Written by: Lucy Watkins
Directed by: Justin Molotnikov
Brought to you by OBS Staff Member Karolina
picture from : Merlin BBC
NB: Before we start off – I have to say – I don’t actually “‘ship” anyone in Merlin – I’m not a Arwen (Arthur/Gwen) shipper, or a Gwencelot (Gwen/Lancelot) shipper – so this is going to be a relatively “clinical” look at this episode- and more focused on the story than the relationships of the characters.
NB2: I know this episode has caused a lot of kerfuffle amongst Merlin fans. Another reason why I’m going to try to keep to the story rather than focus on the ‘ships.
And, here we go with the recap!
It’s nighttime in Camelot – and Arthur is sipping wine while Merlin polishes his armour. Agravaine enters, and Arthur decides to grace his uncle with a bit of news that he knows is going to displease him – He plans to propose to Gwen. He states that he and the people of Camelot do not what a Queen who will just bow to his word, but one who is strong, and who will be his counsel – something that Gwen has been for the past few months. Agravaine tries to counter that HE is Arthur’s counsel, to which Arthur answers “Well, I fear you have too much stubble to be my wife”, earning him a giggle from Merlin. Panicked at Arthur’s resolve, Agravaine makes his way to Morgana, who, angered by the idea of Gwen on her throne comes up with a plan to throw a medieval spanner in the works – as she knows all Gwen’s secrets.
Morgana makes her way to a cave – the home of an old hag, wrinkled, with her eyes sewn shut. The old hag sniffs Morgana’s hand and states that she is destined to bring back the ways of the old religion – something that the hag wishes she lives to see. Morgana requests advice on what to do with a coin with a snail like pattern on it that was left to her by Morgause. It apparently has the power to control souls – but Morgana must travel to the fifth gateway between the worlds of the living and the dead – which is found at the lake of Nemhain, where the waters are black. Morgana casts the coin into the water, and up comes a wet, naked Lancelot – who promptly introduces himself to Morgana, and informs her that he is hers to command.
And command she does. She tells him of his life before he sacrificed himself, particularly of his relationship with the now King of Camelot, and his Lady Guinevere, and how she was once his. (What’s interesting here, is that Morgana actually mentions that she thought she would take pleasure in manipulating Lancelot in such a way, but all she felt was sadness for who he once was.) As she weaves this story to not!Lancelot, Arthur finds Gwen, and blindfolds her, taking her to a room lit with many candles, and asks her to be his wife. She elatedly throws herself on him, and Arthur, confused, asks if that is a yes. Gwen quickly pulls back and acknowledges that she will marry him, while Merlin lurks outside and smiles happily.
A jousting tournament is held to celebrate the happy couples upcoming nuptials, but is slightly thrown asunder by the entrance of a wild card knight – namely, the resurrected Lancelot. That night, over a celebratory dinner, Lancelot tells the king, his lady, the knights and Merlin of his survival, and how he was taken care of by the Madhavi people. Merlin places Lancelot in his bed, and begins to tell him of the sorrow he felt of being helpless when Lancelot stepped through the rift – how he wishes he could have used magic to help – something that Lancelot seems to be puzzled by – and doesn’t seem to be aware of Merlin being able to use magic.
Agravaine rides to tell Morgana that Lancelot is a hit with Arthur and the knights, but Gwen seems to be over her feelings for Lancelot. This does not worry Morgana, as she has a plan, in the form of a enchanted bracelet, that will re-awaken Gwen’s infatuation with the knight.
The next day, Lancelot visits Gwen to deliver an engagement gift – the bracelet. He wishes Arthur and Gwen all the best, and leaves. Meanwhile, Merlin shares his suspicions with Gaius – he believes that Morgana may have used necromancy to raise Lancelot from the dead. Gaius confirms that it is possible to bring a tormented soul back to Earth as a “shade” – a shadow of their former self. Merlin scrawls magical markings onto the floor of his chamber and, sure enough, Lancelot’s true ghostly visage is revealed as he steps over the painted spiral.
As the tournament continues, the magical bracelet begins to take effect – a sultry Gwen sneaks into Lancelot’s tent, but quickly rushes out when she comes to her senses.
All but two knights are knocked out of the tournament one by one. Arthur progresses to the last stage of the tournament, as does Lancelot. Arthur is injured in their first bout and is at Lancelot’s mercy as the knight rounds on him for a second charge, but he pulls back. Arthur thanks him for his mercy, as Gaius and Merlin ponder what Lancelot’s true reason for being in Camelot might be. Merlin watches as Gwen sneaks into Lancelot’s tent.
