Previously on Camelot: King Uther died, and his only legitimate child, Morgan, claimed the throne. Merlin, the sorcerer who doesn’t do magic, didn’t like that one bit, so he pulled Uther’s previously unknown illegitimate son, Arthur, out of obscurity and installed him in an artistic ruin known as Camelot. Although he’s fairly useless, Arthur did manage to pull a rigged sword out of the top of a waterfall, so he’s a legend now. Morgan, meanwhile, attempted an alliance with King Lot, who ended up getting himself killed, so she’s looking for a new angle now. Oh, and Arthur had a sex dream about Guinevere.
A group of horsemen sit on a bluff and discuss how few guards there are at the place they’re about to attack. The leader declares the place easy pickings and they gallop towards it.
Guinevere and her cousin, Bridget, kick around their bedroom and talk about Guen’s upcoming marriage to Leontes. Guen stresses about him not being “the one.” Ergh. Even by this show’s standards, that dialogue stuck out like a sore thumb. Did people really think about such things back then? I highly doubt it. Bridget tells Guen she’s just nervous and reminds her that young, good-looking, kickass guys are pretty thin on the ground these days. Plus, Guen’s mom always wanted her to marry the guy, so there’s that.
Girl talk is interrupted when Guen’s dad busts in and tells them they have to skedaddle, because they’re being attacked. The two women and Guen’s dad run out into the courtyard, where the bandits from earlier are sifting through some chests that are sitting around there for some reason. Guen’s one of those feisty post-modern chicks, so she tries to fight back, and gets totally ignored by the bandits while her father rustles up some horses and they ride off without a single one of the thieves paying them any mind. I would think they’d at least go after the girls’ jewelry, dad’s sword, or the horses, which would be worth quite a lot of money. These thieves suck.
At the Camelot Commune, things are going swimmingly, with people gathering and bringing ducks and chickens and generally getting along in a very flower-child way. Arthur wanders through the crowd and asks Merlin what they all want. “Favors,” he duhs. An old man takes the opportunity to ask for a moment of Arthur’s time, and Arthur puts him off, because he doesn’t really know what he should be doing here. He’s rescued by Leontes, who gets his attention. Arthur asks him what’s wrong, and instead of answering, like a normal human would, Leontes leads him and Merlin to an outer chamber, where Guen, Bridget, and Guen’s dad (does this guy have a name? If he does, I missed it) are waiting. Guen and Leontes embrace and Arthur just stands there, all wide-eyed and fish looking, like a goober. Guen’s dad (Name! Oh, screw it, I’m calling him Bob until I have something else, because it’s shorter and easier to type) explains the situation with the bandits, and Leontes asks if they can give them sanctuary at Camelot. Merlin immediately says no, because the place isn’t a lodge. Uh, tell that to the few dozen people currently camped out in the throne room, Merlin. Arthur tells them they can stay, and Guen thanks him. Bob mourns that there’ll be no wedding, now. Why not? Merlin apparently thinks the same way I do and jumps in to say that they’ll just have the wedding at Camelot. What? Didn’t you want to kick these people out two seconds ago? Seems he’s changed his mind, because he sees the wedding of Arthur’s champion taking place at Camelot as being a good PR move. Everyone loves a wedding! Except Arthur, in this case, but he can’t really object.
In her own castle (this place really needs a name. Any suggestions?) Morgan and two guards arrive at a locked door. After one of the guards breaks the lock, she wanders into a fairly well equipped torture room, complete with shackles hanging from the ceiling. She looks around and asks the guards if they brought prisoners there for Uther to torture. They look down, ashamed and afraid to answer. At that point, a young woman who’s really fascinatingly odd looking (she almost looks like a Na’vi without blue skin and dreadlocks) pipes up that it wasn’t just prisoners, it was anyone who crossed Uther. Morgan dismisses the guards and asks the woman, Vivian, how she felt about Uther. Vivian will only say that she respected him. Morgan tells Vivian to sift through the staff and get rid of anyone she doesn’t trust. She wants more women around the place, and she also wants the torture room cleared of everything, except the dangling manacles. Oh, I’m sure she’s got some kinky plans for those. Lot must be rolling over in his grave to miss out on that action.
Back at Camelot Commune, Igraine shows Guen and Bridget to their room. Bridget asks where all the servants are. Honey, look around you. This place has plants growing inside the rooms. It’s a wreck. Why do you think there are servants around? Naturally, there aren’t any. Bridget recovers from her surprise at this fairly quickly and she and Igraine launch right into Bridesmaid/Mother of the Bride mode. Igraine notices Guen’s not exactly doing cartwheels ahead of her wedding, so she pulls her aside and asks if she loves Leontes. Guen’s not sure she knows what love means, so Igraine gets a little more explicit on the “love thy rapist” aspect and says she had the same problem, but with time, chances are, you’ll get to love the guy, and even if you don’t, he’ll knock you up soon enough, and you’ll love the kids instead. Ick. I know this is how marriage was for the upper classes back then, but it still makes my skin crawl to hear characters on a TV show talk about it so flippantly.
