It’s Merlin Club time with me, Jess Jarman and Jenny Trout! (Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!)
This episode opens with Merlin wandering through a lovely, idyllic forest, gathering mushrooms. All of a sudden he’s attacked by a giant terrifying CGI creature with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. From out of nowhere jumps a hot dude with a sword and protects Merlin, fighting off the creature. Lancelot breaks his sword fighting the beast and both he and Merlin have to run and hide. The creature is apparently a bird of very little brain and flies away thinking it’s lost his prey. Or maybe it just has a terrible sense of smell. Both Lancelot and Merlin breathe a sigh of relief and Merlin notices Lancelot is wounded as he passes out. Cut to credits.
The next scene show Merlin hovering anxiously over Lancelot’s sick bed in Gaius’ chambers, so presumably, Merlin carried Lancelot from the woods to the tower. Gaius assures Merlin Lancelot will be fine by morning. Meanwhile, Arthur and Uther are surveying the damage done to a distant city where a fire is raging in the distance. I think fire must be the visual shorthand sign of distress in Merlin because the creature doesn’t breathe fire or anything, but whatevs. Arthur points out that the creature only took people – not livestock and Uther decrees that there will be extra guards outside all the cities and towns.
Back at Camelot, Lancelot divulges his childhood dream of being a knight of Camelot. In fact, this is all he’s ever wanted and all he’s ever trained to do. Merlin volunteers to talk to Arthur for him and Lancelot is all star-struck because Merlin knows Arthur. I imagine that this is how I would react if someone I knew said they knew Anthony Stewart Head. Actually…that’s a lie. There would be more screaming. But I digress.
So Merlin and Lancelot scamper off to the practice field where Arthur is testing a would-be knight. And being kinda douchey about it. The would- be knight fails and goes home defeated. Afterward, Arthur bitches to Merlin about how there aren’t any good knights available to defend Camelot. Merlin tells him about Lancelot and finds out a horrible truth – elitism is in full effect in Camelot. Only men of noble blood may become knights. So of course, Merlin lies his pants off. Arthur buys it and tells him to bring Lancelot (and his seal of nobility) to the training ground in the morning.
So Merlin goes back to Gaius’ chamber where Lancelot is waiting and tells him that Arthur wants to meet him, but then drops the nobility bomb and Gaius elaborates on the code aka The First Code of Camelot. Merlin asks Lancelot why he wants to be a knight so much. Lancelot tells him about how his whole village was slaughtered by marauders and he was the only survivor so he devoted his entire life to learning how to defend himself and others and never being helpless again. And now he’s totally depressed because he feels like his entire life was wasted.
Merlin vows to make it right and skulks off to the castle’s library where he uses magic to copy of seal of nobility and adds Lancelot’s name to it right under the nose of the castle historian. This is important later. But for now, Lancelot has his patent of nobility listing him as Lancelot the Fifth Son of Lord Eldred of Northumbria. When Merlin shows it to Lancelot, he balks – you know – because he’s the noblest of the noble. And because lying goes against the knight’s code and all Camelot stands for (clearly, he doesn’t know Uther.) But Merlin is persuasive and talks him into is. To be honest, he could probably talk me into most ill-conceived ideas, so I can’t really hold that against Lancelot.
Merlin enlists Gwen’s help and she uses her super awesome seamstress skills and whips him up a tabard with the house seal and gets him suited up in armor from her father’s blacksmith’s shop. There’s some mild flirting between Lancelot and Gwen (because seriously, who doesn’t love Gwen) but Lancelot is all kinds of noble. Even though technically, he’s not. And there’s a bit of awkwardness while Gwen’s measuring Lancelot’s inseam. I feel your awkward Gwen. I can’t tell you how many awkward inseam measurements I’ve done while costuming dudes for plays.
The next day, we see Merlin, Gwen and Lancelot (all gussied up in the gear Gwen busted out for him the night before) waiting for his chance to impress Arthur. Arthur put special emphasis on Lancelot’s name – pronouncing it Lance a-lot (It really is a stupid name.) and asks for Lancelot’s seal. As Lancelot bows to Arthur and hands over the seal, Arthur slaps him knocking him to the ground. He informs him that if this were the battlefield, he’d be dead because of his sluggish reactions and tells him to come back when he’s ready. Lancelot insists that he is ready and Arthur tells him he can start by cleaning out the stables. Merlin gives him a big thumbs up. Merlin is probably just happy to not have to do it himself.
