Writer: Jake Michie

Director: Alice Troughton

This episode begins with a caravan from Camelot discovering an unconscious man on the road. The knight goes to investigate and as soon as he does, the caravan is attacked and the people killed. A woman that was part of the attackers hands off what looks to be chain mail to the leader, who tells someone offscreen – one gets the feeling it’s the mastermind behind this plan – that they need to hurry if they are to make Camelot by nightfall. Then we are shown the identity of the person behind this, Mordred, who smiles his agreement.

It is a dark and stormy night – no really, it always is when the bad guys enter Camelot – when the caravan returns to Camelot. The knights at the gate, after a cursory check of the contents of the wagon with the caravan allow the bandits to pass through into the castle’s courtyard. There the leader orders two of his men to take a barrel into the castle and we hear Mordred, speaking to the leader in his mind, direct him through the castle.

Unbeknownst to them, Merlin hears the same orders and is woken from sleep.

In the meantime, palace guards discover that these “knights” are in the wrong part of the castle and we see that the leader of the bandits has magic too – his eyes flash golden when he deals with the palace guards. Unfortunately, it is yet another indication that Merlin really isn’t all that special in a show named after him anymore, as everyone seems to have magic just like he does. I have yet to see a purpose as to why this is suddenly the case.

As Merlin hurries through the castle, we see that the leader and his men have reached the desired part of the castle. They open up the barrel to pull Mordred out. The leader gives his men orders on where to meet them, while he and Mordred continue on in the castle. Merlin, still listening to Mordred’s thoughts discovers they are on their way to Morgana’s chamber. He is too late however, for they make it to her chambers where she welcomes Mordred warmly.

In the meantime, the guards that were earlier knocked unconscious by the leader and his magic have raised the alarm with Arthur who is leading the palace guards through the castle on a search. He discovers Merlin who immediately tells him that they are in Morgana’s chambers.

To quote Fox Mulder: Then if the future (read: the ending of Merlin) is written, then why bother to do anything? (watching?)

Increasingly I am finding episodes of Merlin missing bits that the writers have ignored seemingly because they know how the story is going to end and it feels like they assume the audience will fill in the blanks as they go along to the established end of the story: “We know Morgana must be evil, so lets slap together a half-baked back story, giving her some persecution complex that we haven’t actually shown, but because she’s Morgana, and everyone knows Uther is wrong, let’s hope the audience buys it” – is about the some total of this episode for me.

I confess, as much as I adore what is good in this show, that frustrates me so much. This was just a bad episode trying to shove Morgana into a role when there’s nothing in other episodes, save The Nightmare Begins, I would guess, that shows anything of what she has claimed to experience for me. As a result, I see a petulant brat not a woman to be reckoned with no matter how many threats and one-liners she spouts. According to the backstory for Merlin, Uther went on a killing spree, intent on purging Camelot of people who used magic. He hunts them still and burns them at the stake, still and Morgana, in her fine dresses, warm bed and surrounded by servants in previous episodes is supposed to have suffered mightily at his hand. I have to presume that her minimal presence this season is due to her angsting and cowering in fear in her chambers lest Uther find out her secret *sighs*

Her standing against Uther has such potential, but there is no basis for it in previous episodes to have as much of an impact as it should. Like Arthur did with Morgause, she believes what Alvarr feeds her but ironically part of that is a lie in order to get her to do what she does, but while Morgause told Arthur the truth and Merlin had to lie to him to save Arthur and Uther both.

The thing is Merlin is wonderful story and this idea has such potential, but the short-cuts and crutch of having an established story already set out results in more episodes like this which is a pity. I just hope the writers achieve some balance next season for I fear we will be treated to the Morgana show, considering spoilers coming out of season 3, to make up for the state of season 2.