Leontes and Kay walk through some area of the castle where soldiers are training and talk about how few of them there are. Leontes wants to try to recruit some guy he knows, Gawain, whom he fought once and tried to recruit to Uther’s men, but Gawain wouldn’t join up. He thinks he might consider joining up with Arthur, though. God knows why. Because he likes fighting for weak leaders instead of strong ones?
While they’re having their conversation, the gates open (they haven’t upped security since the fiasco of the coronation?) and Vivian rides in and asks to speak to Arthur. They take her right to him (he’s in the throne room, staring mopily at Guen like they’re in the hallway at a high school) and she invites Arthur to dinner, on Morgan’s behalf. Seriously? How dumb does Morgan think these people are?
“We accept,” Arthur says immediately. Oh, right. How has he managed to get through this many years without dying? He’s such an idiot! Merlin’s rightfully skeptical of all this, since it wasn’t so long ago Morgan was trying to take control of Arthur’s throne and all (or, depending on how you look at things, it wasn’t so long ago that Arthur took over the throne that was rightly hers). But Arthur’s determined to make peace within his family. Merlin tells Arthur he’s not to make decisions without consulting Merlin first, but Arthur just snippily says he’s the king and can do as he likes. Oh, sounds like the power’s going to someone’s pretty blonde head, doesn’t it?
Kay and Leontes have no time for partying and ride out to find Gawain.
Arthur and Merlin, meanwhile, ride out to visit Morgan, stopping along the way for some refreshment at Ye Olde Rest Stoppe, which sadly does not appear to have a Starbucks. Merlin tells Arthur he knows he’s got the hots for Guen. Arthur tries to play it off, but we all know Merlin knows about that sex dream. Merlin tells Arthur to keep his paws to himself, because she belongs to Leontes. Arthur snits that nobody belongs to anybody, which simply wasn’t true at the time. Sad as it was, women were the property of their husbands, and if not husbands, than their fathers, or brothers. Some man in their family essentially owned them, and Arthur would know that. Arthur tries to pull his “I’m the king” BS again, so Merlin lays it out: Everything Arthur has right now is because of Merlin, and he’d do well to remember that.
Merlin and Arthur arrive at Morgan’s, which has been decked out in a lot of red. She’s waiting for them at the front door, accompanied by servants in some sort of Japanese-inspired uniforms. Morgan bows deeply to her brother and welcomes him, calling him “your highness.” She shows them inside, where Merlin notes she’s made a few changes (mostly for the better). Morgan hands Arthur off to Vivian, who shows him to his room, while she takes command of Merlin. Heh. Send the kid off so the grownups can talk. Morgan shows Merlin to his old room, from the days when he was “Uther’s lackey.” They banter a bit on the way, and he tries to find out if she’s abandoned her claim to the throne, but she gives him no answer.
Later, the three sit down to an impressive dinner, and Arthur brattily asks Merlin why they don’t have meals like this in Camelot. Oh, God, Arthur, you’re living in a frigging ruin! Worry about a roof, and then think about fancy dinners, all right?
Plates are set down, and Merlin inspects his closely, like any reasonable person would, under the circumstances, while Arthur looks like he can’t imagine what Merlin’s up to. Morgan reaches over and helps herself to a spoonful from Arthur’s dish, to prove it’s not poisoned. They tuck in, and Morgan asks him what he plans to do with the crown. Instead of answering for real, Arthur quotes Cicero. She commends his education but wants to know what he actually plans to do. He says he hopes to get to know his kingdom and its people. He wants to be the People’s Prince.
Later that night, Arthur’s tossing and turning in bed, watched by Morgan, who’s lurking in the doorway. He spots her and she comes in and sits on the edge of his bed for a chat. He asks about their father, and she says he was a great warrior and kind, but also very cruel. Arthur says he’s glad they’re getting to know each other properly and she agrees, but she feels like she still doesn’t know much about him. She asks what’s in his heart, giving it a tap with her knuckle and scratching him with her ring hard enough to draw blood. She apologizes, but makes sure she’s got a swipe of his blood on the ring. Arthur says he’s fine, but right now, he’d like to “pass out.” Oh, God, the dialogue tonight.