The night before Gwen and Arthur’s wedding, Merlin follows Lancelot and to his horror, he watches as the knight meets with Agravaine. Once Lancelot is alone, Merlin uses magic to attack him, but the ‘shade’ Lancelot is strong and fights back, knocking Merlin out cold. Meanwhile, Agravaine wakes Arthur, begging urgent business in the council chambers.
Still enchanted, Gwen meets with Lancelot and the forbidden lovers kiss passionately.
Merlin recovers and also stumbles onto the scene, arriving just as a devistated and furious Arthur launches himself at Lancelot, sword in hand and screaming with rage. The two men engage in a vicious battle, but Gwen intervenes, sobbing for them to stop. Arthur regains control, but has both Guinevere and Lancelot thrown into the dungeons. Still bawling, Gwen throws Lancelot’s golden bracelet to the ground, freeing herself of its magical influence.
Agravaine encourages Arthur to kill the lovers, and Gwen is brought before the court to meet her fate. Arthur demands that the court leave them, and he furiously questions Gwen on whetehr she ever had any doubts about them. In tears, Gwen shakes her head, and Arthur states “then Forgive me, because I must be really stupid … “ before roaring and shaking Gwen “WHAT WERE YOU DOING?” He backs away quickly and Gwen sobs that she once had feeling for Lancelot, but not for many years, and that all she ever wanted was to be Arthur’s Queen.
But Arthur turns his back on her – he tells Gwen that she is to be banished from Camelot. Gwen begs for clemency, telling Arthur that she cannot be without him, and asks where she will go. Arthur turns and tells her that he is truly sorry, and leaves.
Back in Gaius and Merlin’s chambers, Merlin, frustrated, knows that Morgana is behind recent events. However, Gaius points out that Gwen played a part in the betrayal – and it is that that Arthur really cares about. “It’s Gwen who must pay the price,” He says.
Meanwhile, Agravaine visits Lancelot and delivers a message from Morgana – her final request to him, which he reads, as Agravaine smirks.
Under Merlin’s watchful eye, Gwen leaves her home, dragging her belongings behind her on a cart, while preparations for her wedding to Arthur are taken down, as Arthur watches. Merlin appears and tries to convince the Arthur to forgive her, stating that despite everything, Gwen is a good person. Arthur agrees, but states that forgiving her isn’t the issue. Merlin takes that to mean that it is Agravaine’s influence at play once again, and tries to change Arthur’s mind -but Arthur insists that while he will always love Gwen, he can never trust never again.
Lancelot’s body is found – it appears that he took his own life in his cell. Arthur acknowledges that Lancelot was noble, and requests a proper burial for him.
Merlin takes Lancelot’s body to a lake. Using his magic, he revives Lancelot, for one last goodbye. It seems that it is not the shade, but the real Lancelot that awakens, as he breathes Merlin’s name and thanks him, before closing his eyes once more. Merlin sends the raft out to the middle of the lake and lights the funeral pyre with his magic.
Okay, as I stated at the beginning – I don’t ship anyone in the Arthurian legend. I never liked Guinevere before Angel Coulby’s version (something I have stated time and time again) and I never really cared that she was banished with Lancelot in the legend (apart from the whole HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ARTHUR stance). The Arthurian Legend has always been about camaraderie, loyalty, knights, dragons, the search for the holy grail etc for me. That being said ; the love triangle and the betrayal of King Arthur by one of his most trusted knights and his lady has become one of the most known versions of the Arthurian legends and one of the most paramount plots since Chretien De Troyes penned the story of Lancelot. I was interested in seeing how Merlin handled this epic story. And, handle it they did. However – it was interesting that Gwen didn’t question her feelings more after she removed the bracelet – or that no one even considered that she was enchanted when she was with not!Lancelot. Arthur banishing her was probably the nicest thing he could have done, given the situation. It’s also going to be interesting to see how he treats her. I understand him feeling that he cannot trust her – however – it sort of makes me wonder about Arthur and his personality. He seems to trust blindly, but when there is a betrayal, he is quick to judge. Makes me wonder what this means for the magic reveal.
Kudos to Bradley James, Angel Coulby and Santiago Cabrera for there acting, and alwayds to Colin Morgan for his facial expressions that speak a thousand words.
What did you think of Lancelot Du Lac? (Oh , and I loved the name of this ep – Lancelot of the Lake – as opposed to our Lancelot)
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