This episode opens with Arthur and Merlin returning from a hunt. Arthur decides what they really need is a tankard of cold mead, so they stop in at a tavern presumably on the outskirts of Camelot. Arthur gets pissy that the barmaid finds Merlin more attractive than him and later he gets his protective hackles up when a thug tries to shake down the barmaid for protection money.
He attacks the thug and a giant bar brawl ensues. An extremely hot young man joins the fight and in the process saves Arthur’s life. After putting the thug in the stocks and encouraging the villagers to pelt him with fruit and vegetables (so wasteful, the people of Camelot…) Arthur and Merlin take the injured man back to Gaius so he doesn’t die of his wounds.
Gaius saves the man’s life and he and Merlin quickly become BBFs. Gwaine, our wounded hero, thinks Merlin’s great and that Arthur is okay – until he finds out Arthur is nobility. He’s got a grudge against them because his father was a knight and was killed in battle leaving him and his mother penniless and alone. While Merlin is taking care of Arthur, we discover that there will be a melee tournament with all the knights of the land.
Cut to the thug and his thug accomplice buying forbidden magic from an old dude. They’re buying blunt edged swords that are secretly, magically sharp and two crystals that when touched with someone’s blood, will cause the wearer to take on the appearance of whoever belongs to the blood. The thug and his accomplice, of course, kill the old man.
Back at the castle, Gwaine decides he’s had enough of nobility and leaves town, but not without flirting madly with Gwen and tucking a flower in her hair. Gwen is flattered, but she’s not falling for Gwaine’s lines. Disappointed, he leaves Camelot.
Meanwhile, the thug and his buddy come upon two knights in the woods who are on their way to Camelot for the tournament. The thugs kill them and steal their identity with their magic crystals of identity stealing.
Arthur and Merlin meet them in the courtyard, and Arthur volunteers Merlin’s service to them. They take advantage of Merlin and make him do all kinds of unnecessary heavy lifting. Later Merlin bitches to Gaius about the knights and Gaius says that’s not how he remembers them.
Gwen comes to the door with an urgent message for Merlin. Gwaine got himself in trouble at a pub by buying drinks for everyone there and then not having the money to pay for it. Merlin goes to rescue Gwaine and bring his drunk ass back to the castle, telling the barkeep that the tab is on Arthur.
The next morning, Arthur is all pissy because of this. Merlin points out that he’d offered Gwaine a reward that he’d turned down, so why not call it even. Instead, Arthur makes Merlin and Gwaine scrub all the knights’ boots. Gwaine is not pleased.
Later Merlin finds the blunted swords while cleaning the fake knights’ room and cuts himself on them. He suspects magic and sneaks back into the room after the knights are asleep and notices the crystal. The knight wakes and attacks him. Gwaine comes to Merlin’s rescue and the knight presses charges against Gwaine.
They all end up in Uther’s judging room, and Uther, predictably wants Gwaine’s head. Arthur tries to talk him down explaining that Gwaine saved his life, so Uther decides on banishment, instead. Because he’s so benevolent, you know. Gwaine is released and runs into Gwen as he’s leaving, she defends Arthur and Gwaine realizes that she’s in love with Arthur.
While Merlin is cleaning Arthur’s room, Uther comes in and gives Arthur the blunted sword that he won the melee with many years earlier and Merlin knows that Arthur can’t beat the fake knights if they’re using magic weapons.
The melee begins, and there’s a lot of fighting on horseback. Merlin discreetly uses magic to help even the odds and knock the fake knights out of the tournament. It helps, but not entirely. Eventually, it’s just Arthur fighting the fake knights, and things aren’t looking good for our hero. But another knight rides in and joins the battle, protecting Arthur.
The fake knights are eventually killed and Gwaine reveals himself. Never mind that Gwaine just saved his son’s life, Uther is furious that this dude he banished dared return to Camelot. He has Gwaine seized. Uther goes to Gaius in hopes that he can save the two fake knights and Gaius reveals that they were magic using thugs all along.
Uther allows Gwaine to live, but lets the banishment stand. Because he’s a douchecanoe. Arthur apologizes and explains that his father is wrong. Later Merlin wants to know why Gwaine won’t tell the king who he really is and get pardoned so he can stay in Camelot. Gwaine says that he could never serve under a man like Uther. Merlin reminds him about Arthur and Gwaine says that maybe someday he’ll fight at Arthur’s side again then leaves.
Merlin and Arthur watch Gwaine leave the city from the parapets. They also see him flirt with Gwen on his way out, and Arthur gets super jealous.
Okay…now for the questions.
1. If I’d written this episode…I would have had more gratuitous shots of shirtless Gwaine. What? This blog is a place of truth and honesty. And I’m being honest.
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. Loved Gwaine. Can’t help it. It’s the truth. He’s adorable. I also like how Merlin made a new friend. Seriously, this dude has limited chances to meet people who don’t end up being all evil and shit. Hated the fact that if Uther had known that Gwaine’s father had been a knight it would have changed everything for Uther. But it’s Uther. Whatevs.
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. That untrained thugs would be able to hold their own against knights.
4. Favorite Costume.Gwaine’s bed sheet. Yes…still being shallow over here.
5. Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. None for this episode.
6. What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? There wasn’t much Merthurness in this episode. Maybe when Arthur was demanding that Merlin pay off Gwaine’s bar bill – simply because in Jess’ head it would have ended far differently.
7. What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? This is a tough one this week… maybe the fact that the old sorcerer man was stupid enough not to protect himself from thugs who wanted dangerous magic for nefarious purposes?