While Arthur’s passing out, Kay and Leontes arrive at Gawain’s place, which is an old church. They go right in and start poking around, and before long Kay’s attacked by Gawain himself, wielding two swords. He gets Kay up against a wall pretty fast, but Leontes comes swinging in and tells Gawain the king demands his service. Gawain doesn’t recognize any king and anyway, he’s not interested in being Uther’s man. Leontes and Kay quickly explain about Arthur and Camelot, but Gawain’s still not on board, assuming Arthur’s just another warlord calling himself king. He’s got the second part right. Leontes says Arthur’s of Uther’s bloodline. “That’s nothing to be proud of,” Gawain sniffs. Heh. I like this guy, let’s keep him around for more than one episode, please. The only thing that gets his attention is the news that Arthur vanquished King Lot, which is totally not true at all, but Gawain’s happy to hear Lot’s dead. Nonetheless, his answer’s still no.
Leontes and Kay throw in the towel, but decide to stay the night. Gawain tries to charge them, but Leontes shows him a cross on a necklace and says that gives him free access to the church. Gawain grudgingly gives in.
Arthur’s asleep, and having another lurid dream about Guen. It actually wakes him up, and he gets dressed and prepares to leave.
In the great hall, Merlin’s staring up at the skull of a giant stag that Uther killed years ago. He’s joined by Morgan, and they banter a little bit more. Merlin tells her he’s not some king’s trophy, which is true. He’s a king’s puppeteer now. Morgan suggests they drink to that, and the two settle down by the fire. They chat about her childhood, and about a time Merlin showed up to cure Uther of some illness, and Morgan was so happy she swore she’d marry him. Just after the story finishes, Merlin starts to act a little strange, and the editing and camera work get even stranger, so it’s obvious he’s been drugged. Morgan straddles him, and Arthur spots the two and looks pouty before continuing on his way out of the castle. “I can smell you, Merlin,” she says, bizarrely. Well, yeah, you’re right on top of him. Merlin grabs her face and I guess sees her memories of poisoning her father. He pushes her off of him, and then passes out.
Camelot. Bridget and Guen are asleep in their room. Arthur pokes his head in and Guen wakes. He asks her to meet him down at the beach and promises to wait there for her. Although she protests, we all know she’ll go.
Merlin comes to and finds himself shackled to Morgan’s bed. Heh. I knew those shackles would find their way to her room somehow. Morgan is giving him a pedicure, and the ungrateful man yanks his feet away and demands to know where Arthur is. She calmly asks if he’s always so grumpy when he wakes up, as she adds some of his toenails to a potion she’s mixing up. She informs him Arthur’s taken off, and when he asks her what she’s up to, keeping him prisoner there, she says she’s just concerned for her brother, because Merlin could be dangerous. Merlin snorts and tells her he knows what she did to Uther, tisk-tisking over her murdering her own father. In her defense, the guy was kind of a dick. She angrily pounds her concoction and says real fathers don’t do to their daughters what Uther did to her. Hmmmm. Merlin gets kind of jerky about that, as he asks her what Uther did. All she says is that he made her strong, and she is grateful for that.
Merlin tells her that this power she’s trying to harness is dangerous and harmful, and it makes her vulnerable. She points out that she’s not as vulnerable as he is right now, tied up as he is. He says he could free himself, but he won’t, because he doesn’t do tricks, because he’s strong enough to choose not to do it. He baits her until she shows him what she can do: turn herself into that young girl we saw poisoning Uther in the first episode. Merlin instantly recognizes the girl as Morgan herself, when she was younger. Morgan laughs, but it’s obvious from her anguished screams of pain as she transforms that the whole trick seriously costs her. She changes back to her grown-up self, gets to her feet, and wipes the blood away from her nose. Merlin warns her the price will be too high, but she doesn’t believe him and walks out, leaving him tied up on the bed.
Guen, with perfect surfer-girl hair, makes her way down to the beach, where she finds Arthur waiting for her in a cave. Arthur tells her not to marry Leontes because Leo’s not right for her, which is pretty presumptuous. He’s known her for all of, what, a couple of days? And they’ve spoken alone once? She’s known Leontes her whole life. He insists there was something between the two of them at the coronation. She tries to deny it but he doesn’t believe her, pointing out that she wouldn’t have come down to the beach if she didn’t feel something for him. Fair enough. Before long, they’re making out, and then having some really uncomfortable looking sex against the wall of the cave. You know, I don’t feel much spark between these two actors. I hope they do better with the chemistry when they cast Lancelot. If they do, I’ll buy that whole affair a lot more than I buy this one. At any rate, she’s gonna have some serious ‘splainin to do with Leontes that night.
