SPOILERS, okay? Don't read if you haven't already watched the previous episodes or read my break-downs of them. Know that you'll be subjecting yourself to considerable heartbreak if you read with the intention of watching the episodes after. There's nothing quite like watching the show for yourself, so watch them first!
Arthur is very proud of himself for remembering his anniversary. He and Gwen are riding in the countryside (with Merlin tagging along reminding them constantly that he isn't there, of course) when they are ambushed. When Arthur's Knights later find traces of sorcery, Arthur begins to agree with Merlin that there was no way that it could have been a coincidence.
Gwen is such a conniving back-stabbing bitch. I now hate her with a passion and that makes me sad because as I had said in my low-down of The Dark Tower, Merlin is the only Arthurian adaptation where I actually like Guinevere. Until now, that is. She had clearly planned the ambush with Morgana and she sets up the innocent stablehand to take the fall. Despite Arthur's genuine respect for Tyr, he has no choice but to sentence him to death for treason.
Arthur is taking Merlin's statements that the traitor must be someone in their midst very seriously. Unsuspectingly, of course he reveals all his troubles to his wife and Gwen only goes into high-alert defensive push-all-the-blame-away-from-me mode. Silly, silly Arthur.
Merlin is beginning to think something strange is going on with Gwen; I'm glad that someone is. He brings it up with Gaius who can only sympathise for Gwen what with the ordeal she went through at the Dark Tower and losing her brother. Yay for Merlin (most of the time) being able to see the bigger picture!
Gaius: We can only guess at what Morgana put her throughGwen goes to meet with Morgana in the forest and laments at how her plan failed. Morgana encourages her not to give up [interestingly, we've just finished studying inchoate offences in criminal law. Morgana would be liable for the criminal offence of assisting and encouraging Gwen to murder Arthur; both would be liable for conspiracy to murder; Gwen would be liable for attempted murder] when a patrol come riding through the forest and break their little clandestine meeting up. Gwaine is thrown from his horse and both manage to escape.
Merlin: That's what worries me
Back in Camelot, Gwen is listening into the conversation as Gwaine retells what happened to him in the forest to Arthur while Gauis stitches him up. After Arthur leaves, Merlin confides in Gwaine: "What if Camelot is the most dangerous place Arthur could be?" Gwaine (awesome guy that he is) promises to protect Arthur with his life. I couldn't bear it if another Knight dies! Unless it's Mordred, that is.
Morgana goes to visit an old man for a tincture that will cause the victim to die slowly and painfully. Really, this is such a female and cowardly way to do it - I was reminded heavily of the poem The Laboratory by Robert Browning (go GCSE English!) She should just confront Arthur and have a duel or something. Maybe less realistic on Morgana's part, but it would make for MUCH more interesting television. When Gwen administers the poisons and Arthur lapses into unconsciousness, she plays heavily on her "grief" and states that there's only one person she knows who has such an intimate knowledge of the castle, the stables and access to Arthur's person: Merlin. He's thrown into jail and Gwen is secretly spinning cartwheels.
Gwen's "grief" is disgustingly artificial and it makes me hate her more. She keeps repeating "Is there no hope?" and I just want to throttle her. Gaius' response is wonderful and I know that he is starting to take Merlin seriously and suspect Gwen too:
"I will not lie to you, Arthur's time is nearly upon him. But until the King draws his last breath, there is always hope."Gwen really should start taking such unwavering loyalty to Arthur more seriously. Sure, Sir Leon's pledge of devotion to her should she become Camelot's sole leader was sickeningly over-dramatised in order to get the point across, but really she should know by now that Merlin's bond and devotion to Arthur is something special that no one can break - not even Arthur's death.
Gaius' method of getting Merlin out of jail was brilliant and I do love this 'Old Man Merlin'. What would have been even more awesome would have been for him to encounter Morgana to scare the living shit out of her, but I've learned over the last few episodes never to expect what I want to happen.
Merlin finally manages to make his way to Arthur's bedroom and Gaius does some impressive manipulating to get Gwen out. Using some powerful magic that he's not entirely sure will actually work, Merlin manages to draw the poison out of Arthur only to be told by Gaius to go and get himself back into the cells! Brilliant!
The next day, Arthur is full of apologies for Merlin and tells his faithful servant that there was no way that Merlin would have poisoned him - because he isn't clever enough! Nevertheless, the way that Arthur approached this talk and asked Merlin to sit down at the table with him was unbearably sweet and we're slowly taking those steps towards a more equal partnership.
Unfortunately, of course the episode wasn't going to finish on a high note. Arthur has to dash off to a Council meeting and who is it being interrogated? The old man who sold the poison to Morgana, of course. And how did he get there? Through Gwen's diligence. I just want to scream in frustration. Next week's episode looks even more aggravating. I'd rather all secrets were revealed and the series end here than have to watch this protracted dragging-on week on week. Please indulge me.