Read all about Merlin season 5, episodes 1-7 here: Arthur's Bane Part 1, Arthur's Bane Part 2, The Death Song of Uther Pendragon, Another's Sorrow, The Disir, The Dark Tower and A Lesson in Vengeance. Spoilers like crazy! If you're going to read this post without having watched the episode or any others before it, then do take the time to read my highlights of each.
Gwen and the guards stumble upon a boy wandering inside the grounds of Camelot. Gwen persuades them to let him go - he's only a boy, after all. He manages to make his way into the castle and locates Merlin to ask for his help. Somehow, he knows that Merlin has magic and desperately needs him to go with him and heal his sick sister. Merlin initially refuses but eventually can't help but give in to this plea for help.
Leaving Gaius to explain to Arthur where he's gone, Merlin and Gerin set off on the one-day trek to the latter's home. It's the most inopportune time for Merlin to be leaving and there's something suspicious about this ... The Sarrum, the leader of one of Camelot's neighbouring lands is coming for a visit and even Arthur is scared of him. He's a ruthless and formidable leader and it's rumoured that he held Morgana in captivity for some time. Arthur might not like him, but where they've got a common enemy, any knowledge that The Sarrum possesses will be useful.
Of course Gerin didn't have a sick sister. He had been duped by Morgana and Gwen's pretty faces and the promise of more money than he'd probably ever earn in his entire life. He genuinely had no idea of Morgana's intention to kill Merlin - slowly, with poison, dumb bitch. Didn't Arthur's non-death last episode teach you anything? - and stays, wanting to cure him. Merlin looks terrible: like death, literally. He's white and clammy and has a funny deathlike greyish hue about him. He's clearly in agony and tries to heal himself but can't summon up enough power. He tells Gerin what herbs he needs and lies to wait.
Back in Camelot, The Sarrum is boasting to Arthur and Gwen about how he managed to capture Morgana and keep her for two years. He tells them of her weakness, Aithusa, and says that "her love for that creature caused her to suffer more than she'd ever imagined. Not more than she deserved." Gwen is sickened and has to excuse herself from the table. She seeks Morgana out in the forests and gives her a sympathy-hug. Bitch.
The next day, Gwen is helping Arthur dress for his duel. It's beautifully intimate and would be a great scene if Gwen didn't want Arthur dead out of it. It's both wonderful yet upsetting to watch. Near the end of the scene, Arthur expresses his concern for Merlin who is still missing and Gwen tells him not to worry. How I could strangle her!
In the duel with one of The Sarrum's men, Arthur is beaten! It's a tense battle but the other guy does have the upper edge. Gwen, watching safely inside, smiles an evil smile and I just want to wipe it off her face - with my fist. She later passes The Sarrum in the corridor and says "You should have let him die ... I'd be happier if he died tomorrow." He's understandably perplexed but meets Gwen the next day to talk it over. Gwen's request is simple: The Sarrum kills Arthur, she becomes Queen and she'll give him 1/3 of Camelot's lands as a 'protective' measure = everyone is happy.
When Gaius approaches Arthur to ask for a search party be sent out to find Merlin, Gwen panics. I give her credit for her quick thinking. Merlin hasn't gone missing, she says. He just didn't tell anyone where he was going, because he went to see a girl. "A girl?" says Arthur in disbelief. Yes, a girl - Gaius is internally fuming but of course he can't say a thing.
The Sarrum, of course, isn't happy with just 1/3 of Camelot's prosperous lands; he wants it all. He tells his man "Arthur will be dead by sundown. All that stands in our way is a serving girl pretending to be Queen." The assassination is planned for during the signing of a Treaty of peace between Camelot and The Sarrum's lands and Gwen is looking very smug with herself. Not for long. Merlin and Gerin have been travelling long and hard to get back in time to stop the assassination and this included a confrontation with a group of bandits where we see Merlin standing them up to them fearlessly telling Gerin "I don't need a sword." I love how much he's grown up and matured over the five series. In response to Gerin's question about why he stays with Arthur despite his intolerance for magic, Merlin says, "In his heart he is a good man and I know that one day, he will bring about a world that I dream of." Yay!
In short, Merlin saves the day - again. When Arthur asks him about his girl, there's a long moment of tense silence as Gwen and Merlin just stare at each other, each knowing that the other knows of Merlin's suspicion. It really has to stop now - there can only be so much culmination before it gets stupid. We're way beyond stupid.
I said in my round-up of A Lesson in Vengeance that I just wanted Merlin to end now before it got even more ridiculous. A few days after I posted that post, my news feed told me that BBC had announced that Merlin would be ending at the end of this series. My wishes answered! Like magic! Not that I'm not devastated, but it's really for the best. There's only so many times that Morgana can pick herself up again after being thrown unconscious by Merlin's magic, crushed by a collapsing building or otherwise. I'm looking forward to seeing how it's going to end: will Arthur find out about Merlin's magic? If yes, will he accept it? And how can there be enough time for the Arthur-Mordred prophecy to come true? (not that I want it to). HOW ARE THEY GOING TO DO THIS JUSTICE? All questions will be answered soon ... Please please please please end this series the way it deserves to end. I'm going to miss Merlin so much. The BBC needs a new replacement historical drama like this - just please wait to decide (if it hasn't already been done) until Merlin ends with justice. Thanks.