At Camp Gawain, Kay starts poking around and finds a tiny book hidden away, which he naturally starts to peruse. Gawain finds him and grabs it away, telling him to let it alone. Kay recognizes it (it’s Marcus Aurelius’s writings), and Gawain admits he’s having a bit of trouble reading some of it. Kay offers to help and reads the passage in question aloud. It’s about how he learned to love truth and justice, etc. Gawain’s impressed with his reading ability and asks who taught him. Kay whispers that his father did. Gawain says he’s trying to teach himself. Impressive. Kay asks him why he’s doing that, and Gawain tells him he wants “to be better.” I find the interactions between these two characters a lot more interesting than just about anything else happening in this entire episode. It’s subtle, and it suggests a lot without throwing it in our faces, and I appreciate that. I think Kay’s going to end up being my Charles Brandon in this show: the supporting character who ends up being one of the best things about a fairly lousy program.
Leontes comes wandering in, and Kay tells him he was right: Gawain would be perfect as one of Arthur’s knights, if only he knew it.
As Kay and Leontes get ready to ride off, Gawain comes running out and says he’ll come along on one condition: Kay teaches him to read Marcus Aurelius. Kay says that, once they’re done in Camelot, Gawain will be ready to write a book of his own. So, they’ve got Gawain on board, now. That was surprisingly easy.
Arthur and Guen are still cozied up on the beach, in plain sight of anyone else who might be out for an early morning walk. Guen tells Arthur not to breathe a word to Leontes, and then says she has to get ready for her wedding. Arthur, as per usual, pouts.
At Camelot, preparations for the wedding are well underway, under the watchful eye of Igraine, who supervises the hanging of flowers and arranging of food.
Guen and Arthur walk back through some woods, and at that point Guen realizes Leontes is going to notice she’s been plucked previously when he goes to consummate his marriage that night. Fortunately, they come across a dead deer, and Guen takes some of its blood and stashes it in a wine bag. How’s that going to work? How could you unobtrusively pull out a blood-filled wine bag and scatter some blood around while having sex with your new husband?
Merlin’s still all tied up, and he finally gets tired of it and frees himself, just like he said he could. Now really pissed, he stalks out of the castle. Morgan’s out front, playing with a hawk, and she asks if he’s leaving so soon. He comes over and tells her she doesn’t know what she’s messing with, and it won’t get her what she wants. She shrugs off his warnings but buckles in pain as she’s seeing him off. He wishes for her health and judgment to return soon and heads back to Camelot.
Leontes and the boys are having what I guess is a sort of medieval stag party on the beach, which appears to be taking the form of a shirtless touch football game. Not that I’m complaining, mind. Gawain watches from a bit of a distance, uninterested in the horseplay. He’s joined by Arthur and the two introduce themselves to each other.
At the castle, Guen’s sitting in a bath, relaxing before the wedding. A messenger arrives with a gift for her, from some person unknown. She opens the little box and finds a pretty pink shell inside. Probably assuming it’s from Leontes, Igraine says they’ll have to put it on a ribbon so Guen can wear it. Guen doesn’t look so enthusiastic about the idea of wearing her lover’s token at her wedding.
Wedding time! The other knights all stand around the dais in a circle, holding their swords aloft. Those poor guys. Those things were heavy! Leontes is pacing around inside the sword circle, looking nervous. Arthur shows up in the giant fur cloak, looking like he’s at a funeral. Leontes is so happy he doesn’t even notice; as Arthur reaches the dais, Leontes hands over the rings and asks Arthur to preside over the wedding. Arthur agrees, because what else can he do? Then Guen and Bob come in, and Arthur stares all heartbroken at his crush in a super-obvious way. For the record, yes, she’s wearing the shell.
At her own castle, Morgan enters the former torture chamber, which still has some manacles dangling from the ceiling, but also now has a circle chalked on the floor, along with some presumably magical symbols. She pulls off the ring with Arthur’s blood on it, places it in some water, then heats a spoonful of the water over a candle and drinks it. Somehow, this lets her see the world through Arthur’s eyes. And what she sees is…Guen’s and Leontes’s wedding. Guen keeps looking over at Arthur, but other than that, it’s just a wedding Morgan’s watching through someone else’s eyes. Not sure what that’s supposed to show her, but I’m sure the writers will come up with something.
Arthur declares the two man and wife and everyone cheers, but as Arthur turns and walks away, Igraine catches sight of his face, and her own face freezes in realization. I’m glad someone besides Mystical Merlin finally caught wind of Arthur’s super-obvious infatuation.
Later, Leontes has sex with his wife, and then almost immediately afterwards gets up to pee. Wow, the romance died fast there, didn’t it? While he’s conveniently out of the bed, she takes the opportunity to sprinkle about a tablespoon full of blood around the side of the bed she wasn’t even on. Doesn’t matter, he sees it, buys the ruse, and everything’s good. For him, anyway. This poor guy.
After he goes to sleep, Guen wanders out to the parapet where she and Arthur spoke on coronation night. She stands there, looking out over the sea, and that’s it for this week.