The next day, we see Lancelot sharpening swords and Arthur coming to find him. He tests Lancelot’s reflexes by tossing a broom at him. He, of course, catches it. They spar using broom handles and Arthur (looking hot, sweaty and attractive – Lancelot, too for that matter) tells him that he just made basic training. The warning bells ring and everyone takes off to see WTF is going on in Camelot now. There’s an influx of wounded, presumably from outlying areas and Merlin and Gaius are helping tend to them. Lancelot joins them and he and Merlin exchange a meaningful glance when Gaius tells them it was a winged monster.
Arthur and Uther discuss the monster and Uther tells him to prepare the knights. Meanwhile, Gaius is studying his books late into the night to identify the creature. In the morning Arthur is briefing his knights and lets Lancelot know that he’s moving his final test up to the following morning. Then BAM! It’s the following morning and Lancelot is ready to face Arthur. “Succeed and you join the elite. Fail and your journey ends here.” Sounds a bit like a British Ryan Seacrest…
Anyhoo…they fight and Lancelot is totally holding his own until Arthur punches him in the face and knocks him down. He thinks he’s beaten Lancelot, but not so fast. Lancelot surprises him by knocking him to the ground and forcing him to submit. (No…not that kind. Sigh…)
Arthur’s knights pull Lancelot away from Arthur and Arthur (all pissed the fuck off and very hot looking) jumps up, pulls his sword from the ground and says “On your knees.” in the angriest, sexiest voice ever and then I swooned and I can’t tell you what happens next.
Okay, so I eventually recovered to see Uther knighting Lancelot and then really cagily question him about his parentage. As suspicious as Uther is, if he had questions about Lancelot, wouldn’t he have checked this shit out *before* knighting the dude? Anyway, he has the castle historian look up the Northumbiran seal of nobility.
Here’s another question. The librarian knows Merlin was in there looking at that book because Merlin handed it to him when he was done and the dude looked at the spine of the book to see what it was. So he discovers that Lancelot lied. Merlin looked at the book recently and is a little shifty anyway. Wouldn’t you maybe think those two things are connected, library guy?
Spoiler Alert: He does not.
So there’s a party to celebrate Lancelot’s knighthood and there’s a super unfortunate exchange where Lancelot and Arthur are looking at Gwen and Morgana (who’s got that damn dress on that I dislike because it’s so anachronistic) and Arthur asks Lancelot if he thinks “she’s beautiful”. The she he’s referring to is Morgana. Lancelot answers that he does think she’s beautiful. The she he’s referring to is Gwen. Now, I have no problem with Lancelot thinking Gwen is beautiful. I *wouldn’t* have a problem with Arthur finding Morgana attractive if the writers didn’t drop everything down the suck-hole in season three. But more on that later. Like…in season three.
The next morning, Merlin and Lancelot stumble out of Merlin’s room all hung over and Gaius hands them a hangover cute. Unfortunately, on the orders of the king, a couple guards bust in and drag Lancelot away. Lancelot is on his knees before Arthur, Uther and the court historian/genealogist dude and admits that he lied and Uther has a fit about him breaking the First Code of Camelot. Arthur just looks depressed and disgusted. After Lancelot is thrown in the dungeon, Arthur defends him, saying that the other man just wanted to serve and that basically his heart was in the right place. Uther is having *none* of it, though.
Merlin goes down to the dungeon to apologize to Lancelot who refuses to let Merlin take the blame. Merlin returns to his room and Gaius is psyched because he’s figured out that the monster is a griffin. And just as Merlin is confirming it, the warning bells ring. The griffin is attacking Camelot. Arthur and his knights run to the courtyard and get in griffin fighting formation, but the beast is impervious to their weapons. Meanwhile, Lancelot can hear the commotion in his cell, and it’s killing him not to help Arthur. Back in the courtyard, the fight continues and Arthur gets a good hit but breaks his spear on the creature. Arthur is just about to be carried off by the thing when one of the guards throws Arthur a lit torch and the fire scares off the griffin.
In Uther’s council chambers, Arthur gives his report on the fight. He’s not happy because they didn’t defeat it. Gaius says that he’s identified it and that it’s a creature of magic. Uther totally dismisses this. You know…Uther…the dude who accuses everyone of using magic at one time or another? That guy? Yeah. Him. Totally blows off Gaius. Won’t even listen to him. Even when Arthur says he thinks Gaius is right. Uther basically sticks his fingers in his ears and sings “lalalalalalalalalalala I can’t hear you!” and decides to send Arthur and his knights our after the creature declaring that they’ll end it tonight. Right, Uther. Whatever you say.
