The second part of the season premiere opens with Merlin facing death after that Darocha attack he saved Arthur from at the end of part one. The knights’ confidence has been shattered by Merlin’s condition, and Arthur declares they have to take Merlin back to Camelot so Gaius can treat him. Turns out Arthur really does give a darn about Merlin, huh?
However, Arthur himself can’t abandon the quest, so he sends Lancelot back to the city with Merlin slung over the back of his horse. While Lancelot rides his way back through the spooky-as-hell woods, Arthur and the rest of the team push forward to the Isle of the Blessed and the rift between worlds.
Lancelot thankfully runs into the Villea — good spirits who help Merlin heal from the Dorocha attack. Meanwhile Arthur and the rest come up against the Wilderin, giant hairless rats that occupy the caves and want to have our heroes for dinner. To avoid getting on the menu, Arthur and the rest slather themselves in slime. Both disgusting and a little ridiculous, as per standard.
Back at Camelot, Agravaine is being a raging jerk by locking the needy out of the city. This honestly doesn’t surprise me, given that Arthur made the mistake of leaving him in charge when he left. Gaius’s protests naturally fall on deaf ears, but leave it to Gwen to verbally bash some sense into Agravaine. Any wonder she deserves to be queen? Oh and then the slimebucket known as Agravaine of course has to inform Morgana of what’s going on.
Under the care of the Villea, Merlin thankfully is now all better after an attack by creatures that killed everyone else. But you didn’t really expect Merlin to die that easily, did you? The recovered wizard is as full of sarcasm as ever, and he sets off with Lancelot to meet up with Arthur and the knights. Partway through their journey they stop at a ramshackle dwelling for the evening, where Merlin gets the chance to work magic for the first time this episode.
The wizard and the knight get to spend some quality bonding time together, where (one more time, in case it wasn’t clear the 1,000 other times) we find out that while Lancelot may be helplessly hopelessly deeply madly in love with Gwen, he’s more than willing to stand aside for Arthur. Yeah, fans of Arthurian legend know how that turns out. The sweetness ends soon though, as a Dorocha attacks in the middle of the night and they have to flee the hut.
It looks like our ghostly visitor might kill Lancelot and Merlin. But then the Great Dragon shows up and knocks the Dorocha back to the other side of the veil. The dragon’s able to tell us some secrets about the veil, and spews a few dire warnings (as he’s wont to do). However he does leave Merlin to make his own decision … so I suppose that’s a good thing.
Morgana for some odd reason gets to travel through the castle as she pleases, using her magic to knock guards unconscious. This bothers me tremendously, especially because this means she could apparently make a grab for power whenever the heck she wants. This isn’t the creepiest part of this section though, because Agravaine’s interaction with Gwen shoves him squarely into slimeball territory. Thank goodness Gwen leaves Agravaine’s presence without incident, but then she runs afoul of Morgana’s magic. Turns out Morgana didn’t want Gwen for a sister-in-law after all, but thank goodness for quick thinking on Gaius’s part.
Arthur’s not terribly confident in his knights, and I honestly can’t blame the guy. After all, one of them lights his own socks on fire and gets mercilessly teased by the rest. A rousing speech from our Prince Regent puts all doubts to rest, and Percival even gets a line this week!
Lancelot and Merlin catch up to Arthur and company at last. Here’s what bothers me — Arthur and company went through the caves with the Wilderin so they could save two days on their journey. However, Lancelot and Merlin did not go through the caves … and yet they arrive at the Isle of the Blessed just after Arthur and the knights. I understand moving the story along, but seriously? Show some logic in distance traveled, please.
With Arthur and Merlin back together there’s some entertaining banter about sacrifice and Merlin’s usefulness as a servant. The bonding is short-lived however, as there are splits in the world to heal and evil to fight.
Speaking of evil to fight, the latest creature to battle is a pack of wyverns set in our heroes’ path to prevent them from reaching the tear in the worlds. Merlin’s getting a bit more blatant with his magic this time, but good thing the knights are too busy paying attention to the creatures attacking them to notice. Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, and Gwaine move on to confront the Cailleach; this leaves Percival, Elyan, and Leon behind to hold off the wyverns.
Arthur commands the Cailleach to close the tear between the worlds, but she says she doesn’t have the power to do so because she didn’t sunder the veil in the first place. Gwaine stupidly rushes the Cailleach, and she uses her magic to knock him out cold. Arthur steps forward to sacrifice himself, but Merlin knocks him flat before he can go through it.
Now, did anyone really think they were going to kill Arthur or Merlin at any point in these two episodes? Yeah didn’t think so. The Cailleach tells Merlin he still has more to do in this world, so she won’t take him. In an act of nobility, Lancelot walks himself clear into the veil and seals the tear. A rather noble act for him, fulfilling his promise to Gwen that he’d look after Arthur.
Arthur, Merlin, and the rest of the knights ride back to Camelot with evil vanquished behind them. They hold a funeral for Lancelot, where a tearful Gwen tells Arthur that she’d made Lancelot promise to look after him. Meanwhile, Morgana is furious that her plan failed and tells Agravaine of her belief that Emrys was behind her failure. Upon hearing this, Agravaine goes to Gaius and asks if he knows anything about Emrys. Gaius of course pleads ignorance, which we knew he was going to do.
Gaius then goes to Merlin and relates his suspicion that Agravaine is working for Morgana. He also says Morgana can’t ever know that Merlin is actually Emrys. Really Gaius? Like we didn’t figure that out already.
This episode kept things rather dark thematically, which is a nice change from how the rest of the series played out in seasons one to three. I’m very interested in seeing where they go in next week’s installment.
If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘Merlin: The Darkest Hour’ Part One recap.