Merlin: The Coming of Arthur Part 2
Arthur and Merlin bring together the Knights of the Round Table to take back Camelot from Morgana and her immortal army.
One of the strongest episodes ever ending out the strongest season yet of “Merlin”. It only seems fitting.
Morgana experiences difficulties when she finds that none of the knights and thus the people of Camelot, will support her. Attacking the citizens still does not convince the knights so she sends Gwen to convince Leon to follow her. Gwen agrees though only so she can break Leon from the cells. Morgana and Morgause catch Gwen in her betrayal and put a spell on her so that she can easily be followed when they attempt escape. Meanwhile Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine, Elyan and Gaius are hiding out in caves outside the city until they can make a move. The water from the Lake of Avalon, in the form of Freya, tells Merlin that he must retrieve Excalibur as it will be able to kill the immortal army. Gwen and Leon find the group at the caves but they are ambushed by Morgause’s men and forced to flee (with the help of Lancelot and Percival) to a castle nearby. They find weapons and a round table and make a plan to return to Camelot. Arthur decides to knight the men who have saved his life and are about to do so again even though they are commoners. Lancelot and Merlin claim to go for the warning bell but instead go to the cup of life to empty it of the blood it contains as Merlin is the only one with a sword that can kill the soldiers. Morgause tries to stop Merlin but is thwarted when Gaius arrives and uses magic to subdue her. She is injured and Morgana is devastated, screaming as the castle crumbles around her. Morgana and Morgause flee but Uther cannot recover from Morgana’s true feelings and thus Merlin must confront Arthur about becoming king. So that no other can use the sword, Merlin places Excalibur in stone until the next time it is needed.
Frankly, when I saw the preview for this week’s episode last week, I wasn’t entirely sure how one episode could fit it all in. The round table, the return of all the knights, the defeat of Morgana, the return of Excalibur; there was a lot of ground to cover but somehow the writers managed to cover it all creating one of the best episodes of the season if not the entire series. “The Coming of Arthur Part 2” gives all the characters a chance to shine in some way without feeling rushed at all. It seems most of the money on CGI armies went to the first two episodes of the season but the finale doesn’t suffer from it at all. There certainly wouldn’t have been time to cover fighting the entire army after all. This is also the first time so many elements of the legend have actually come together rather than just being foreshadowed.
A lot of this season’s focus has been the development of Merlin into the wise old wizard we’re all used to hearing about. He’s had some great moments of clarity where he shows exactly how much he’s grown since we first met his character. In “The Coming of Arthur Part 2”, it’s Merlin who has to convince Arthur that not all hope is lost and they should still endeavour to retake Camelot and even Arthur is forced to recognize that Merlin may not be the bumbling idiot he used to be. Even though Arthur knows nothing of the number of times Merlin has saved his life, he is growing to respect him and hopefully that will continue on into next year.
As for Arthur it seems big changes are heading his way. With Uther emotionally damaged beyond repair because of what happened with Morgana, it seems it will be Arthur who will take on a large part of the responsibility when the show resumes next year. Arthur makes some big decisions this week that his father would never approve of, a big step forward him. He knights men who he knows are deserving even though it breaks the traditional rules and he lets his feelings for Gwen become public knowledge. It should be interesting to see how things develop next year with Uther still alive but largely incapacitated. How much of a fight he’ll put up against these decisions remains to be seen.
Though she’s not trained to fight, Gwen proves again that she’s got skills of her own this week. She may not get to participate in the big battle (which is understandable, it wouldn’t make sense to send someone without fighting skills into a battle where you are grossly outnumbered) but it’s her cunning that allows her to lie to Morgana and convince her that she should be allowed to talk to Leon, eventually getting him out of the cells and Camelot. Gwen certainly seems to think through her plans more thoroughly that Arthur or Merlin have in the past, even collecting an extra dress for Leon to wear so he won’t be noticed (which must have been difficult since he’s a giant).
Even with Merlin’s power, he sometimes needs magical distractions from others and it’s Gaius who saves his life this time. Gaius uses magic to distract Morgause until Merlin can push her back even further showing just how useful an old man can be sometimes.
Morgana and Morgause continue with the usual smirking. It’s amazing, after how many times they’ve been thwarted by Arthur and Merlin, that they don’t seem a little more worried about them. Also they would have been better off if one of them had stayed with the cup at all times. After all, if Morgause knew how to use it to create the immortal army then she must have known how that last immortal army was defeated. I was expecting this to be the end of Morgause if only so that Morgana is allowed to become a bad guy all on her own for next season. So far she’s only been a puppet to Morgause’s plans and hasn’t even used her own magic. The pure strength of her magic shows this week though as she screeches and the walls fall down around her. Perhaps she’ll be forced to learn to control her magic to save Morgause.
Uther is finally forced to face Morgana’s true feelings about him and what he’s done. He can finally understand that his persecution of those with magic left her feeling lost and alone; afraid of herself. To Uther, Morgana could do no wrong and now he will find himself at least somewhat to blame. I’m particularly interested to see how his character develops into next season with this guilt, likely resulting in an inability to rule.
Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake are back this week as well. The talk between Freya and Merlin about what he must do is well done as they are forced to recall their feelings for each other while knowing that nothing will change. Though Freya may not be entirely dead, going to visit her might be a little difficult. Though I was expecting Excalibur to go to Arthur at some point, it made much more sense to keep it with Merlin. It would have been a difficult thing to explain. “Here Arthur, I found this sword. I think it kills immortal people.” probably wouldn’t have gone over well.
Even all of the new knights are allowed a little screen time and one can only hope they’ll all be back even more often next year. Perhaps the best scene of the episode comes when there’s no action at all with the knights as Arthur gathers everyone to sit around the round table. It’s as though Arthur has already become king and the others have already taken their future positions when they sit down, all on equal footing. One by one everyone decides to join Arthur on the quest to retake Camelot (albeit a little reluctantly on Merlin’s part but I’m sure no one doubted he would go) giving their reasons as they stand. Though throwing out some of his father’s traditions this week, Arthur takes up a new one in the form of equality around the round table.
Somehow with so much going on, “The Coming of Arthur Part 2” doesn’t feel rushed at all and easily shifts the focus between all the characters we’ve grown to love this season and before. Now begins the long and painful wait until next season begins.