Merlin and Gaius return to their rooms and discuss the possibility of using magic to defeat the griffin. And Gaius informs Merlin that Arthur will die if he follows the griffin and that Merlin must use magic to defeat the beast. Merlin flips out a little because he’s afraid he doesn’t have magic strong enough to defeat the griffin.
Arthur goes to the dungeon to berate Lancelot and himself. And Arthur admits that he’s upset because Camelot needs men like him and he’s thoroughly pissed that he can’t have Lancelot’s service. But he goes against his father’s wishes and frees Lancelot. Gives him a horse and everything and basically banishes him from Camelot. And Arthur is in the dungeon still looking hot in his armor. It should also be noted that Lancelot in the dungeon is almost, but not quite as hot as Arthur last week.
Gaius and Merlin look through the magic book and find the right spell to help Arthur. Merlin’s a little wigged because he’s never cast a spell that powerful. He tries and nothing happens.
Lancelot shows up at Gwen’s place and asks for weapons and armor because it’s his duty to protect Arthur – knight or no. *Swoon* And Gwen, of course, gets him suited up. There’s a moment when it looks like they’re about to kiss, and she asks him not to go. But he must. For he is the most noble man who ever nobled.
Gwen races to Merlin (who’s practicing and failing his spell) to tell him that Lancelot is riding out after the griffin. Merlin catches up to Lancelot and says he’s going with. Lancelot says he isn’t. They argue, Merlin wins. They follow Arthur and the knights into the dark forest after the griffin. The griffin attacks and when Lancelot and Merlin catch up everyone is either dead or knocked out. (How very typical…)
The griffin comes back for another round and Lancelot runs for his horse while romantic music swells in the background. He lowers his helm and his lance and gallops toward the griffin as the griffin runs toward him. Merlin chants his spell over and over until it finally works – enchanting Lancelot’s lance.
(Side note: Spell work is not in Welsh as previously reported, it’s in Middle English as awesome reader Aunt Suzy pointed out in last week’s comments. Thank you again, Aunt Suzy! You rock!)
Lancelot kills the beast and Arthur wakes up to find the thing dead. And Lancelot still within Camelot’s borders. (Merlin runs off before Arthur can see him.)
Arthur is super excited that Lancelot killed the thing and Gaius is super excited that Merlin mastered the spell. Arthur and Uther get into a huge row over Lancelot. Uther flips shit that Lancelot is still breathing and Arthur wants him reinstated as a knight of Camelot because he embodies everything knightly and good. They argue some more and Uther finally wins because he’s king. And an asshat.
Merlin comes to check on Lancelot and Lancelot lets him know that he knows about Merlin’s magic. He swears to tell no one, and since this is Lancelot, you have to believe him.
Lancelot busts into the room where Arthur and his father are arguing and says that he’s leaving because he can’t be the cause of conflict between them. He’s hoping that someday fate will grant him another chance to prove that he’s worthy of being a knight of Camelot. Arthur says he’s already proved that, but he leaves anyway.
Gwen watches him ride away from Morgana’s window and Morgana says, “Lancelot?” and when Gwen nods, Morgana’s all like, “Come, Gwen. Busy day.” So yeah, never mind that your almost boyfriend is banished, I need my hair done. Not cool, Morgana. Not cool.
Okay…now on to the questions!
1. If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… I would have made Morgana less of a bitch at the end. Usually, she acts as though Gwen is her friend. In this episode their class difference is very clear.
2. The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. This Arthur/Morgana is NOT okay with me. Actually, it’s totally fine with me…until later and then it’s just wrong, wrong very wrong. Loved Props to the Merlin writers for depicting a man coming to the rescue of another man with no jabs or even winks or nudges at the rescued man’s lack of masculinity – especially since the scenario was so stereotypically “alone in the forest damsel in distress-y.” I just really liked that bit and I thought it was important in terms of the whole theme of equality that the show has.
3. Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. The first time I saw this episode, I didn’t notice how snotty Morgana was at the end.
4. Favorite Costume. I’ve got to give it to Lancelot. There’s something kinda sexy about the simplicity and also the fact that Lancelot is wearing it.
5. Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Since my head canon involves Uther and Morgana – I’ve got nothing in this episode since they didn’t interact at all, and Morgana was barely in it.
6. What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? This was not a very Merthur-y episode. I’m going to have to go with the extended eye contact when Merlin is trying to convince Arthur to meet Lancelot.
7. What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? I’m gonna say when the castle historian dude didn’t connect Merlin with the forged seal of nobility. C’mon guy…he was *just* in there!
You can read Jess’ recap here! And Jen’s is here!