’t been able to do much this season. And as always, I loved the way Colin Morgan played off of that.
The episode showed the trust and love Merlin and the knights and Gwen bestow in their King, and how he repays them in turn (despite how cantankerous he can be on occasion). I love the entrance of Tristan and Isolde – I wonder where Percival is, and cannot WAIT for one particular part of next episode. Well, okay. Maybe two. Or three.

What did you think of “the sword in the stone part 1”?